Adam S.

Miller's Speculative Grace: Bruno Latour and Object-Oriented Theology A Review by Terence Blake

1. Grace is Deconstructive Emergence
"Speculative Grace: Bruno Latour and Object-Oriented Theology " is a very interesting read. It gives an excellent account of Bruno Latour's pluralist ontology, one that is far superior, because more faithful, to that given in Graham Harman's book "PRINCE OF NETWORKS: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics". Unfortunately Miller relies too much on Harman's terminology and so the formulation of the book's project that is contained in the title is quite misleading. I am very sympathetic to the book's project of porting grace into a non-theistic pluralist ontology, and also to the heuristic intermingling of theology (in the widest sense), philosophy, science, the arts etc that this involves. However, examined in the light of this project I think Miller's book is only partially successful, and one of the problems comes from an inadequate definition of the project itself, as can be seen already in the title and Miller's explications of the project. 1) The book's whole tendency is Latourian, and not at all "Object-Oriented", despite Miller's terminological choice in favour of an ontological vocabulary that treats everything as objects. Latour's preferred theoretical terms are "actors" and "networks". He calls his account "actor-network theory", as he wished to keep his ontology as open as possible. Miller quotes Latour's formulation of this metaphysical openness in his slogan "we do not know in advance what the world is made of", but then proceeds to use Graham Harman's term of "objects", that does pre-decide on the basic components of the universe. "Actor" is a verbal term, as Latour approaches elements in terms of what they do, and he situates them in "networks" as he considers

2 them also in terms of their relations. Harman's preferred term "objects" is far more static, and he considers objects as "withdrawn" from relations. It is to be regretted that Miller chose to express his Latourian (dynamic, pluralist, relational) theology in the language of Harmanian (static, dualist, withdrawn) ontology. 2) Nor is the concept of grace presented in the book "speculative" in the technical sense of that word derived from the movement of "Speculative Realism" (of which Graham Harman, the creator of object-oriented philosophy, is a founding member). Rather the book proposes a concept of immanent grace, as it explicitly sets out "to operationalize grace.... to port it out of a traditional theistic framework and into the immanent domain of a non-theistic, object-oriented ontology" (page 3). So the first part of the title is misleading. "Speculative" is not a good adjective to link to Bruno Latour's experimental metaphysics. "Immanent Grace" would have been a more accurate title. The choice of the adjective seems to have been dictated by the desire to avoid repeating himself, as Miller has already published a book with the title "Badiou, Marion and St Paul: Immanent Grace". One of the senses that Miller gives to the notion of "objectoriented" is not having any transcendent fundamental unity that serves to unify, synthesise, organise, and reduce the multitude. This sort of non-reductive pluralism is closer to the idea of an "immanent" approach than to one that is "speculative". 3) Even the word "grace" itself is potentially a lure, and quite other names for the central concept are possible, e.g. "love" or "gift". An example of this can be found in Paul Feyerabend's account in his autobiography KILLING TIME of his passage from "icy egotist" to a human being capable of friendship and love. Feyerabend declares: "there is no merit in this kind of love. It is subjected neither to the intellect nor to the will; it is the result of a fortunate constellation of circumstances. It is a gift, not an achievement" (173).


This idea of love as gift seems to correspond rather well to Miller's 6 criteria of grace: it is immanent (a "gift" without a giver, as Feyerabend's pluralism is non-theistic), enabling (it "expands horizons", Feyerabend tells us), prodigal (not deserved, not an "achievement", emergent), suffered (not "subjected" to the will), absolute ("I can't really say what I mean, for that would delimit" a constantly changing phenomenon, 173), sufficient ("People, intellectuals especially, seem unable to be content with a little more freedom, a little more happiness, a little more light", KILLING TIME, 164).

Grace is the domain of the "a little more", an immanent progress, an emergent excess. This emergence is deconstructive in the broad sense that it is the mark of the openness, the multiplicity, and the ambiguity of "the whole of this world's self-organizing complexity" (SG, 3.)

