LARUELLE AND LATOUR vs HARMAN (2): Bi-lateral foreclosure as double closure and confinement

Harman’s foreclosure of the real is bi-lateral: we cannot attain the real because real objects withdraw, they are behind the veil of withdrawal. More generally, a sensual object cannot withdraw, it cannot interact with the real. This is one face of of the bi-lateral foreclosure, this side of the veil of withdrawal constitutes the sensual closure.

Symmetrically, a real object cannot “de-withdraw”, all that is manifest is sensual. In terms of the example of Harman’s “third table”, the real table is neither the humanistic nor the common sense nor the scientific table. It cannot be known, calculated, measured, seen, or touched – or even imagined. It has none of the properties or the dimensions of these more or less familiar tables – no colour, no nor shape, nor size, nor duration, nor extension – all these are mere “sensual” properties. In fact, for any real object there is no reason to say that its appearance would be a table rather than a buffalo.

For Latour there is no great bifurcation, so there is no foreclosure and no bi-laterality. There is no mode that underlies all the other modes of existence, no a-modal real prior to the plurality of modes. An “object” can be said to exist at the crossing of several modes of existence, it is a nodal point of the superposition of several mutually incommensurable sets of felicity conditions. Yet we have seen in the previous post that this position is half-way between a relativistic and a quantal position. There is partial closure between modes, and some superposition, but they are not really porous to transversal leaking of heterogeneous entities between modes.

For Laruelle, the foreclosure of the Real is uni-lateral. No, we cannot by thinking attain to the real (from inside the relative worlds). But we can think from the Real, and into the worlds. There is no “naive” realism, but there is no dualism either. This is the advantage of Laruelle’s uni-lateralism: foreclosure is not enclosure, the relative worlds are not fully closed off from each other, as they are cloned from the Real to which they are open but which is not open to them. This is perhaps what Latour is suggesting too, with his being-as-other: a uni-lateral foreclosure without enclosure.

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2 Responses to LARUELLE AND LATOUR vs HARMAN (2): Bi-lateral foreclosure as double closure and confinement

  1. landzek says:

    I would say that Harmans ‘withdrawal ‘ is evidence of ‘offense’ in his work. I gotta stop saying thank you to you for all you’re thought and insights. So I’ll leave it, and just figure every time I comment is a thank you implied ;). I am finally getting a copy of 3rd table . I am eager to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • terenceblake says:

      Tell me what you think of the book. I like your idea of withdrawal as offense. Its protectionist or defensive aspect is easy to see in its refusal of reductionism. Its offensive aspect, to my mind, is that this anti-reductionism is accompanied by a massive meta-reductionism that invalidates the reality of every known or sensed object.


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