Sunday, August 14, 2011

Husserl’s endless reductions, Heidegger’s endless preparations, Whitehead and Bergson are polar opposites

Shaviro on The Prince and the Wolf from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek (Graham Harman)
HERE. Unsurprisingly, Steven sides with the Latour/Whitehead relationism against my critiques of that position. But it’s a well-written and thoughtful response to the book, also unsurprisingly. […]
As for Whitehead, I’m not sure I know what Steven means when he says the eternal objects are there as a source of novelty rather than a source of connection. The point is, prehension is always mediated by the eternal objects, and the eternal objects are in God. It’s hard to be more of an occasionalist than to say that God is the mediator of all relations and that entities exist only as occasions. It’s textbook occasionalism, in fact. Like many other readers of Whitehead, I find that Steven is projecting a dynamism into his instants that is there in only the feeblest sense, and is perhaps over-reacting to the connotations of the word “process.” I find this to be especially the case among readers of Whitehead who are inspired by Deleuze. But there’s simply no comparison between the two thinkers, however much people want there to be. In all the important senses they are polar opposites, for the same reason that Whitehead and Bergson are polar opposites.
This occurs often with political theory as well. Endless preparations to get things just right without jumping into the fray. This is the issue I have with epistemology: Kantianism, Husserl’s endless phenomenological reductions, Heidegger’s endless preparations to pose the question of the meaning of being (he argues that there has to be all sorts of preliminary work before the question itself can even be posed!), the epistemological debates of the 17th century, and yes, the endless refinements of critique among the critical theorists. Lacan liked to say that obsessional desire is the desire for an impossible desire. As a structure– i.e., something about a particular form of life, not an individual –obsessional desire sustains its desire by perpetually deferring the object of its desire, and it defers its object of desire by rendering that desire impossible. Critique, in my view, often functions in this way. 

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