[Jon, I’m reposting your comment as a post here so it’s not lost in the comments and all those “reply” comments don’t get lost as well. I’m putting you as an author as well. ME]
A couple of thoughts:
(1) This string illustrates what is great about Perverse Egalitarianism; something that begins as an expression of late semester, mid morning, this-coffee-doesn’t-seem-to-be-working, grumpiness devolves into a really interesting philosophical discussion.
(2) I continue to think people should cut Levi more slack. He keeps his mind open to the muse and then works that out on his blog. Sometimes what he says at point A and point B are arguably inconsistent. O.K. It’s fair to claim that and see where it goes. Sometimes he gets grumpy or defensive about an idea. O.K. Also fair game. But I kind of feel like the main character in “On the Road” defending Dean Moriarity to his detractors here. The fact that we’re over here talking about Levi and Harman, and that the conversation has yielded so much interesting philosophy above surely says something strongly in their favor.
(3) The only thing I fault Harman, and to a lesser extent Bryant, with is not getting the last sentence in the previous point. This is indicative of blogsopheric philosophy though. Any of us that blog enough have all responded to criticism in ways that are not to our credit. Again, instances of this can be decried without the implication that anyone is better than anyone else on these scores (and part of Mikhail’s charm, for anyone who fairly reads him, is that he takes the piss out of himself with equal and greater humor and insight as he does anyone else).
(4) During the Braver reading group there was a lot of talk about ontic versus ontological realism. Man I wish we’d taken some time to think it through in terms of the way kvond is presenting epistemic realism and anti-realism. It cuts through a lot.
(5) I disagree about the importance of Harman’s initial insight in “Tool Being.” Here are some reasons (and I realize that smart, informed people will disagree about these): (a) Heidegger himself is dreadfully incoherent on the realism/anti-realism issue. Harman beat the writers in the excellent new anthology “Transcendental Heidegger” in not only showing how the incoherence occurs, but also by doing the following. (b) Harman honestly presents his interpretation as one that preserves a large set of Heidegger’s insights, while also explicitly disagreeing with much of the stuff the Heidegger says. Despite the concern that they present cartoon versions of “continental philosophy” on their blogs, this non-hagiographic take (where you can clearly argue that the thinker is incoherent, but importantly right about this, and importantly wrong about that) does not strike me as anything like Sallisesque SPEPy Heideggeriana. (c) More non-hagiography. Harman has the guts to say that in a lot of the gesamtausgabe, Heidegger is just saying the same old things in repackaged form, and that in fact some of the material is not good. I’m sorry; that takes guts, given hagiographic high church Heideggeriana often is, and more broadly how hagiographic SPEP at its worst can be. (d) I would express Harman’s early central insight slightly differently than Bryant does (though they come to the same thing). You can tell a story about the vicissitudes of post-Kantian thinking in terms of the vicissitudes of the scheme-content distinction. Harman shows that a big chunk of Division One, Being and Time Heidegger can be read as plausibly externalizing the distinction to objects themselves. You may hate this view, or produce compelling arguments that the way Harman went on to develop it Guerrilla Metaphysics is way off, but I think you should still recognize that it’s an important piece of dialectical space that Harman bravely marched forward into. No one can judge these things, but for this very reason I can see OOO becoming part of the story. (e) Again, I’m in no way sure I agree with it, but the discussion it (and Bryant’s development of it) prompted in the glory days of interaction between the Perverse Egalitarian crowd and Bryant and Harman was pretty amazing. I mean you can to some extent judge a position by how interesting its refutations end up being and how interesting the debate these refutations engender, etc. So I think that paradoxically the interest of the above string entails something very positive about Harman and Bryant’s status as philosophers.
(6) Those glory days are gone. Too much water under the bridge and all that. But I know I’m not the only one who continues to have a high regard for all parties involved.
(7) Please rebut all the above (snark invited!). That’s why I post here.