In my research today I came upon this interesting article, “Here comes everything: the promise of object-oriented ontology” by Timothy Morton. (New link, old one broken.) It is of interest not only to speculative realism but also to some recent discussions on Caputo's ontology, modes of apprehension of such, and quantum theory. The article is 27 pages of text so I've culled some excerpts, lengthy in themselves.

 

Excerpts:

 

Speculative realism...asserts the deep mystery of a Non-Nature....object-oriented ontology (OOO)...goes further than this, rejecting essentialist Matter.... OOO is a form of realism that asserts that real things exist--these things are objects, not just amorphous “Matter”.... OOO extends Husserl's and Heidegger's arguments that things have an irreducible dark side: no matter how many times we turn over a coin, we never see the other side as the other side--it will have to flip onto “this” side for us to see it, immediately producing another underside. Harman simply extends this irreducible darkness from subject–object relationships to object–object relationships.... Causation is thus vicarious in some sense, never direct. An object is profoundly “withdrawn”--we can never see the whole of it, and nothing else can either.... We've become so used to hearing “object” in relation to “subject” that it takes some time to acclimatize to a view in which there are only objects, one of which is ourselves.

 

The notion of the “withdrawal” of objects extends my term strange stranger to non-living entities. Strange stranger names an uncanny, radically unpredictable quality of life forms. Life forms recede into strangeness the more we think about them, and whenever they encounter one another--the strangeness is irreducible....the uncanny essence of humans that Heidegger contemplates extends to nonhumans.... The more we know about a strange stranger, the more she (he, it) withdraws. Objects withdraw such that other objects never adequately capture but only (inadequately) “translate” them....This is what “irreducible” means.

 

Rhetoric is not simply ear candy for humans: indeed, a thorough reading of Plato, Aristotle and Longinus suggests that rhetoric is a technique for contacting the strange stranger....[it] amplifies imagination rather than trying to upstage it, and it revels in dislocation, not location.... Harman's imagery differs from ecophenomenological ecomimesis that confirms the localized position of a subject with privileged access to phenomena.... Harman's rhetoric produces an object-oriented sublime that breaks decisively with the Kantian taboo on noncorrelationist scientific speculation....ekphrasis is not about the reaction of the (human) subject, but about rhetorical modes as affective-contemplative techniques for summoning the alien.

 

The aesthetic, as we shall see, is the secret door through which OOO discovers a theory of what is called “subject”.... Melancholia is precisely a mode of intimacy with strange objects that can't be digested by the subject.... To lapse into Californian, OOO is so about the subject. There is no good reason to be squeamish about this. The more the ekphrasis zaps us, the more we fall back into the gravity well of melancholy. Sentience is out of phase with objects, at least if you have a nervous system. So melancholia is the default mode of subjectivity: an object-like coexistence with other objects and the otherness of objects--touching them, touching the untouchable, dwelling on the dark side one can never know, living in endless twilight shadows. If the reader has experienced grief she or he will recognize this state as an object-like entity that resides somewhere within the body, with an amortization schedule totally separated from other temporalities (in particular, the strict digital clock time of contemporary life). Through the heart of subjectivity rolls an object-like coexistence, none other than ecological coexistence--the ecological thought fully-fledged as dark ecology . The inward, withdrawn, operationally closed mood called melancholy is something we shake off at our peril in these dark ecological times.

 

Melancholy starts to tell us the truth about the withdrawn qualities of objects. OOO thus differs from theistic ecophilosophy that asserts, “There is a Nature.” It maintains no absolute distance between subject and object; it limits “subject” to no entity in particular. Žižek's suspicion of SR to do with the “feminine” self-absorption of objects: precisely what he doesn't like about Buddhism. Changing “self-absorption” to “withdrawal” or “operational closure” discloses what's threatening about Buddhism: an object-like entity at the core of what is called subjectivity. Like ecomimesis, Harman's passage affirms a real world beyond mentation. Unlike ecomimesis, this world doesn't surround a subject--it's a world without reference to a subject.

