Graham Harman’s object-oriented philosophy is globally a regression compared to the post-structuralism that it purports to go beyond, but it does contain certain progressive elements. In particular its anti-scientism and its anti-literalism.

The striking failure of Peter Wolfendale’s much vaunted (in Speculative Realist circles) critique stems from the fact that it is in net regression compared with these progressive elements. What vitiates Wolfendale’s critique above all is its naive scientism, although he himself is unable to recognise this.

This regressive aspect of scientistic objections is why a non-scientistic critique of OOO, such as Zizek’s, has a greater chance of isolating the major structural elements that need to be replaced. This is better than concentrating on critiquing OOO’s lesser defects, as does Wolfendale, due to his scientistic blindspot.

Zizek manages to say in the limited space of 15 pages more than Wolfendale says in a 400 page book, because he does not approach OOO from a scientistic perspective.

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5 Responses to SCIENTISM AS BLINDSPOT: Zizek vs Wolfendale

  1. Carl Looper says:

    Scientism can be difficult to distinguish from that which is otherwise broader than science, but nevertheless encodable in terms of that which would be within the scope of scientific enquiry. For example, the empiricism of logical positivism is certainly that which belongs within the scope of science, but empiricism itself is not limited to how it is used in science. A theory (or philosophy) that draws on empiricism is not automatically scientistic, but can certainly appear that way due to the use of in common concepts.

    An interesting example is colour. Colour can be understood in a broader understanding of empiricism as referring to a particular sensation, such as that one we call red. But according to cognitive theories within science, we might be led to believe that our sensation of red is peculiar to us – that some other mind might see cyan, where we otherwise see red. And within a physics conception of colour, the mathematical model of such (in terms of frequencies of light) would not in any way be altered by whether we would see red light as red, or red light as cyan. The physics/mathematical model would remain exactly the same. The technologies of colour would remain the same.

    If we can otherwise see that either proposition (red light as a red sensation, vs any other sensation) are both encodable in terms of the same physics/mathematical model, we can see that in doing so, such a model, insofar as it can no longer distinguish between the concepts has not fully encoded the concepts. The concepts remain broader than their specific encoding within science.

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  2. landzek says:

    I havnt read wolfe.. Bit id say that the science can only arise when what theory is obscuring is allowed to be shown. I think Latours effort is in the attempt to create that opening. Though it s still lacking.

    But it is not a science that can be defined as some one author can propose that a science is this and that, it will be applied as of something that is already occurring.

    But i think we can begin this line by accumulating data. But even so, i am not yet in the position to be able to put forth some method or manner of discerning this data. But i can say that it will arise along a different teleology, and this difference wil develop the manner by which such data will be discerned. It will be a task for those of the future.

    An example of how data might arise in the closing of theoretical distance: Perhaps a ‘rupure’ theoretical propsal has to do with a reality of confidence and a love relationship.

    Perhaps reductive philosophical measures reflect issues with hermit crabs.

    Sounds utterly rediculous but a fact is indeed that no one has been dealing philosophically with facts, with data. They have and are dealing with subjective approprations that deflect views away from real offense.

    This is where Harman begins to have sugnificance.


  3. Michael G says:

    Didn’t you mean “Levi Bryant’s object-oriented philosophy,” since you are talking about Zizek’s essay on Levi Bryant?


  4. terenceblake says:

    Zizek’s arguments have a more general scope than their particular application to Bryant’s philosophy. I redeploy them against Harman’s version of OOO here:



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