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.




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 An object is profoundly “withdrawn”--we can never see the whole of it, and nothing else can either....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... 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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Recall this from his pre-book lecture "The gravity of things," which applies to the meta-theory of onto-cartography itself, though aimed here at Zizek:

"Aping Zizek’s style, the question to ask, however, is that of precisely who these critiques are for. [...] When we reflect on Zizek’s critiques, we notice that they require a high degree of theoretical background to be understood. [...] Every entity requires a sort of 'program' to receive and decipher messages of a particular sort from another entity. Reading Zizek ’s work requires a particular sort of training if the recipient is to decipher it. When we evaluate Zizek's work by this criteria and critique him immanently [...] we can ask, on material grounds, about the adequacy of his project. Such a critique is not a critique of the accuracy of his critiques, but rather of the adequacy of his practice. [...] We might thereby conclude that such a practice is actually a mechanism that reproduces these sorts of social relations rather than transforming them as it leaves the ideology itself untouched while simultaneously giving the ideological critic the impression that he’s intervening in some way" (17).

Theurj, Thanks for sharing the link to "The Gravity of Things." It reminded me of the line of thought I had below, concerning the "unpacking" effects of systems. The space-time is curved in such a way that even existing things are further unfolded or unpacked. And yet the Gravity of Things looks at how the things shape the systems, whereas I look at how the systems shape the things. But these two directions of shaping are not contradictory. I could well be that both occur simultaneously and cyclically. Unpacked things interact to form systems, which then create a new space-time path that continues to shape or unpack the potential of things in a different way than if those same things were in other systems. 

From Your Third Nature (still in progress): 

How Systems Unfold Things

A carpenter places a hammer in his toolbox. Then she puts the toolbox on the back of her flatbed truck. She is on the way to completing the framework of a house. The building site is five miles away.

At this point the “system” might be called the “carpentry project.” The carpentry project includes many functions and parts. This includes the objects used to complete the project. In this particular system, the object named a “hammer,” is clearly a “tool.” The carpentry project system brings out the “toolness” of the hammer in much the same way that the hearing of a tree falling in the woods brings out a “sound.” Or in the same way that a musical key makes a certain note seem different than it would seem in another key. Systems have what might be called a “contextualization effect” upon the objects within them. In the case of a musical note, the same note might sound uplifting and happy in a major key, but soulful or sad in a minor key. Same note, different quality. Or you might say that different potentials of the note are brought out in one musical key than in another.

On that “note” (pun definitley intended!), let's return to our hammer parable.

Sarah the carpenter gets in her truck and “hits the road.” Oops, she fogot to close the lid on the toolbox where the hammer was stored. The truck hits a big bump in the road. The toolbox tips over, the hammer falls out, and then it bounces beyond the edge of the flatbed, onto the road below.

Now the object called a hammer is in a whole new system. It is in what might be called the “road system.” The road system re-contextualizes the object previously called a hammer. In this new system the object becomes a “road hazard.” As a road hazard the hammer has the potential to rip someone's tires or to fling up and break an oil pan or wedge into the fan belt, causing all sorts of damage.

No longer a tool which creates order, this object is now a powerful contributor to chaos. In this new system the toolness and even the hammerness is long gone. The object joins rank and file with other hazards such as pot-holes, nails, screwdrivers, detached mufflers or other defunct automobile parts, even dead skunks in the middle of the road (turned into a hit song back in the 70s, but then that's a whole other “system!”).

The recontextualization of the hammer according to which particular system it is in may seem like a poetic sort of thing only or perhaps a mere intellectual thing like “cognitive reframing.” It is tempting to say that the hammer never changed at all. It's still just a hammer.

But this seems like a conceptual cop out to me. In some real way (ask the driver who just got a flat tire from the road hazard “formerly called hammer!”), the object itself is changed. In quantum physics terms the hammer has already been “unpacked” or “wave-collapsed” from a potential state to an actual thing with “classic” physical properties. It is no longer a wave-like thing but a particle-like thing. The non-quantum laws of classical things only are thought to apply to this thing with mass and specific location.

And yet new potentials still exist in this static thing. Although it is unpacked, it still has traces of quantum wave function properties, at least in the sense that it can act wholely different in one context than it does another.

