DIAGRAMMING HARMAN’S OOP (2): pathways

Updated diagram:

Harman begins with naiveté:

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

This passage from THE QUADRUPLE OBJECT (page 7) neglects to tell us that this so-called “naiveté” is a sophisticated philosophical construct. Harman also does not mention here that the objects perceived by naiveté are all sensual objects, and so sham, simulacra, phantasm, and illusion in terms of his system. That is to say that the beginning is erroneous when measured in terms of the reality of withdrawal, and doubt is re-installed at the center of Harman’s philosophy, only it is no longer solely epistemic but also ontological. In terms of the diagram Harman begins from a euphoric evocation of objects and rises by denying their reality, following the traces of withdrawal by means of intellectual intuition. Unfortunately in Harman’s system withdrawal is absolute and he cannot cross the veil of unknowing behind which stand the real objects. He thus falls back down to a cynical ascetic image of this real realm, mirroring it by means of linguistic allusion. For him sensual objects are “phantoms”, but real objects (in fact the mirrored image of them heis left with) are “ghosts”:

The world is filled primarily not with electrons or human praxis, but with ghostly objects withdrawing from all human and inhuman access, accessible only by allusion.

(THE THIRD TABLE, 12).

Thus not only is the beginning false, but every single sentence of his philosophy is false is taken to be refering to or describing the real world.

Levi Bryant’s path is a pincer movement as he begins from both cynical ascetic pseudo-Lacanism AND naive euphoric pseudo-Deleuzian machinism. He comes up against the veil of pluralism, and cannot cross it. Unable to directly “intuit” real objects (as Harman does) Bryant is constrained to rely on empirical intuition of a scientistic turn and on conditional language. He is constantly talking about what a satisfactory theory “might” do or how it “would” analyse phenomena, and so exhibits the same absence of any plausible philosophical method as Harman does.

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