I was once described as a "beautiful, intelligent iguana".
Levi Bryant and Graham Harman have just posted some responses and reflections to each others’ philosophical positions. I think this is an important moment for both of them, as neither has really engaged with the other all that much, even though there are definitely points of contention present. I’d like to make a response post to both of theirs, if I get the time, but who knows if I’ll get around to that. In the meantime, I’ll just link to both posts, as they’re really great reads, and worth taking the time to go through.
Harman’s Response: http://doctorzamalek2.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/on-bryants-philosophy/
And, equally important, is Levi’s post that started this discussion in the first place, which was a response to David Berry’s horrible mischaracterization of Speculative Realism: http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/worries-about-ooo-and-politics/
Finally, Graham hints in the article posted above that he plans to do a more sustained critique and engagement with Levi’s philosophy when the latter posts a more coherent presentation of his own position (though, I must ask, what does Harman regard “The Democracy of Objects” as then?). That hint is really exciting to me honestly, because I see much more fruit in the exchanges between Bryant and Harman than I do in the Harman/Meillassoux divide that’s much more common to see discussed (the more I read Meillassoux, the less reason I see for continuing to read him).
Great stuff! I’ve made no secret of the fact that Brant is by far my favourite object-oriented philosopher and I’m almost always on board with what he has to say. I’m less interested in Harman by himself, but the man is a great mover. Without Harman’s influence, Bryant wouldn’t be following the leads that he is. In fact, without Harman, it’s doubtful that anyone would be talking about OOO in the way that they are. My problem with Harman is that I think the essential problems he cares about aren’t that interesting — unlike Bryant, he doesn’t really like to talk about politics or ethics or even relations. He seems almost maniacally focused on his main idea of withdrawn, vacuum-sealed, individual objects. The ramifications of that idea, however, are far-reaching. As a scholar of Heidegger, Harman likes to talk about Heidegger’s pedantry. Heidegger, he argues, barely had more than a single idea, laid out over and over again in varying guises, but it’s a very deep idea that had an incalculable influence on 20th-century philosophy. Harman might turn out to be a similar figure, himself.
I agree with pretty much everything here, except I wish to comment on the bolded part. I mean, isn’t it weird? He talks about politics quite a lot on his blog and elsewhere (especially with the Egyptian elections going on; he was posting a lot on that), but that’s just it: he posts on politics, not on the politics of OOO, or even the political possibilities of his philosophy more specifically. I have to wonder if it’s because he’s so indebted to Heidegger - maybe he sees something very dangerous about connecting his ontological theories with an explicit politics, as was the case with Heidegger. Maybe that’s why he’s so reluctant. I think Bryant’s right here though: there’s poltical/ethical/etc. consequences to Harman’s thought, and those consequences should be fleshed out and explored.