More Speculations

12Jan10

Both Graham and Levi respond to my previous post. Levi makes the case that OOO/OOP is doing well because it has produced, and will continue to produce, useful research projects. It’s of course no surprise that a philosophy of objects has useful pragmatic output but this fact is still, as I said before, connected to the weight of philosophical history.

In his post Levi makes the following comment:

“The vitalist trends of OOO/OOP strike me, for all their grandeur, as warmed over versions of Deluezian thought in Schellingian guise. Why this new variation of Deleuzian thought is needed is an interesting question– what’s wrong with Deleuze? –but I don’t see it going much further beyond what Deleuze and Guattari already accomplished.”

This kind of comment has cropped before and I still do not understand it. Grant makes several attempts (more than a few of them succesful) in Philosophies of Nature after Schelling to show exactly how Deleuze and Guattari’s project of a naturephilosophy fall short. D and G’s philosophy of nature is doomed from inception based on their reduction of nature to life (worlds as eggs, productive nature as lively immanence) and their insistence on a thinkable nature, on a nature fully graspable by thought. D and G damaged the possibility for a philosophy of nature as much as they attempted to renew it.

The problem with Deleuze is his anthrocentricism which I think often manifests itself in his use of the virtual. Despite Levi’s comments here, I would argue that Deleuze’s virtuality embeds a certain thinkability or discernability, which tends towards anti-realism. Even DeLanda’s work doesnt quite pass the realist test. DeLanda argues that the Laws of nature are merely enhanced probabilities, that they are regularities that are made into axioms (Intensive Science 157). Following Nancy Cartwright, DeLanda argues that laws unify and organize but otherwise lie (160). Whereas DeLanda is criticizing the being (or isness) of Laws suggesting that they rely on a fundamental narrow mode of thinking (of whatness) he does not then question that particular mode of binding existence (of the relation of what and is) but instead, by using Deleuze’s virtuality, ontologizes thinking. This has consequences for the relation of the ontological and the epistemological as well as the status of immanence.

While D and G opened interresting paths for philosophy I don’t believe that they do much good for nature philosophy, nor do I think Grant’s work is overwhelmingly Deleuzian. Furthermore, a philosophy of nature promises to be importance in the wake of ecological crisis – nature as a concept does not dissapear even if we act as if there isnt one (just as the hard sciences work through metaphysics whether acknowledged or not).

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