Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On Harman's 'Time, Space, Essence, and Eidos"

This article was recommended to me to address my questions about temporality.  It does not address those questions; Guerilla Metaphysics is a far better source.  Regardless, I will post some thoughts.

It is rhetorically aimed for a continental audience.  The problematics and their dynamics, though recognizable, fall on deaf ears in my case since they are not shared problems.  If those aren’t my problems, I will not be much motivated by their solutions,  e.g., discussion of causality has been rampant in analytic, and the human-world relation is not so large an issue in pragmatism.  Why mention this to a general audience, to you?  To tone down the presentation; its pathos speaks to a need that I and other philosophic discourses do not have.

Harman begins with his creative re-reading of Heidegger.  Since I do not agree with his characterization of Heidegger, which is far from a standard reading, I will treat it as a new offering to philosophy.  His reading of Heidegger’s tool analysis is soo far from a standard reading, e.g., Heidegger is “against relationality per se” and must be for “substance” that I will not grant him the prominence of Heidegger’s ediface; he will have to pull his own weight.  If someone can convince me that the semiotics of worldhood implies that, they are welcome to try to get me to accept the following.

“But there really are autonomous objects that withdraw from all interaction, just as occasionalists think. I base this on the authority of Heidegger’s tool-analysis, which really needs to be read in the way that I have described.”

That said, I agree with Harman’s warning against reading Heidegger as a “pragmatist” in which case he mirror Dewey.  E.g., Dewey’s theory of continuity and realism is irreconciliable with Heidegger.

By the way, my dissertation was originally a comparative of Heidegger and Dewey, but I realized that Dewey scholarship was not ready for the comparison that I wanted to do (cf Bill Blatner’s book on it), and thus I settled for working a realist, pragmatist phenomenology within the topical domain of ethics.  Oh, and Dewey was not a Lockean of Humean empiricist, but a neo-Hegelian one, which has lead to generations of misreadings.

When Harman enters into his exposition of Heidegger’s tool analysis, I can only say that it’s interesting but is not Heidegger.  This is not a problem, but it also means that he’s unhitched his wagon from the most formidable horse of the 20th century.  It appears that he’s 1) taken the revealing/concealing of a phenomenon that generates the hermeneutic circle, 2) ontologized that mechanic, and 3) severed it from phenomenology.  He may not have intended it, but that’s what “withdrawal” looks like.  Just add his analysis of relativity and some salt.  Ok, some special mereology sauce to build his objects into something big enough for my appetite.

Since I do not find this compelling, I have little more to write about it.  It tries to scratch an itch I don’t have.  And if I wanted anything like this, I would look to Americanist scholarship, e.g., Peirce, Whitehead, Hartshorne, etc.  That said, he is offering something to continentals who wish to remain within that milieu.  

1 comment:

  1. I do think that Harman pulls his own weight, btw. He doesn't need that rhetorical device to get respect from me.