Bennett’s Vibrant Matter

03Jun10

I’ve been derelict in discussing Vibrant Matter. Several posts have been made about the first few chapters many of which are linked here. The most recent posts are on Critical Animal. I  want to briefly present some thoughts on the first few chapters before focusing on the vitalism chapters next week. Adrian has a very interesting post here as well.

Bennett begins in the usual post-human way of expanding materialism and/or phenomenological thought to grasp non-human actants, objects, entities, etc. Bennett engages Latour, Deleuze, DeLanda and the like to outline the life of the inorganic via an untraditional vitalism. In doing this Bennett makes conceptual alliances which are questionable. Deleuze’s virtuality, Latour’s actant, and Althusser’s atoms are put into play without dissecting the ontological and epistemlogical claims surrounding them. The noetic substance of Althusser’s swerve or the plane of immanence holds onto an anthrocentric ghost.

In a related sense, the first chapter is preoccupied with a kind of phenomenological fascination without ontological justification. The fixation on the heterogeneity of the trash in the gutter while an interesting anecdote to gain traction on the inorganic, begs the question of the philosophical path of this fascination.

This worry leads directly to the second chapter which focuses on distributive agency. Again it seems that phenomenological vestiges. As is the case with Timothy Morton’s work, terms such as interconnectivity, heterogeneity and so on beg the question as the attempt at destroying hierarchy creates a less than helpful unidirectionalism. Stratification is necessary. Bhaskar”s work would be helpful here.

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2 Responses to “Bennett’s Vibrant Matter”

  1. 1 Scu

    Hey Ben, if you get a minute, can you clarify the last, oh, three sentences of your post? I think I know where you are going with this, but I’m not sure (and I certainly don’t know Bhaskar well enough to get that part). Thanks.


  1. 1 Bennett Reading Group « PHILOSOPHY IN A TIME OF ERROR

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