2. Neo-liberal Project or Pluralist Program
"Speculative Grace", as we have seen, is a potentially contradictory title. "Speculative" seems to refer to the sort of supposedly "hard-headed" scientism that we find in Ray Brassier's work. "Grace" evokes the sort of preachiness to be found in soft-headed appeals to the presence of an omnipotent God's benevolence in the banal incidents of every day life. On this reading "speculative grace" would translate out as "positivist preachiness", a sort of "tough and tender", sweet and sour sauce to spice up our dull ordinary existence. The title seems to point to some syncretic reconciliation of science and religion rendered possible by Graham Harman's elaboration of an Object-Oriented Philosophy, and by the school of Object-Oriented-Ontology (OOO) that it engendered. Yet Harman's OOO declares that the objects of science (and by

4 implication religion) are totally unreal ("utter shams"). On a Harmanian acception "speculative grace" would seem to be a new designation for the ideology of neo-liberalism, a secular religiosity, a sort of Zen and the Art of Stock Speculation.

OOO is a movement that is obsessed with its own origin story, regularly recounting its generic common origin with other Speculative Realist (SR) philosophies, and its specific differences. This myth of origins is one of the best examples of the default of origin or originary default described by Bernard Stiegler. The title "Speculative Realism" was coined at a conference in 2007 as a retrospective label for the positions of its founding members (Ray Brassier, Quentin Meillassoux, Iain Hamilton Grant, and Graham Harman), each of whom had already been through an autonomous philosophical development, before endorsing, however briefly, the new common label. One reason for Miller's use of the adjective "speculative" seems to be an ill-advised attempt at branding. The book has a foreword by Levi Bryant, a member of the object-oriented ontology movement, which is a spin off from "Speculative Realism" . The subtitle contains reference to a possible "object-oriented" theology juxtaposed to the mention of the name Bruno Latour. This grouping of disparate tendencies of thought is a conceptual mess! All of the original speculative realists (with the possible exception of Grant) have views of science that are incompatible with Bruno Latour's views. In particular Graham Harman (the founder of the "object-oriented" approach), expounds a view of science (in the second half of his book on Latour, and also in his book THE THIRD TABLE) that is the exact opposite of everything Latour has argued for. In that sense writing the book on Latour was a magnificent propaganda move because many people have the impression that there is some huge overlap between both authors' systems, but this is not at all true. Similarly Brassier's "bleak" scientism is

5 quite antiquated epistemologically, and certainly pre-Latourian in its separation between the manifest image and the scientific image. The same must be said for Meillassoux, whose mathematism and dualism of primary and secondary qualities are a regression to positivistic fairytales, that the logical positivists themselves soon went beyond.

This heterogeneous assemblage of philosophers does not constitute a Badiousian "event" (one possible translation for "grace") but a pious wish on the part of some of its faithful, though not all (thank God for the hard-headed Brassier, for example,) that this intellectual branding (SR,OOO) has enough substance to protect them from the crisis of foundations (it does not). Far from embodying speculative rigor, Harman's OOO is all metaphor, unconscious of its own status as such. The problem is not with the use of metaphor (though the metaphor of "objects" is rather uninspiring) but with its unconscious deployment under the aegis of metaphysical realism.

The expression "speculative grace" can be interpreted in other ways. For me "speculative" evokes conceptual creation (creation of and with concepts", which Deleuze claimed to be the defining characteristic of philosophy). "Grace" evokes graceful movements and acts, something indescribable about ordinary things and happenings that gives them a "shining" quality, the extraordinary in the ordinary that Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Kelly describe in their book ALL THINGS SHINING. "Speculative" connotes logos, and "grace" is associated with pathos, and also eros. Speculative grace would be a case of the "erotic logic" that the poet Kenneth White considered to be the outcome of post-modern explorations ("post-modern is preworld" he used to say).

"Speculative grace" can be read as designating the use of religious vocabulary after the

6 death of God. Speculation is what has been held in check by onto-theology and the imposition of transcendences that stop thought at certain boundaries fixed from outside. Grace is an item of religious vocabulary that designates an emergent excess over the calculable lines of causality. One could object that such words are irrevocably contaminated by their monistic ontotheological origins and that the old religious vocabulary should no longer be used, not even as metaphor. But these words do not owe their origin to theology, which took over words from the common tongue. So speculation should not be limited a second time by prohibiting such vocabulary.

