PERFORMATIVE CONTRADICTIONS IN LEVI BRYANT'S NATURALISM by Terence Blake (1 FOUNDATIONAL NON!

FOUNDATIONALISM
There are a number of interesting performative contradictions to be found in Levi Bryant's work. The first I will consider concerns the contradiction between Bryant's desire to inherit and carry further certain progressive post-structuralist themes and his allegiange to the regressive schemas of object-oriented ontology. espite espousing non-foundationalism and conceptual e!perimentation Levi Bryant does have a foundational level and vocabulary" that of ###" which his appeal to the $withdrawal$ thesis illustrates. This is not a semantic contradiction" as Levi is careful to distinguish verbally epistemology and ontology. Bryant's concepts" while rather unstable" are still foundational due to his having borrowed the form of its metaphysical heuristics from obect oriented ontology" which poses an ontological foundation with its withdrawing objects. Bryant has now %for the time being&' distanced himself from ### and the strong withdrawal thesis" preferring to talk in terms of units %instantiated recently by machines' and some form of weak withdrawal" a naturalisation of (arman's strong metaphysical withdrawal %which has the disadvantage of subtracting objects from the play of material causality'. espite his appeals to science Levi Bryant is still responsible before the )uestion *(ow do you know+" not in the narrow sense of any particular knowledge claim but in the global sense of *(ow do you know your fundamental ontology is true, and is it revisable,$ The )uestion amounts to - is your machine-oriented ontology just a useful heuristic that can guide and e!plicate philosophical and scientific research" or is it a new foundation" unrevisable in its basic structure, .rom a Latourian view everything is heuristic" but Bryant does not and cannot espouse this nonfoundationalism with respect to science. /hat Bryant is doing is metaphysics than science" and bad metaphysics at that. (e is proposing a metaphysical interpretative synthesis based on an e!trapolation of the sciences as he imagines them" and thus he is shielding himself both from scientific testability" and from serious engagement with the philosophical views he wishes to refute or to sidestep. Bryant is speaking from his own personal no man0s land" neither inside science nor inside philosophy. The )uestion *(ow do you know,+ addressed to Bryant does not ask about observable facts nor even about scientific generalisations" but about his ontological foundation. Bryant has occasionally cited Latour0s 12I3423 I4 52TI#4" but the answer that Bryant needs is not forthcoming in that book . The )uestion crops up for any fundamental ontology and cannot be evacuated by semantic word-magic- how do you s)uare your ontological foundation with your epistemological nonfoundationalism, 3ach time the )uestion is posed Bryant displaces the general )uestion *(ow do you know your foundational ontology is true+ onto specific )uestions such as medication versus e!orcism in the case of epilepsy. .urther" all Latour0s work on different r6gimes of truth is thrown to the wind" condemned as $relativism$ without being e!plored or even understood. /hat remains" in Bryant's case" is a scientistic re-doubling of his non-empirical ontology" as if the one could palliate the deficiencies of the other. The problem posed for Bryant's defence of naturalism is that of the recourse to a non-empirical ontology. I think it is plain for all to see that Levi0s answer to the )uestion *(ow do you know,+ is *I don0t+" and the rest is misdirection.

(" LACANIAN NATURALISM
Levi Bryant claims to build on his $work on masculine se!uation$ and to contribute to an analysis of the pervasiveness of theistic structures of thought" e!tending to cases where the e!plicit content

