Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Anthropocentrism and Marxism

Saying that ontology should be non-anthropocentric is not the same as saying humans should not act to change their material conditions.

It's just that we are lazily used to our ontology coming with an easy to discern, snap on ethics or politics--and vice versa.

Discuss.



11 comments:

cgerrish said...

Brings to mind your frequent quotation of Shelley's:

"We want the creative faculty to imagine that which we know; we want the generous impulse to act that which we imagine; we want the poetry of life; our calculations have outrun conception; we have eaten more than we can digest. The cultivation of those sciences which have enlarged the limits of the empire of man over the external world, has, for want of the poetical faculty, proportionally circumscribed those of the internal world; and man, having enslaved the elements, remains himself a slave."

Marxism (and scientism) imagines that we don't "want." The problem is we haven't been pure enough, strong enough or committed enough to the methods we already know will work. But it may be possible that our "calculations have outrun our conceptions" and that to act within the well-worn grooves simply moves us further down the track. We can and should act, but we have yet to learn the concepts that will make sense of our actions.

The value of the concept of the hyperobject -- particularly the anthropocene or biosphere -- is that it's a larger object that humans are inside of. Somehow we have the mistaken belief that the will of a single person could be imposed on all of humanity and thereby animate the anthropocene as though it were a sock puppet. The problem of the anthropocene appears to us a problem of "will" instead of one of coexistence.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Yes, this fallacy points to a deeper problem with the way we think about justice and responsibility. If we're committed to a "you done it, you fix it" ethic, then to offer a nonanthropocentric account of, say, global warming is disastrous. If, however, we believe in a "you can fix it, therefore you should, regardless of who caused it", then it becomes safer to talk about the causes for global warming being dispersed across both humans and the more/other-than-human.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

So, if we subscribe to a "you broke it, you fix it" ethic, then to suggest that global warming, say, is caused by anything other than humans is dangerous. If we subscribe to a "you can fix it, so you should, regardless of who broke it" ethic, then we can start to offer an account of global warming that disperses causality both to humans and the more/other-than-human.

Rhodes said...

I would think that saying that ontology should be non-anthropocentric would have more to do with actively engaging with and exploring the ontological relationships that exist between objects, reevaluating the existence the "human" in the context of other existing things. Does this make sense or am I over simplifying?

Rhodes said...

I would think that saying that ontology should be non-anthropocentric would have more to do with actively engaging with and exploring the ontological relationships that exist between objects, reevaluating the existence the "human" in the context of other existing things. Does this make sense or am I over simplifying?

Rhodes said...

I would think that saying that ontology should be non-anthropocentric would have more to do with actively engaging with and exploring the ontological relationships that exist between objects, reevaluating the existence the "human" in the context of other existing things. Does this make sense or am I over simplifying?

Rhodes said...

I would think that saying that ontology should be non-anthropocentric would have more to do with actively engaging with and exploring the ontological relationships that exist between objects, reevaluating the existence the "human" in the context of other existing things. Does this make sense or am I over simplifying?

Rhodes said...

I would think that saying that ontology should be non-anthropocentric would have more to do with actively engaging with and exploring the ontological relationships that exist between objects, reevaluating the existence the "human" in the context of other existing things. Does this make sense or am I over simplifying?

Rhodes said...

I would think that saying that ontology should be non-anthropocentric would have more to do with actively engaging with and exploring the ontological relationships that exist between objects, reevaluating the existence the "human" in the context of other existing things. Does this make sense or am I over simplifying?

amanda vox said...

I´d agree that we´re used to quickly getting from ontology its ethical/political implications, and I believe that what´s interesting when it comes to OOO and ethics is how it exposes this process of running from one thing to another that doesn´t necessarily follow.
a non-anthropocentric ontology, such as OOO, seems to scare people that try to get to a definite, clear-cut ethics too fast because it looks like people, chickens and specks of dust would automatically be put in the same ethical bag.
I like the idea of finding a place for hesitation and uncertainty, since "inside a hyperobject we´re always in the wrong" it should be about feeling our way in the dark.
levy bryant has written quite a bit about it in his blog, and I find this post quite helpful.
http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/flat-ontologyflat-ethics/

Nick Guetti said...

I just had a long FB conversation with an old friend of mine: permaculture teacher, ecofeminist, grassroots organizer. Or she was, years ago.

She's gone nihilist. Completely burned out. "Maybe you should ask yourself if the world is asking to be saved." She thinks taking action and responsibility is all about ego and it doesn't really matter.

Everything she said is like a textbook example of what you've said/written about the apocalyptic, happy, hypermasculine deep ecology failing to sustain people through reality.