Speculation is the property of noone, nor is realism. The whole direction of AngloAmerican empiricism for at least a hundred years has been to argue that speculation is an essential, ineliminable, and positive ingredient of our knowledge - being both heuristically useful and compositionally fecund. Such thinkers as Bertrand Russell, Rudolf Carnap, Willard Van Orman Quine, and Karl Popper were in no way against "speculation". Far from trying to eliminate it, they argued for the necessity of speculation and for its usefulness not only in philosophy but in the sciences as well. There has been no generalised abandon of speculation in anglophone philosophy but rather a continuous critique of certain types of empty specualtion, of which Harman's Object-Oriented Philosophy is a good example.

Realism is another battle-cry without a battle. Those who arrogate to themselves the title of realism often fail to (or refuse to) comprehend their rivals and predecessors. Those declared to be "anti-realist" are most often the most radical phenomenologists, those who deconstruct the dualism of subject and object and release us from the idealist trap of "correlationism" (to use for once this pseudo-concept, which is used by OOO in a sense that has a little historic or even

7 speculative content). They are thus the most thoroughgoing realists. Derrida is a realist, it is the whole point of his theoretical work, as are Foucault, Lyotard, and Deleuze. Harman on the contrary is in a counter current to this radicality, and is correlationist and non-realist through and through. Harman needs to consider adversaries like Derrida and the other poststructuralist thinkers to be anti-realist in a Pickwickian sense that exists only in his own imagination. He cannot use their actual texts to prove his point so he has recourse to "Sturm und Drang", bluster and bravado, repeating his accusations over and over without the slightest argument.

There is nothing wrong with such repetition if it allows us to sketch in a context without losing time, a reminder to awaken the spirit to push its research further. This is the whole Deleuzian theme that we need habits that are both contemplative and productive, but we must stop them from hardening into stereotypes. Harman's stereotypes of Deleuze and Derrida and "philosophies of access" lull thought into a stupor where clichés replace concepts, and the history of philosophy is replaced with ready-made travesties. Harman is an atavism, a throwback to a legendary realism that exists only in his own imagination. There is nothing realist about a man that claims that the objects of common sense, of the humanities and of the sciences are all "utter shams".

The philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend, for example, has just as much claim as any to the title of "speculative realist", in work published 60 years before the "event" (Note 1). He is both a full-blooded realist, and in favour of speculation as an instrument of the exploration of reality and as a means of access to a life of grace (which he calls "full development"). John Caputo, another speculative realist decades before the self-conscious proclamation of the movement, provides us with the best framework for examining Speculative Realism and for

8 contextualising Adam S. Miller's book "SPECULATIVE GRACE". I agree with Caputo that the positive contribution of postmodernism is the unmaking of demarcationist philosophies. He sees this in the coming together of the spiritual and the material, and thus of theology and the physical sciences, their intermingling and indetermination. More generally, I think it is interesting to contextualise Miller's project not in terms of Speculative Realism and of Object-Oriented Philosophy, but by relating it to other pluralist philosophies that are elaborated in the works of Deleuze, Feyerabend, Caputo, Dreyfus and Kelly.

This is what Miller is working on - an ontology of abundance and emergence, this is what Harman is missing with his ontology of demarcation and "withdrawal". Miller belongs to this movement of bringing science and spirituality together, of arguing for the speculative and spiritual import of contemporary scientific visions. He affirms that "in light of contemporary science, we have good reason to take seriously the claim that complex, dynamic, material systems are capable of producing extremely rich patterns of self-organization without the superaddition of any higher, designing, goal-oriented intelligence" or transcendence (this is from the preliminary blog version of some of the ideas of the book: The very expression "speculative grace" makes one think of Caputo's idea that not only is contingency grace (WHAT WOULD JESUS DECONSTRUCT?, p 41) but so also is "felicitous ambiguity" (p 51). Language too contains events that can be assembled in a style composing with the grace of the event, the paradox engendering sense. Miller's title "Speculative Grace" embodies such a paradox, juxtaposing words from different disciplines to signify the abandon of all reductionism.