is atheistic. 7nfortunately" there is no such $work$ providing a solid base on which to build. There is only a naive credulous hermeneutic of Lacan's graph of se!uation ju!taposed with an uncritical espousal of $naturalism$ and $materialism$. /hen Bryant intervenes in the pluralism debate" and condemns people 's positions as implying the e!istence of immaterial beings and forces he gives the impression of a stern realist in touch with modern science. 8et in other articles he manifests his adherence to Lacanian psychoanalysis with no attempt to reconcile the two incompatible allegiances. .reud is an outstanding e!ample of mytho-poetic thought" and should be read as such outside his rationalist reductions and disguises. #ne of these monist reductions is his own monomyth of the #edipus comple!. Lacan takes some steps towards de-theologising .reud but stops halfway. Levi Bryant0s attempted naturalisation of Lacan is a theological move that neutralises the productive unconscious" placing all productivity on the posited side of a theological notion of *matter+" whose referent is deliberately vague and changing" as are the epithets used to name its components %objects" machines" assemblages" units" etc.'. Bryant0s problem should be political" not epistemological. It is in the institutionalisation of the mytho-poetic function and the hegemonic coding of its psycho-genic networks that the problem lies. This is of course the problem that eleu9e and :uattari considered under the names of $fabulation$ and *desire+" against the contamination of thought by psychanalysm. This fabulation is described by eleu9e in the cinema books" which are noteworthy for making virtually no reference to psychoanalysis and its hermeneutics. Bryant actively espouses Lacanian hermeneutics" with which he uses doublethink to maintain it alongside his naive *naturalist+ hermeneutic of science. Bryant0s pronouncements are religious in the sense of selective synchronic snapshots of the productions of the diachronic mytho-poetic unconscious %cf. eleu9e and :uattari0s diagnosis of psychoanalysis as based on *photos+ of desiring production. Bryant's *religious+ %in the traditional sense' interlocutors can only be fundamentalists in his eyes" as that is all his critical hermeneutic is capable of handling. (ence Bryant must e!aggerate with not a shred of evidence the proportions of 2hristians who are naive literal-minded believers" as he himself is a naive literal-minded believer in such Lacanian nonsense as his graph of se!uation and his mathemes" and in an old-school positivism relooked with more modern jargon %Luhmann" Badiou" Bhaskar'. Bryant gives us the an ama9ing spectacle of someone eager to condemn $credulous$ 2hristians and to pose hard-headed no-nonsense )uestions about e!orcists and voodoo priests" denouncing the irreality of their ontological presuppositions" while declaring his belief in the .reudian and Lacanian unconscious. The Lacanian psychoanalyst is one of the closest things we have to a voodoo priest inhabiting our society" at least according to eleu9e and :uattari" but also to many others. Bryant sees no such resemblance" no incoherence. Looking at Lacan's mystifications he sees only scientific naturalism.

(# NON!REDUCTIONISTIC REDUCTIONISM
5 useful rule of thumb with Bryant is that whenever he refers to .reud or Lacan he is pulling a fast one" there is no intellectual content there" and he knows it. 5 second rule of thumb is that whenever Bryant does not mention .reud and Lacan" as in the pluralism posts and comments" he is pulling a fast one too. (e is glossing over his anti-naturalist commitments. 5 third rule of thumb is that whenever Bryant mentions both Lacan and naturalism he is presupposing coherence where it does not e!ist" and hoping you won't notice. 5lso" one must not forget that .oucault is an idealist in Levi Bryant0s book" but Lacan is a naturalist& Bryant has given up the criti)ue of correlationism" preferring to criti)ue anthropocentrism" which gets to be a synonym for idealist. (e then proceeds to give this new bogus concept such an allencompassing e!tension that it can include almost all continental philosophy. The corollary is that

he can declare anybody he chooses %e.g. .oucault" Latour' to be idealist" and anybody he chooses %including Lacan' to be non-anthropocentric and so naturalist. Bryant's naturalism is on any ordinary reading virtually contentless. 3ven if given content by a very charitable reading" it is very much a promise rather than a result of the present state of research" and rests on a hori9on of the unity of science %the unity of physics" chemistry" biology and astronomy ; but he needs psychology and sociology as well ; hence the empty call for a naturalist Lacanism'. This putative $unity$ does not describe the sciences as there e!ist incommensurable paradigms between each of these disciplines and inside each one- even *physics+ is not a unified corpus. This unity even supposing that it is conceivable as a future state of our knowledge is typically thought to be achievable by some sort of reductionism %usually physicalist'. Bryant has repeatedly denounced reductionism but propounds a reductionist metaphysical research programme.

