Points and Objects
Levi has an interesting post about quantum mechanics and Speculative Realism. A whole slew of issues arises surrounding epistemological versus ontological realism particularly in regards to the issue of observation and the uncertainty principle. As the Dailykos post he references makes clear, decoherence does not assert that everything depends on observation, but that at some point quantum phenomenon appears as macroscopic reality. While decoherence does not explain this transition it does not justify, as Gabriel Catren makes clear in his contribution to Collapse V, a mathematized transcendental couplet comprised of observer and experience (or correlationism).
Catren describes physics as a theory of objects made of a formalism (mechanics) and many kinds of objects (such as fields, particles, systems and so forth). The bulk of the essay is dedicated to showing how QM demonstrates objects and qualities as self synthesizing without the need to appeal to a transcendental subject. Objects are then defined as “a set of invariant objective properties that manifests itself through a phenomenological multiplicity of phases.”
But the source of objective or invariant components becomes problematic if objects only ever become other objects ad infinitum. Catren’s response to this is the utilization of universal operators which he likens to Whitehead’s eternal objects also refering to them as universal ideas. These ideas which make ingressions into nature are discussed in terms of mathematics – any given object is an expression of certain universal measurements or other physical properties.
What I cant grasp is how the universal ideas (if they are to avoid anthrocentrism) can be separated from being a thinkable potentiality such as Deluze’s category of the virtual. Steven Shaviro made this connection some time ago here. It seems that there can be no guarantee as to the contours of conceptualization (via Brassier) or of transformation (against Meillassoux’s logical access to chaos). This is the crucial importance of identity in the Laruelleian sense. Yet even in Laruelle there is the tension between the object and the point (the object being the zero-point of being).
The issue remains that the object (at least as it is used by Harman and Bryant) is a relocation and shrinkage of being (or ground in the Schellingnian sense) whereas the point (functioning in place of the object) is a formalization of an epistemological limit regarding becoming. For OOO/OOP it seems that being becomes de-humanized (flattened) whereas for tm/neo-vitalism it is the ignorance surrounding the absolute which is flattened or annihilated. The function of thinking in the former remains an enigma.
Also, see Michael’s excellent post here.
Filed under: Brassier, Deleuze, Harman, Meillassoux, nature, ontology, Speculative Realism, transcendental materialism | 2 Comments
Tags: gabriel catren, levi bryant, ooo, oop, quantum mechanics, vitalism