3. Deconstruction vs Protectionism:
Does Latour show the speculative fly the way out of the ontotheological fly-bottle?

The first two thirds of Adam S. Miller's book SPECULATIVE GRACE, exploring the immanent plurality and abundance of objects following the first wave of Latour, where he doesn't talk much explicitly about religion, feels more religious than when he explicitly talks about religious themes. This is already my objection to Latour. Attempting to assert a demarcation between science and religion by talk about scientific objects as "far" and religious objects as "close" violates Latour's own cautionary remarks about the relativity of scale, and imports a transcendent bias in favour of one or the other term. Atoms are not "farther" than angels, and if we were brought up from childhood by adults telling us to "take care of our particles" they would not seem so. Intuitions like concepts are constructed, they cannot just be imported, no matter how plausible and reassuring it may be to do so. Far is not the same as "resistant", nor is close a synonym of "available". The signs here are ambiguous, and one could equally argue that the close is resistant and that the far is available, because constructible with fewer objectors. Once you start including the objectors in the networks the distances are themselves objects of controversy, and not to be presupposed by some pre-accepted framework.

Latour's view of religion is too protectionist, where Deleuze and Feyerabend and Jung's views are transversalist, favorising not just symmetry (finding that both religion and science have cognitive aspects, and that both are performative, i.e. that the cognitive/performative distinction

10 is not pertinent for demarcating science and religion) but also interference and heuristic interaction. Steve Fuller's claim that many scientific discoveries were made by researchers who were acting out of a religious worldview rather than a materialistic one seems to me to be quite probative. Religion has "interfered" positively with science throughout its history, and not just negatively as a popular positivist myth would have us believe.

The distinction in terms of different "felicity conditions" is not at all new, and was advanced by post-Wittgensteinian religionists over 40 years ago. It is a protectionist, territorialising, conservative move, unworthy of the rest of Latour's ontology. It is too strong, and its normative force has methodological consequences for the conduct of science. Such a demarcationist approach is illegitimate (it is normative and not "agnostic", as Latour's method requires). It is purificatory and unrealistic, and so would have had disastrous consequences for scientific progress if it had been applied by the actors whose intuitions and comportment are supposed to be described in Latour's account.

The most that Latour can do is to create a protected reserve with its own felicity conditions for some sort of "generic" religion. After all, he is a Catholic and Miller is a Mormon, and there is something very diluted about a shared religiosity that does not foreground actual religious objections and controversies, which are not mere differences of opinion but incommensurable rifts within the religious "truth régime". Either the particular identity of his religious obedience is dissolved or his own religious tradition is being treated as a model and imposed on the rest. Thus Latour is committing the fallacy of homogeneity by his partitioning of the truth régimes, unless he is willing to turn the transversality of religious experience and performance against the creedal boundaries and lose the religious affiliation and the institutional

11 identity.

Latour claims to liberate religion from belief yet he is a Catholic, and not a Jain or a Mormon or a Buddhist. So there is a form of belief present. If religion is purely non-cognitive, being reduced to the transformative function, then all he can say is "I was transformed by this Word, empirically speaking, given my birth situation and socio-historical context". In which case, any transformatory word will do, not just religion but philosophy or literature or sport: wherever you can "shine" and see the world "shining". Setting up the felicity conditions that demarcate out such transformative words and practices and pre-supposing this characterises "religion" is a conservative and dogmatic assumption. There is some form of "belief", even if it is not propositional, presupposed by Latour's system. And so I think that to follow through his ideas he must choose: either religion is so diluted that it could be anything, any transformative practice, or it is totally deconstructed and dissolved, being present everywhere as a dimension of performance, participation, conversion, transformation. Latour is supposedly a sociologist, but where is the sociology that tells us that belief plays no part at all in religion?