($ DE!CONCEPTED AFFECTIVE P%ILOSOP%Y
Levi Bryant0s *naturalism+ is an empty abstraction that is conceptually dependent on his affective choices. In his eyes .reud and Lacan are naturalists whereas <ar! and .oucault are anthropocentric idealists. 4o analysis is given and confrontation with rival views is steadfastly avoided. Instead he proposes a .arenheit =>? fantasy of demarcation and e!clusion. Bryant claims that naturalism e!presses the synthesis of arwin and Lacan" and considers it to be *non-reductionist+" and calls this incoherent hodgepodge an *open-ended project+" i.e. a pious wish for a future theory. The Theory-that-may-come. (is naturalism re)uires the transformation of our understanding of nature so as to be able to account for culture" so Lacan is graffed on as a naturalist supplement. The whole thing is embarrasing in its incompleteness and its incoherence" but Bryant happily divides his time between criti)uing any position he feels threatened by" calling it idealist" and describing in the conditional mood what a satisfactory theory $would$ have to be like. This is concept-blindness in a big way&

(& NATURALIST %YPOT%ESIS AS IDEALIST DO'MA
Levi Bryant0s *naturalist hypothesis+ is neither naturalist %it includes Lacan but not <ar!'" nor a hypothesis %it is asserted dogmatically as a condition of dialogue-+The truth of the matter" however; and I won0t even bother to make arguments here ; is that naturalism and materialism are the only credible philosophical positions today+'. Bryant asserts that 4ature is nothing less than *the ground of being+ %ontotheology' and that all other orientations deserve to be *committed to flames+ %naive demarcationism'. I have nothing against naturalism as such. /hat I do object to is a vast and empty affective *naturalist hypothesis+ on the analogy with Badiou0s *communist hypothesis+" which can assemble and include in its framework whatever one may wish to approve of and with e)ual plausibility e!clude whatever one wishes to reject. Inclusion into the metaphysical naturalist framework comes at the price of an evacuation of conceptual content and the principle of demarcation becomes one of affective adhesion. .ar from being a naturalist" .reud abandoned naturalist e!planation when he took over the concept of the unconscious. %4B- This is not the case with .reud's source" 4iet9sche" whose use of the unconscious remains naturalist'. /e witness incoherent amalgams such as *Lacanian the naturalist+" and a travesty not just of the history of philosophy %remember most recent 2ontinental @hilosophy is anti-naturalist for Bryant" e!cept for Lacan'" but also of the history of science and mathematics. 2antor is an e!cellent e!ample. 3ven if one can give a naturalist account of transfinite arithmetic" and I am certainly in favour of such an account" 2antor0s motivations and inspiring force were theological. 5nd this sort of theological motivation is no isolated case in the history of science. <ore generally" Bryant0s vision of the history of science is false. Theological motives have propelled researchers from the very beginnings of science" and still do. 3ven today a very secularised and immanentised religiosity concerning seeing the thoughts in the mind of :od

inspires physicists who are in any ordinary sense atheists %3instein" (awking'. Bryant0s disinfected %i.e.- commensurabilised' naturalism has trouble accomodating such elements" thus his desperate bluff of appealing to a revamped Lacanian unconscious whenever he is in a tight spot %for e!ample to avoid the criti)ue of his having fallen into a form of physicalistic reductionism'. Bryant's naturalist research programme ?' would have prevented scientific progress as we have known it A' falsely describes the actual state of the sciences" projecting a metaphysically motivated unity where disunity is the rule B' makes use of a metaphysical notion of $matter$ that has no relation to any concept actually used in the sciences he pretends to be unified under this banner =' is a dogmatic constraint on future research rather than a heuristic tool for generating new ideas.

