Friday, January 14, 2011

Addendum to "Liberal Humanist Zombies"

             In my last post, what did I signify and intend by my invocation of a philosophical re-formulation of political, subjective, and epistemological models? Why is a wholesale reformulation exigent at this particular historical moment?
Philosophical paradigms have concrete, material impacts on concrete, material existence. That is what the Tucson shootings tell us. The bankruptcy of Liberal Humanism literally resulted in the deaths of six people. If we continued to think under the rubric of Liberal Humanism and its concomitant model of critique, we would accordingly treat the philosophy behind this tragedy as merely so many ideas that are barred ontologically from material embodiment.
            But such a critical bracketing of ideas from materiality has concrete impacts on the world. By treating ideas as divorced ontologically from all concrete, material impacts, Liberal Humanism is unable to properly and fully think through the contingencies of our contemporary cultural condition (or, for that matter, any condition). The bracketing of ideas – a gesture Marx labels as fetishism – divorces their real impacts from themselves. Liberalism and its model of epistemology (critique) take ideas and fetishize them, therein jettisoning them from their historical and material contingencies into a separate and alien sphere. What this movement performs is precisely the obscuring of the historical and material ground the jettisoned ideas both draw their existence from and produce their impacts within. Further, with this fetishism of ideas we are left dramatically ill-equipped to confront the fullness of any idea’s reality – that is, its ideality and its materiality, its reflective/signifying capacity and its actantial power.
            So what we are left with is exactly what happened in Arizona last week. We treated ideas and discourse as fetishes, ignoring their agentive force. And in the aftermath of the event, all of our retreats into our Liberal hovel will do nothing to either conceptualize or influence the agentive force of ideas in our contemporary condition.
            Because ideas are real entities with real impacts on the real world, we must strive for a radical re-philosophizing of subjectivity and collectivity – call this project a “coming philosophy” or Object Oriented Philosophy. Because discourse and ideas have effects they themselves produce, we cannot continue to bracket political discourse and ideology off from material existence. 

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