This hammer-from-toolbox-to-road parable is a very simple account of the basic idea behind the quantum wave function collapse interpretation called objective reduction, which we described earlier. Something about systems unpacks objects in different ways.

Lets get more personal. No. Let's back off a bit and make that “interpersonal” instead. You enter a system called “friends.” You feel special. You feel relaxed. You feel trusting. You feel inspired. You feel “belonging,” or “connected,” or more “whole.” In general, you feel happy.

In that happy and contented and emotionally secure state you exhibit the behaviors of kindness, confidence, consideration, and you show an ability to even bring out the best in others. You are indeed one special person.

Or are you? Enter a room where no one likes you. In fact, they hate your guts. It's the “hater” system. You get very defensive. At one point you pathetically whine about how unfair these people are being to you. What did you do to deserve such mistreatment? The more you think about it, the more you feel that you have a right to be angry. You start off with “appropriate assertiveness.” But that flys like a lead baloon in this “hater” system.

In your unhappy, malcontented, and emotionally insecure state, you end up droping f bombs and flipping the birdjust like all the other assholes in the room (of course you aren't an asshole because your actions are justified since you are the victim here!). A person enters the room without your noticing that she is new to the group. Taking her to be just another one of the assholes, you drop a big f bomb on her and give her the bird, all in one felled swoop. She is absolutely crushed by your hatefulness. You are a real jerk.

The two interpersonal contextuallizing situations described above are simple outward social or cultural systems or subsystems. But this is not the only kind of system. You could have a thought system called shame or regret which enters the scene (although not outwardly seen). Then you appologize to the victim who recently entered the room.

Perhaps the regret system of thought is upgraded to the redemption system. No one sees these systems or subsystems, but they have an impact on your outward behavior, as well as upon you attitude and mood. You stop dropping f bombs. You stop flipping the bird. You even stop thinking of the people in the room as being a bunch of assholes. You think instead that perhaps at one time they, like you, were victims themselves. And before that perhaps they were really nice people, like you were in the friend system. Perhaps the hater system had drawn out the dark side of there potential.

You begin to look for each and every person's positive side. Instead of dehumanizing them, you now treat them like humans who need nurturance and care, and who have all sorts of positive potentials just waiting for you to help draw out. You act in accordance to this shift in consciousness. You are practically a saint!

Perhaps you are neither nice, nasty, or saintly. Instead you have potential for all three characteristics. Each systemoutward or inward, overt or covert“collapses” your quantum wave function differently.

Point is, systems matter! Even more than that; systems materialize.

The LR Quantum Quadrant is all about how systemsall systems, physical or non-physicalcreate this “unpacking” or “wave-collapsing” effect.

The Satelite Dish Explanation

We've made a pretty good argument about how systems unpack things, even already-unpacked things. Systems play a role in continuing to unpack unpacked things in new ways. A new destiny is set for objects and beings as they enter the framework of the system. Sometimes these even transform the easy-to-see physical characteristics of the thing.

An example of this would be a young man opting to play offensive lineman on a football team. He starts off with an average body-build. After a season or two he is bulked up. The specific function he fulfilled within the system of football was a kind of subsystem that requred bulky muscle mass in order to have the strength and weight to stop an opposing team player from crashing right on through the offensive line. His body type is altered from the subsystem in which he has been participating. The subsystem physically shaped him.

Of course much of the shaping was from working out with weights in between games and practice sessions. But a good deal of the physical shaping also occured while playing the game itself. If the young man tries to fend off enough other large and strong objects, then in time he becomes larger and stronger himself. The activity itself is a workout that shapes his body a certain way. Conversely, a reciever is shaped in an entirely different manner than is an offensive lineman, according to the demands of that different function or task. Systems sometimes literally “shape” the objects within them. To me, this is a form of continued unpacking or, in more spiritual terms, “continued incarnation.”

Incarnation does not stop at birth. It continues until death. The person is shaped by incarnations around him or her. Plus the person's choices in turn incarnates or creates new realities according to the particular systems in which he or she participates.

We pointed out some classical-reality ways that systems might cause shaping, creating, additional unpacking, or continued incarnation. But perhaps we are only scratching the surface. The “satelite dish” metaphor which we will introduce here explores the possibility of a deeper, or depth-oriented, means by which systems can unpack objects/beings.

