HARMAN’S OBJECTATION (2): The Objectal Conversion and False Naïveté

We have seen that Harman operates a reduction of the world to objects and their qualities, in a gesture which claims to be primarily ontological and not epistemological ( he is wrong in this claim, and we have seen with THE THIRD TABLE that the epistemological dimension is omnipresent , but remains the object of a denegation. I claim that this is the case for the totality of Harman’s work). This objectal reduction is not easy to defend by argument, and so sometimes it is presented as a self-evident starting point, obvious to every person of good will and good sense:

« Instead of beginning with radical doubt, we start from naiveté. What philosophy shares with the lives of scientists,  bankers, and animals is that all are concerned with objects » (THE QUADRUPLE OBJECT, p5).

« Once we begin from naiveté rather than doubt, objects immediately take center stage » (p7)

This « self-evidence » of the point of view of naïveté is in fact meticulously constructed and philosophically motivated. We must recall that Harman’s « objects » are not at all the objects of common sense (we cannot know them nor touch them). So the « naiveté » that Harman invokes here is not some primitive openness to the world (that would only be a variant of the « bucket theory of mind » and of knowledge, denounced by Karl Popper). This « naiveté » is a determinate point of view, a very particular perspective. Under cover of this word « naiveté », Harman talks to us of a « naïf »  point of view, that is to say an objectal point of view., that is to say not naïf at all but partisan. Harman deploys all his rhetorical resources to provoke in the reader the adoption of the objectal point of view as if it were self-evident. This « objectal conversion » is necessary, according to him, to at last get out of the tyranny of epistemology and edify a new ontology, new foundation for a metaphysics capable of speaking of all objects. We have seen that this « self-evident » beginning implies both a conversion and a reduction.

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