Latour wishes to avoid "fundamentalism" in questions of religion and also of science and politics. He defines this fundamentalism as "the refusal of controversies" (i.e. of discussions where there is no pre-given arbiter) and "the attempted exercise of hegemony of one mode of existence over the others" (CRITIQUE, Nov. 2012, p 953). This is what many pluralists have fought under the name of reductionism. Reduction on this view lies in treating religion as a matter of belief, and as submitted to the same truth-régime as referential domains like science. Latour is quite explicit that for him, and I think for many other religious people, religion is not a question of belief at all, not a question of reference to the physical world, but one of a

12 transformative message. One can find this sort of analysis of religious discourse in the movement of demythologisation, but it can also be found in ALL THINGS SHINING, and in the writings of post-Wittgensteinian philosophers of religion, even Zizek propounds this as a possible use of religion. It may be a minority position compared to the number of fundamentalists, but in the philosophical domain it is not negligeable. From this point of view fundamentalism as the insistence on religion as a matter of belief in factual propositions about the world is a deformation of religion. It seems to me that this "transformative" or "performative" understanding of religion has something good and something bad to it. The bad part is that it looks suspiciously like trying to have your cake and eat it too, making seeming claims about the world and then dancing back and saying that you are in fact doing something else, and so immune to criticism. But the good part is that it preserves an important use for religious language. I must admit that I am not indifferent to this language if it is used "poetically", that is to say to express deep or transformative experiences. But I would argue here that the religious person would have to accept that this transformative language is becoming in itself more pluralist. So the brute fact of finding that one is moved by certain words and images and rituals that are closely tied to profound experiences and insights becomes a little suspicious when it conveniently conforms to a pre-constituted faith, let us say Catholicism in Latour's case. Philosophy intervenes when there is cognitive dissonance, when one's beliefs and intuitions, one's affects and reactions, no longer conform to the prevailing models. One can agree then that there is more to religion than referential claims about the physical universe, and that fundamentalism is a reductionist approach to religion. This heuristic (or "transformative") use of religious language and images is more common than one might think. It corresponds to what Stiegler (and Simondon, and Jung) calls individuation. Both Bruno

13 Latour and Paul Feyerabend give accounts of religion that, in related but different ways, remove it from its customary opposition with secularism. For Latour religion is one "régime of enunciation" or "mode of existence" among others, with its own "conditions of felicity", aimed at transformation rather than information. Feyerabend extends Latour's view of religious traditions as different in kind from secular traditions, by nevertheless insisting that as raw materials they can be incorporated in secular traditions such as the sciences or even be used to correct (or at least relativise positively) these traditions. this is where Feyerabend goes further than Latour. Latour "protects" religion from the accusation of , for example, scientific insufficiency or political violence. These sorts of accusations amount to criteria of the demarcation of religion from and its subordination to some other instance (very often science). Latour makes this impossible by claiming that religion is so different that it is "not even incommensurable" with referential régimes such as science: Feyerabend recognises a possible qualitative difference between religion and straight referential traditions in that religion includes a performative aspect, but not to the detriment of a referential cognitive aspect. So the difference in kind is that religious traditions are more complete than (most) secular traditions. He is willing to add that in fact, but unbeknownst to them and so in truncated form, secular traditions have this performative aspect too.

In sum, I think Latour is only a partially reliable guide. In trying to find a place for religion he moves towards a pragmatic reading in terms of its effects but then shies off and invents a separate precinct for religion. In effect he should be going towards a similar position to Deleuze's or Feyerabend's, but he then limits this pragmatic transformative power to "religion" as

14 something familiar and pre-constituted. Secondly, by limiting religion to a mode of existence defined by a special set of felicity conditions he is obliged to deny it all cognitive function. By his own principles we should not compare religion as product to science as product as Richard Dawkins does, he should examine religion as process and its relation to science in action, and then he would find hybridising heuristic cognitive, as well as performative, interaction.

