by Adam Robbert
Matt Segall has jumped in on my previous post regarding Harman’s The Quadruple Object. When it comes to questions of philosophy and religion, Matt is always more generous than I in his ability to explore the theological implications of a given worldview, but this is only be to his credit. Where I was pushing for a more detailed account of the human in the OOO framework, Matt is pushing for a greater engagement with theology. Matt writes:
Harman’s is an ontology that re-orients our human-centricity relative to objects in general, such that objects become full, autonomous participants in the cosmic drama right along side us. Humans are not ‘up ahead’ of objects in general, not the leading edge of evolution; neither are they any closer to Being than every other being. Harman’s is a sorely needed intervention into the philosophies of access currently dominating the Academy, especially in light of the difficulties faced by phenomenology and scientific naturalism alike when it comes to devising an actionable ethical response to an increasingly inevitable natural/ecological catastrophe. But in order to avoid spinning into the nihilism of some speculative realists, where human values are a fluke in an uncaring and fundamentally entropic universe (I’m thinking more of Brassier than Harman here), I think OOO needs to unpack its own theological and anthropological implications.
For Matt, Cosmos, Anthropos, and Theos form an interdependent trinity, and I think he would be fine with me suggesting that, for him, any philosophy that does not consider these three spheres is inadequate. My own approach is more modest, though I find his refreshing insofar as it offers a postsecular view of religiosity, whilst not limiting the religious to the aporias offered by some continental philosophers (I am thinking here perhaps of Caputo’s reading of Derrida). I happen to be an admirer of the aporia in general, but what I find so refreshing about Matt’s perspective is that he doesn’t relegate religious philosophy to the unspeakable mysteries of the cosmos, or to the infinite distance and ethical imperatives generated by the other (more themes I admire). Rather, Matt, following perhaps closest in the footsteps of Plato, Schelling, and Whitehead, is attempting to build a profound image of this cosmotheandric trinity rooted in some kind of Goethean phenomenology, nested within an ontology of the imagination.
I think its safe to say that I will never engage religion and theology in the same way Matt does, I have much to skeptical of a mind (at least at this stage in my life) to philosophize publicly about the nature of the relationship between Theos and Cosmos. Like many others my religious intuitions are rooted in experiences I have poor tools to account for and describe. For now I am quite happy to watch from a (near) distance as Matt develops his own kind of panentheism. As I noted in my previous post, I think we are still in the beginnings of exploring what an object-oriented framework is capable of revealing, particularly in other disciplines and areas of inquiry. For this we should celebrate.