Sunday, March 17, 2013

Latour's compositionist manifesto

Balder posted a note on this at IPS. My comments so far. More as I continue to read it.

Just reading the first couple of pages his notion of manifesto reminds me of what I wrote recently on the current Congressional Progressive Caucus budget. It is indeed a manifesto in Latour's terms, something that gives vision and hope to what we can and ultimately will become, even if we're not there at present.

On p. 474 Latour said:

"Compositionism takes up the task of searching for universality but without believing that this universality is already there, waiting to be unveiled and discovered."

This was after him talking about progress. And it is here that I find some reservation with Bryant on teleos. We can see that by taking account of the compositional nature of suobjects, their dependent origination as it were, we enact universals without assuming they were a priori Platonist forms.

Same with teleos and progress; it may not be inherent to the world, but by virtue of understanding the compositional nature of it we can shift it into (enact) a progressive teleos that may not have been there from the outset. And by we I mean humans, given we have evolved to a point of self-consciousness, not to be confused with the prehensive sort of translation inherent to all structures, sentient or not. So in that sense this is indeed a developmental correlationist position and a necessary one if we are to actually progress into a fair and equitable society.

We certainly need the speculative realist and object-oriented ontology critique of a modernist universalism associated with correlationism. But then we must recognize humanity's unequal mereological place in the scheme of things and take hold of that responsibility with purpose and progress in mind.

Granted Bryant has recently questioned correlationism per se in this post. He advocates a form of pan-correlationism in that all suojects translate their worlds. But this goes beyond anthropocentric translation. And elsewhere he has noted that all suobjects equally exist, but do not exist equally, accounting for the notion of suobjects of more inclusive and influential mereological scale. So the next obvious conclusion is that it is the responsibility of anthropos, with this knowledge, to move forward and progress. Without humanity, at least its more enlightened progressives, we are in very real danger of catastrophic destruction via climate change, possibly even to the planet for millennia if not forever. Hence a return to this sort of correlationism and its enacted teleos might indeed be thwarted if we get obsessed with its modernist manifestations.

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