 

If OOO construes everything as objects, some may believe that it would have a hard time talking about subjects--indeed, Slavoj Žižek has already criticized SR in general along these lines. This subjectivity is profoundly ecological and it departs from normative Western ideas of the subject as transcendence. Thus we see off Nature and its correlate, the (human) subject. I argue that OOO enjoins us to drop Matter just as we must drop Nature, and that this means that it can save the appearance of the most coherent and testable physical theory we have, namely quantum theory.

 

Let's turn our attention to... things....how far “down things” does OOO really go? Are these things made of some kind of substrate, some kind of unformed matter? Does “withdrawal” mean that objects are impenetrable in some non-figurative, nonhuman sense? Do objects have a spatial “inside”? Surely they might. But the principle of irreducibility must mean that this inside is radically unavailable. It's not simply a case of the right equipment passing through it, like a knife through butter. Even a knife through butter would not access the butter in all its essential butteriness. The proliferation of things that ecology talks about--from trees to nuclear power--do not compromise a holistic Nature. Nor yet are they comprised of some intrinsic, essential stuff. To dispatch Matter, we must explore the most rigorous and testable theory of physical Matter we know: quantum theory.

 

Unlike some thinkers who discovered OOO in spite of deconstruction, I backed into OOO through deconstruction. SR tends to mistake deconstruction for nominalism, subjectivism and Meillassoux's correlationism.... Contemporary physics concurs with a principle tenet of Lacan and Derrida: there's no “big Other,” no device, for instance, that could measure quantum phenomena without participating in these phenomena. All observations are inside the system, or as Derrida puts it, “There is nothing outside the text” (or, in Gayatri Spivak's alternative, which I prefer, “There is no outside-text”). Arkady Plotnitsky has traced the affinities between deconstruction and quantum physics. People commonly misconstrue “there is no-outside-text” as nominalism: we can only know things by their names. Far more drastically, the axiom means: (1) Any attempt to establish rigid boundaries between reality and information results in unsustainable paradoxes; (2) Language is radically nonhuman--even when humans use it. It would be a mistake to hold that (1) is correlationism. “There is no outsidetext” occurs in a passage in which Derrida is analyzing Rousseau's position on Nature, so it's worth pausing here since this issue is directly relevant to ecocriticism. Derrida tacks close to the text he’s analyzing, which is why he appeals to close readers in the first place. He is not making a sweeping generalization about reality. Derrida is only saying, “Given the kind of closed system textuality that Rousseau prescribes, there is no outside-text.” That is, Rousseau can’t go around making claims about nature, not because there is nothing out there, but because the way he models thinking sets textuality up as a black hole....[but] Derrida abstained from ontology: he considered it tainted by the generalization-disease. Unfortunately this defaults to various forms of antirealism. Derrida's is a sin of omission.... OOO shares one thing at least with deconstruction--refraining from assertions about some general essence or substance at the back of things that guarantees their existence.

 

OOO is troubling for materialisms that rely on any kind of substrate, whether it consists of discrete atoms or of a continuum.... Certain uncontroversial facts, demonstrable in highly repeatable experiments, shatter essentialist prejudices concerning Matter.... Quantum phenomena are not simply hard to access or only partially “translated” by minds and other objects. They are irreducibly withdrawn.

 

OOO is form of realism, not materialism. In this it shares affinities with quantum theory. Antirealism pits quantum theory against its opponents, since quantum theory supposedly shows reality is fuzzy or deeply correlated with perception and so forth. In fact, quantum theory is the only existing theory to establish firmly that things really do exist beyond our mind (or any mind). Quantum theory positively guarantees that real objects exist! Not only that--these objects exist beyond one another. Quantum theory does this by viewing phenomena as quanta, as discrete “units” as described in Unit Operations by OOO philosopher Ian Bogost. “Units” strongly resemble OOO “objects.” Thinking in terms of units counteracts problematic features of thinking in terms of systems. A kind of systems thinking posed significant problems for nineteenth-century physicists. Only consider the so-called black body radiation problem. Classical thermodynamics is essentially a systems approach that combines the energy of different waves to figure out the total energy of a system. The black box in question is a kind of oven. As the temperature in the oven increases, results given by summing the wave states according to classical theory become absurd, tending to infinity.