A system is a collection of physical things on the one hand, but it is network on the other hand. A network is not a force field per se, but it somehow manages to inch closer to being one. Energy moves across the network in a way that approximates an energy field. We often note that the whole of a system is greater than the sum of its parts. In our typical surface-centric way we assume that this notion of wholeness is a kind of abstract artifact of some sort. Mysterious, but not real in and of itself. When we do manage to admit a certain efficacy about the whole-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts we end up calling it “synergy.” We upgraded the reality status of the wholeness of the system. But even then our surface-centric viewpoint tends to keep us from seeing the synergy or wholeness as being a legitimate extra thing in and of itself. We think about energy and energy fields, but we seldom, if ever, think like energy and energy fields.

It's not that we are stupid. It's just that years of surface-centric conditioning has kind of shaped our minds to selectively downplay the reality of synergy and of field effects. We have learned to focus on descrete objects instead. We have learned to “think like matter.” And matter has, as we have already noted, specific location. What on earth is the specific location of a force field? Accordingly we only halfway acknowledge things like energy fields. Until we can learn to think like energy or energy fields this filtering out or minimizing of field or field-like effects will continue. 



theurj said:

Recall this from his pre-book lecture "The gravity of things," which applies to the meta-theory of onto-cartography itself, though aimed here at Zizek:

"Aping Zizek’s style, the question to ask, however, is that of precisely who these critiques are for. [...] When we reflect on Zizek’s critiques, we notice that they require a high degree of theoretical background to be understood. [...] Every entity requires a sort of 'program' to receive and decipher messages of a particular sort from another entity. Reading Zizek ’s work requires a particular sort of training if the recipient is to decipher it. When we evaluate Zizek's work by this criteria and critique him immanently [...] we can ask, on material grounds, about the adequacy of his project. Such a critique is not a critique of the accuracy of his critiques, but rather of the adequacy of his practice. [...] We might thereby conclude that such a practice is actually a mechanism that reproduces these sorts of social relations rather than transforming them as it leaves the ideology itself untouched while simultaneously giving the ideological critic the impression that he’s intervening in some way" (17).

Harman interviews Bryant on the latter's new book. Some excerpts follow. The first reminds me of the goal of political enaction, for by so participating we are changed. And it is a form of rhetoric, or as I call it, rhetaphor.

"I think it’s worthwhile to recall Ian Bogost’s concept of performative rhetoric. As I understand it, a
performative rhetoric is a rhetoric that persuades not through language, but through situating an
audience in an activity. The audience’s understanding is transformed through the activity of doing.
In this regard, games are a form of rhetoric. They change us through their play" (5).

This one highlights my perpetual preoccupation with real and false reason. He's discussing Marx on capitalism but applies him more broadly.

"The splendor of Marx, I think, was to have turned Hegel upside down. [...] The idealist sees the social
world as issuing from the concept, mind, signifier, norm, etc. It is the idea, the idealist contends, that forms the world. [...] Marx, by contrast, was something of a speculative realist and even an actor-network theorist [...] He shows how relations and conditions of production, the physical activity of transforming the matters of the world, inform all dimensions of social relations. He also shows how the various tools and technologies we use condition us, affording and constraining certain forms of affectivity, cognition, bodily capacities, and so on" (6-7).

In this one he comments on materialism, and why many oppose it because it confronts us with our death. Hence to deny it we create idealistic conditions beyond our embodiment, which is the genesis of much of our idealistic philosophies and religions.

"Perhaps at the most basic, existential level, materialism forcefully confronts us with death, aging, and the fact that we are not sovereigns of our of bodies; that our bodies can do horrible things to us as in the case of serious illnesses such as cancer and that we suffer from fatigue and there are limits to what we can do on any given day. In this respect, I think a cross-cultural tendency to erase materialism can be discerned in all the world’s great religions and philosophical traditions, and that variations of a fantasy of liberation from the constraints of the body can be witnessed in all of these traditions. Whether we’re talking about the concept of a disembodied soul and cogito found throughout the western philosophical and religious traditions, or ideals of bodily mastery liberated from the constraints of physics found in many eastern traditions, these spaces of thought seem premised on a repression of materiality" (7).

In this excerpt he comments on how blogging has opened him through dialog to vistas he would likely never have encountered otherwise in academia. And that its social aspect is indispensable to thought itself, indicating the more extended mind thesis of assemblages.

