“SPECULATIVE REALISM” MAKES THE RECENT PAST UNREADABLE

I have often warned against the tendency to rewrite philosophical history so as to present the recent movements of OOO/SR as philosophy at last awakening from its dogmatic anti-realist slumber and turning at last away from postmodern dreams towards the real that had so long been neglected by our intellectual predecessors. This phantasm of the omnipresence of anti-realist critical thought is demonstrably false: none of the creative thinkers of poststructuralism (Althusser, Deleuze, Lyotard, Foucault, and Derrida) were anti-realist and their philosophies were constructed to combat such tendencies.

One of the consequences of this phantasm is that our immediate philosophical past is forgotten or becomes unreadable when viewed through “new realist” glasses. Another is that contemporary thinkers who maintain an informed and positive relation to that past
become unreadable too, while thinkers who present concepts or slogans surreptitiously stolen from that past as if they were major steps forward allowing us to break forever from the dead hand of the erroneous past are taken at face value and held in high esteem.

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