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Being and Oil: Volume One: Peak Oil Philosophy and the Ontology of Limitation

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In the first ever book-length manifesto of Peak Oil Philosophy, Chad Haag argues that the transition to Fossil Fuel Modernity replaced the herds of megafauna of the Hunter Gatherer Worldview and the cyclically-harvested grain of the Agrarian Worldview with a single immensely powerful but quickly vanishing substance: oil. Everything we do is a euphemism for burning vast amo In the first ever book-length manifesto of Peak Oil Philosophy, Chad Haag argues that the transition to Fossil Fuel Modernity replaced the herds of megafauna of the Hunter Gatherer Worldview and the cyclically-harvested grain of the Agrarian Worldview with a single immensely powerful but quickly vanishing substance: oil. Everything we do is a euphemism for burning vast amounts of fossil fuels. Haag provides an original hierarchy of transcendental standards of meaning to reveal the extent to which our mythologies, systems, counter sense objects, and deep memes are just so many incomplete revelations of our Phenomenological awareness of petroleum. But as the globe already hit Peak Oil in 2005 and has been on the downward slope of depletion ever since, these higher order meanings have begun to collapse into falsity. Oil's peculiar role in sustaining systems of meaning precisely through imposing a hard physical limit to existence therefore requires a novel Ontology of Limitation. Haag reawakens the Heideggerian quest for Being by suggesting that even the subject itself must be understood as a limitation sustained through the limitation of, in our era, fossil fuels. Combining the Peak Oil insights of John Michael Greer and the anti-technological theories of Ted Kaczynski with the philosophical rigor of Heidegger, Aristotle, Zizek, Plato, Husserl, Descartes, and Jordan Peterson, Haag crafts a truly unique response to the challenge of joining Peak Oil and Philosophy.


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In the first ever book-length manifesto of Peak Oil Philosophy, Chad Haag argues that the transition to Fossil Fuel Modernity replaced the herds of megafauna of the Hunter Gatherer Worldview and the cyclically-harvested grain of the Agrarian Worldview with a single immensely powerful but quickly vanishing substance: oil. Everything we do is a euphemism for burning vast amo In the first ever book-length manifesto of Peak Oil Philosophy, Chad Haag argues that the transition to Fossil Fuel Modernity replaced the herds of megafauna of the Hunter Gatherer Worldview and the cyclically-harvested grain of the Agrarian Worldview with a single immensely powerful but quickly vanishing substance: oil. Everything we do is a euphemism for burning vast amounts of fossil fuels. Haag provides an original hierarchy of transcendental standards of meaning to reveal the extent to which our mythologies, systems, counter sense objects, and deep memes are just so many incomplete revelations of our Phenomenological awareness of petroleum. But as the globe already hit Peak Oil in 2005 and has been on the downward slope of depletion ever since, these higher order meanings have begun to collapse into falsity. Oil's peculiar role in sustaining systems of meaning precisely through imposing a hard physical limit to existence therefore requires a novel Ontology of Limitation. Haag reawakens the Heideggerian quest for Being by suggesting that even the subject itself must be understood as a limitation sustained through the limitation of, in our era, fossil fuels. Combining the Peak Oil insights of John Michael Greer and the anti-technological theories of Ted Kaczynski with the philosophical rigor of Heidegger, Aristotle, Zizek, Plato, Husserl, Descartes, and Jordan Peterson, Haag crafts a truly unique response to the challenge of joining Peak Oil and Philosophy.

37 review for Being and Oil: Volume One: Peak Oil Philosophy and the Ontology of Limitation

  1. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Wolf

    You likely have not heard about Chad Haag, he’s not a fashionable fellow. His main presence in the world is through his youtube channel, and if one may say he is to ever be famous it may well be because he is one of a few in a growing trend of academics working outside academia. A PHD dropout who was forced to flee the US to a remote village in India in order escape the crippling and enslaving student debt he could not repay (a modest ~20k debt which skyrocketed in interest), Chad has been an ou You likely have not heard about Chad Haag, he’s not a fashionable fellow. His main presence in the world is through his youtube channel, and if one may say he is to ever be famous it may well be because he is one of a few in a growing trend of academics working outside academia. A PHD dropout who was forced to flee the US to a remote village in India in order escape the crippling and enslaving student debt he could not repay (a modest ~20k debt which skyrocketed in interest), Chad has been an outspoken critic of the modern university financial scheme and the incoming student debt crisis that many are waiting to see burst. He is, however, generally not interested in moralizing or on following the typical trends of thought on what the important issues are. Attempting to comprehend modern society as a whole he has taken the comprehension of peak oil and its most raw meaning for our society as an integral part of a new starting point for rethinking metaphysics. The abstract meaning of peak oil is this: modern technical industrialism is itself unsustainable, not just because of an incoming ecological disaster, but because oil, the cheap and plentiful resource that undergirds most of our modern way of life along with other fossil fuels, is running out and we have no alternatives to keep the cheap energy gravy train going. This is where Chad’s book, Being and Oil Vol.1: Peak Oil Philosophy and the Ontology of Limitation, comes to intervene as a philosophical systematic investigation of the logic of our oil based society as a specific object where he deploys his new philosophy of substance to elucidate the nature of the issue beyond the simplicity of the falling number of barrels of oil. With the end of oil comes not just the end of mass industry, but of the very way people comprehend and know the world as new categories take place over old ones. A new theory of Being through substance as limit is set to explain why and how this is so. It is by virtue of oil that capitalism can continue to expand, it is by virtue of oil that financiers (usurers as Chad indicts them) make their unearned wealth, it is by virtue of oil that office “workers” (Chad doesn’t believe they genuinely work) can sit in a cozy office doing little all day and being paid more than those who do the real physical labor, it is by virtue of oil that teenage boys and twenty to thirty year old manchildren such as Destiny can make a living doing nothing but sitting at a computer all day playing video games to entertain jobless children. It is by virtue of oil that the most materially prosperous states in history have produced a populace who have essentially so little to do that they have fallen into depression, nihilism, and a life of pure appearance qua social media spectacle. Being is oil, says Chad, because modern industrial society as a whole from technology to ideology exist on the back of fossil fuels in a social logic of explosion, a logic of expansion where much is made by doing little through exploiting a finite resource to attempt to extract infinity. We burn fossil fuels so that we may burn fossil fuels. The economy grows so that it may grow more, the consumer consumes so that they may consume more. But regardless of ideology and desire, Nature has a real limit, the limit of its substance, a substance that is not a figment of our imagination nor a product of our will. Being is insofar as its limit exists, and when that limit disappears so does what is built upon it. Technological developments cannot save us from peak oil, he claims, because such activities are premised on oil. Machines to develop more machines only burns more oil to develop more oil burning machines. As Chad writes: “Everything we do is just a euphemism for burning fossil fuels.” But what is philosophical as such is not that Being is Oil, but why. Underlying this conceptualization is a rethinking of the categories of substance and the way subjects encounter and know substance. This exposition itself takes the latter 3/4ths of the book which comprise part II of the work.

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