 

By seeing the energy in the black box as discrete quanta (“units”), the correct result is obtained. Max Planck's discovery of this approach gave birth to quantum theory. Now consider perception, for the sake of which antirealism usually cites quantum theory. What does quantum theory show about our mental interactions with things? Perceptual, sensual phenomena such as hardness and brilliance are at bottom quantum mechanical effects. I can't put my hand through this table because it is statistically beyond unlikely that the quanta at the tip of my finger could bust through the resistance wells in the quanta on the table's surface. That's what solidity is. It's an averagely correct experience of an aggregate of discrete quanta. This statistical quality, far from being a problem, is the first time humans have been able to formalize supposedly experiential phenomena such as solidity. What some people find disturbing about quantum theory (once in a gajillion times I can put my finger through the table) is precisely evidence for the reality of things. (This is a version of an argument in Meillassoux, AF 82–5).

 

Quantum theory specifies that quanta withdraw from one another, including the quanta with which we measure them. In other words quanta really are discrete, and one mark of this discreteness is the constant (mis)translation of one quantum by another. Thus when you set up quanta to measure the position of a quantum, its momentum withdraws, and vice versa. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle states that when an “observer”--not a subject per se, but a measuring device involving photons or electrons (or whatever)--makes an observation, at least one aspect of the observed is occluded (QT 99–115). Observation is as much part of the Universe of objects as the observable, not some ontologically different state (say of a subject). More generally, what Niels Bohr called complementarity ensures that no quantum has total access to any other quantum. Just as a focusing lens makes one object appear sharper while others appear blurrier, one quantum variable comes into sharp definition at the expense of others (QT 158–61). This isn't about how a human knows an object, but how a photon interacts with a photosensitive molecule. Some phenomena are irreducibly undecidable, both wavelike and particle-like. The way an electron encounters the nucleus of an atom involves a dark side. Objects withdraw from each other at a profound physical level. OOO is deeply congruent with the most profound, accurate and testable theory of physical reality available. Again, it would be better to say it the other way around: quantum theory works because it's object-oriented.

 

Probing the quantum world, then, is a form of auto-affection. Bohr argued that quantum phenomena don't simply concatenate themselves with their measuring devices. They're identical to it: the equipment and the phenomena form an indivisible whole (QT 139–40, 177). This “quantum coherence” applies close to absolute zero, where particles become the “same” thing.

 

Implication and explication suggest Matter being enfolded and unfolded from something deeper. Even if it were the case that OOO should defer to physics, in the terms set by physics itself objects aren't made “of” any one thing in particular. Just as there is no top level, there may be no bottom level that is not an (substantial, formed) object.

 

To this extent, “object” (as a totally positive entity) is a false immediacy. Positive assertions about objects fail because objects have a shadowy dark side, a mysterious interiority like the je ne sais quoi of Kantian beauty. Is this nothing at all? Is there a path from the carnival of things to a bleak nothingness? Nihilism, believing that you have no beliefs, maintains that things emerge from an impenetrable mystery. Nihilism, the cool kids' religion, shuns the inconveniences of intimacy. We have objects--they have us--under our skin. They are our skin. OOO can't be a form of nihilism. It's the opposite view (relationism) that tends towards nihilism. Relationism holds that objects are nothing more than the sum of their relations with other objects. This begs the question of what an object is, since the definition implies a potential infinite regress: what are the “other objects”? Why, nothing more than the sum of their relations with other objects--and so on ad obscurum. At least OOO takes a shot at saying what objects are: they withdraw. This doesn't mean that they don't relate at all. It simply means that how they appear has a shadowy, illusory, magical, “strangely strange” quality. It also means they can't be reduced to one another. OOO holds that strangeness is impossible if objects are reducible to their relations. Since relationism is hamstrung by its reluctance to posit anything, it tends towards obscurantism. Relationism is stuck in a Euthyphronic dilemma: objects consist of relations between other objects—and what are those objects? An object as such is never defined. So while ecological criticism appears to celebrate interconnectedness, it must in the end pay attention to what precisely is interconnected with what.

 

This radical finitude includes a strange irreducible openness.

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:-)  This quote is in the video I posted last night.