4. Non-theistic Porting and Dialogical Pluralism
Miller in SPECULATIVE GRACE presents his book as a deconstructive thought experiment: porting a concept from an ontotheological plane of monism and transcendence to a speculative and object-oriented plane of pluralism and immanence to see what transformations ensue. "I want to port the theological concept of "grace" into a non-theistic framework in order to see if the concept survives and, if so, what modifications it would need to undergo. My hypothesis is that grace can survive such a port and that, in fact, outside of a theistic ontology, grace may continue to thrive and abound." (quoted from the blog posts that constituted a preliminary draft of some parts of the book. This quote is from the first post: "Speculative Grace: An Experimental Port": This experiment in porting religious concepts into a nontheistic conceptual field , while very interesting and worthwhile, is not unprecedented. Other experimenters include: John Caputo, Michel Serres, Gilles Deleuze, Jean-François Lyotard, Paul Feyerabend, James Hillman, Norman O. Brown, Alan Watts, Carl Jung, and Friedrich Nietzsche.

I have often regretted the posture of "monological pluralism", where an otherwise impeccable pluralism is elaborated in the manifest absence of referring to or acknowledgement of other pluralist thinkers. This is regrettable as pluralism is not just a content but a mode of

15 thinking and acting. Further, Miller relies rather heavily on one pluralist, Bruno Latour, who is not always clear on his obvious debt to other pluralists, and in fact who represents a weakening of their potential impact, preferring in his later works an attitude of rhetorical "diplomacy" to an earlier comportment of ontological provocation.

The thinkers I have mentioned "port" various religious terms and concepts into an immanent framework, and each has transformed the concept of "grace" by subtraction from transcendence. Yet this term "grace" is not the the one that is most highlighted, the terms most preferred for transformative porting are "love", "hope" or even "faith". These words are not intrinsically ontotheological or religious (which, of course, is not the same thing) and come from the common tongue. But I think that "grace" is a particularly difficult term to deploy without falling back into a personalistic miraculating God. This may explain why the other spiritual pluralists I have cited make only sparing use of it.

We are all aware of the risks of porting, dramatised in David Cronenberg's film THE FLY. A scientist develops a working prototype of a porting machine, and tries it out on a human subject, himself. He does not notice that a fly enters with him and though the teleportation is successful he has been reassembled with the fly's DNA combined with his own. At first all seems well, but then begins his slow transformation into a giant fly-thing. I think something like this happens in the course of Miller's book.

The first two thirds of SPECULATIVE GRACE are truly excellent, and consist in a radical pluralist reading of Bruno Latour's oeuvre. But beginning with Chapter 31 (the book contains 41 short chapters, mostly 3 or 4 pages long) the tone changes and a very unsatisfying

16 comparison of science and religion is expounded, following Latour's more recent "modes of existence" pronouncements. In a striking rhetorical inversion, science is declared to be concerned with the distant and transcendent, while religion is supposedly an affair of the close and the immanent.

This is where I feel that a transcendent framework has been subtly reintroduced. Bruno Latour himself has argued convincingly that questions of "scale" (big and small, macro and micro, and thus far and close) are framework dependent (see his REASSEMBLING THE SOCIAL, pages 183-186). Miller's initial re-framing of "grace" in a pluralist non-theistic ontology is here considerably weakened by his resorting to a religion-oriented framing of science and religion where science reveals "transcendent objects" and religion "immanent objects". The DNA of ontotheology was surreptitiously ported along with the concept of grace and reaffirms its hegemonic power as the book progresses through its last 40 pages. The book begins to resemble its "preachy" double, evoked in the previous section of this review.

I think this weakness could have been avoided if Miller had conceived his project in dialogue with other pluralist thinkers. A case in point is his response to Dreyfus and Kelly's ALL THINGS SHINING. He published a review that concentrated on their demonstrably false understanding of David Foster Wallace's life and works, while passing over in silence the main philosophical themes of the book. There are interesting similarities between Miller's SPECULATIVE GRACE and ALL THINGS SHINING, both being treatises in pluralist ontology. (Unfortunately the book is incomplete compared to Dreyfus and Kelly's lectures, because that is where they complemented Heidegger's (and their) pluralism of "understandings of Being" paradigm with his later thing paradigm, where "things" correspond to Latourian "objects"

17 as Miller presents them). I tend to equate their "shining" with Miller's "immanent grace", and to explicate grace as an indescribable shining of the givenness and perfection of the ordinary, transforming all objects into neighbours that are no longer the indifferent objects of scientific distance, but agents that matter and demand our care, engaging objects of religious closeness. This whole idea of givenness and mattering are what is contained in Dreyfus and Kelly's notion of "shining". One thing that Miller could have gained from engaging with ALL THINGS SHINING, that is lacking in SPECULATIVE GRACE, is a sense of the importance of diachronicity.