"As time passed, blogging increasingly came to be the center of my thought. I believe that despite the fact that interactions in that medium can often be incredibly unpleasant, I’ve benefitted from it tremendously because it’s exposed me to all sorts of people outside the world of philosophy, as well as texts and lines of thought I would not have otherwise encountered. This has led me on adventures of thought that I don’t think I would have otherwise had. Additionally, I’m put together in a way that I really can’t think without encountering others as a provocation for thought. The dialogical dimension of social media isn’t something ancillary to my thought, but is a necessary condition for me thinking at all" (9).

This Bryant post reminds me of my Christian compatriot Caputo. First Bryant:

"Many of the concepts surrounding the modern understanding of sovereignty are, in fact, secularized theological concepts.  Part of the project of atheology would thus involve overcoming a certain framework of sovereignty. [...] One strategy would be to abolish the place or site (remember we’re talking about structure, not content) of sovereignty altogether.

"In this regard, 'an-archy' doesn’t mean 'without law', but 'without ultimate or transcendent authority deciding the law. [...] The place or site of politics [...] would not be the place of the norm or the rule, of that which is already counted, but would rather be the exception, that which is not counted, that for which there is no norm [....] where the work of thought and practice emerges deciding to count the exception and reconfigure the entire world based on that exception."

Caputo on sovereignty:

"Is there something 'unconditional' that is nonetheless with 'sovereignty?' [...] What Derrida calls the unconditional call is perfectly capable of being described as a ghost, as a shade or specter, a demi-being, not real enough to do anything but able only to haunt us with uncanny possibilities, above all, the haunting possibility of the impossible."

On the exceptional in law:

"It thinks in terms of the singularity of the situation. [...] There’s the law, and then there’s this concrete situation in which the law has to be brought to bear. So, the law has to be brought to bear, but there’s an emphasis on the flexibility of the law. There’s no attempt or element of trying to do away with the law, or with obligation or with the demands of justice. But, there is an attempt to be flexible and to allow a maximum amount of leeway in adjusting to the singularity of the situation."

Another point of confluence, first Bryant from the above post:

"A de-theologization of the concept of sovereignty would involve placing sovereignty not in the hands of a monarch or dictator, but in the hands of the multitude.  That is the basic idea of both communism and anarchism.  It is the common or the community that both possesses and exercises sovereignty."

Caputo in the first post of this thread:

"What would it be like were there a politics of and for the children, who are the future; a politics not of sovereignty, of top–down power, but a politics that builds from the bottom up, where ta me onta (I Cor 1:28) enjoy pride of place and a special privilege? What would a political order look like if the last are first, if everything turned on lifting up the lowliest instead of letting relief trickle down from the top?"

In the above post this sentence should read "without soverenighty."

"Is there something 'unconditional' that is nonetheless with 'sovereignty?'"

So the main difference is that Bryant sees all theology as infected with sovereignty and/or a transcendence of the one over the many. We can see that Caputo's "religion without religion" does not. Also see our prior Gaia thread on Caputo. Derrida was a key influence for Caputo as he was for Bryant. And both use Derrida's critique of the metaphysics of presence to eliminate the sort of bugbear theology Bryant rails against. Granted they do have their differences and personal emphases, but there are points of similarity or homeomorphisms.

Another reference to Bryant's atheology (and non-anthropomorphism) can be found in Caputo, discussing my gal Khora:

"Khora is neither present nor absent, active nor passive, good nor evil, living nor nonliving [...] but rather atheological and non-human" (35-6).

I haven't read the book yet, but possibly relevant here: God's Zeal, Peter Sloterdijk

hey great ,looks like more and more books by sloty are translated into the one language that really matters :english : ))

in any case IN that book sloty says the big sentence : the tell sign for a modern person IS

that he can´t belief any of this ( bible /koran ) anymore. its not that he doesn´t want to ...he just can´t !

says sloterdijk.

IF he still can he has not yet arrived at the modern civilized standard level .

will be fun to see the american

(where ..what ,? something like 95% percent belief in god in the US of A,  i heard)

reaction to just

that one categorical  sentence : )))

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

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At the moment, this site is at full membership capacity and we are not admitting new members.  We are still getting new membership applications, however, so I am considering upgrading to the next level, which will allow for more members to join.  In the meantime, all discussions are open for viewing and we hope you will read and enjoy the content here.

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