This quote in interesting to me, about information, from chapter 4.2:

"If, then, objects or substances are operationally closed, if they only relate to themselves, how do objects interact? While substances are closed to one another, they can nonetheless perturb or irritate one another. And in perturbing or irritating one another, information is produced by the system that is perturbed or irritated. However, here we must proceed with caution, for information is not something that exists out there in the environment waiting to be received or detected. Moreover, information is not something that is exchanged between systems. Often we think of information as something that is transmitted from a sender to a receiver. The question here becomes that of how it is possible for the receiver to decode the information received as identical to the information transmitted. However, insofar as substances are closed in the sense discussed in the last section, it follows that there can be no question of information as exchange. Rather, information is purely system-specific, exists only within a particular system or substance, and exists only for that system or substance. In short, there is no pre-existent information. Instead, information is constructed by systems."

 

Balder 

The Buddhist position, as I understand it, is opposite Harman's: objects defined as wholly independent and self-existing have no reason to change; only interdependent objects have the capacity to change. If an object is conceived as partly related, partly independent (self-existing), then the self-existent part would never change.

 

This is interesting - I'd be inclined to take the Buddhist position. simply on  trust.  (ahem)This is likely an aspect that informs Adrian Ivakhiv's view on these issues as he is a student of Shinzen Young's.  It might be useful to follow the argument of Ivakhiv and Bryant to see how they disagree. 

 

http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/object-oriented-onto...

 

I do appreciate the appeal to objects being both 'actual' and withdrawn. But I wonder about the appeal to powers which are totally withdrawn and non-relational. If a particular power were wholly withdrawn and without relations, could it ever act in the world? Bryant talks about certain exo-relations activating previously dormant powers. A wholly withdrawn power would never be so activated by exo-relations, it seems to me.

 

Yes this puzzles me also, although, the structure of the withdrawn is likely at least as complex as that which manifests. I think Bryant holds his views as a necessary transcendental correlate to his thinking ie. for the sake of the overall coherence of his argument it must be the case that an aspect of the world is both completely withdrawn, and -  far more puzzling to my mind -  able to 'show up to earth' in the absence of local manifestation.  You might find some of what you're looking for here - again Ivakhiv and Bryant

 

http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/object-oriented-onto...

 

And from the article attached up-thread - Bryant using Derrida to argue for substance as withdrawn.

 

It is in relation to these questions that my reference to Derrida is not idle.  For Derrida, despite his hostility to the “philosopheme” of substance, provides the resources for demonstrating the radical withdrawal of substance.  This demonstration requires the concept of substance to be indexed to the nature of time conceived as différance.  As a consequence, one of the further surprises substance holds in store for us is that it turns out to be essentially temporal and processual.  Substance is not that which is opposed to temporality and process, nor is it an abiding identity that persists beneath changing qualities, but rather it is temporal through and through.  As such, substance must produce itself from moment to moment and perpetually faces the threat of entropy or dissolution from both within and without.  Substances are negentropic unities whose identity consists in their operations through which they produce themselves across time.  As such, they evolve, change, and mutate in all sorts of ways.  The terms “substance”, “process”, and “dynamic systems" are all synonyms within the framework of my onticology...

 

 ....Derrida’s thesis is thus that every “sign” contains within it the possibility of breaking with the context in which it emerged, such that it can fall into other and different contexts.  The question that we must ask is “what are the conditions for the possibility of signs—and other entities –breaking with context in this way?”  If all difference is, as Saussure suggests, diacritical, if there are only internally related terms without positive entities, then how is it possible for entities to break with context in this way and be “grafted” onto other chains and to fall into other contexts?

​The answer is that it is not possible.  It is only where entities are autonomous and independent substances that they can exceed and escape their context.  What Derrida articulates in this passage is a variation of Aristotle’s concept of primary substances; for the very being of primary substance is to exceed and be detachable from every context"

 

Just thinking aloud, I am wondering if Bryant's reserve powers could possibly be related with the Wilber-5 definition of "structure," which is drawn from a quantum understanding:  structure as probability space...

 

... for Integral Post-Metaphysics, a "deep pattern" is not an actually existing form or structure but simply a term that represents the probability of finding a particular type of holon in a particular mode of spacetime.

