Friday, May 29, 2015

"Deleveling: Against Flat Ontologies" (Brassier taking down object-oriented "flat ontology")

Note that the Buchlerian-Sellarsian-Brassierian version of "flat ontology" - e.g. the truly immanent version which recognizes a.) transcendental conditions which are not supernatural-transcendent conditions somehow hidden in "essential" natures of "objects"; and b.) which realizes the ineliminable nature of epistemic subjectivity, is superior to the garden object-oriented variety.  As Brassier contends:
In some flat ontologies influenced by phenomenology, such as Graham Harman’s, there is a version of phenomenological immanence which could be called ‘object-oriented immanence’. It retains the phenomenological primacy of intentional interaction. This variety of flat ontology insists that intentional correlation is primary, but it generalizes it to all objects in the world: all objects intend one another, and all interaction between objects is based on a kind of intentional transaction. Harman distinguishes between the ‘sensual’ qualities of objects and their ‘real’ qualities. Objects interact by unlocking and decoding each other’s sensual qualities, but they can never grasp the real core of the objects they intend. As a consequence, reality is replete with objects intending one another, but these objects only unlock each other’s ‘sensual’ qualities, never their ‘real’ ones. Certain problems ensue from this view. The most fundamental is that it becomes very difficult to specify conditions for object-individuation. We might be able to delineate certain formal or structural characteristics of objects in general, but it becomes very difficult to say what objects are or to specify what the quiddity of an object consists in...

Unfortunately, the immediate consequence of adopting this full-blown object-oriented immanence is that we cannot say what anything really is. But if we cannot specify the essential qualities that distinguish one real object from another, how can we be sure that the discrete multiplicity of sensual objects does not mask the underlying continuity of a single, indivisible real object? If we do not have any criteria for distinguishing between the sensual and real properties of objects, how do we individuate real objects?The consequence of this is that Harman’s account of real objects fuses epistemic ineffability, i.e. not being able to specify where sensual properties end and real ones begin, with ontological inscrutability, i.e. not being able to say what real objects are. Since Harman insists real objects can never be represented but only ‘alluded’ to, it is impossible to say what they ‘really’ are. The result is a metaphysics where we can never know what we are ‘really’ talking about, or explain why our allusions should succeed where our representations fail. 
Read the whole article HERE.