13–14 April 2012, Drew University, Madison, NJ, USA
The Second Congress on Ecstatic Naturalism continues the work of the First Congress in articulating and extending the philosophical and theological implications of ecstatic naturalism, a perspective originally developed by Professor Robert S. Corrington. The point of origin for philosophical query is nature naturing, i.e., nature perennially creating itself out of itself alone. Out of this origin the potencies (Schelling) birth the sacred folds that are most strongly concresced in the domain of the aesthetic sublime.
The papers for this year’s Congress deal with the correlation between ecstatic naturalism and figures such as: Peirce, Whitehead, Deleuze, Meillassoux, Plato, Klein, Jaspers, Winnicott, Schelling, Kohut, and Freud.
Topics include: Korean shamanism, manic-depression, psychoanalysis, Orpheus and the aesthetic, Eros and Agape, object-relations theory, semiotics, ecocracy, pedagogy, sacred folds, hermeneutics, the unconscious of nature, and boredom.
Saturday evening’s presentation will showcase local artists performing ecstatic interpretations of nature’s primal self. A wine and cheese reception will follow including Q & A with artists and Professor Corrington.
Robert C. Neville of Boston University will deliver the Keynote Address.
Download a copy of the Second Congress poster in PDF.
Contemporary ecstatic naturalism was first formulated in Professor Robert S. Corrington’s Nature and Spirit: An Essay in Ecstatic Naturalism (Fordham University Press, 1992). This has been followed by a number of publications further extending the scope of this unique portrayal of nature, perhaps best expressed in his Ecstatic Naturalism: Signs of the World (Indiana University Press, 1994) and A Semiotic Theory of Theology and Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 2000). In these later works Corrington probes into the correlation of psychosemiotics with the psychoanalytic theories of Freud, Rank, Jung, Reich, and Kristeva wherein the human unconscious shows itself to be the multiform gateway to the vast underconscious of nature. Theologically, panentheism is critiqued for its intemperate application of theories of relation and teleology to an unwieldy theory of nature as the “order of orders.”
In his semiotic trilogy, (Ecstatic Naturalism, Nature’s Self, and Nature’s Religion) Corrington locates the human process within vast natural potencies that shape and groove all that we say, contrive, surmise, conjecture, build or dream. His 2003 work, Riding the Windhorse: On Manic-Depressive Order and the Quest for Wholeness, applies the regnant categories of ecstatic naturalism to the highly destructive yet creative mode of attunement found in manic-depressive disorder.
As part of his procedure of emancipatory reenactment, Professor Corrington has addressed the philosophy of the founder of pragmaticism and the larger tradition of semiotics in his 1993 book, Introduction to C.S. Peirce. He has used this procedure in regrounding the psychoanalysis of Wilhelm Reich in his 2003 work, Wilhelm Reich: Psychoanalyst and Radical Naturalist. In both cases slumbering potencies are set free to appear in their relevant sphere of prevalence thus coaxing latent momenta from nature naturing into their fitful puissance in nature natured.
Ecstatic naturalism has roots in Protestant Liberalism, most notably Tillich. Equally primary are the writings of Euro-American pragmatists and pragmaticists, but without the relativistic stance of Neo-Pragmatism. Robert Neville’s work has been approached from within this template. From the beginning, the dialogue with phenomenology has led to an ordinal phenomenology working in tandem with a horizonal hermeneutics to articulate regnant orders of relevance: cf., The Community of Interpreters (Mercer 1987 & 1995). Increasingly, the powerful system of Schopenhauer has emerged as one of the most important dialogue partners of ecstatic naturalism, helping open the door to an aesthetic transfiguration (replacement?) of religion. Aesthetic sacred folds hold and proffer the irruptions of the so-called holy within the innumerable orders of the “world.”
An ecstatic naturalism is a perspective that seeks to move toward an aesthetic phenomenology of nature’s “sacred folds”—special centers of numinous meaning and power that may be found throughout nature, where “nature” may be understood to mean an encompassing reality that has no other, there is no referent “for” nature nor any outside “to” nature. Nature is all that there is: nature is whatever is, in whatever way. From nature’s sacred folds emerges a fierce self-othering, nature naturing, where “it” moves ecstatically ejecting semiotically dense momenta.Nature naturing is the inexhaustible well of nature’s atemporal creating underconscious, “it” is the not-yet-in-time mode of preordinal expression. This preordinal expression manifests itself as created nature, a plane of immanence composed of innumerable orders, or nature natured. The plane of nature natured is not without access to its depth dimension however, and the creativity of the depth dimension does not necessarily evidence a telic plan, either. Nature naturing is not the unified will or intelligence of a supreme Being, and “it” is not the sacred, for there is no “whatness” to nature naturing, but only “its” “how.” Unlike other theological perspectives friendly to the tradition of naturalism (process thought, for example) an ecstatic naturalism denies thatnature naturing molds nature natured simply into pleasing shapes. Melancholy, pain, and anguish are just as much to be accounted for in the aesthetic phenomenology that an ecstatic naturalism employs. For ecstatic naturalism,naturing naturing is “beyond good and evil” and “sustains the just and the unjust, beautiful and the demonic, the fragmented and the harmonious, the honorific and the detestable, the living and the dead (via effects) and the realms of the possible and the actual.”
