Lambert On Shaviro

Here’s the opening:

I often enjoy those books of philosophy that begin like good science fiction. In this vein, Steven Shaviro’s Without Criteria begins: “I imagine a world in which Whitehead takes the place of Heidegger.” In other words, he poses the question, “What if Whitehead, instead of Heidegger, had set the agenda for postmodern thought?” (ix). Starting from this “philosophical fantasy”, Shaviro sets out to describe a possible world without Heidegger, which I take to be a sort of Leibnizian wager that is bound up with the “turn to Whitehead” today. Accordingly, “a world in which Whitehead takes the place of Heidegger” must be understood as a divergence from the image of thought that belongs to a tradition of post-Kantian critical philosophy, the recurrent features of which have been an obsessive concern over the limits of representation and the critique of subjectivity, and by an allergic reaction to modern science and technology. The main objective of this tradition has been the exposure of the limits of all representational systems by a regressive procedure of critical reason that leads them into a state of crisis as an anticipatory step to their radical reconstruction; the second objective is the laying bare of all naïve and subjectivist constructions of identity, which leads to the production of difference introduced from the critical perspective of “otherness” (as in the case, most recently, in the critical perspectives surrounding the animal and the post-human).