October 28, 2009 Of Sutures– Speculative Realism Round-Up Posted by larvalsubjects under Anti-Realism, Assemblages, Immanence, Metaphysics, Object-Oriented Philosophy, Ontic, Ontology, Politics, Realism, Speculative Realism
The prime example of an ontological suture is the subject as it functions in German idealism. Here one type of being– the subject or mind –makes all other beings what they are such that we are prohibited from knowing anything of the nature of these beings independent of the subject or even whether or not beings independent of the subject exist in this way. A close second and third to the ontological suture of being to the subject would be the suture of being to language or being to society. In this connection we talk about how language constructs beings or how society constructs beings. The thesis, then, is that these beings would not be what they are without language or society.Somewhere or other Zizek defines metaphysics (in the pejorative sense) as any operation that takes one dimension of reality and elevates it to a condition for all other beings in reality. Thus, for example, if Nietzsche remains within the field of metaphysics then this is because he makes all other beings conditional upon force or the will to power. I hesitate to use the word “metaphysics” in its pejorative sense because metaphysics is not, for me, a dirty word or something to be abandoned. I think one of the major blind alleys of Continental thought in the last century was to equate metaphysics with ontotheology or philosophies of presence. The real move should have been to develop a metaphysics that wasn’t premised on presence and that was not ontotheological. That aside, if this pejorative sense of metaphysics is accepted, then it is clear that these ontological sutures, far from being anti-metaphysical are all too metaphysical in their suture of being to one being or type of being such as the subject, language, or the social. larvalsubjects Says: October 28, 2009 at 11:27 pm Hi John,
I am sympathetic to your position that it’s important to be cognizant and aware of how the political informs inquiry. Nor do I think realism prevents one from engaging in this form of analysis. Roy Bhaskar’s Realist Theory of Science is an excellent rigorous account of just how the intersection of the social and political and scientific inquiry must be thought within a realist framework. In other words, Bhaskar shows how it is possible to both do the sort of self-reflexive analysis you’re calling for and advocate a robust realist ontology (not just the Kantian claim that there is mind independent “stuff”). I do not, however, think that ontology can be abandoned in the way you seem to suggest. On the one hand, I think Nick gets it right in his rejoinder to some of your points over at Speculative Heresy. [...] A realist will even agree that self-reflexive analysis of that inquirer, knower, or observer is a crucial feature of any inquiry. In other words, nothing in the realist position prohibits or excludes in engaging in, for example, self-reflexive analysis of biases that inform her cognition, protocols of practice, perception, etc.