(( A!%ISTORICAL (SYNC%RONIC MATERIALISM
In his new book 54 I4C7ID8 I4T# <# 31 #. 3EI1T3423 Bruno Latour talks about the *institution+ of matter" a horrible simplification of the diverse materials put into play in our practices. This leads him to say- *There is no matter at all+. That is to say that philosophical materialism is a reductionist metaphysical principle" a lowest common denominator" to unify and homogenise the heterogeneous materials deployed by different networks of knowledge and e!istence. There is no matter in this metaphysical sense because there is no unity of science" and I would emphasise no unity of common sense either. Latour summons us to just start measuring things around us and try to sketch out and colour a drawing of them. (e claims that we will soon recognise that we do not live in a unified homogeneous 3uclidian space filled with lumps of matter. 5ny materialism or naturalism that purports to describe the world we actually live in would have to be totally empty of content" amounting to just a meaningless ritual formula" or it would have to be judged on its empirical conse)uences for our knowledge both present and future. 5s to the historical )uestion of the so-called idealism of continental philosophy" I think that Levi Bryant gives a very misleading picture. 5lthusser" DanciFre" eleu9e" and :uattari" .oucault" Lyotard were all materialists. 1till producing interesting work today- <ichel 1erres" Bruno Latour" .ranGois Laruelle" and Bernard 1tiegler are all materialists ; though in order to avoid the aporia indicated above I have argued that their ontology is diachronic. Bryant however is proposing yet another synchronic ontology and is apparently incapable of doing justice to such diachronic materialism.

() ANTI!ANTI!NATURALISM AS T%EOLO'ICAL NATURALISM
Bryant sets up a double-bind which makes the discussion with him unwinnable for the nonnaturalist who enters into its terms. This is the sort of *heads I win tails you lose+ situation that eleu9e analysed as typical of intellectual discussion %in tne first part of I5L#:731'and that he called the logic of the forced choice. Bryant sets things up so that the implication is that if you are against anti-naturalism you must be for naturalism as he" Levi Bryant" presents it. Bryant uses (eidegggerian" and implicitly Tillichian" language to define naturalism- the naturalist is defined as *choosing natureHas the ground of being+. This is theological language indeed. The only possible alternative view that Bryant considers is the *obscurantist gesture+ of those who recoil from the naturalist conversion he defends. The list of $obscurantists$ he habitually cites %(egel" <ar!" <erleau-@onty" structuralism and post-structuralism" .oucault" :adamer' are in fact almost all naturalists %or at least compatible with naturalism'& 3ven (egel can be given a naturalistic interpretation. The difference with Bryant0s block naturalism is that all these thinkers believe that nature is itself a

concept that needs to be analysed and not just waved around as a flag. Bryant0s coup de force is to trick the anti-anti-naturalists into swallowing as a block his naturalism" and into seeing rival naturalists as anti-naturalists. This is the an!iety of influence with a vengeance.

(* LACANIAN MAC%INE!ONTOLO'Y
In ANTI!OEDIPUS the machine model has a very polemical force- to operate the criti)ue and the replacement of the theatrical model of the unconscious" of delirium" and of desire that characterises psychoanalysis. The aim of their *machinism+ was to break out of the nature-culture divide" and to constitute a theory of desire. This polemical force is absent in Levi Bryant's machine ontology" and we know that he is still lacanian and enshrines Lacan0s graphs of se!uation as some sort of revelation. The graphs of se!uation were e!pounded in Lacan0s seminar in ?IJB" and are derivative from" and an attempted recuperation of" eleu9e and :uattari0s breakthroughs beginning in ?IKI. Later" in +AF+A and in A T%OUSAND PLATEAUS" eleu9e and :uattari give up this $machinic$ language" as they find it is ultimately misleading. 5side from the danger of being considered a mere metaphor" the machine model risks being confused with a more familiar mechanical mode. It does not give enough emphasis to the semiotic dimensions of desire. It does not make manifest the collective nature of machinic action and e!pression. .inally" it defuses the essentially political nature of the set-ups of desire and enunciation. They replace the machine model with the more general" more *<achian+ language of assemblages. Thus in their new terminology an assemblage has two faces- a collective assemblage of enunciation and a machinic assemblage of desire.

