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

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Harman on Anthropomorphism

He nails it, in a post on the charge of anthropomorphism, apropos of Levi's "strategic vitalism":

But it’s almost amusing that the human/inanimate divide is such a sacred thing to many contemporary people that they are angered by its metaphorical transgression as well. Indeed, this divide may be the central religious principle of modernism, as Latour decisively and permanently demonstrated in We Have Never Been Modern, a work that refutes so many things that refuse to die.

2 comments:

Bill Benzon said...

I believe that the notion of totally dead/inanimate matter that we carry around in our conceptual system was hammered out by Descartes and Locke & their contemporaries. It did certain work in that context and was realized through a certain conceptual imagery. They had a certain version of atomism and, I would suspect, imagined itty bitty bits of stuff like sand and dust, things like that. Only much much smaller.

Well, the conceptual world’s changed a lot since then. Our itty bitty atoms are not at all like those corpuscular itty bitty atoms. Our atoms are whole worlds of particles within particles fitting about in vast expanses of empty microspace. And they’re also waves. As are macro agglomerations of these ‘particles’. To allow our itty bitty microworldly things to be bound by concepts invented for utterly different microworldly things imagined five centuries ago is just, well, it’s just plain silly.

I surely don’t know how our conceptual system will shake out over the next two or three intellectual generations, but getting the hebbie-jebbies over what are, after all, very tentative intimations of animism, that’s nuts. Here’s one for you, Tim: How many of those who are creeped out by this touch of neo-animist thinking are also earnestly anticipating the coming of the great singularity when the digiverse will emerge from silicon foam as Athena from the forehead of Zeus and people will be able to achieve immortality by uploading their minds into this digiverse? Tell me that’s not animism cubed with chocolate jalapeño sauce on top.

Henry Warwick said...

The funny thing i that the refutation of living vs non-living is so damn simple.

1. If you are alive, then all of you is alive.
2. Blow on your arm. You just blew a few atoms of your LIVING self into the atmosphere.

If you are alive and all of you is alive, then the atoms you blew into the air off your skin are also alive.

If the atoms you blew into the air off your arm are not alive, then not all of you is alive. If one part of you (a few atoms of your skin) is not alive, then no other atoms in you are alive.

Therefore: you are "dead".

This was stated clearly in the song "The Cardinal Sin" by Dead Can Dance:

"It's an illusion of life
The whole cause of our demise".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7A1sBFsoBL0

Sail to the stars
on your shining desires
Reasons there are none
Try the whisky made of grain
When all is said and done
It all amounts to just the same

There in your starry eyes
lie hopes that have been betrayed
The cause of your desire
Can also lead to your demise
When all is said and done
It will be you who pays the price

As countless fools
are often loathe to testify
Its an illusion of life
The whole cause of our demise

Sail to the stars
on your shining desires
Lucretia waits in vain
For the child of her dreams
Within her aching womb
There burns a funeral pyre

There in your starry eyes
lie hopes that have been betrayed

The prize that you claim
Can never be yours to take
Like castles in Spain
Hope is all that will remain

Abstain from the fools paradise
It's an illusion of life
The whole cause of our desires
Fools are often loathe to testify
It's an illusion of life
The whole cause of our demise

Contemplate the world
And its traitors to the soul
The forces of derision
And its legions manifold
Usurpers of the crown
All pretenders to the throne
Your world has lived in chains
All in one, one in all...

Fools are often loathe to testify
It's an illusion of life
The whole cause of our demise
It's an illusion of life...