The Secondary Correlation — Further Thoughts on the Realism Kerfuffle

Responses to this article have been diverse and at times quite animated. It might make sense for me to respond and clarify a number of points and criticisms that have arisen.

First let’s dispense with some of the straw man arguments…

  • This article is not about capitalism or math or philosophy in general — it’s about post-fordism as a specific historical period.
  • It does not say that realism is bad or that realism should be thrown out.
  • It does not say that math or software are bad or that they should be thrown out.
  • It does not say that “OOO equals capitalism, therefore OOO is bad.”
  • It does not say that math entered philosophy under post-fordism — math has always been a part of philosophy.
  • It does not deny that math has always been a part of capitalism, prior to post-fordism.
  • It is not a defense of humanism.
  • It is not a defense of correlationism.
  • It is not a Hegelian argument, despite the tone of the final two sentences.
  • It is not an indictment of Badiou; it does not say that Badiou is complicit with capitalism.

Let’s go through a number of specific points, starting with the last one…

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A response to Graham Harman’s “Marginalia on Radical Thinking”

First let me say that, while this post will likely come across as confrontational, I do have a respect for Harman, particularly for his intellectual energy and literary output. I’ve never met him and can’t count him a friend, but I have corresponded with him on a few occasions. I must admit that his philosophy and politics (or lack thereof) leave me cold. A bit of context: my dissertation of 2001, which became my first book in 2004, is an analysis of networks as political systems, so I feel I have a lot to say about the topic of objects and networks. I’m also a computer programmer and, similar to someone like Ian Bogost, have actually coded the kind of object-oriented systems that OOO describes. (To his credit Harman rejects this association, claiming that “his” OO has nothing to do with computer science’s OO. But that’s a flimsy argument in my view, particularly when the congruencies are so clear. As Zizek might say, channeling Groucho Marx: if it’s called a duck, and quacks like a duck, don’t let that fool you — it really is a duck!) Read the rest of this entry »