From the ecstatic naturalist standpoint, as noted, the distinction between nature naturing and nature natured colors and specifies almost all aspects of, and possibilities for, human life. It indicates, among other things, that the unconscious is far more important, both religiously and philosophically, than has usually been acknowledged. While the conscious represents only one set of aspects of our relation with nature natured, the unconscious is our direct connection both to wider aspects of nature natured, and in certain respects, to the potencies that emerge fromnature naturing. The conscious life is much more precarious than traditional monotheisms would allow, but also more magical than traditional naturalisms could recognize.
Karen Bray, Commenting
Robert S. Corrington, Commenting and Responding
Theresa Ellis, Commenting
Kwang Yu Lee, Presenting, “What Ecstasy is to Shamanism, Manic-Depression is to Ecstatic Naturalism?”
Jean De Assis
Darryl DeMarzio, Presenting, “On the Unity of Eros and Agape: An Ecstatic Naturalist Perspective on the Dynamic of Love in Education”
Wade Mitchell, Commenting
Leon Niemoczynski, Presenting and Commenting, “On the Unity of Eros and Agape: An Ecstatic Naturalist Perspective on the Dynamic of Love in Education”
Robert Neville, Keynote Speaker
Jea Sophia Oh, Presenting, “Nature’s Spontaneity and Intentionality: Ecocracy, Doing Non-Doing Principle of Donghak [Eastern Learning]”
Michael Raposa, Presenting, “What may lie hidden in the icon: On boredom, ecstasy and the limits of semiosis”
Inna Semetsky, Presenting, “Reading Signs: Peirce, Deleuze, Hermeneutics”
Nicholas Wernicki, Commenting
Todd Willison, Commenting
Guy Woodward, Presenting, “Cleaving the Light: The Necessity of Metaphysics in the Practice of Theology”
Martin Yalcin, Presenting, , “Orpheus and the Aesthetic Character of the Sacred: Can We Replace Religion with Art?”
Lydia York, Presenting, “Abyss and Ground: Expanding Ecstatic Naturalism’s Material Maternal with Psychoanalytic Object-Relations Theory”
Friday, 13 April 2012
1:00 PM: Registration, Seminary Hall
2:00-5:00: First Session: Aesthetics and Semiotics, Seminary Hall 205
Martin Yalcin, “Orpheus and the Aesthetic Character of the Sacred: Can We Replace Religion with Art?”
Inna Semetsky. “Reading Signs: Peirce, Deleuze, Hermeneutics”
Michael Raposa, “What may lie hidden in the icon: On boredom, ecstasy and the limits of semiosis”
Commentator: Nick Wernicki
5:15 PM: Celebration of the twentieth anniversary of Robert S. Corrington’s Nature and Spirit: An Essay in Ecstatic Naturalism. Reflections by Jean De Assis
6:00 PM: Dinner, Seminary Hall Atrium
7:00 PM: Keynote Presentation by Robert C. Neville with an introduction by Robert S. Corrington, Craig Chapel, Seminary Hall
Saturday, 14 April 2012
7:30 AM: Breakfast, Seminary Hall Atrium
8:30 AM – 11:30 PM: Second Session: Education, Psychology, and Psychoanalysis; Seminary Hall 205
Darryl De Marzio, “On the Unity of Eros and Agape: An Ecstatic Naturalist Perspective on the Dynamic of Love in Education”
Kwang Yu Lee, “What Ecstasy is to Shamanism, Manic-Depression is to Ecstatic Naturalism?”
Lydia York, “Abyss and Ground: Expanding Ecstatic Naturalism’s Material Maternal with Psychoanalytic Object-Relations Theory”
Commentator: Theresa Ellis
11:45-12:45PM: Book Celebration Panel: Nam T. Nguyen’s Nature’s Primal Self: Peirce, Jaspers, and Corrington and Leon Niemoczynski’s Charles Sanders Peirce and a Religious Metaphysics of Nature.
Commentators: Wade Mitchell and Todd Willison
Respondents: Leon Niemoczynski and Robert S. Corrington (on behalf of Nam Nguyen)
1:00 PM: Lunch, Seminary Hall Atrium
2:00 – 5:00 PM: Third Session: Nature and Metaphysics; Seminary Hall 205
Guy Woodward, “Cleaving the Light: The Necessity of Metaphysics in the Practice of Theology”
Jea Oh, “Nature’s Spontaneity and Intentionality: Ecocracy, Doing Non-Doing Principle of Donghak [Eastern Learning]”
Leon Niemoczynski, “Speculating God: Meillassoux, Whitehead, Corrington”
Commentator: Karen Bray
8:00 PM: An Evening of Artistic Naturalism, Craig Chapel, Seminary Hall
$12 Student Registration Fee
$65 All Other Registrants
Registration Fee due upon arrival Friday 4/13
Please make checks payable to Drew University