Objects and all that…

The blog here has been a little quiet as I’ve become more and more immersed in my research. I took a years unpaid sabbatical from the University of Greenwich where I work as a part-time philosophy lecturer in order to work on a book tentatively titled ‘Necessary Matter’. Things are progressing with that project and hopefully there will be some concrete output fairly soon from this long process of immersion in texts and thoughts. In the course of the research, which initially began from a curious encounter between my interests in Leibniz, Deleuze and Brandom, I have engaged more and more with the interest in objects that has arisen over the last few years. The work of Harman and Bryant, coming out of the speculative realist current and drawing on Bruno Latour, strikes me as interesting if unsatisyfing. This, I find, is often the most productive type of encounter. The uninteresting simply passes by, whereas the satisfying offers a kind of succour that might be ill-advised but is often rapidly consumed. Satisfaction leads to passivity, not usually a good thing in terms of thought, although no doubt it is necessary at times.

One of the things I find most unsatisfying about the object-orientated philosophy is a kind of amorphous objecticity. I’m never entirely certain quite what is not an object, for example, or what differences there are amongst objects, if indeed there are any at all. ‘Latour’s litanies‘, as Harman calls them (following Ian Bogost), are a particular example of a curiously unsatisfying encounter with objects, reminding me a little of poetry but less of anything I can think with or through. It is therefore interesting to find Levi Bryant engaging explicitly with exactly what sort of objects there are, a taxonomy produced through developing a mereology (an account of the part/whole relation). He has produced an interesting presentation using Prezi which I’ve embedded below. I make no comments on this at the moment, that can come later.

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philosopher and filmmaker from brighton, currently teaching philosophy at the Free University of Brighton

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