5. Agents: dynamic and relational vs objects: passible and withdrawal
Miller's program of "porting" grace into a non-theistic universe is an ambitious one. However, I think that as in many stories of porting and portals, for example in STARGATE SG1, Miller has been too timid in his dialing of a destination, and perhaps in a later book he will be able to port to an even further destination, once he discovers how to dial an even more deterritorialised address, as his pluralist aspirations would encourage him to do. Bruno Latour is not really in another galaxy from Miller, porting to Latour's ontology involves only dialing a 7 chevron address, to use Stargate terminology. Latour is in fact a Christian (a Roman Catholic) and so not really in a totally different conceptual galaxy. I have argued that this can be seen at the level of Latour's system, which involves a protectionist strategy with respect to religion. And that it can be seen in Miller's book, which changes in tonality in Chapter 31 entitled "Science and Religion".

In Chapter 34 ("God") Miller discusses how religion, in contrast to science which deals with distant "transcendent objects", speaks about and relates us to the close, ordinary, common

18 objects of our daily life. He ends the chapter with this statement: "God himself has always insisted not on orthodoxy, but on the religious centrality of the least, the common, the ordinary, the vulgar, the downtrodden, the poor" (p 135). In this sentence purportedly about immanent ordinary objects there is one non-ordinary non-immanent term "God". Here Miller is not content to just quote Latour, he cites God in support of his claim. He really needs to engage an eighth chevron to dial out of the theistic galaxy.

Latour is quite good in what he says about science, even if it is derivative (as Steve Fuller has justly remarked), and then he goes on to contradict himself when talking about religion. Miller, like Latour tries to have it both ways, but either it's hybrids and heterogeneity all the way down or it isn't. If it's hybrids and heterogeneity, then you can't have these purist "felicity conditions" for separate modes of existence, and you cannot demarcate science and religion on the basis of near and far, immanent and transcendent objects. So I think that "infelicity" is the missing chevron, call it "intermingling" as Caputo does, or "transversality" (Deleuze and Guattari), or "transgression" (Bernard Stiegler) – it is the source of innovation and individuation. John Law seems to me to be following the lines of heterogeneity without falling back into the grand coherencies of Latour's more recent speculations. If Miller had ported grace into John Law's ontology of multiple worlds in becoming, instead of into Latour's "common world", perhaps he could have tested its viability in a more radically non-ontotheological galaxy.

Latour's position is best named, but with a name that he only grudgingly endorses, "actornetwork theory". We can see some important differences of emphasis compared with objectoriented approaches by examining the two names and their possible ontological implications First, Latour's expression recognises both elements (actors) and relations (network). Harman's

19 term drops the relations and we now have only objects and their withdrawal. Secondly, Latour uses dynamic, temporal, terms: "agent" (elements having agency act on other agents and on the relations between them) and "network", which is a tissue not just of any relations, but specifically of relations of translation and transformation, ie of dynamic relations. Latour lifts objects to agency, Harman, and to a certain extent Miller, reduces agents to objects. Latour's "experimental" metaphysics is not just an experiment for him, nor even for all those who wish to follow it. It is a metaphysics for which every actor is experimental, every agent is actively engaged in experimentation, composing and being composed in different networks, trying out different relations with whatever objects may lend themselves to composition.

