Objects of Physis/Physis of Objects pt. 1


The seemingly unstoppable juggernaut known as object oriented philosophy continues to make its way across the wastes of the blogosphere.  Levi has written a particularly interesting piece here addressing change and the withdrawnness of objects in particular.  In regards to identity Levi writes:

“the identity of the Ship of Tarsus is not based on its matter (the boards), nor even on maintaining the same pattern (we can imagine the ship also being modified in a number of ways just as London changed dramatically after the 17th century Fire of London, but lies rather in the temporal connectedness of the entity across time. This would allow us to say that events do not befall objects, but rather that objects are events. The important caveat would be that events are not instantaneous, but rather are temporally extended or “stretched” like ripples produced in a pond when throwing a rock.”

The more I read of Harman’s work and others articulating object-oriented philosophy my mind keeps falling back to Niels Bohr and, in particular, Karen Barad’s Meeting the Universe Halfway.  I have many issues with the book such as when Barad dismisses the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum physics as minoritarian which, at least from what I’ve read, doesn’t seem accurate.  What Barad’s book does well though is explaining what she terms Bohr’s Philosophy-Physics.  Bohr’s form of realism is a kind of quantum-formalism where what can be called Real is that which is the result of experiment which, to an extent, shapes its own results.  For Bohr, the measuring apparatus (which is itself an object) cuts the agencies of observation from the observed object (p. 114-115).

Bohr’s materialism in many ways seems vaguely Badiouian in that Bohr’s cutting apparatus functions as the count upon the “inherent indeterminacy” (inconsistent multiplicity).  As Barad makes clear, for Bohr inherent indeterminacy is ontic and only subsequently epistemological – that is, not knowing the simultaneity of position and momentum is not a perceptual limitation but a question of simultaneous existence (p. 118).

Trapped in the gravity and phenomenon of Bohr’s apparatus, Harman’s articulation of sincerity immediately comes to mind, that is, if we can strip Bohr’s conceptualization of the apparatus of its humanistic ghost (p. 143).  That is we could take Harman’s reworkd intentionality as the cut of the apparatus but instead of the apparatus’ functions failing because there is no real object to be grasped by measurement but only phenomena, that instead intentionality misses the object because it withdraws infinitely from all other objects.

For Bohr, there is no split object except for what is cut via apparatuses and what pre-exists are entangled intra-actions, the most basic unit of phenomena, the earliest forms of dynamical mattering.  But, as Barad points out, phenomenon contain things within them – it is just that boundaries between things no longer exist outside of measurement.

Does phenomena become the interior third which the two objects meet as things?  Does replacing objects with phenomena seem akin then to the connection or equation of events and objects?  Reading the above quote from Levi, does such an articulation of identity require a particular articulation of temporality?  That is, can an object like Minkowski’s space time be thought of as anything but withdrawn, can there be a thirdness in which it interacts with objects or is it itself always this thirdness?



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