(, C%IMERICAL NATURALISM
There is a persistent and pernicious clich6 repeated ad nauseam by those who would denigrate continental philosophy as being unscientific and even irrational. 5ccording to this stereotype continental philosophy is bogged down in commentary on te!ts" does not engage with the real world" and shows signs of immobilism rather than progress" whereas natural science %and scienceinfluenced philosophy" it is insinuated' e!plains the world. This vsion is based on a rather naLve and thoroughly refuted idea of science as giving pure objective e!planations of the natural world uncontaminated by interpretative elements. The foundation for this deprecatory view of continental philosophy dissolves when we realise that there is a whole hermeneutic dimension to science" emphasised by such creators as Bohr and 3instein" that re)uires a familiarity with te!ts and with the se)uence of past developments and e!cluded possibilities to give content to current theories and to allow us the possibility of going beyond them. Thus it would be wrong to cast the difference between analytic and continental philosophy as grounded in taking seriously both the method of science and its purported $naturalistic$ worldview in the one case and of the ignorance or neglect of such naturalism in the other. The problem is not the rejection %or not' of supernatural causation" but the use of such a rejection as a metaphysical principle that unifies all science %in fact" there is no unified worldview of *science+' and that is supposed to describe the historical practice of science %when we know that many scientists who made important contributions to its development had theological or hermetic world views' and so guide both future scientific practice and philosophy too. The chimera of *naturalismthe-worldview-of-science+ combines all these errors into a still popular but erroneous vision of science and legitimates the totalitarian impulse that animates contemporary scientism. Bryant0s vision of 2ontinental philosophy0s anti-naturalism is )uite clear- *The central failure of 2ontinental philosophy has been the rejection of naturalism. /ith few e!ceptions" 2ontinental thought" since the ?Ith century" disavowed the naturalistic revolution that began in the ?Kth century. Dather than choosing nature; which is to say materiality and efficient causation ;as the ground of being" again and again it has made obscurantist gestures based on a recoil to the naturalist revolution$.

Mirtually all the philosophies cited in Bryant's condemnation %phenomenology" <ar!ism" structuralism" post-structuralism" social constructivism' are naturalist. They refuse to posit any transcendent cause outside the world" they thus see human beings and cultural productions as natural phenomena that can be studied with the appropriate methods. They do think that all our concepts" including that of *4ature+ are to be e!amined and possibly re-worked" but that doesn0t make them *anti-naturalist+ ; rather it is what makes them philosophies. They are also suspicious of the pretentions of science to possess the sole valid method for e!amining and e!plaining all things in the world. @lease let us have no facile word-games- bracketing the *natural+ attitude has nothing to do with anti-naturalism" but everything to do with being wary of dogmatic postulations of objectivity. Levi Bryant would have us set aside a century0s worth of critical e!amination of science and scientism in the name of an affectively maintained definitory conflation of naturalism and a scientific worldview %which does not e!ist as a unified perspective nor even as a hori9on of thought or as a regulative ideal'. 1o Bryant0s position cannot be regarded as a brave blow in defence of a minority view" naturalism" unjustly contained and oppressed inside an intellectual ecology largely hostile to it. (is chimerical naturalism is but a tardy and wrong-headed contribution to the travesties made famous during the 1cience /ars. 4either 2ontinental @hilosophy" nor science" nor a philosophically and scientifically informed naturalism are as he describes them" nor are they mutually incompatible.