 

I like this, but is it wholly from the stance of relations, if I read it correctly.  Such a view from Wilber would account for this sort of comment from Harman and Morton.

 

http://ecologywithoutnature.blogspot.com/2011/01/safety-lamps.html

 

Balder:

So, for instance, with the emphasis in OOO on objects, locality, and the lack of a 'single' coordinating environment or context, I wonder how -- or whether -- this takes account, say, of the implications of Big Bang cosmology, which suggests the universe (unfolding from a singularity) is a whole multiform development; or of the implications of the quantum fact of nonlocality, etc.  Any thoughts on that?

 

Yes, but what is this 'whole multiform'?  I have no trouble conceiving of multiplicity extending out of itself in ongoing productivity of novelty - but this whole is a whole that suprises and surpasses (dissapoints, confuses, rights, amazes et al, too) itself in every moment. The missing/forgotten term is creative novelty. It's all very well to speak of wholes, but is your whole a nice organic unity that only returns to the same comforting embrace, or something rather more disjunctive and necessarily at odds with itself? I vote for the latter, and so too,  I'm sure, does any variant of Speculative Realism.

 

Regarding objects being split -- the transcendental deduction of differance -- I see and appreciate the import and power of this insight.  However, following Joel's formula, one could also point out that infinite splitting implies unsplittability: if any object-manifestation is split 'from the beginning,' and if object-manifestation is potentially unbounded or unlimited, then there is always a further 'split' that can be 'made,' and thus reality is never ultimately or finally sundered or split. 

 

What are you saying here - that the notion of infinite 'splittability' falls prey to the same critique of incoherence that 'differance' itself does? The game of pass the hot potato where the potato disappears. Interesting - again the issue of creative novelty would arise. Or, rather just how creative and novel is/can emergent reality be?  

 

Valli  

The withdrawn aspects are not available like sensory qualities and a scientific experiment is required to untangle them. So it is basically a philosophy of science? The transcendental aspect being the presupposition necessary for science to be possible.

 

In the first article, ‘Science-laden theory: Outlines of an unsettled alliance,’ Fabio Gironi attempts to answer the big question: just what is speculative realism? Readers coming to speculative realism for the first time are advised to begin here. Gironi, drawing on Latour, attempts to outline the assemblages involved in the emergence, dissemination, and proliferation of speculative realism by focusing on its relationship with the natural sciences—in particular cosmology, astrophysics, and theoretical physics. Gironi touches on almost all the significant developments in speculative realism in recent years from the confusion over the name itself, its online presence, and its awkward position within the wider continental tradition.

 

http://www.publicpraxis.com/speculations/?page_id=73

 

 


Right, in short, the notion that a new third object is formed when two objects relate - that third object their relationship. Interesting questions can then be asked about the nature of that third object...

theurj said:

This quote in interesting to me, about information, from chapter 4.2:

"If, then, objects or substances are operationally closed, if they only relate to themselves, how do objects interact? While substances are closed to one another, they can nonetheless perturb or irritate one another. And in perturbing or irritating one another, information is produced by the system that is perturbed or irritated. However, here we must proceed with caution, for information is not something that exists out there in the environment waiting to be received or detected. Moreover, information is not something that is exchanged between systems. Often we think of information as something that is transmitted from a sender to a receiver. The question here becomes that of how it is possible for the receiver to decode the information received as identical to the information transmitted. However, insofar as substances are closed in the sense discussed in the last section, it follows that there can be no question of information as exchange. Rather, information is purely system-specific, exists only within a particular system or substance, and exists only for that system or substance. In short, there is no pre-existent information. Instead, information is constructed by systems."

