Harman Responds to My Dublin Lecture

Here. I appreciate the response, and I really wish I could take back that line that he found shrill–in fact, I almost didn’t post the audio because I remembered I said something flippant, not least because he’s right that each book has a purpose and I’m sure in the SR book alone, I say “I don’t have the space to argue,” etc., several times.

In any case, I’ll just add it’s a good response, which will be good to think through. I do use the word “eternal” several times. Here is the quotation I was using:

According to the object-oriented model only the present exists: only objects with their qualities, locked into whatever their duels of the moment might be. In that sense, times seems to be illusory, though not for the usual reason that time is just a fourth spatial dimension always already present from the start. Instead time does not exist simply because only the present ever exists. Nonetheless, time as a lived experience [that is, within the sensuous; here he follows Husserl to the letter] cannot be denied. We do not encounter a static frame of reality, but seem to feel a passage of time. It is not pure chaos shifting wildly from one second to the next, since there is chance with apparent endurance. Sensual objects endure despite swirling oscillations in their surface adumbrations, and this is precisely what is meant by the experience of time. Time can be defined as the tension between sensual objects and their sensual qualities.[i]

The first sentence is the key to it: the Platonists (thus why I used Platonism, not Aristotle, though Harman’s right that his notion of substance is closer to Aristotle)–and this reasoning is central from Plato to Plotinus to Augustine–held only the present truly exists beyond the world of becoming, and the label they used for that was the “eternal.” In any case, that was my reasoning and I’ll think this through–and Graham has some excellent comments distinguishing Derrida and Heidegger on the question of onto-theology.

One small point, Marie-Eve Morin, who read through a draft, noted that she liked the book because it’s a place where you can read about speculative realism without the trolling you get in online discussions, so I’m glad that one errant moment aside, Harman found the lecture in that spirit as well.

[i] “The Road to Objects,” 176, my emphases.


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