(1- REINFORCIN' STRON' NATURALISM .IT% .EA+ NATURALISM
/e must beware of word magic" of being dramatically misled by focusing on words to the detriment of the concepts that should be our real focus in philosophical discussion. <y thesis for a while now has been that ### and its naturalised instantiations" such as Levi Bryant's ontocartography" are concept-blind and in place of concepts and arguments fetishise some words and ritual phrases" preferring to fight other words rather than fighting concepts. In the case of phenomenology for e!ample" just because it makes use of what it calls bracketing the*natural+ attitude does not mean it is anti-naturalist" au contraire& (owever it does mean that it is not a form of naive objectivism and that it wants in fact to subject the environing mi!ture of common-sensism and scientism to critical scrutiny. In the discussions over $naturalism$ we may observe a furtive shifting between an e!tended concept of naturalism as the suspending of transcendence" i.e. naturalism as immanence %the thesis that *there is nothing outside the world+'" and a more restricted notion of naturalism as the e!trapolated unifying framework of the sciences. #n the e!tended sense of naturalism" nothing can be ruled out a priori e!cept transcendence and transcendent causation. In this sense a naturalist could accept teleological causes" and whether we need to resort to them or not as e!planatory hypotheses would be a matter of research" not of arbitrary a priori decree. 1imilarly" (usserl is a philosopher of immanence and the bracketing of the natura lattitude brackets out concepts and assumptions that are transcendent to this field" thus widening the domain of investigation and e!perimentation. Levi Bryant's philosophical promotion of naturalism falls foul of the Laruellian criti)ue that it posits naturalism twice- an e!tended but weak sense as a synonym of immanence" and then some hodgepodge that Bryant can never decide on once and for all" containing whatever ad hoc specific hypotheses he needs at the moment of proclamation to give specific content to his metaphyical espousal of naturalism. The strong sense of naturalism" which is in fact always changinng and ever oscillating between or combining incoherently the divergent positions of mechanism" materialism and physicalism" is somehow meant to be reinforced by the weaker more philosophical sense of naturalism" which is itself reinforced by the specific *scientific+ content. (aving two forms of immanence Bryant's naturalism can e!clude a ma!imum of potential rivals. /ith weak philosophical immanence Bryant pretends he can e!clude teleology in the sciences %but he can0t&' and with strong scientific immanence he purports to e!clude thinkers such as (usserl and

.oucault" and whoever may be the object of his ire at any given moment. But research %and here I include both philosophy and science' is not so much about demarcation and e!clusion as critical investigation and e!perimentation.

(11 NARCISSISTIC NATURALISM
.or me the most convincing argument against Bryant's proclamations about metaphysical naturalism as the underlying philosophy of scientific practice is heuristic and historical- much of what is important in science was created by scientists who did not in fact situate themselves in a naturalist paradigm. /e can cite 4ewton" whose inspiration was theological and alchemical" and /olfgang @auli" one of the creators of )uantum theory" who tried to create a wider paradigm based on combining physics with the Nungian unconscious" but there are many other e!amples. 5nother important objection to this sort of proclamation is that one can be both in favour of pluralism %which Bryant is not' and a defender of naturalism. The pluralism will nuance the naturalism in making it less metaphysical- naturalism is an open research programme and not a fait accompli. #ther paradigms can give content to" enrich" e!tend and comple!ify the naturalist paradigmO each scientific style of research will have its own naturalism- for e!ample a 4ewtonian naturalism" if we could amputate the theological substrate from 4ewton0s general research paradigm" will be different to" and I would argue less satisfying and fecund than" a <achian naturalism" etc. The epistemologist and sociologist of science 1teve .uller has condemned" in several books" the continuing narcissism of naturalism on the simple ground that many of our most important scientific theories were created by people whose motivation was not naturalistic but religious" mystical" or hermetic. The parado! is that the naturalist worldview if it had been universally espoused would not have led to the discoveries that seem to confirm it. This is an e!ample of the simple .eyerabendian point that the practice of science contains important elements that are repressed or occulted in the presentation of its results" but that are essential to its progress. .eyerabend himself was very favorable to naturalism" but emphasised that it was untestable if not confronted with rival metaphysical research programs. 5 further point is that Being cannot be e!hausted by any single worldview" and that taking one0s particular worldview as a description the very nature of Being is a form of metaphysical narcissism. @opper regarded the arwinian theory of evolution as just such a metaphysical research programme" perhaps producing hypotheses that themselves are testable" but remaining itself in its generality untestable. It is truly amusing to see an attempt to buttress this ontological myth of the triumph of naturalism with an appeal to the an even more dubious metaphysical theory" .reudian psychoanalysis" and the much lauded and blindly repeated edifying tale of psychoanalysis as the *third blow+ to our narcissism. The only narcisssism here is .reud0s" when he compares himself %in ?I?J&' to 2opernicus and arwin. This declaration came soon after .reud learnt that he would not be receiving the 4obel @ri9e that in his opinion he deserved" so the whole concept of the narcissistic wound is a projection. .reudian psychoanalysis" that still finds favour with Bryant" is not at all a naturalism. It appeals to non-naturalistic entities such as the *unconscious+" the psyche" the id" the ego" and the superego" that .reud makes no attempt to establish as or anchor in material or natural agencies. The birth of .reudian psychoanalysis lies in a retreat from naturalism" and also from testability. The organisation of the psychoanalytic movement was based on the ruthless imposition of .reud0s narcissistic authority in matters both theoretical and practical. Dival theorists and rival hypotheses were e!pelled in as humiliating a manner as possible. .reudian psychoanalysis is a paradigm case of narcissistic denial. This raises the )uestion of the role of the unconscious. 1cientism gives it a very reduced role" limiting it to a sort of regional ontology inside a literalist naturalist paradigm. eleu9e and :uattari0s notion of the productive unconscious suggests a very different perspective" where the

