Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Questions like justice, the good, and even God: we remain within the two world hypothesis, spirit and nature

5 Responses to “The Hegemonic Fallacy” Levi keeps it going « Object-Oriented Philosophy Says: January 13, 2009 at 10:19 pm
[...] 14, 2009 And, Levi with ANOTHER POST THAT CAUGHT MY EYE just before bed, but which I’ll have to leave till [...]

Mikhail Emelianov Says: January 13, 2009 at 11:16 pm
Way to set up some real straw men there! [Alternative opening: C'mmon now! Give the imagined objectors some real objections!] I feel like a Kantian cop here policing the “internets” and fighting the losing battle. I’m not sure where to even begin here, I’m taking this to be a sort of manifesto, so more details and nuanced analyses to follow, right?

larvalsubjects Says: January 13, 2009 at 11:26 pm
Well I do hope to develop better arguments, however I’m not sure how possible it is to do so. It might be that the Ontic Principle is a sort of primitive beginning such that the unassailability of the beginning point is not the issue, but rather the results that follow are the issue. In this respect, the Ontic Principle would be axiomatic in Badiou’s sense of the term, or would be part of something like a “categorical scheme” as in the case of Whitehead. I do think that the Ontic Principle has the virtue of being exceedingly modest in a manner that’s far more modest than, say, a Cartesian starting point with mind, a Derridean/Gadamerian starting point with language and tradition, or a social constructivist starting point with culture or power. All the Ontic Principle states is that there are differences and differences are made. It initially remains agnostic as to what those differences might be. The next move is to ask the innocent question “does x make its own difference or doesn’t it?”

I have, I think, made some more substantial arguments. Especially in my post on Hegel and Existence, though I don’t know how convincing that argument is. Anywhere in particular that you’re discerning straw men? And isn’t the correlationist gotcha question– “but aren’t you thinking these beings?” –a bit of a straw man in its own right, failing to distinguish the epistemic and the ontological, endlessly reducing the latter to the former?

Mikhail Emelianov Says: January 14, 2009 at 4:37 am
If by “correlationist” you mean someone like Kant, then there’s really nothing wrong with thinking (about) objects without having you thinking about them - if by “objects” you mean “things,” then I’m not sure what’s so great about thing-oriented philosophy. But objects in Kantian traditions are not just things, things have a perfectly fine “empirical realist” treatment for Kant - there are also more interesting issues like “justice” or “freedom” or even “God”…

As for “endlessly reducing the ontological to epistemic,” then it’s just not so, not in Kant who has a very elaborate system that includes both, yes in his own “correlationist” way. I suppose I am a bit puzzled by crude generalizations when it comes to the position you are apparently working against, that’s all.

larvalsubjects Says: January 14, 2009 at 4:47 am
I don’t think it’s crude or a generalization at all, of course. Nor am I sure where the simplification is. Kant’s empirical realism still does not do the work I’m calling for as mind and the a priori categories and structures of intuition do all the work in his empirical realism. The matter of intuition still remains a passive matter that contributes no difference of its own beyond dough for the cookie cutter, and which ultimately provides no resistance. Of course Kant himself can’t consistently advocate such a position, which is why in texts like his writings on metaphysics of material nature he has to depart from these thesis in a covert way. Do you find any things in Derrida, Lacan, Baudrillard, Zizek, even Badiou, or Foucault? Do the things themselves speak, as Husserl demanded, or are they mere bearers of either power, language, signifiers, history, etc. Is it possible to be surprised in these ontologies? Is there resistance?

Now, of course, there will be simplifications here. A friend of mine told me the other day that Descartes didn’t accomplish anything, that he simply repeated the scholastics and Aristotle, and that his arguments against his predecessors were gross generalizations and simplifications. So be it I suppose. I’m not sure how we get anything done by being good hermeneuts; unless the aim is tantric sex in the domain of philosophy (if you know what I’m alluding to). One has to start somewhere and I’ve chosen to start with a pluralism of differences.

My humble suggestion would also be that we can’t even begin to adequately address questions like justice, the good, and even God unless we address these sorts of questions. Without raising these sorts of questions we remain within the two world hypothesis, spirit and nature, that thoroughly distorts the real assemblages within which these questions arise.

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