Saturday, December 14, 2013

reflections on Eduardo Viveiros de Castro's pluralist "universal relationism" and "multinaturalism"

Eduardo Viveiros de Castro has recently joined others, such as Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, in appropriating savagery as a way to do “imaginary” (speculative-metaphysical) philosophy where ethnography, anthropology, and cosmology are included at once.  MBK does so in the realm of nihilistic but spirited culture where EVC’s culture is firmly positioned with reference to nature, pace Descola, Latour, etc. etc.  EVC’s nature-culture ontology is radically pluralistic and “multinatural”: it includes humans, other animals, gods, spirits, and the dead, as much as it includes “inhabitants of other cosmic levels,” meteorological phenomena, plants, objects, and artifacts.

EVC’s metaphysics, like MBK’s, states, in agreement with Q. Meillassoux, that “correlationism” must be “dealt with” and “overcome” (dismantled, reappropriated, and reinstalled).  For EVC this means passing through “the metaphysics of others” and returning to the “dissident” tradition of panpsychism via Tarde, Latour, James, and Whitehead.

Taking anthropology to be a truly pluralistic science, EVC calls for a reinscription of perspectivalist metaphysics – a metaphysics he finds at work in Amerindian cultures.  Not merely another view about “Nature” EVC calls for the very reinscription of human relations to nature by way of a “multinatural perspectivalism” inspired by these Amerindian cultures.

In place of current “modern” relations to nature, then, we are told that a “radical materialist panpyschism” must also be an “immanent perspectivism.”  One must place relations over substance and “the alterity of nexus” over any essentialist unities.

In the words of Benjamin Noys, EVC is thus “anti-correlation but pro-relation.”  While Amerindian multinaturalism and perspectivalism are indeed anthropomorphic they are not anthropocentric.  Again Noys: “The real way to break with correlation is via anthropomorphism, via panpsychism, and to, in a sense, drown ‘correlation’ [as but] one form of relation within a sea of other forms of relation.”

As Noys concludes, “A panpsychism of existence [is a] thought that places all in relation and otherness.  There is a universal relationality, of which even the thinking of relation is only one part.”

For more on EVC's pluralist universal relationism and multinaturalism, see his "Cosmologies: perspectivism" HERE.