role of the unconscious is much greater and more pervasive" informing positively all our theories and practices.

(1" EMPIRICISM BY SEMANTIC STIPULATION
The official meta-language of ### reduces everything to *objects+ %and their relations'. To be precise we should call these entities proposed by the meta-linguistic model *meta-objects+. The ontological instantiation of that meta-ontology promoted by :raham (arman is that these metaobjects are *objects+. 4o doubt confused himself by the imprecision of his vocabulary" (arman actually gives *e!amples+ of objects" an impossibility in a system where objects are $withdrawn$unknowable" invisible" untouchable" etc. Levi Bryant0s instantiation is )uite different" in that for him these meta-objects are *matter+" or *nature+" or *units+" or $machines$" or events or processes or whatever. 4ote that this is not a discovery about the world but a semantic stipulation of what Bryant chooses to call his instantiated objects. 5s with (arman0s object-oriented philosophy" Bryant0s matter-oriented ontology has no engagement with the world whatsoever" but is a vast ramified pun on the word *object+" conflating its meta-ontological and its ontological sense. 1imlarly" if he starts out by posing that *being+ and *nature+ are synonyms" it is no discovery to find that culture is a part of nature. This is just a banal conse)uence of his posit. There is no matter in the metaphysical sense because there is no unity of science" and such disunity is by now a common place. 5s I have argued in citing .eyerabend and Latour" there is no unity of common sense either. The conclusion is that there is something deeply flawed with the metaphysical notion of matter applied indiscriminately to all the entities of our common world" of which the sciences are important participants. 5ny materialism or naturalism that maintains otherwise is totally empty of content" amounting to just a set of meaningless ritual formulae %synchronic ontology'. 5 non-metaphysical materialism" in contrast" is both more concrete and more democratic" and is to be judged on its conse)uences for our knowledge and for our collectives" both present and future %diachronic ontology'. Instead of simply decreeing a priori" by semantic stipulation" that everything is an object %in whatever sense you can be finally pinned down to'" shouldn0t one approach this as an empirical )uestion, 1uch a far-reaching claim should be given enough testable content to be susceptible of scientific investigation. 2an one have a democracy of immanence outside the transcendent fiats" so as to respect the empirical specificities of the world, /e need more empirical research and less semantic stipulation. If one takes out all the polemics containing caricatures of 2ontinental philosophy or of *epistemology+" if one removes all the subjunctive evoking of what one *might+ say or *would+ look at" of what *perhaps+ is to be found" there remains precious little in Bryant0s te!ts. 5ll his e!amples are mere conceptual possibilities" subjunctive confirmations of le!ical posits. 1imilarly" if one removes all the illegitimate e!amples in (arman0s te!t %there can be no concrete e!amples in his ##@' we are left with an ontological delirium about objects in a metaphysical parallel universe. Bryant is unable to live up to the goals of his own project" and his te!ts are a dissatisfying mi!ture of conceptual incoherence" criti)ues of none!istent adversaries" confusion between stipulative definitions and concrete theses about the world" wordy abstract ramblings about $objects$" combined with banal yet underdevelopped *possible+ e!amples to give the appearance a concreteness that may come %subjunctively' and that never does. This last is my principal objection to ###" not the conceptual confusion %anyone can make a mistake'" not the intellectual timidity" not the absence of dialogue %they don0t dare debate" even with each other'. The big problem is that ### is just empty word-magic mas)uerading as involvement with concrete things.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful