So its about time I get back to the issue at hand.
I have been writing what is turning out to be an extensive essay concerning Graham Harman and the Object Orientation of the SpeculativeRealists, but it is getting much too long and getting to be, as it turns out, a way more tangential discussion to this essay here about the Significant Event.
Though such tangency is significant and integral to what is treated, suffice it to give for now a synopsis of the situation at hand.
The Speculative Realists have stepped out of the problematic philosophical arena posed by them to have begun with Kant and the Copernican revolution and argued itself along a subjective path to the current situation correlationalism. This stepping out is from the ‘subject orientation’ upon the world to an ‘object orientation’, and thus can be said to be a divergence from traditionally appropriated western philosophy. Roughly speaking, correlationalism is the argument that says knowledge can only reach knowledge; Kant’s idea is that no object in-itself can be known.
Correlationalism says that due to this limit of knowledge, terms do not refer to (true, ‘out there’) objects but only to other terms. The end run argument of this situation is once language becomes the determining factor for the knowledge of the world, the arguments and discussions concerning the world begin to cycle back through different terms to make and reiterate the same arguments. This is to say that once the way of speaking about the world can be defined to its limitation, the arguments that are able to be made within a particular scheme, framework, or scaffolding of terms by which reality can be known, have all been made and for our treatment here, within a certain parameter that we have called the ‘subject-object duality’ that privileges the subject, or at least are represented in sufficient variation of significant themes (Kant’s subjective intuition, Spinoza’s sort of underlying or overreaching encompassment, Feuerbach’s economy of human beings, Wittgenstein’s language, Hiedegger’s Being, to name four) so that now the arguments are replayed in different guises. These guises are thus viewed or understood as new or otherwise progressed ideas (ideas that are in-themselves true as such part of a series) by those ‘caught’ in the Kantian-Copernican discursive paradigm, this recycling of ideas due to the orientation upon an object that is only knowable through a human (Kantian) intuition by which the human subject individual is the sole arbiter of truth and reality. Hence the human being, albeit through guises that suppose and or propose of some transcendent ‘linker’ or ‘encompassment’, even to say that such linkage or encompassment is not a transcendence (for this is merely a negative form) becomes or otherwise is the only possible center of the true universe. This is likened to the Copernican Revolution in that when the Earth was understood as the center of the universe, humans were the special creation of which God was the exact center. With the displacement of the Earth for the Sun as the center, human beings’ centrality loses the credibility and backing of a God and begins a path of human query as to the possibility of this centrality of human thinking as the end of the line, ‘the buck stops here’ credibility.
Yet the issue then presents the at least two aggravating issues, that are not missed by the SRs. And excuse me if this is a repeating of my earlier essays.
1.) The Kantian shift from metaphysical speculation to speculation upon language, tells us that a metaphysical God now is merely a manner of speaking, that the idea of a God does not indicate an actual true transcendently immanent entity or agent over which dogmatic idealism argues of its stature or manifestation; in fact, this allows for atheism. Hence the centrality of human discourse in an immanent universal structural operation. This structural operation is thus apparent in as much
human beings can intuit what the truth of the structure is. Kant thereby sees a problem of such intuition as the problem of correct and incorrect appropriation of what is intuited; hence his categorical and hypothetical imperatives and pure and practical reason.
But this is not the place for a exegesis of Kant. Suffice to say that what we have then is a reality that is still functioning, albeit now through terms, despite what the terms denote to be in-itself or not, of the universe.
2.) The functioning of reality that ‘calls forth’ this seminal idea of Kant argues that all reality, indeed all of history, is was ‘really’ a discursive negotiation. By this notion, we have two positional situations. First, the conventional reading sees a common position of humans in a real universe where humans before Kant were merely ignorant of their situation, positing metaphysical gods and spirits and all sorts of supernatural entities, and humans since Kant are now really dealing with the actual human universal situation, i.e., discursive negotiation. Second and more significant; if this first proposal is indeed the situation, and we can likewise include the proposals subsequent to Kant, the ramifications of having language as the determinant of reality, for example of Wittgenstien and Sartre if not also Kierkegaard, then what was or is posited as past or ‘of the before’ contradicts the meaning of the first proposal. That is, if this is all a present discursive negotiation of proper and improper intuitions, the fact that we came upon such a moment with Kant argues that such present negotiations are not present negotiations at all, but rather are negotiations taking place upon actual prior situations that we collectively call the Past. As well, the supposition that there are or were subsequent ideas based on Kant’s becomes non sequitur, a contradiction of premise to conclusion.
The former position is what Miellasoux has called ‘weak’ correlationalism, where the correlate term-objects are being informed by a transcendent intuition for a type of manifest destiny, a progress of history not dissimilar to Hegalian Historical Consciousness, such as may be found through proper and improper assessment of such intuitions in negotiation, and the latter position is what he calls ‘strong’ correlationalism, where all discourse reflects only the reality of the moment.
As we just said, this situation contradicts itself, so when this is noticed, the question becomes first of how such a situation can be noticed, and is noticed, and then of where or when or how to stop in this reiterating process that repeats itself unknowingly, at once positing a given past that is negated in the present situation of discourse. It is here, from this contradiction that a precipitate of sorts fall out of the issue: the contradiction yields the ‘only’ option, that of the limit of a particular kind of discourse necessarily posits that there are things, as Miellassoux puts it, antecedent to — not merely thought, but rather reason, an effect of thought.
Note that the SE argument yields Miessaloux arguing that the situation is due to a misconstruing, a sort of mistake of route upon the subject rather than upon the object, as based in a sort of choice that allows for the continuance of the error, such that then he may argue that it is reason that is incorrect, and this based in the assumption that discourse has or otherwise becomes a power over how the world is estimated for its truth by human beings. Because this power is somehow based in an originating or effective power for change, choice, that can alter or change the discursive power base, such that the power of choice (in an ability for observation, analysis and activity) establishes the arena against which further choice can be made to alter it, he thereby argues that such a mistake can be corrected. It is interesting and provocative for this essay of the Significant Event because such a situation must be stated outright where as it is usually assumed as the common basic and true feature of being human; as suggested, that this is the ‘natural’ route of progress. Hence his statement, as I repeat myself, is indeed a ‘Realist’ argument, an argument for a ‘more real’ or ‘better and more true’ reality. Along these lines, then, Harman attempts to describe the ‘more true’ real object.
The issue of the point of contention, once we have come upon this stalemate, is that such a present ‘strong correlationalism’, whether the state of that situation or the noticing of it, is relying upon a transcendent interlocutor to gain its discursive position within reality. This is all to say that to say ‘discourse’ does not solve the problem but only avoids it. And this situation is to invoke a hard correlationalism, where not only does discourse argue the present situation, but that the present situation includes all human experience that is allowed to count as reality.
In an earlier essay of Constructive Undoing, we began with the proposal that we must start with the consideration that we no longer have a subject and and object (see my essay ‘Direct Tangent 6.9’), that we should no longer be involved with the attempt to reduce situations of reality to that of objective circumstance, but neither should we fall into the conclusion of analysis of subjectivity or subjective agent, but instead should consider such human factors as ‘subject-objects’, and indeed begin to consider how it may be the object that is determining the subject as opposed to the opposite, that which is typically understood, and thus begin to question such notions of ‘thought’ and ‘choice’. Yet because when we look out into the world, when we interact with society, one cannot deny the obvious and overwhelming presence and persistence of human beings who deal with reality, the world and or the universe in this way, that is, as there being objects and subjects, thoughts and choice, things ‘out there’ and humans with ‘inner’ beings, we must come to the conclusion that reality operates in this manner at least for us humans, through this basic and fundamental duality. Further, in this reality that is obvious, due to its apparent obviousness, the human ‘inner’ being is understood as a part of the universal operation that science uncovers, and so psychology and similar sciences that deal with the human being, such as neuroscience, are involved with situating and handling the human being similarly to how more proper objects ‘out there’ in the world are handled, which is to say, as an object. We call this human being in reality the ‘individual’.
The problem that arises, though, in this worldview has to do with the subject, and not so much with the object. This problem is exactly the contradiction involved with a subjective view upon an object, which is the preoccupation of the last 300 some years of Western philosophy. But the basic problem that this historical route cannot resolve is indeed that it is a subject that is viewing the object, and that this object cannot be known in-itself. This is the Kantian problem; such ‘in-itself-ness’ is only known through human intuition of its truth. Even if we take science at face value, along with all of its ‘philosophical’ what-ifs, all of its findings of neurons, brains, and mental psychologies, multiple universes and cultural realities, it is still an objective appearance of subjective impetus; the discussions and negotiations about scientific objects are but subjective appropriations of intuited objects, the objects that are supposed to be given as neutral things offering up true aspects of themselves to our proper methods, objects apparently being the impetus for our subjective ability to discover true things of things — all of this is relying upon human subjectivity.
Faced with this problem, philosophy (what we term ‘conventional philosophy’) has been in the effort to overcome the gap between the knowing subject and the neutral object without a reliance upon this intuition that always implicates a type of transcendent interlocutor to allow for human beings to have such truth. More particularly, the problem is much more insidious; such a transcendent interlocutor grants the human idea of progress, since if there is no object in-itself that we are knowing of in our daily activities with objects, then the apparent progress we come upon in our dealings with objects must be inspired by a sort of ‘guide’ that is giving us such objects to our knowledge in such a way or manner to allow us progress.
