At the Speed of Light
by Adam Robbert
Harman responds to Footnotes2Plato. I just posted my own comments below. Harman raises some great points of clarification regarding nihilism, flat ontology, and the role of the human in the OOO framework. The main questions center around what implications a flat ontology has for the human (my question) and for theology (Matt’s question). Harman raises a very important point:
Since footnotes2plato doesn’t seem inherently opposed to the OOO project, I assume that when he says that “OOO needs to unpack its own theological and anthropological implications,” he doesn’t mean that the way to do this is by restoring human being to its previous grandiose eminence. I don’t think footnotes2plato means that nihilism automatically results form putting all beings on the same footing, and if he did mean that I would argue against it.
This is a crucial point of discussion. We need to engage in an ontological project, one where we can see how the human is one object among many. This is essential insofar as it allows us to cosmologize the human rather than anthropomorphize the cosmos. In my view, we need to elaborate how humans are arrayed within a society of nonhumans because this can generate an ethical sense of kinship and collaboration that overcomes nature/culture or human/nonhuman boundaries. Simultaneously, whilst the human can, quite helpfully, be cosmologized vis-a-vis the OOO framework (infrawork?) we also need to be attentive to the unique capacities of the human, especially insofar as the human is the instrument (with the aid of nonhumans) that is driving the sixth mass extinction, global climate change, genocide, and other political asymmetries. We don’t need grandiose, ontologically exempt humans, but we shouldn’t pretend that humans aren’t having disproportionately large effects on the planet either. None of this is contrary to OOO, implicit in the OOO project is the sense that philosophies of access, though partial players in this drama, can’t quite get the job done the way thinkers like Whitehead, Latour, Harman, Bryant, and Morton would like. I think what we are witnessing is the exciting proliferation of new philosophies applied to a diverse array of disciplines, practices, and modes of thought.