JON COGBURN AND WEAK WITHDRAWAL

In his recent post on Continental Philosophy Jon Cogburn links to and discusses an article where he gives a rapid history of OOO. In reply to my comments he says:

I find the philosophical interestingness of much of your critical engagement with Speculative Realism and Object Oriented Ontology over these past few years to paradoxically increase the pragmatic value of the history where Harman’s Tool Being is a decisive moment of the modern recapitulation of Schelling’s “I am nature.”

While I do not particularly appreciate Harman’s TOOL BEING (although, I must admit,  when I first read the book I thought the externalization* move, was brilliant, and it almost convinced me), I can see why Cogburn would prefer this early book of Harman’s to THE THIRD TABLE, and THE QUADRUPLE OBJECT (not to mention “The Well-Wrought Broken Hammer”) These later books posit an absolute bifurcation between real objects (declared to be “withdrawn”, untouchable, unknowable, inaccessible) and common sense, scientific, and humanistic objects (declared to be accessible, but on that account to be phantoms, simulacra, shams) .

To his credit, Cogburn wants to keep the externalization while weakening the absoluteness of the withdrawal, making it a relative and empirical withdrawal: each object “actualising different properties as others withdraw”. Perhaps this weak withdrawal explains why Cogburn is so fascinated by Adrian Johnston’s concept of “weak nature”.

*Note: the externalization move is made when Harman generalizes Heidegger’s notion of withdrawal, and argues that objects don’t just withdraw from us, but from each other too.

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