Basic Principles of Object-Oriented Philosophy: The Irreversibility of Implication Principle

Bored with my previous series (that only went to two posts on Hegel and Spinoza), I am returning to my blogosphere roots – making fun of OOO and its “arguments” online. But first, some fundamental principles.

One principle that is easily discernible in any interactions with objectologists is The Irreversibility of Implication Principle. Stated simply, the principle is easy to understand (and to follow): Whatever conclusion an objectologist makes about an opponent’s implicit motivations for her position cannot be reversed and directed back at the said objectologist.

Let’s take a simple example from the freshly pressed text: Bryant’s “fighting words” of this morning. The overall conclusion of this semi-nonsensical post is clear: “Your thought is a reaction formation to the narcissistic wound of the fact that your existence is contingent and that you are only the third of the three great apes.” Here “your” stands for all the failed “Continental philosophers” who, unlike the cool kids, still cling to their outdated non-naturalist and non-materialist approaches. They do so because of some fundamental psychological and professional insecurity. Their thought is the direct consequence of their threatened status and their unwillingness to dispense with their privileges.

Makes perfect sense, you say. It does. There is nothing new about making such generalized implications. However, the freedom to do so is limited by the “irreversibility principle” – accusations directed at others cannot be reserved and redirected at the accusers. So if I said, for example, that Bryant’s entire project is motivated by his sense of profound insecurity and mediocrity, that everything he says and writes is aimed at proving to everyone (but mostly his father) that he is in fact a somebody, then objectologists would cry foul and would be absolutely correct. My statement would be a direct violation of the “irreversibility principle”: remember, kids, hot coffee in the blue mug warms cold air, cold air does not warm hot coffee…

Another example: every critic of object-oriented ontology/philosophy is a jealous loser, unable to reach a desired position of academic power and thus taking his/her angry frustration on poor naive original-to-the-bone philosophers of the future. Well, all of these things are certainly true in my case, but were I to try a reversal – perhaps the motivation behind all of this mindless speculation is some psychological need for praise and approval, some grotesque ambition to find glory and universal approval for originality – and I would be dead wrong.

I hear you grumble something about the “doctor heal thyself” principle and hypocrisy. Here is why you are all wrong:

1) To your witty “Doctor heal thyself” quote I give you my wittier “Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi” quote – what do you say to that? Mine is in Latin. You lose.

2) Hypocrisy argument, like critique, is the weapon of the weak and the powerless. They always want to hold great men accountable to their worthless little moralities. Let me ask you this question: How many books did you publish? You are only allowed to talk back if it is the amount equal to that of the most productive objectologist. The rest of you rest your objections and start getting some books published. This game is for big boys with long lists.

3) Can’t we all just move past the accusations and engage in some love and compassion? I am tired of all the fights and all the controversy that inevitably follows all the posts on OOO. All of your witty and thought-provoking comments exhaust me. Sure, maybe it is not a perfect system of philosophy, but it is trying its best, so let it be.

15 thoughts on “Basic Principles of Object-Oriented Philosophy: The Irreversibility of Implication Principle

  1. I think that you aptly contrast the explicit now defunct principle of irreversibility with your own implicit principle of ironic reversibilty. I think that reality is much more on your side. All these principles and theories are in fact parts of metaphysical or non-empirical research programs that can be made locally empirical. Remember the transcendental deduction that the Higgs boson could never be found because it was “correlationist”. This prediction was made repeatedly until the HB was found.

    • Well, HB was not found, “finding” is too human-oriented because it implies that there is an outside “out there” and a self-enclosed researcher “over here” that correlates his/her theories with the said “outside” – HB was withdrawn and then showed itself.

      So, wait, the irreversibility principle is defunct? Next thing you’ll say is that humans managed to land a vehicle on Mars – get right out of town!

      • But you are perhaps forgetting that we are ever already outside ourselves, in more rigorous language “self-withdrawn”, and this very self-withdrawnness is itself self-withdrawn from itself, and so on ad infinitum. As the tv series “Life on Mars” showed Earth is already Mars, if we consider Earth under the condition of its withdrawal from all-beings, including itself. Etymologically “finding” is in-vention or the “coming in ” from outside. The true OOO novel is of course Ian Fleming’s “The Spy that Came In from the Cold” where the “cold” is the great outdoors, and “coming-in” is withdrawing from withdrawing, which some have dared to call “de-withdrawing”. But this de-withdrawing is itself under the condition of withdrawal, as the term spy (a secret, or withdrawn, agent) indicates. Graham Harman will write a book on this 40 years from now, and it retroactively precedes and refutes all prior views.

  2. Dear EM: Are these OOO guys really worth your talents? These polemica posts, no doubt, are funny, hysterical even. But who who cares about OOO? I don’t, ok, in thanks part to you. But for what it’s worth, I’m much preferring your posts on music, art, and Russian-Soviet thought and culture. Best, ==Zb

  3. It took me 10 minutes to write this one up – these things write themselves. Plus, I want to get the credit for single-handedly keeping OOO relevant. After all, I must try and make something of my useless life, mustn’t I?

  4. “Your thought is a reaction formation to the narcissistic wound of the fact that your existence is contingent and that you are only the third of the three great apes.”

    Tarzan no like city man, city man too vain, Tarzan prefer stay in jungle, play with Cheeta.

    • I know you guys have fun trashing OOO, but actually a serious point gets lost in the invective. You and I don’t have to agree on Harman (even if I don’t comprehend the depth of your animosity). But Bryant’s ontology and its coherence or lack thereof is beside the point in “Fighting Words”. It’s the way he’s set up a Catch-22 for his opponents that is objectionable here. If they capitulate, they capitulate; if they defend themselves, they exhibit their symptom. This is a form of ideology, and it can be critiqued even when leaving the broader question of OOO in abeyance. Indeed, I would say it needs to be.

      • I haven’t read Bryant’s latest yet, so am coming into this late and more-than-usually ignorant of the full history here … having said which, it sure sounds like the above post captures the situation here. Of course, this would hardly be the first time an argument is conducted in the “heads i win, tails you lose” format, as per psychoanalysis: if you don’t accept my diagnosis, you are obviously just further repressing the truth about yourself! But really, does anyone pretend any longer that their institutional position — or lack thereof — has no effect on their philosophical/ critical priorities? At the same time, I do appreciate Mikhail’s corrosive wit …

      • Evan, I am only half-joking when I suggest that Bryant’s characterization applied to me – it does, but my objection is that it should apply to him as well. If I am angry and jealous of his international success and that is what drives me as a human being, then I certainly have the right to inquire about his/their motivations and yet I’m not allowed to do so as that immediately becomes an illegitimate way of conducting oneself.

        Sure, those who defend institutions can be shown to be such, but that is not the logic of OOO. The logic is fairly transparent: they do not accept us; there are two explanations – either we are not serious philosophers or they are defensive. Needless to say, it is almost always “They are defending their privilege” that is offered as an explanation and not “We are not very good at this philosophy thing”…

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