Are you down with OOP? … You know me…

(Sorry–I happen to hear that old OPP hip-hop song in my head every time I type out OOP.)

Harman writes:

Stated differently, you can’t say: “I’m not an idealist. I believe the human subject is a passive recipient of the world, not its constitutor,” or “Human and world are co-produced,” or “world produces the human.”

I think this is right. OOP once suggested that I was a phenomenologist, which as far as things one can get called, isn’t bad, especially given the respect OOP has for that tradition. I’m not sure what I wrote in that post that necessitated him responding with the above clarification, though it’s helpful, well-put, and right. I think all manner of bad philosophizing results from making everything a human artifact, and all the work being done in SR, OOP, OOO, ANT, AI, CIA, and whatever other acronyms you can throw out there to think beyond the human in terms of “the animal,” the worldly environment, and more generally in terms of objects is attempting a real thinking beyond the impasses of ontotheology. youthful-idealism

My assumption is that OOP thinks I insert a thinking of passivity here because I want to recuperate something in phenomenology. I wasn’t thinking about that at all in that post, but was instead writing about how I worry about dependence as a means for thinking relationality: dependence, I was simply claiming, just returns us to classical ontologies, the will for power, or what have you. That was a limited point. 

But—why not?—let me go in the direction OOP takes me (excellent example, that, of passivity). Do I think that the telos of phenomenology in the 20th century is a certain passivity that testifies to the object (or world or thing) as it is “beyond” phenomenology? Yes. Husserl’s “life world” is a good example of this: the horizon of all horizons that itself is not amenable to the epoche (since it is the epoche of all epoche), however he tries to tame it. But also the Merleau-Ponty’s notion of the flesh of the world. Levinas’s il y a is another example, since after the 1947 TIme and Existents essay, he really abandons phenomenology for the Other, so this is as far as phenomenology could take him before the leap to theology. And I think the Ereignis in Heidegger and the event in Derrida are also attempts to jump out of the problem of linguistic access, just as the others try to jump over one’s shadow to what is outside (the object) of thought, despite phenomenology’s problem of access. And that’s all that I would say, namely that I think you could read 20th century phenomenology as one failed attempt after another to move beyond the problem of access. One that Meillassoux, despite his critique of phenomenology, himself can’t bypass, and thus he’s not doing OOP or OOO. Or perhaps even SR at this point.

But more broadly, the passivity is as far as phenomenology can go. That’s it: we sit back and “wait” (and all the other metaphors brought to bear in all of these thinkers); the “thing” is a priori and a posteriori. That’s the problem of “access.” And it’s not to be  diminished. (The tour de force that Meillassoux performs in his work is a strenuous attempt to outrun this problem, which he doesn’t.)

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t think access is an insuperable problem, not least because I think access itself is a particularly helpful “object” that shows a certain relation that OOP shows between each and every object: this intentional structure, to use his term, is there between me and the computer, and it’s also between the chair and the floor. And I would add, a priori to access is the relation (that would provide for any such “access”), which is the sharing of sense. As for “passivity,” it is the last stubborn attempt by phenomenology (whether in Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, or Levinas) to think the limits of where phenomenology can go. And for that, it’s instructive. But OOP is exactly right, that doesn’t mean that we simply make “access” writ large over being itself, where it is but always structured through the event or the il y a or the flesh of the world, which is another way of saying: it matters because there are people. And that is idealism.

One comment

  1. Can you unfold for us this delicious turn ?

    “And I would add, a priori to access is the relation (that would provide for any such “access”), which is the sharing of sense.”

    If I am hearing your resonance you are saying “different, never alien” … and are you willing to embrace the triadic paradox in every mode of intimacy which goes :
    I’m nothing like you | I’m nothing but you | I’m something like you … ?

    (the “voice” here is that of any object)

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