I'll comment more fully in my next post, Dial; here, I just wanted to thank you for the link to Bryant's blog.  Adrian makes a point that I was also thinking: that a relational view which accepts multiple kinds of relationship escapes at least some of the problems Harman and Bryant seem to be identifying for relational views.  However, I also think Bryant's point about objects needing an 'excess' in order to have a reason to change is worth attending to.  My initial thought is that the organizational closure of autopoietic systems (a relative closure, in Varela's framing, rather than Bryant's more rigid- or absolute-seeming version) is sufficient for this -- a difference that makes a difference as an autopoietic system interfaces with various environments.  But the autopoietic system's 'interior' can still be seen in relational terms, as an interrelated, self-making, self-transforming network of elements (organs, processes, etc), and as also enfolding within itself its own deep-relations to the whole cosmos (tracing as it does, and as the environment does, and as all other objects do, back to the Big Bang).  On a more local scale, think about grasses that continue to grow brown in lush, wet environments.  These grasses, tracing evolutionarily back to arid environments, but having at some point been transplanted to a new, lush environment, exhibit both object-like self-containment and interdependent relatedness.  The object 'resists' the new environment, maintaining its own autopoietic program and remaining brown in this green environment, and thus appears autonomous and non-related; but its brown hue also 'pronounces' or 'testifies' its relatedness to its originating environment.  (I.e., several different types of relatedness are in evidence here).

 

With this said, however, I also do not want to argue for a relatedness-only view.  I think organizational closure (a relational condition) can account for 'excess' and 'change' without requiring an appeal to wholly independent, self-existent substances, as I indicated above.  But from an Integral perspective, to settle ultimately on either an object-ontology or a relational-ontology would be less than Integral -- choosing one half of AQAL over the other.  Integral ontological pluralism would make room for both types of ontology, and that is what makes the most sense to me.

Dial:  Yes, but what is this 'whole multiform'?  I have no trouble conceiving of multiplicity extending out of itself in ongoing productivity of novelty - but this whole is a whole that suprises and surpasses (dissapoints, confuses, rights, amazes et al, too) itself in every moment. The missing/forgotten term is creative novelty. It's all very well to speak of wholes, but is your whole a nice organic unity that only returns to the same comforting embrace, or something rather more disjunctive and necessarily at odds with itself? I vote for the latter, and so too,  I'm sure, does any variant of Speculative Realism.


I would not frame this in an either/or way.  I think we can speak legitimately both of wholeness or integrity and of surprise, disjunction, creative novelty.  We can speak, to use Brian Swimme's terms, simultaneously of the universe and the pluriverse; and we can adopt both macrophase and microphase perspectives in our descriptions of, and approaches to, reality.  We can speak of both the universe acting, and of local actions.  Why the appeal to the universe acting?  One example:  If the universe had expanded one trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of one percent more slowly or quickly, the universe as we know it -- with its multiform objects and entities -- would not exist.  If it had expanded that tiny bit more slowly, a few atoms would have formed and then the universe would have collapsed back on itself.  If it had expanded that tiny bit more quickly, and only atoms would have formed -- being too spread out to ever link up and give rise to the many interesting objects we now have the privilege of exploring, discussing, and including in OOO litanies.  That first 'act,' in other words, is inseparable from the many 'acts' of objects, and the many OOO "substances," now possible.

So reality is 'lawful'. We're back to appearance and reality again, though, it seems - the world from space looks like a nice blue and white orb, but that's just the product of one cluster of perspectives situated tightly in material/temporal terms. If ontological pluralism allows for the enactment of different worlds then, we have a world that allows reality to thread itself together, rather than one that holds all in a container like embrace. What is the form of the thread that allows all to thread together? What primum mobile allows the world to flex this way and that, in endless production of novelty, while still remaining 'one'. I'm not even sure it does remain 'one'.

 

Sorry Balder, my reply is just winging it - excuse the indulgence. I have no clear sense would be more accurate. Manifest reality as one whole thing just doesn't feel right to me. 

Balder

With this said, however, I also do not want to argue for a relatedness-only view.  I think organizational closure (a relational condition) can account for 'excess' and 'change' without requiring an appeal to wholly independent, self-existent substances, as I indicated above.  But from an Integral perspective, to settle ultimately on either an object-ontology or a relational-ontology would be less than Integral -- choosing one half of AQAL over the other.  Integral ontological pluralism would make room for both types of ontology, and that is what makes the most sense to me.

 

Dial -Well, yes, I agree with you; however, OOO, doesn't discount relations as both of it's key figures have reiterated a number of times. The question, then, is why this emphasis on the object, the individual? For Bryant the key point is not that relations don't exist, but that relations must be external to objects for change to take place.

