Post-Fordist Philosophy?

Whilst I find these kinds of hybrid debates utterly exhausting they do provide some stimulation. Alexander Galloway has a piece in Critical Inquiry (here) entitled ‘The Poverty of Philosophy: Realism and Post-Fordism’. What’s the question?

Why, within the current renaissance of research in continental philosophy, is there a coincidence between the structure of ontological systems and the structure of the most highly evolved technologies of post-Fordist capitalism?

And, cue the inevitable responses:

Moacir P. de Sá Pereira here, Peter Gratton here, Robert Jackson here and Levi Bryant here.

And an important point from Bryant:

How an entity is deployed is not fixed by the relations in which it happens to exist. It always harbors potentials for other things. Objects are pluripotent. Artists of the Duchampian tradition show us this all the time.

and also:

If everything is defined by the historical setting in which it emerged, if things– above all people –are not pluripotent such that they harbor potentials in excess beyond the way they’re related and deployed in the present, then there’s no hope for ever changing anything. Everything will be tainted through and through by the power dynamics in which it emerged.

Elden, Harman, Latour

Stuart Elden’s Progressive Geographies is one of a few academic blogs I return to on a near-daily basis. Surfing from personal insights into the academic work process to book releases, video links and conference details, Elden provides a rich stream of content across Political, Geographical and Philosophical spheres. There are recurring figures most weeks; Henri Lefebvre, Michel Foucault, Martin Heidegger, Immanuel Kant and Peter Sloterdijk pop up frequently. As does Graham Harman; a feverish blogger himself over at his Object-Oriented Philosophy page. Elden’s latest post is a re-blogged interview with Harman over at The Loyal Opposition to Modernity that can be read here. As Harman is a big reader of Bruno Latour, he brings his name up in conversation, alluding to his appeal to anthropologists, geographers and sociologists over philosophers. Harman also talks of his lethargy with purely relational concepts (in metaphysical terms and then political arenas). In particular Harman says;

Now that relations and events have become king in continental philosophy, these battles have largely been won. Rather than endlessly using these theories to beat up the decreasing number of reactionary holdouts, we ought to take a closer look at the problems with relationality itself.

‘Metaphysical essentialism’, he says later, ‘is politically harmless, but epistemological essentialism is not’. So two problems with essence? The idea that it can be directly known (rather than obliquely), and is eternal (a-historical).

Another great quote is on Deleuzian thought within Continental Philosophy:

We are well into the “Deleuze is compatible with everyone and foresaw everything” phase, the lack of a challenging outside, which always announces the closing decadence of any philosopher’s vogue; Derrideanism got this way by the early 1990’s. And now the Deleuze industry is finally on the point of overheating and excess inventory, and soon there will be layoffs and plant closures.

Latour, as Harman argues, is certainly no Deleuzian (too much flux not enough formation). Harman’s Prince of Networks, from 2009, is a good starting point for thinking about Latour as a philosopher, and how Harman’s own Object-Oriented Philosophy can work with Latour’s Actor-Networks. It’s available as a free pdf from here, but also well worth buying.