Nowhere is the damage done by this move of reduction to objects more apparent than in chapter 21 on "Suffering". To be sure, Miller talks about both agency and passibility, but he puts the accent on "passibility" (philosophical lexic) that he translates also as "suffering" (seemingly existential lexic, but principally religious in its connotations). The expression that Miller has chosen to characterise objects, as constitutive duality, is "resistant availability". He even establishes an equivalence between this and the "universal" feature of suffering: "suffering, because it names the double-bind of resistant availability constitutive of every object, cannot be expunged" (81). (Note: This permits a potential confusion between the transcendental suffering of passibility and the ordinary empirical suffering of pain and misery and loss). In a strange intensification by a redoubling of passivity, "availability" entails that "every object passively suffers its passibility". "Resistance" entails that every object suffers the recalcitrance (51) of those objects it means to influence. Miller, of course, has a chapter on "Agency", but sets out from a strangely passified definition: "To be an agent is to act on someone else's behalf", which

20 he qualifies later by allowing also that an object can act on its own behalf. Nonetheless passivity, while not exclusive, is a primary characteristic in Miller's translation of Latour.

I cannot resist as a thought experiment entertaining the idea of replacing "resistant availability" with a near synonymous expression to bring out my qualms about Miller's coinage. Let us imagine replacing it with "proliferating obduracy" (or "obdurate proliferation"). "Obduracy" is a form of resistance, but it is far more agentive in resonance. "Proliferation" is more agentive than "availability", and permits one to specify that what an object proliferates is not so much other objects, though it does this too, but relations between objects, translations, and transformations. Both agency and (dynamic) relationality are down-played by Miller's lexical choices not only in the title, but also in the body of his text.

"Obduracy" is John Law's word, but he used it in the wake of his earlier (1994) book ORGANIZING MODERNITY, before he became fully poststructuralist in terminology. He explains how he uses it in polarity with "ordering", which means for him establishing relations in a field of heterogeneous materials and processes. So I could have tried out "ordering obduracy", but I think in that case Miller's expression is by far superior. Drawing on Latour's own vocabulary I could have constructed "transformational recalcitrance", but that is too scholarly. All three of these alternative expressions have the advantage of highlighting relationality, which I find to be insufficiently highlighted in Miller's book. I am reassured in the importance of this aspect of my proposed translations as Latour himself declared that he liked Mike Lynch's proposition of "actant-rhyzome ontology". Here once again relationality (rhyzome) is given equal place with objects. Miller follows Graham Harman's usage, in PRINCE OF NETWORKS, of reductively substituting the one term "objects" for Latour's more varied lexic (Latour uses

21 actors, agents, actants, and even "elements", as well as objects).This is a reductive move that homogenises Latour's terminolgy, replacing a dynamic relational process ontology with with its synchronic shadow.

Note: The conceptual coup of transposing a diachronic ontology such as Latour's into its synchronic travesty can be seen on page 14 of PRINCE OF NETWORKS: "the world is made up of actors or actants (which I will also call 'objects')". No mention that the world is also composed of relations and their grouping with objects into networks. No mention that the relations that Latour considers are dynamic, temporal ones (association, translation, transformation, mediation, diffusion. No awareness that when Latour uses a noun like "association" he keeps the verbal or processual component of the meaning primary. Harman seems to automatically and unconsciously translate theories into synchronic terms, and then afterwards begins to analyse them and take position.

I think this important as I find that there is a lack of emphasis on diachronicity in Miller's book, ie not just that objects themselves are historical, but that the very ontology that describes them must be itself diachronic. This for me is tied to the fact that Latour talks in terms of relations that are dynamic. For me the real opposition is not between subject and object, not even at a rhetorical level, and this is not why I protest against the substitution of "object-oriented" for "actor-network". The actual words chosen do not matter so much as the conceptual fields they implicate. Drawing on a comparison between Harman's system and the ideas of Paul Feyerabend, I think that the major opposition is that between synchronic objects on the one hand and diachronic elements and relations on the other. (Note: I have discussed this point at length in an article on elements and relations in the light of a diachronic ontology as against Harman's objects

22 in his synchronic ontology see:

In conclusion: the context into which Miller "ports" the notion of grace , insofar as it is immanent, pluralist, dynamic, and atheological, transforms the meaning. I think the interest of this sort of translation points both ways. It shows that if one is willing to be supple on the doctrine, theological concerns can be translated into more up to date language. Conversely, it shows that seemingly "non-religious" language has spiritual and theological overtones that may go unnoticed without that sort of juxtaposition.

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