 

 

Bryant: "in my discussions of with the ontological relationists I get the sense that there’s a lot of confusion surrounding the nature of this debate. It’s perhaps likely that different ontologies are always doomed to talk past one another (as Deleuze said, philosophers never understand one another), but what I hear when I listen to the critiques of the relationists is the surprised outrage that onticologists and object-oriented ontologists are rejecting relations. If this is how onticologists and object-oriented ontologists are being interpreted, then the issue hasn’t been understood at all. My thesis is not that relations don’t exist, but that relations are external to objects".

 

 

 ..in an earlier draft of the Democracy of Objects the first sentence of the introduction read “what is the relation between relations and relata”. Relata, of course, refer to objects. As I’ve tried to argue, relations are external to their terms or objects. Thus its not a question of rejecting relations, but rather of understanding that the being of objects is not exhausted by the exo-relations into which they enter. Where we argue that objects are their relations we fall into a variant of actualism that makes it impossible to explain how networks or assemblages actually function. And here I don’t think Adrian’s proposal does the work that he would like it to do. Here's Adrian:

 

 When Harman or Bryant suggest that relationalism is incoherent, I presume that they mean one that makes no distinctions between different kinds of relations — different in speed, scope, intensity, direction, etc. That would be like an object-oriented ontology that made no distinctions between different kinds of objects. If entities are, as relationalists claim, constituted by their internal and external relations, the important thing is to determine what kinds of relations these are, how they mesh together (into what kinds of assemblages and networks, meshworks and hierarchies, etc.), what kinds of orders or patterns these constitute, and — crucially for politics and for ethics — what kinds of openings for action and change they make available for those, like us, who are implicated within them, and what kinds of openings are enabled or foreclosed for others by our actions.


Bryant -While I am certainly all for examining meshworks, assemblages, networks, heirarchies, patterns, and speeds, the problem still remains: If there is not something in excess of the local manifestations of entities at a particular time within a particular configuration of relations (actualism) then we are at a loss to explain how anything new emerges. For this you need something anterior to relations. Consequently, I would argue, adopting an “ahypothetical” style of argument drawn from Aristotle, that Adrian’s position implicitly assumes what object-oriented philosophers are explicitly arguing: that there is an excess of entity over relation.

 

 http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/object-oriented-onto...

 

It's worth noting (again) that this relations/objects debate has been going on for some time with Bryant and Harman on the one side and Adrian Ivakhiv, Joe Vitale, and Steve Shaviro on the other. They're all pretty smart people who appear unconvinced by the other's arguments. In the end it may be personal make-up that decides one's choice for this or that side. Does it matter so long as a recognition of both 'object' and relation is present?


Balder

However, I also think Bryant's point about objects needing an 'excess' in order to have a reason to change is worth attending to.

 

Sorry Balder, I see you'd actually taken this point on, prior to my post above. 

Dial:  Manifest reality as one whole thing just doesn't feel right to me.


I hear you with this.  A Nagarjunan view would also reject seeing the universe as just one giant "thing." 


Dial -Well, yes, I agree with you; however, OOO, doesn't discount relations as both of it's key figures have reiterated a number of times. The question, then, is why this emphasis on the object, the individual? For Bryant the key point is not that relations don't exist, but that relations must be external to objects for change to take place.


Earlier, you said you would likely side with the Buddhist view over Bryant's (i.e., that independent, self-existing entities would have no reason to change).  Are you just reiterating Bryant's view, for the purpose of clarifying the OOO position?  Or are you unclear where you really stand on this?  (I'm asking because I'm in a similar place; I lean towards the Buddhist view, but I'm trying to give this other view serious consideration).


In my comments, I didn't say that OOO rejects relationships; it just appears to make them secondary.  It is objects first, relationships second, as far as I can see, which is a sort of echo of the Newtonian view.


Dial:  It's worth noting (again) that this relations/objects debate has been going on for some time with Bryant and Harman on the one side and Adrian Ivakhiv, Joe Vitale, and Steve Shaviro on the other. They're all pretty smart people who appear unconvinced by the other's arguments. In the end it may be personal make-up that decides one's choice for this or that side. Does it matter so long as a recognition of both 'object' and relation is present?


