Philosophy of Lack w/ Cadell Last, Alex Ebert, O. G. Rose & Tim Adalin

The Philosophy of Lack

As introduced by Cadell: “Philosophy is a discipline classically concerned with “Being”, or the presence of Something. Why is there Something rather than Nothing? However, after more than a century of psychoanalysis, we may say that the human subject is an entity of Lack, or that Lacks. Thus, the human subject is a Being constituted by a contradictory identity, constantly attempting to fill in the persistent feeling that there is “Something missing”. In this conversation series, we seek to enquire deeper about the experience and the philosophy of Lack, and ultimately, what such a philosophy might say about our contemporary culture. Why is there Nothing rather than Something?”

As introduced by Cadell: “We started our first discourse on lack in the context of the origin of philosophy in the Parmenidean presupposition of absolute being banishing the void; and its relationship to the emergence of psychoanalysis as a discipline that operates by necessity in the void of subjectivity. In our second discourse, I propose to shift our context to Democritus, and his atomist ontology, which we may say is the spontaneous unofficial metaphysics of scientific materialism (i.e. the universe at base is divided between indivisible somethings and nothing (“the void”). However, the complimentary opposite of atoms, the void, is often left unthought by scientific materialists, leaving open-ended the philosophical consequences of a presence that depends on absence. For Democritus, a presence that depends on absence signifies an important distinction vis-a-vis thinking “the real” (or fundamental reality), namely, that the most essential cannot be either a being (atoms, something), and neither can it be a non-being (void, nothing), but a paradox of the two. He referred to this paradox of the two as a “not-nothing”, or what we might call “Lack”. What does thinking Lack as a fundamental reality mean for scientific materialism?”

As introduced by Cadell: “Lack III discusses “excess” as appearance in lack itself; (Plato) — There is an excess which repeats most easily when not observed (it does not want to be observed?). This excess is its own knowledge as the center of enjoyment and truth of identity. Of relevance to our on-going discussion, the excess seems to appear most deeply at the site of lack. Being in touch with this experiential knowing seems primal, and brings one to sites or drives of the body, whether oral, genital, anal, nasal, visionary or vocal. Does it make sense to say this excess is the place of “perfect” forms? What is our relation to perfect forms in time? What role do these forms play in our maturation as subjects? How can we be in touch, or in-formed by these forms, while also maintaining separation?”

As introduced by Cadell: “The philosophy of lack has sought to introduce the starting condition for thinking in the experience of something missing (a lack), the idea that something is always conditioned by nothing, and that nonetheless, this nothing is excessive, the place of wild drives and images. We now seek to bring a certain closure to our reflections, by placing an importance on thinking that can both address from a place of lack (as opposed to addressing from the mode of explanatory presuppositions), and the hope of being addressed as a lack (as opposed to through ideological backgrounds). What is at stake in this conversation is not only thinking lack, but thinking how lack itself opens the space for the self and the other. Here we are not looking for closure in a theory of everything, but a closure in knowing that our theories are for the other, and that the other is an irreducible part of everything.”

About The Contributors

Cadell is a general thinker interested in questions about human existence and evolution.  He is author of Global Brain Singularity, which focuses on the nature of temporality and the future of consciousness; and Sex, Masculinity, God, which focuses on the consequences of libidinal energy, gender identity and theological mysteries for our knowledge constructs.  The tension between sex and love, as well as death and immortality, drives much of his current philosophical work, which is deeply informed by dialectics and psychoanalysis.

Alex Ebert is a multiplatinum songwriter, Golden Globe-winning film composer, and philosopher. He is currently finishing his first book, Dead Cool, an analysis of sociodynamics and status anxiety in the age of Cool.


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Daniel Garner as one part to the O.G. Rose duo spent several years working collaboratively with other artists at Eunoia, a creative community Rose helped develop in Central Virginia. Rose now lives on a farm, manages a wedding venue named Mead Lake Lodge, operates Frozen Glory Photography, and teaches piano using visuals from the DLG Pattern Method.

A finalist for the 2020 UNO Press Lab Prize and 46th Pushcart Nominee, Rose’s creative works appear at The Write Launch, Allegory Ridge, Streetlight Magazine, Ponder Review, Iowa Review, The William and Mary Review, Assure Press, Toho Journal, West Trade Review, ellipsis, Poydras Review, Open, and Broken Pencil.




Tim is a writer, speaker, and philosopher with interests in metaphysics, psyche, culture, and nature. He is working to develop networks and communities which support wiser contexts for education, contribution, and belonging.

In 2017 he founded Voicecraft, a media platform which hosts conversations that weave intuition and intellect, heart and mind, body and soul, in the context of explorations into the nature of what matters.

He is also the host of Voicecraft.Network, an online and offline portal to learn from, participate in, and contribute to the development of a participatory wisdom commons.

You can sign up to his Substack, or read it first, using this link. (It’s the same as the Voicecraft one, and contains standalone writings as well as project updates, personal updates, and invitations.)


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