Dark Vitalism 3/10 – Vitalism
/3/ – Vitalism, instead of being taken as a singular life-force which animates or enlivens all things, is instead taken to be a collection of forces compromising a larger prohairesis which disintegrates what we take to be the solidity of being both in creation, destruction, and transformation. As a result the organic/inorganic distinction is not an ontological distinction.
So near so far! – sums up my reaction to Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter. Bennett’s “untraditional vitalism” is interesting though how material that material vitalism is remains in question. Her positive mention of Deluze’s virtuality and Althusser’s atomic swerve are bound together in phenomenal fascination with the vibrancy of things. There is an odd relation of forces to things in her text as she connects hylomorphism to vitalism (56) and she glosses over Bergson’s critical remarks against vitalism in Creative Evolution.
In Vibrant Matter it seems that things have forces but how forces act on things is obscure. This somewhat awkward relation between things and forces appears in several other places of late such as Schelling’s whirlpool, Bhaskar’s mechanisms, and the dispositions of George Molnar’s metaphysics. To assert that there are things at bottom appears more and like a strategy of phenomenal comfort than one of speaking to ontological validity.
The tension between animation and things in Vibrant Matter is particularly relevant when Bennett connects hylomorphism to vitalism (56). While Bennett goes far in destroying the organic and inorganic divide (on the ontological level), the mechanics of her untraditional vitalism remain a curtain of phenomenological fascination.
Filed under: Deleuze, Harman, Iain Hamilton Grant, nature, ontology, politics | 3 Comments
Tags: jane bennett, vibrant matter