“The first point to note is that nature and being are here treated
as synonyms. As a consequence, whatever exists is a being of nature. [...] There are only bodies affecting and being affected by one
another. It goes without saying that these bodies are material” My metaphysics professor would get a stroke reading this! Personally, I really enjoyed your book The Democracy of Objects. In this text you seem to move like a bulldozer! Thanks for sharing the great book, this talk and so many other texts!
Hi Levi, I’m new to your blog, but pleased to have found it. I was happy to read the text of your presentation today on agential objects. Your ontology of the act is an interesting and well-developed idea, and I appreciate the fact that you don’t claim to trump the more traditional philosophical and psychological views. I agree with you, for example, when you write:
“Although some in the new realisms appear to be calling for an end to social and linguistic constructivisms, I believe that these various hermeneutics reveal both real and important features of our world that are absolutely crucial to emancipatory projects and understanding how power functions.
The problem is not with social constructivism per se, but with how it gets overstated. While not everything is socially constructed, there are a number of things that are and its important that we recognize this because what has been constructed can also be deconstructed and new things can
be built in its place.”
To the extent I was able to follow your argument, my ears perked up when you began to propose an “ethics of caution” where objects are concerned. You write, “What is missed here is the power that objects contribute to the formation of social assemblages, the differences they make.” You make a very compelling case, it seems to me, when you discuss the agency of objects derived from what they do, or how they act upon us. But what I found missing was any acknowledgement of of the social, psychological and ethical implications of multiple examples (at least two or more) of THE SAME objects (two identical blug mugs, for instance . . . or 1 million identical blue mugs). I think there is much to be said for the impact (on us) of shared attributes across identical–or virtually identical–objects, and I would love to know your thinking in this regard. Again, I’m new to the blog, and I will hopefully have a chance to read more.
I have really appreciated this lecture and your last few posts. Thank you. I am getting ready to start an MA in Psychosocial Studies and during my preparatory reading have found myself developing quite an antagonistic relationship with what feels to me to be a somewhat lazy and jaded over-use of the word ‘power’. I like the way you wield the word and your lecture has made me want to read more Foucault. I was also interested in what you said today about humans following the path of least resistance. The psychoanalysis I’ve been reading is (obviously) alluring but seems to want to over-formalise explanations for human behaviour – and to treat the mind as if it is disconnected from the body and, as you rightly point out, the physical environment. Also, following a chance discovery of the writings of biologist Rupert Sheldrake I am interested in the idea of the importance of habit as a massively influential force on the arbitrary paths (followed initially more through accident and passion than reason) taken by human behaviour. Like you, I have the problem that this sounds so damn obvious. Or am I barking up an old or wrong tree? Thanks again for everything you write. It helps me pull all my various readings together – and to remember some of the philosophy I read a couple of decades ago. Best wishes, Rebecca