Harman on Correlationism as the Horizon of our Time

Harman writes, first quoting from Paul Ennis:

“Hegel, and I think Meillassoux quotes him on this, said we cannot sneak up on the ‘thing itself’ to see what it is really like or put differently consciousness cannot get around itself to know the really real (the correlationist circle in Meillassoux’s terms). Hegel has a wonderful solution to this problem in the Phenomenology of Spirit. He simply says that discussions of the ‘in itself’ is something that is only ‘really’ happening for consciousness so when it comes down to it the ‘in itself’ is ‘really’ a feature of thinking and so, technically, there is no in itself object out there to be understood. The ‘in itself’ is not something consciousness is unfamiliar with – it is something that belongs to thought itself…”

If you go with this sentiment, as is your right, then you will tend think Badiou, Zizek et al. are already philosophically on the right track, and that further developments will have to head in this same direction of declawing the in-itself. Meillassoux is on board with it himself.

Or you can go with my view, which is that the Badiou/Zizek (basically Hegelian) dismissal of the things themselves is on the wrong track, and is essentially just based on the same word trick as Meno’s paradox, which in my view Socrates already annihilates. Majority opinion in continental circles still has more of that Hegelian flavor. Or as Iain Grant once put it, neo-Fichteanism is the philosophical horizon of our time. People even try to recuperate Heidegger as basically a successor of German Idealism, which cannot be done in any important sense).

But the correlationist beast continues to live, and even to guide majority continental opinion, and hence in the next fairly systematic book I do (already outlined in Malta last month) I’m planning to do an all-out carpet bombing raid on the old “if you think something outside thought, you’ve thought it, and therefore it’s inside thought” trope. I’ve now decided that this is best done via Plato, not Heidegger, just as the anti-object “continuum” position is best attacked via Aristotle, not Heidegger.

I fear what Graham has planned if what he has been doing–well!–rhetorically has not been “carpet bombing.” Or rather, “all-out carpet bombing.” And I love any return to Plato.

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