More Process vs Substance/Object Discussion
I doubt I can give each the response it deserves but, at least to keep the conversation going, I have several questions/comments in regards to each response.
For Knowledge Ecology it is clearly the case that I need to read more Whitehead especially since he is the thinker who seems to be pulled back and forth the most across the divide (if it is in fact a divide) of OOO/OOP and PP. My lingering question is the distinction of the metaphysical and the non-metaphysical as it relates to substance vs process and the question of individuation. For me, the distinction really rests on whether the object or substance is metaphysically prior to, or important, or however you want to put it, to the processes or powers. In philosophies of dispositions it is often the case that dispositions, at their root, belong to objects, or natural kinds, and so forth. Grant’s philosophy (and some philosophers of dispositions such as Alexander Bird for instance) believe that you must have powers all the way down otherwise you fall into quidditism or some other universe where thinking does too much carving up of nature and the joints to make sense of it.
While the response at After Nature similarily calls for similarity or less difference I think there still remains a kernel of ontological difference if its processes or becoming or powers all the way down that object (or generate or individuate) as opposed to a universe peppered with things that power or process. So what’s the difference between objects that power and powers that object? The former focuses less on generation and destruction while simply ontologizing the difference between things where the latter ontologizies processes or events such as generation or destruction or evolution or change whereas it has to work to explain this and that. In the end perhaps it is just a metaphysics for the world as it appears with molten cores or withdrawnness to explain difference vs a metaphysical theory which explains worlding and not the particularity of things.
It’s here where I might have overstated process or Whitehead as doing violence to common sense as Footnotes discusses here. This lies in the trickiness of the term experience which also indexes discussions of panpsychism and Bergson’s memory. Everything has experiences to the extent that what is not that thing is effected, changed, warped what have you by other things or by processes. But while there is an ontologically continuity between how a rock ‘experiences a pond’ and how a romantic German poet experiences a pond there is also a difference which functions on a different realm – I am still struggling as to whether is an ontological difference or an ontic difference. Footnotes writes”
” Unlike Woodard, I think metaphysical speculation is necessarily affective and existential. Philosophy must be involved in the ethical complexities of everyday life among others, since it is only in response to these complexities that thinking emerges at all. If affect and ethics are not properly “metaphysical” topics, then I say to hell with metaphysics.”
And this is the tricky part about that struggle – this is the relation between affect and metaphysics. I always think there is a risk of enchantment feeding back too much onto a metaphysical theory that is posited because it makes sense. That theory however is always going to be speculative/imaginative and cannot be skinned of its affective colors but, it’s here Laruelle is useful – as there is an important task of splitting the decided real from the Real as One, from the world pushing affect to affect pushing the world. The latter is no doubt important in terms of affects, politics and the like, but when it starts to seep into the structure of reality I think it is important to appeal to reason. Again, this is easier said than done. Also, I appreciate the comment on Whitehead being for the muddleheaded as Schelling was often called by his students Professor Murky mind.
In the sense I am not sure if the differences have been overstated as Adrian states but again the relation to Whitehead is key. And this relates to the issue I have above of the metaphysical difference between a world of things that world and a world of worlding that makes things – that how does this difference, what could be the Spinoza Liebniz difference or the Plato Aristotle difference, map onto events as things. Is the thingness of the event its identifiability by other things or is this identifiability always already written into the world (Simondon’s preindividual fields, Platonic ideas as genetic) and so on?
This is also related to Jason’s concerns about continuity here mentions here which also swings us back around to Meillassoux’s absolute contingency.
Sorry this is a quick and dirty post now I just have to get Shaviro to chime in! Thank you all for your well thought out responses.
Filed under: Deleuze, Harman, Iain Hamilton Grant, Meillassoux, nature, ontology, Schelling, Speculative Realism | 5 Comments