There could be a number of reasons for this -- both sides are right, both are wrong, both are dogmatic, personal predilection, etc.  I don't know, not being very familiar with this debate or with the particular perspectives being argued.  But my initial sense, based on my own views and my present understanding of these positions, is that neither side will finally and decisively prevail because this is, or appears to be, a replay of earlier quadrant-absolutist-type debates.


A general question I have, if you or anyone else have any thoughts on this:  In OOO, for the "withdrawn" parts of objects, is it always the same part or aspect of a given object that remains withdrawn, or is there a shifting "play" of manifestation and withdrawal in an object, such that what is at one time "hidden" is, at another time, "in play"?

 

Dial:  What are you saying here - that the notion of infinite 'splittability' falls prey to the same critique of incoherence that 'differance' itself does? The game of pass the hot potato where the potato disappears. Interesting - again the issue of creative novelty would arise. Or, rather just how creative and novel is/can emergent reality be? 


I was playing with a principle that Joel Morrison outlines in his book, SpinbitZ, which I started reading again after recent discussions with Tom.  The point I was making wasn't to charge incoherence, but to nondually 'relate' this splitting with its denied opposite.


Quoting from Spinbitz: 

 

Infinite Divisibility Equals Indivisibility


Explanation: Infinite divisibility necessitates that there can be no fundamental or absolute division because there will always be a deeper level of divisibility, and hence, with infinite divisibility the absolute is fundamentally indivisible. This, we will see, is a nondual codification of the truths underlying Zeno’s general paradox, which itself was not so much refuted by the modern mathematics of the continuum, but vindicated by it. Cantor showed that Zeno’s paradox is a natural feature of the mathematical continuum. iii* Infinite divisions are infinitely small , and any possible gap between two divisions is filled with an infinity more, thus leaving no gaps in the continuum.


Zenoid-Scholium: (A loose allegory) Imagine a chunk of matter is divided in two. Now imagine each chunk divided in two as well. And each of these in turn … ad infinitum. What is left when everything is made out of division? A continuum of nothing, or an infinitely folded Parmenidean unity of Being?

The following quote from chapter 4.4 on translation highlights the difference between a uniform or universal connective tissue like information or light by noting that the object translates such environmental perturbations depending on its organizational structure. He claims there is no self-identical reproduction of said universal (environmental) information such that we are 'all one” substance. Of interest in this section is the difference between developmental and applied biologists, with the former using a type of logic we see in the likes of hierarchical complexity, which assumes such a universal, mathematical 1-to-1 transference of information in building its 'nests.'

“This conception of the formation of the [object] is premised on an implausible idea of causation where causes are transported from one object to another without remainder. Here the [object] is a pliable clay that can be formed however we like. Here information is conceived as something that is transported as self-identical, producing a univocal effect in the body of the [object]-to-be. What is entirely missed in such a model is the manner in which the entity receiving the perturbation transforms it according to its own organization.”

Also of note, not in this section so far, is Desilet's criticisms that such as the above politically leads to hegemonic and totalitarian uniformity, the likes of which we see play out in kennilingus.

Ed:  The following quote from chapter 4.4 on translation highlights the difference between a uniform or universal connective tissue like information or light by noting that the object translates such environmental perturbations depending on its organizational structure. He claims there is no self-identical reproduction of said universal (environmental) information such that we are 'all one” substance.

 

Ed, is there a direct relation between "substance" and information in Bryant's formulation, such that shared information would equal shared substance, or incommensurate information would equal incommensurate substance?  I hadn't gotten that impression, which is why I'm asking.

 

You probably already know this, but just in case:  the replacement of the idea of information being transported wholesale between 'objects' with the idea that perturbations are translated by each object according to its organizational structure is not Bryant's innovation; it is one of the central claims of Varela and Maturana's autopoietic theory.  This is one reason why, from an enactive perspective, the notion of "world" is replaced with "worlds" -- but typically this has been framed in terms of "lived worlds." 

 

~*~

 

P.S. I'm simultaneously reading 6.2 The World Does Not Exist in TDOO and Joel's "Implicit Holonic Set Theory and the Part-Whole Axiom," which begins on page 208 of SpinbitZ, and finding the comparison instructive.  More on that soon.

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