Prince of Networks, Final Section, General Thoughts on Rereading . . .

So, based on my recent blog discussion with Levi, as well as some email discussions with Graham, I spent all of today rereading the final section of Prince of Networks, in order to address some of the points we’ve been discussing lately. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I’d read it before, but at that time I’d read this section simply as an add on to this cool book about Latour from this guy whose blog I’d seen a few times. I hadn’t corresponded with Graham or Levi at the time, nor did I sense how blogging would change the way so many of us relate to doing philosophy.

My goal in returning to this text is to separate misunderstandings from philosophical disagreements, because in the last few exchanges with Levi, it seemed to me that we were more talking past each other than actually getting these issues clarified. Hence the desire to make sure I’m not getting anything wrong.

Anyway, after this rereading of the section where Graham really lays out his approach to OOO, I took all my notes and compiled them into the few posts that will follow. (I’ll have to deal with Levi’s differences later).

All of this is a result of my attempt to make sure I get OOO, so as to differentiate it from my own work-in-progress. And I do want to respect Levi, who is hard at work on Democracy of Objects, and not get us into a back and forth that just keeps going. I’ve been doing lots of family visits the last week or so, which have allowed me to do fun stuff like blogging at night, but I decided to wait on finishing up Networkologies – A Manifesto till after I got back home.

Well, I’m back home, and will now be going into a writing period myself. My hope is that another 2-3 weeks and the manuscript should be at the point at which I want to send out prospectus to publishers. Once that happens, I’ll also likely start putting up some blog posts that introduce new networkological terms. But I really did feel I wanted to get a handle on OOO issues before I went back into a heavy writing (and hence low blogging) mode.

Anyway, I hope any of what follows is of interest!



– Firstly, I think OOO is the real deal, the first new philosophy since Badiou, Zizek, and the post-structuralists before them (Deleuze, Lacan, Foucault, etc.). One of the main reasons why is because everything is NESTED, at all levels of scale. Since Leibniz and Whitehead, we’ve had no other mode of thought that could do this successfully. This aspect of things vanished in much of the late twentieth century (it is present but underemphasized in Deleuze), so this is such an important return. Beyond this, OOO also takes the division between subject/object that has haunted philosophy, and as Graham says, brings this back to the world in the form of a split between sensual and real objects. This is where speculative realism starts to pay dividends, because this is what Deleuze started, but now there’s a new set of ways to do it. OOO seems to me to live up to the potential of really doing this in novel ways, and that’s really no small thing at all! I mean, Badiou is new to most English speakers, but really there hasn’t been anything new ‘under the sun’ of philosophy since the early seventies. Its about time . . .

– Secondly, Graham is certainly a gifted writer. I particularly think the section in which he demolishes the analytic philosophers and Meillassoux on the issue of ‘rhetoric’ is a tour de force. I’d like to pass it on along to some of my analytic friends, and see what they make of it. His use of ‘passages A, B, C, D, D1, D2’ is pretty great. The excursions and diversions are fun, but trenchant as well. The flipping of correlationism with the twins, for example, but especially the excursion on rhetoric, and how it leads to general thoughts on philosophy as an enterprise.

– I also REALLY like the way Graham redefines time, space, ontology, and metaphysics AROUND this overall project. I think the redefinition of things like ontology and metaphysics happens each time a truly new philosophy comes along, but this is often done implicitely. Kudos to doing it openly! And the redefinition of time and space around objects is I think also a great move. Creates a whole new set of lenses via which to view the world, and isn’t that what philosophy is for?

– I also liked it when Graham says that he basically disagrees with aspects of Meillassoux’s work, but he still wants him to pursue the chain of logic to its natural ends because it gives rise to such strange ‘birds and fruit’. This is not only generous, but says something important about the role of philosophy in society.

– The general typologies of philosophical approaches from an OOO view is very important: monism (many presocratics), virtualism (Deleuze/Simondon), materialism (micro components linked in macro composites), correlationism, then relationism as such (Latour/Whitehead)

– Difference between radical and conservative philosophies is very nice. These are closely related to the description used by Badiou to categorize philosophies as those of  ‘the One’ and ‘the Two’. But what of ‘the Three’, ‘the Four’, etc? Hegel, for example – three or one? Either way, it seems we get an emergence of the object from its subsumption in ‘the one’. Monism is a philosophy of the one, virtualism of the 1.5, materialism another form of 1.5 (based on parts rather than pre-individuals), correlationism (as philosophy of the 2), radicalized correlationism (Meillassoux), and relationalism (Latour and Whitehead). While I have some issue with some of these readings, I’ll present those later . . .


~ by chris on May 25, 2010.

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