These two situations told are equally intolerable and offensive. Where science has no true in-itself object and the true object is given to us by a transcendent agent or aspect, the only sensible option is the apparent and obvious option, that indeed there is an object that is open to our real methods and query. Due to the ubiquity of such a presence, we can only call this reality. Hence, that which allows for such reality must be a function of being human that avoids its own intelligible approximate yet extensive investigation given what is available for consideration and analysis; we call this avoidance ‘denial’, and the basis upon which such activity yet gains apparent coincidence of progress, ‘faith’.
Such it is that conventional philosophy itself is stuck in this same quandary, taking the obviousness of terms of discussion as likewise true objects, but defaulting to the Kantian intuition in a type of redundancy that allows the discussion of true reality to continue and progress based upon the real maxim that the situating of terms to meaning in the act of explaining achieves an overcoming of the gap inherently and intuitively by the proposal of the proposition that explains Kant’s addressing of objects ‘out there’ and not the objects being used to make the assertion, that is, the terms; such conventional philosophers thereby avoid the problem of their method by a reliance upon an essential segregation of real things, i.e., avoiding that the terms which are not capable of reaching the object ‘out there’ have the same function and capacity as the terms themselves for themselves, that is, the terms that are supposed and assumed to reach the terms which they address in argument.
Further; the scientific effort that is psychology, which purports to gain a description of how the human psyche works, cannot give an account for how such a psyche is able to view itself as a functioning psyche, how the psyche that enacts the effort is able to discern the psyche for which the effort is applied. In fact, the mental construal of such psychology involves such a multitude of aspects, such a phantasmic operation of mental shades and states, that psychology can hardly be said to be presenting an actual true picture of how the psyche works beyond a particular sensibility given particular meaningful structures for any time (ideology) that are equally indescribable or unable to be located (ideological structures have blurred boundaries) so at best is describing a particular manifestation of psyche, one which avoids the very fundamentality of the psyche itself. It feeds back its ‘objective’ observations to itself to explain itself while avoiding the very process by which it may be coming upon such observations and conclusions. Again, this problem is outright denied for the sake of true reality.
So, in as much as we have the apparent abundance and majority of people who see themselves, the world and their mental functioning as being addressed and indeed contained in the magic of science and psychology, we have real individuals, human beings who are oriented upon objects in a particular manner, this manner characterized by denial of the conclusion found of its own method and extended basis of knowing as a division of labor. Such individuals see and act upon True Objects by virtue of the faith that overcomes the accusation of inherent denial of the gap that at once withholds the object from their truth of it, while installing a necessary transcendent interlocutor that allows for progress regardless.
When contradiction arises in reality, faith allows for the reinstatement of that reality where it should be compromised; faith makes true. Such a faith in progress thus sees the terms of reality as indicating different true things, for the terms are the manifestation of the evidence of progress given by the transcendent aspect. So it is that evidence of the contradiction or failure of the subjective determination of reality, the indication that the individual of free agency effects true objects in a catalytic manner is an improper categorization of elements, a categorization that marginalizes human agency to a hypothetical imperative, cannot be allowed to compromise real individual identity, a basic structural form that instead recoups the failure in different terms that always complete the term-object identity as the centralized individual for reality.
This situation of reality, because it is the unavoidable condition in which a human being must reside, and because it indeed does rely upon a distancing of itself from contradiction and a consolidating of itself in identity and agency, due to these limitations and following from the gap it avoids, requires the necessary situation that arises outside of reality can only be not real. This proposal counters the assertions of the Speculative Realists by its route. The route that is thus not real is in response to the proposal that can find a more real reality, which is to say, in rebuttal to the route that takes as its ground the amorphous arena given to the choice upon the already shaky ground having been established through the series of choice (mentioned above). Thus SR are posing an injunction upon the series through the very route that allows for injunctions as part of the series, as part of the true method for coming upon reality; they are arguing an inclusion for the individual in reality, a manner of overcoming the gap. Hence to pose a more real reality is merely relying upon the basic reality for which humans have an intuited truth, and only deals with a contingent and arbitrary break within the unknowable series but posed as now knowable, that is, restated to account for most of reality and its history. This ‘most’ is then evident in the staking of claim upon the moment of the Kantian Copernican Revolution, and reality remains as that ‘thing’, the ‘greater’ object that remains to be dealt with through what is therefore and can only be not real. The Significant Event thus works to expose the route upon which reality stakes its claim to progress by revealing that method by which such claims are made.
And once again, with little reflection upon such a venture as proposed thus far, this exposure is ironic. The once last thing that the subject would imagine, due to the object becoming forefront, exposed, is now becoming or will have became, the first thing.
End part 7.