Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bryant on phenomenological perspectives

Bryant's recent post on posthumanism is interesting. I'm recalling Balder's previous suggestion on an integral grammatology. Here Bryant is focusing on that aspect of his work to do with perspectival phenomenology. Some excerpts:

"As I understand it, a position is posthumanist when it no longer privileges human ways of encountering and evaluating the world, instead attempting to explore how other entities encounter the world.  Thus, the first point to note is that posthumanism is not the rejection or eradication of human perspectives on the world, but is a pluralization of perspectives.... Posthumanism goes one step further in arguing that animals, microorganisms, institutions, corporations, rocks, stars, computer programs, cameras, etc., also have their phenomenologies or ways of apprehending the world. I think this is a point that is often missed about OOO.  OOO is as much a theory of perspectives, a radicalization of phenomenology, as it is a theory of entities.  While the various strains of OOO differ amongst themselves, they all share this thesis in common.  There is a phenomenology for, not of, every type of entity that exists."

"Phenomenology-for is a phenomenological practice that attempts to observe the manner in which another entity experiences the world.  Where phenomenology-of adopts the first person perspective of how I experience the world, where phenomenology-of begins from the unity of that first person perspective on the world and what things are in the world for me, phenomenology-for begins from the disunity of a world fractured into a plurality of perspectives and attempts to enter into the perspectives of these other entities.  In Luhmannian terms, it attempts to 'observe the other observer' or 'observe how another observer observes the world'.  It begins not from the standpoint of the sameness of experience, but from the standpoint of the difference of experience."

This one applying the theory to a social situation is spot on:

"The problem is not markedly different from that of understanding the experience of another person.  Take the example of a wealthy person who denounces poor people as being lazy moochers who simply haven’t tried to improve their condition.  Such a person is practicing 'phenomenology-of', evaluating the poor person from the standpoint of their own experience and trying to explain the behavior of the poor person based on the sorts of things that would motivate them.  They reflect little understanding of poverty.  They are blissfully unaware of the opportunities that they had because of where they are in the social field, of the infrastructure they enjoy that gives them opportunity, the education they were fortunate enough to receive, etc., etc., etc.  All of this is invisible to them because, as Heidegger taught us, it is so close it is not seen at all.  As a consequence, the wealthy person assumes that the poor person has all these things.  However, we can imagine the wealthy person practicing something like alien phenomenology or second-order observation, thereby developing an appreciation of how the world of poverty inhibits opportunity.  Prior to developing this understanding, the wealthy person behaves like the person with vision who berates a blind person for not seeing a sign."

Bryant's post relates to my last statements in the Obama reelection thread. For those that can take multiple perspectives like Obama it doesn't serve the public good to compromise with those with such limited views on poverty like the above, for example. Yes, we can try to understand from where such a limited perspective arises and compassionately sympathize with that person. We might try to enlarge the other's perspective to see what has heretofore been invisible. But the solution to poverty in not in compromising with that sort of perspective as it is, or the policies that are derived therefrom. We can see what policies are promoted from the "makers versus takers" perspective by just looking at the Ryan budget plan. Plans like that need to be defeated, not negotiated.


  1. Balder replied: Here's Sloterdijk:

    Interviewer: Is this deterioration of the world house or the all-embracing sphere into foam bubble an image of entropy?

    S: On the contrary, in modernity far more complexity is established than was possible under the classical notion of unity. We must not forget that metaphysics is the realm of strong simplifications, and thus has a consolatory effect. The structure of foam is incompatible with a monospherical mindset; the whole can no longer be portrayed as a large round whole. Let me use an anecdote to indicate the immense change: In his memoirs, Albert Speer recollects that the designs for the giganto-manic new Reich Chancellery in Berlinoriginally envisaged a swastika crowning the dome, which was to be over 290 meters high. One summer’s day in 1939 Hitler then said: “The crown of the largest building in the world must be the eagle on theglobe.” This remark should be taken as attesting to the brutalist restoration of imperial monocentric thinking—as if Hitler had for a moment intervened in the agony of classical metaphysics. By contrast, around 1920, in his reflections on the fundamentals of theoretical biology [Theoretische Biologie], Jakob von Uexküll had already affirmed: “It was an error to believe that the human world constituted a shared stage for all living creatures. Each living creature has its own special stage that is just as real as the special stage the humans have. . . . This insight offers us a completely new view of the universe as something that does not consist of a single soap bubble which we have blown up so large as to go well beyond our horizons and assume infinite proportions, and is instead made up of millions of closely demarcated soap bubbles that overlap and intersect everywhere.”

  2. I replied: Slot's ideas are akin to Bryant's, and contra the epistemic fallacy of anthropocentric consciousness per se (CPS) the Lingam uses as the unified assholon of everything. Humans have an experience of unity consciousness that they assume is the foundation of the universe. Hence CPS is the ultimate measure of altitude in any kosmic address per kennilingus, not just for human consciousness. That kind of anthro-mono-multiperspectivalism is a incipient shadow of the much more comprehensive agendas of the bubblelicious.

  3. Even accepting that human brain anatomy and consciousness is the most complex structure known, and partially accepting developmental psychological research into stages of enaction like the MHC, the key point of contention remains to be how such stages are formulated, as well as just what (meta)paradigms enact those stages. I've argued that the likes of integral pluralists like Bryant (and others) are indeed indicative of those mereological stages, with the likes of kenninligus and the MHC itself being just more complex formal operations due to the very way mereology itself is approached. See this* now classic thread for one pre-OOO discussion on the topic, as well as the entirety of the now voluminous and highly informative OOO thread.**




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