I'm a philosophy student that tends to post about really serious things unseriously and about really unserious things seriously.
I was once described as a "beautiful, intelligent iguana".
“Viewed through this lens, it is equally valid to say that cows exploited human desires for fat, compelling us to clear forests and protect them from predators, enhancing their reproductive possibilities. But domestication doesn’t end here. It is not simply that cows domesticated us in the sense of leading us to develop a set of practices such as raising cows and clearing forests so they would have more grazing land. No, the conspiracy of cows against humanity go far deeper. It is likely that cows also introduced extreme selective pressure on human populations dependent on cows for food, weeding out those members of our species that couldn’t tolerate high-beef diets and selecting for those that could. It’s likely that in many human populations cows changed our very genetics. As Scu has argued, we are addicted to meat. This addiction, in part, was carefully cultivated by cows themselves.
Note well, I am not saying this is good or that this morally justifies our ugly and ecological destructive treatment of livestock. I am saying that there are a variety of different teleologies involved in the evolution of cows. Some involved human aims. Others involved nonhumans such as chickens, cows, pigs, lamb, etc. The same could equally be argued for various grasses such as wheat, as well as a variety of other plants upon which we’re deeply dependent. And, I would argue, the same would be true of technologies, social groups, and texts […]
There will never be a society composed just of humans because humans always dwell among a variety of different agencies including humans but also including all sorts of nonhumans. These nonhumans are never just wax for human intentions, but introduce all sorts of differences of their own that are irreducible to human intentions.”
Still haven’t really said anything about how OOO specifically does the above things though (is it just a matter of replacing subject-object with object-object but doesn’t that just inverse the terms)? And also, there’s a rich history of anti-Idealist philosophers who have “dethroned” the subject-object relation already (and I would say my faves, Derrida, Deleuze, & Foucault, have done this most successfully) so how is OOO doing anything new (especially from ppl like Latour)? And what exactly are the politics at stake in saying that an object like the desk I’m writing on has an “ontology” (cuz there is a whole tradition of anti/post humanism that doesn’t resort to claims of this sort)? As I understand it (and I might be totally wrong here), it’s almost like a playing out of that really dumb scenario about if there’s no one around to hear a tree fall in the woods does it really fall. Like no shit it falls cuz things exist independently of humans but why the fuck should I care when ppl are suffering and dying (does this make me a “humanist”? naw bro). I’m further suspicious of OOO because 1) what I have read really misreads Deleuze and 2) the people that I know who are into it are kinda dumb (mostly in the English dept), but I am totally willing to give it a shot cuz obvs you are not dumb. If you had to recommend a short intro text what would it be?
[I’m truncating this for ease. Also, if you just want to get to recommended texts, skip down to the bold part so you can find them easily, because, uh, long post.]
Well, first off, like I said earlier, I was typing that in class and couldn’t really get into details that heavily.
But also, the problem with trying to answer a lot what your questioning is that you’re treating ‘OOO’ as if it were some homogeneous thing, or set of ideas.
But seriously, irt that last post: if any of you are even interested in OOO and related projects, just check some of it out. It’s pretty easy to get yourself into, and it’s not to hard to take at least some sort of cursory glance at it (something that the majority of people I’ve seen trying to dismiss it haven’t done).
If you want an easy introduction into some stuff about it, along with a bunch of critical essays (some good, some not), check out the Speculative Turn anthology. (That links to a .pdf, by the way, since the book’s Open Access).
And, on the Open Access note, part of the reason I like OOO so much is simply access. When I was out of school for a year, OOO and SR were projects that I could immerse myself into because most of the books were either really cheap, or Open Access, and so I didn’t need exclusive academic access to try and learn a lot about it. So, in terms of material constraints on learning philosophy, OOO/SR has been a really new thing for me, and I think that’s why it’s taken off so much (more than any other reason at least).
any of you “into” object oriented ontology and can explain to me why I should care?
I’m going to be really broad here, because I’m in the middle of class and so I can’t go into this too deeply.
I also appreciate that a lot of the work being done in OOO is being taken out of the academy. Or even important ‘academic institutions’. It’s not that ‘academics’ are bad in some sense, but that housing philosophical discourse only within universities (for the most part) is a negative thing. This is the first time in a while that I’ve seen a lot of people talking about philosophy without having years and years of background knowledge into highly specific parts of it - which means sometimes it’s really clumsy and uncritical, but it’s also opening up a lot of avenues for discourse outside of traditional paths for it, which I really like. I mean, Bryant teaches at some small community college and is at the forefront of a new philosophical outlook is a really cool phenomena in its own.
