Saturday, November 10, 2012

The IPS twist on Bryant/Morton

Some more of the real and autonomous IPS OOO thread follows from this page:

Balder: As I've said before, I think it is something of an exaggeration to define objects as withdrawn from all relations, for a number of reasons we've discussed before.  OOO makes a good case that a radically relational (relation-only) view runs into trouble, since it becomes difficult to account for change, among other things.  But OOO also admits that a view of radical withdrawal would at least seem to make the interaction of objects impossible, and sets its task out to show how interrelationship is still possible.  (And Buddhism would argue, in the mirror-image of OOO, that island-like, wholly self-sufficient and self-existing objects also would never change).  So, as I've said from the very first pages of this thread (though my insight into this has been shifting and growing through this time), I think siding either for total relational determination or total withdrawal from all relations is a dead end and not workable.  While OOO, which leans towards withdrawal, needs to do work to show how interrelationship is nevertheless possible, I think a similar approach can be taken for the relationist camp:  to show how, even though objects are to some degree interdependently arising, they nevertheless do so in a way that avoids relational determinism and allows for change.  While I need to work this through more rigorously, my sense is that we can perhaps find this in what I've called (en)closure or the rounding of particularity.  Wherever we find a "whole object" which is a unit with internal relations, we find an instance of relational closure.  This closure is at once emergence (of a particularity) and withdrawal (from direct contact with other emergent objects).

theurj: My sense is that is precisely what Bryant is doing. And he is working through this as well, expanding on it with each blog post and interactive dialog. His relationship with Morton is but one example, how the latter's hyperobjects have changed Bryant's view (and vice versa).

Balder: Don't give it all away to him!  :-)  We're doing work here, too.  And he may even be reading.

(When he still says phrases like "withdrawn from all relation," that to me suggests he is falling short, at least, of what I want, and am trying, to articulate here.)

Concerning Morton, in saying "particles do not truly exist," but only the implicate order, he is committing the undermining fallacy (in Harman's language).  I think I've mentioned David Abram in this context, as well.  While his argument is more aesthetic, affective, and ethical, rather than strictly philosophical or logical, he makes the same point: we lose something essential when we erase the reality of this-world objects in preference for quantum reality or whatever.

theurj: I agree, we are contributing in this P2P knowledge generation and adding our own individual and collective twists. And it does seem at times Bryant is reading and responding, but to date he has not given us any credit for it that I'm aware. I also agree that when Bryant says "withdrawn from all relation" I'm not buying that either and it taints his otherwise excellent work.* This goes for when he occasionally says that of differance as well, as if it were just the withdrawn side of things. And when he seems to dichotomize virtual proper being as just an inside and local manifestations as just an outside, as I criticized above (like here).

I'll remind other readers of this thread distinguishing Kennilingam's metaphysical (dual) nondualism with Derrida's mutually entailing nondualism. And this thread doing the same with the Lingam's brand of shentong Buddhism and a more rangtong inflected variety. Also see this recent post (et seq) on reincarnation in the Cloud Atlas thread.** I see traces of shentong in Morton's "particles to not truly exist" and his undivided universal goo as an example of alayavijnana. Also the more general Buddhist notion of emptiness of inherent existence, if taken to the extreme that since nothing has an independent inherent existence that therefore nothing has an individual existence or autonomy. Bryant somewhere rightfully questioned that sort of  Buddhist interdependence in Morton (can't find the cite at present***).

* It seems this is a vestigial holdover from Harman's hefty influence.

** If I may be so bold as to suggest that I appear to be the only one at present making this connection to an onticologically inflected interpretation of reincarnation. It is surely implied in Bryant's latest ideas about incorporeal and potentially eternal hyperobjects, but I added the Buddhist reincarnation twist.

*** Ha, just ask theurj the Archivist and he'll find it! From this IPE post referencing this Bryant post, as follows:
An excerpt of Bryant's 9/30/10 blog post called "conditioned genesis":

"Now Morton has been writing a great deal lately about overlap between OOO and Buddhist thought. It is here that we get at the issue of squaring the circle. My question to Morton– and I do not pose it in an antagonistic spirit, by any means –is how it is possible to square the circle of endorsing the autonomy or independence of substances as OOO does, with the thesis of conditioned genesis? How is it possible to think these two things together. One of the aims of the eightfold way, I take it, is to abolish both the conception of self and things, so as to encounter reality as an anonymous fabric or web of interactive relationships. Yet this is precisely what OOO cannot do, for OOO insists on the irreducibility of substances in the sense described in my prior post today. Consequently, if we’re to go the Buddhist route Timothy is proposing, we require some substantial metaphysical revisions that both  do justice to relation and substance. I am eager to hear how Morton squares this circle and am deeply sympathetic to the project."

This post by Morton begins to answer Bryant's post above:

"Levi raises the crucial question. How the heck do I even begin to think that something as seemingly relationist and process oriented as Buddhism could be amenable to OOO?'s true that the Theravadins developed a theory of interdependence.... Then the Mahayana crew showed up with their teachings on emptiness. They have some interesting arguments about this precise area. One of them is known as the 'tiny vajra' because it's so cute and small and devastating. One aspect of the tiny vajra's fourfold (!) argument is that if things are indeed reducible to other things, nothing would exist.... I translate 'empty' as 'withdrawn.'"

Reading over the previous post and its links and comments, I highlight Balder's comments on Morton's Buddhist 4-fold analysis where Balder aptly noted that the Vajra Slivers are refuting the 4-fold, not supporting it like Morton. Hence it is indeed the Prasangika tetralemma, whereas Morton sees that as only the lower Buddhist analysis (rangtong). The higher is his shentong version which indeed reifies a lot. His arguments against rangtong as being only the present-at-hand have been dispatched quite nicely earlier in this thread with a recontextualized rangtong including onticology.

1 comment:

  1. I'm also reminded of my prior blog post referencing Archive Fire's post on the absolute and relative withdrawn.


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