OBJECTS AS DE-WORLDED BEINGS: Harman’s contracted ontology

Harman’s solution to the problem of hermetically sealed understandings of being, or incommensurable worlds, is the exact opposite of that of Hubert Dreyfus, and very close to Badiou’s solution in maintaining that « mathematics is ontology ».Harman’s solution is to posit the existence of real objects outside any world-structure of intelligibility. This « de-worlding » of beings is advanced by Dreyfus as crucial to a reallist reading of Heidegger’s account of science. Harman « de-worlds » even further than the scientific mode of understanding, which still approaches beings in terms of historically variable theoretical paradigms.

Badiou , contrary to Harman, adds to this de-worlded and de-temporalised ontology the concept of « event », leading Lyotard to speak of his having in fact two ontologies. As we saw in the previous post Harman’s gesture of de-worlding beings to the point of arriving at an ontology of pure unrelated objects seems to offer a way out of entrapment in mutually incommensurable worlds, but only at the price of making such mutual incommensurability, now baptised « withdrawal », a universal predicament. A further undesirable consequence of this view is is explained in my review of Mehdi Belhaj Kacem’s LETTRE A TRISTAN GARCIA:  « objects » so conceived are so « de-worlded » that radical paradigm change in the sciences becomes inconceivable as a cognitive event embodying scientific progress, and can only be considered a brute fact of intellectual fashion.

Thus this de-worlding of beings, and their replacement by un-worlded objects, explains why Harman tends to see not only the sciences, but also philosophical worldviews, as arenas for pugilism and fashion, rather than for an expanded, pluralistic, practice of rational debate.

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