The Harman-Gratton difference

I’m about to head up and give my CRESC paper–nothing major, and I’ll note when it’s published in some form or other. But I caught this from Graham’s blog (and it’s strange to read this while seeing him right across the room):

Before then, I’ll be hearing, among other things, a Gratton paper on Nancy that he says will refer to both me and Meillassoux. Gratton is a blunt enough character that it could well be a frontal attack, so I’d better be listening closely in order to respond.

Well, it’s a 6000 word paper that I’m going to run through quickly, but for those looking for the “frontal attack,” here it is:

First reference, where I quote him to agree…  After a discussion of Heidegger on animals: “Yet, we will in turn sovereignly declare human beings as having the touch, as we say in English. The result is that, as Graham Harman puts it in a different context, “One privileged entity is allowed to form links where others cannot. Against this notion, I propose the more democratic solution of a local occasionalism or vicarious causation, in which every entity that exists must somehow be equipped to serve as a medium of contact between two others” (IO, 8).

Second reference: “The responsibility today, the ‘more democratic approach,’ as Harman puts it, is very much about the public things—and how we accede to them, even if acceding to public things means questioning access itself.” 

And last reference, from the footnotes: “Graham Harman offers a helpful example in terms of what he calls ‘intentional objects’: ‘While the real tree is always something more than whatever I see of it, the intentional tree is always something less. That is to say, I always see it much too specifically, encrusted with too much accidental color or from an accidental angle, or in some purely coincidental melancholic mood. Any of these details could be changed without changing the intentional tree, … It is not an empty je ne sais quoi projected onto unformed sense data, because in fact it precedes and shapes any such data. As Merleau-Ponty knew, the black of a pen and the black of an executioner’s hood are different even if their wavelength of light is exactly the same. The qualities are impregnated with the objects to which they are attached.’ Graham Harman, “Intentional Objects for Non Humans,” available, with the author’s permission, at, p. 6. Henceforth cited as IO.

Also, Graham notes that we were “debating” last night. I was actually asking about his account of the distinction between substance and change, that is, Aristotle’s account of potentiality and actuality. He thinks you can’t think things as relational without falling into Aristotle’s critique of Heraclitus. But you also can’t have monism, either, as Aristotle had previously made clear in the previous section of the Metaphysics. And this all requires a rethinking of time, since Aristotle’s notion of substance necessitates a thinking of time found in the Physics (now time…), a point Heidegger makes well. Having read Graham on this, he doesn’t accede to Aristotle’s view of time and so I’d like to hear more from him (and this is genuine question–not a counter-argument) about how objects relate and what modicum of relation they can’t have on his account…without falling into stasis and oblivion. I don’t think I made that clear. The analogy I’ll try is that we can think this through Nancy’s notion of sense, or partage. An example that comes to mind is the way in which languages evolve through it’s self-differences. In other words, there is a real truth that the Brits and the English are two peoples separated by a common language. Without that “partage” of language, there would be no development of it, and yet, there must be some “touch” or such between them for there to be a relation in the first place. But in the end, I don’t think Graham realizes how much I agree with him.