Deconstruction as it began to succeed left people both disoriented and disappointed. Disoriented, because it seemed to lead through the critique of all foundations into a form of relativism that could only be perceived as nihilist. Disappointed, because it led to a form of discourse so convoluted that it assured plausible deniability on any idea or thesis that its opponents attributed it in order to criticise it, thus generating a new élite with cognitive diplomatic immunity. Thus the spectre of what must be called “élitist relativism” began to haunt the academy. This is to be contrasted with the “democratic relativism” that Paul Feyerabend defended, specifying it as epistemological relativism allied with ontological realism.

Feyerabend’s voice was not heard, as a confused “wild-man anarcho-relativist” stereotype was quickly constructed in order to exclude his ideas from the conversation. People who had never had the slightest idea of pluralism, nor of free and open exchange re-asserted their hegemony. As deconstruction began to run out of steam, it became possible once more to philosophise in the old constructive manner. Academic regression set in, plurality, multiplicity and difference were retained but they were strictly limited to the object-level. These regressive constructions took the radical form that one sees most clearly in Badiou, reinjecting critique, in the form of a “communist hypothesis”,  from the outside into an ontology that had first been laboriously purified of all critical force. Eventually one no longer even saw the need for such a reinjection, and a more “value-free”, i.e. neoliberal conformist form was developped, such as one can see in Graham Harman’s OOO.

Objects and multiples became the new barrier against further deconstruction, permitting a return to intellectual order while conserving a sophisticated veneer. Instead of pushing the deconstructive process further, a dogmatic bulwark was erected. But to no avail: others were calmly and quietly pursuing the critique of all such dogmatic stopping points. François Laruelle, Bruno Latour, and Bernard Stiegler were busily at work, each in their own way, undermining the synchronic presuppositions of these new dogmatic constructions, and affirming their continuity with the inspirations of their great predecessors (Foucault, Derrrida, Lyotard, Deleuze, Serres).

OOO was at a loss. Its hackneyed set of critical terms (correlationism, philosophy of access, lavalampy overmining, atomistic undermining, streams of becoming) clearly have no point of application at all to these “new” lines of research. In fact the “deconstruction” (I keep using this word, but I mean it in a non-Derridean sense, involving not only the irreduciblity of ambiguity and of incommensurability, but also the positivity of heurmeneutics and of heuristics, of becoming and of the diachronic processes of interpretation, as explicated by Feyerabend and Stiegler) and the pluralism never stopped, and these thinkers have been working at it for a long time.

One has only to look at the utter incomprehension that OOOxians manifest with regard to Laruelle to see that their claim to “move beyond” deconstruction is an empty bluff. They never even understood the point of deconstruction, and so are ill-equiped to recognise its successors. Laruelle himself is an ambiguous figure, with one face (“non-philosophy”) looking backwards towards the negative task of deconstruction, and the other face (“non-standard” philosophy) pushing forward to the diachronic hermeneutics of Stiegler and to the ontological pluralism that Latour is articulating in its most radical form today.

(updated: 18/08/2014).

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  1. Agreed. and Agreed. OOO is OOO-oozing itself out of any relevance.


  2. Tweeting this. Excellent post.


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