on Grant’s response in The Speculative Turn « Object-Oriented Philosophy

on Grant’s response in The Speculative Turn « Object-Oriented Philosophy.  Fascinating post by Graham Harman on Iain Hamilton Grant’s response to his article on substance.  One/multiple substance (GB, GH), or one productive force, one  – ‘anteriority’ – (IHG) which sounds like deep structure.  Find myself wanting to say, No, no, no, no matter how far you question it, it is still great white elephants all the way down.  (Cf Sheldon Kopp, If You Meet the Buddha…)

Have found in a Baptist sermon a reference for the elephants to William James. The sermon is actually rather good, except for the privileging of ‘full’ human awareness to preclude all other forms of awareness of which human awareness de facto may not be aware, which inescapable unawareness of those forms does not allow or excuse denial or dismissal.

Graham Harman writes “Grant thinks that there is a productive force that turns into individuals only when it meets with “retardations.” But either the productive force is a single lump, or it has multiple regions. [..] There is no “third way” between these extremes, often though it has been tried.”  For me this evokes and invokes the photon-photonde problem/phase change, which seems to me to allow of a basic (albeit perhaps place-holdingly equivocal) position of ‘phot’ or ‘photo’.

The problem here as for ecology in general is of changes: fi, when and how does one species (as a specific set of specific characters of specified sorts) become another, ie, by what material means does it happen and by what metaphysical modes is it recognised to have happened.

‘Conatus’, explained here, posits a sort of will to continue to exist (conatus is from conari, to try).  Again a Procrustean reification, naturalisation and normalisation of an inherited artefact of our anthropocentric cultural history.  Entities emerge, exist, extinguish, in our experience.  Volition, as free will and free won’t, is under challenge in cognitive and neuroopsychology, with various models of motor-motive positing somatic-body response as primary and probably prior, immediate under metabolic impetus that produces morphic imperative, with mental interpretation of motives sequential or at best simultaneous, thus obviating rational calculation, and in some accounts, rational consciousness.

At present I don’t know how the ooo people justify privilege of anthropic experience of any sort as giving any sort of window on any reality other than the reality for us for our particular purposes of our experience.  To posit any reality to which humans can have access by whatever artefacts and apparatuses that always ultimately employ human experience, seems completely paradoxical (= parallaxical).  I keep looking for some account of their epistemology that doesn’t like all other metaphysics rest on their being ‘great white elephants all the way down’ (see ref above).

Perhaps Harman’s last line indicates the epistemology: “Every object has a genetic history, sure, but not all aspects of that history are preserved; besides which, that history is one of the conjunction and disjunction of other objects, not of a “productive anteriority.” ”  This is exactly how it seems to me: existence is/as experience of extant/emergent/extinct entities, with contingent contiguities constituting continuities of several sorts that pervade, perpetrate and perpetuate identity, with whatever competences and consequences in/for/as/with/by resonances as empathic experiences/effects for simultaneous and contemporaneous but not necessarily coextensive or coterminous entities of experience.


About leaflittering

person thinking about life as a series of encounters between expectations and experiences, and applying ideas to ecology, ethics, epistemology, and education in various environments
This entry was posted in emergence, epistemology, experience, Procrustes. Bookmark the permalink.

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