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

Friday, December 23, 2011

Of Correlationism

We are humans so we anthropomorphize, not sometimes more, sometimes less, but all the time. In the same way as this glass glass-pomorphizes, and this cat cat-opomorphizes.

Thus we poor OOOers are constrained to use human examples of objects, using human terms: lint, galaxies, pot noodle soups, superglue.

But what about that pot noodle soup or that lint? How does an insect see the world? How does a park bench? Surely they might not see it as “objects”?

There is a sleight of hand going on in this question. The term “object” becomes a human-only term by default, and those who use it are guilty of anthropocentrism.

First up, what's the problem with that? If we only ever anthropomorphize there can be no escape. I find that the accusation of anthropocentrism is often staged from a position that is anthropocentrism: the belief that we (humans) can stand outside of our phenomena.

Second, a mistake is being made about how arguments work. If we are to be deprived of any words at all with which to refer to things, that's a little bit unfair.

The sleight of hand is based on the continued assumption that things are only park benches and lint for humans. Or, more generously to nonhumans, that if lint can also comprehend a park bench, it's not a park bench but a shambukslurt, or whatever a piece of lint thinks it is. Or perhaps that to all nonhumans, there is a meaningless flux that is only assembled into coherence or meaning by (deluded) humans.

Whatever form it takes, this assumption just is correlationism. This is what we are against.

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