I don’t know, I’m super excited about it for reasons that I can’t quite pin down yet. I suggest giving it a looking through, though, especially since I think it gets a lot more flack than is deserved. I’ve yet to see anyone give a sustained critique of any OOO type projects that don’t amount to “you read ‘x’ philosopher that I like a lot wrong’ or ‘I hate the type of rhetoric you use’ or ‘I fundamentally misread everything you wrote because I wanted to critique it from the beginning’ (Zizek’s the worst offender here). So until I see that, I’m going to continue to support it on some level.
I was trying to find things about the newest translation of Heidegger’s “Contributions” from Heidegger scholars (to see if it was any improvement), and came across a good little post from Harman. This was probably the best part:
In recent months we’ve seen a number of crabby critiques of how “real” philosophy can’t be done on the internet. And ironically enough, I agree to some extent with these critiques (except that Levi Bryant is a glowing counterexample of how it really is possible to do much of your best philosophical work on a blog, though I’m more of a traditional academic writer myself in terms of chosen genres).
However, these critiques also miss the point completely. Namely, they assume that blog philosophy should simply be a different venue in which to publish the sorts of things you put in books and articles, and judge philosophy blogs by that same standard.
And that’s simply wrong. The philosophy blogosphere is not another version of books and articles. It is more like a city where you can live or hang out. It is Blogopolis.
What do you do when you live in a city when you’re out in public? You read the news, go to work, hang out in cafés, hear tips from others about what’s happening, share your own news, meet new friends, and so forth.
And that’s what the philosophy blogosophere is about. It’s a kind of loose philosophical bohemia that keeps things stirred up and is able to transmit new currents (such as speculative realism) quickly and enthusiastically.
This is obviously pretty contra Brassier on the whole point.
Obviously the internet isn’t a place for highly technical philosophical work to be done (the kind you’d find in a published work), but it is good for testing out ideas and making connections with others who help tend those ideas.
I think it’s a pretty good example of what Derrida was trying to get at in “Death of the Book and the Beginning of Writing”, and I kind of feel that those who critique attempts to do philosophy online tend to have really conservative and stodgy ideas of what constitutes philosophy ‘proper’. It’s just an annoying thing to still be seeing so prevalently.
is there a context for that Bogost quote? I like it a lot
I think it comes from Bogost’s “Alien Phenomenology”, though it’s also been mentioned on his blog a few times, e.g.:
I get the sense that many people misconstrue object-oriented ontology as a singular material affair, as a reductionism: “everything’s an object.” But instead, proponents of OOO hold that all things equally exist, yet they do not exist equally. The funeral pyre is not the same as the aardvark; the porcelatta is not equivalent to the rubgy ball. Not only are neither pair reducible to human encounter, but also neither are reducible to one another. In this respect, McLuhan is a better place to look for materialism than is Marx.
[via: http://www.bogost.com/blog/materialisms.shtml - I’m wary about that last claim about Marx/McLuhan, but that’s because I don’t have enough context to really understand it].
also doesnt OOO sort of go against an intensive ontological schema then? Im not quite defending it, just curious
Well, let me just make sure I understand you here first, since (for some reason) ‘intensive’ is just one of those words that my brain never wants to remember. Intensive properties are those that don’t depend on scale, right? (Like, temperature for example). So an ‘intensive ontological schema’ is just an ontology that incorporates intensive properties, correct?
Given the last post, I just wanted to clarify this just in case anyone was getting the wrong idea, since this is seeming to become a common response/critique of OOO type theories: Object-Oriented Philosophy/Ontology, and any of the ‘Speculative Realism’ associated theorists I’ve seen, would never claim that Tumblr or any corporation, is a human subject, because this already presumes that ‘human subjects’ exist in a different ontological category than everything else.
It’s like that slogan from Ian Bogost: all things equally exist, but they don’t exist equally. This means that, insofar as something exists, it’s subject to the same ontological constraints as any other existing thing. There aren’t two hemispheres of being: one the one hand a ‘subject’ (which has almost always been human in the history of philosophy) and the other ‘object’ (which is somehow seen as inert, acted on, passive, etc.). The term ‘subject’ falls under the category of ‘object’ for those working in the OOO framework. There’s no distinction between the two, ontologically.
This doesn’t mean that every entity ‘exists equally’ though. Given that OOO theorists are often concerned with tracing the important roles that ‘objects’ can play in social networks, they’re also aware that certain objects in a network act as ‘hubs’, or privileged centers around which action happens. This means taking into account the Power relations that objects exert within a social body, taking into account the particular ways an object exerts its power within a network of other objects.
So, it’s not about how objects are ‘human subjects’ - that categorization doesn’t even make sense - but about how objects need to be incorporated into our philosophical systems as active things, instead of seeing the only ‘active’ force in an ontology as coming from humans (possibly animals).
Or, to put this otherwise, every OOO/OOP theorist I’ve read has been adamantly against the decision reached in Citizens United and against corporate personhood, precisely because corporations (as objects) have a different amount of power/influence/etc. than does a person (especially when placed within a network called ‘Capitalism’). They both exist, they’re real, but the way that they exist is different.
[Note: I’m not making this post to attack the OP of my last post or something. I just really wanted to do my part to nip that idea in the bud before it blossoms into something that seems ‘obvious’ about OOO. That critique is becoming more common, but it has absolutely no base in the works of OOO theorists - it’s empty projection use to slander their works unjustifiably.]
I mean I would disagree pretty much all the good poets now are somatic or like tangled up somehow in affect theory which is consumed with embodiment. both the body and the hand itself have a lot of implications about labor. especially the hand
or like if you want to extend beyond human bodies theres object oriented ontology which I guess is the embodiement or physical existence/dynamics of space and the shit that arranges itself within it to create subjects ? thats my effort.
Oh. I was being a jerk and limiting ‘theory’ to pretty much ‘philosophical theory’. But that’s mostly because I know nothing about contemporary poetry, so I wouldn’t be qualified to say anything anyway.
Are they really doing that though? I thought affect theory was more of a fringe thing, from what I had gathered on the grapevine. I guess not. Weird.
And I think we get past human bodies with at least a lot of post-human texts (even if they get too techno-optimistic sometimes). And that’s somewhat true of OOO, I guess. The more I read about it, I realize it’s a lot less about objects than it is relations.
Let me just detour a second in directly responding to you and say this bit about OOO. My reading of Levinas, to begin, is rather unorthodox, because I think the ‘there is’ and ipseity are his most important concepts. For him, relations with the other already are, they’re everywhere in our everyday life. What’s remarkable is that when relating to the other, we’re not subsumed into them, we aren’t reduced to them, some level of subjectivity is preserved. That’s the interesting part of Levinas for me.
By contrast, despite all the talk about objects, OOO is really more about relations. Harman, for example, takes objects as a given feature of our world. Heidegger’s tool-analysis complicates objects though, in the sense that they’re always withdrawn to some degree. So for him, the miraculous thing is that relations happen at all. How, if objects infinitely withdrawn from all relation, does relation happen at all? This is why he had to discuss vicarious causation and all that. The important thing about his philosophy is relations, not objects. That’s why he critiques Bryant for not being as marveled at the near impossibility of relations (and the same time, this is why Bryant might be the best of the OOO theorists, because he focuses the most on relations).
Yeah, I know, most everyone does as I’ve come to understand it. I was just really hoping you weren’t actually putting that tired argument out there, since I’ve seen people doing it in earnest too much…
I was into it, kind of, early on, but then I started reading the actual books and articles and people like Harman and Bryant basically write that stuff the exact same way they write blog posts.
Then when some OOO dude came to my uni he gave a lecture based around a really obvious misreading of the statement “there is no metalanguage” and when I called him out for it he accused me of being a “religious Hegelian”.
that was the last straw i think
Yeah, I kind of hate the way they present themselves as well, but I personally think there’s a lot of good material to be mined from their writings, though most people I know don’t even by that.
I also feel I should say something about undervaluing the rhetoric of blog posts, or something, but I’m also super tired and have to be up in a few hours, so I think I’ll just assent and head off of this website.
(I will say that a lot of people’s disagreement with OOO comes from the shitty ways people have adapted OOO. Given the way Harman presents his work, OOO has very little do with objects, and a lot more to do with relations - though this misreading is partially Harman’s fault too, since he focuses on the object side of it so much. But, again, too tired to make this point adequately at the moment.)