Accidental anticipation; some links

12Mar11

Seems my post that included very quick and underdeveloped remarks on OOO and theology (with reference to Gnosticism) has anticipated a couple of far better posts by two actual OOOists on the same topic.

Levi Bryant weighs in here, while Timothy Morton does so here. Morton even uses the same term (‘nontheism’) that I used in my post. Its enough to make me think I have a clue what I’m banging on about.

I find myself agreeing on every point that Bryant makes. I would add one other though. Given how I have seen the power of faith to actually overcome psychosis (in one case, it seems as if a delusion, if indeed it was, based on God’s love pushed away 10 demonic voices that tortured the voice-hearer in question), I would also want to add that religion might have great therapeutic value.

On this point I’m more or less agreeing with the old Freudian line that religion acts as a psychological crutch. I used to by into this argument as a negative before I began working in mental health but now I see it as one of religion’s biggest strengths. Only someone who has never witnessed or experienced psychosis would say that philosophy, in the broadest sense, ought not to act as a comfort to human beings. If it can, without fundamentally perverting itself, then why should it not? And in that sense I’d affirm religion’s eudaemonic powers……and this clearly not from a position that states everyone is entitled to some bland, bloodless, consumerist happiness but from the position that people with severe and enduring mental health conditions, psychotic or otherwise, should not expect a life of misery simply because the form of healing that they might benefit most from is frowned upon by us otherwise rational, secular creatures. Creatures who are quite happy to admit our irrationality in respect to our desires; creatures who are happy to renounce our secular identifications when it comes to the magic of new technologies.

I have also written about that component of religion that is often seen as central, faith, being an important component of the make-up of radical political subjectivities. Since first reading Foucault on the idea of a ‘political spirituality’ I’ve been fascinated by the idea……….and is it any wonder, when we read Bryant’s post, that many of the early proto-anarchist communities were also religious in nature? Is it any wonder that some of the more ecologically oriented feminisms of todays are also oriented around versions of paganism?

Anyway, I’m accidentally on the amateur end of what the bloke’s who have the discipline and dedication are talking about. Really, I’m a bit of a silly bugger showing off about that.

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2 Responses to “Accidental anticipation; some links”

  1. 1 Drew

    I agree that it’s a bit weird that we were discussing ‘object-oriented-theology’ just the other day and now religion is suddenly being discussed by the OOO gurus. That is neither here nor there, because the point I’m really interested in is your mention of political spirituality.

    One of the biggest issues (some) people have been having with OOO is its lack of an avowed ethico-political conviction. I for one think this is its greatest strength in that it forces us not to read politics off of ontology. This is likewise the case with other brands of speculative realism, like Brassier’s nihilism. It seems that OOO would lead me to the conclusion that all ethic-political options and convictions equally exist as real objects regardless of whether they are true or not. Thus, as one blog discussion went (I think it was on Splintering Bone Ash blog), implementing nuclear holocaust would be as a valid as universal communism. While I’m not convinced that OOO IMPLIES relativism, it does assert that convictions are objects in their own right among other objects. One of the areas I am currently writing about syncs with your discussion on political spirituality, in the sense that I think OOO and other brands of SR can be used to overthrow the final taboo in most contemporary philosophy: WHY do people adopt the ethico-political views they do, and why have such positions gone by with so little questioning? For instance, I know many continental thinker have postured as being a ‘radical’ for overthrowing some conventional view on epistemology or ontology yet have remained unquestioning drones of Leftism. If current research in psychology, neuroscience, and genetics are any indication, it may be possible that each human is ‘pre-disposed’ to certain political convictions. While many would certainly accuse such a position as an appeal to human nature or fixed essences in subservience to capitalism or some other claptrap, I think it really is worth taking seriously precisely because it raises the question: why are most of us, upon deep introspection, unable to completely justify our own political views? Did not Aristotle point out this difficulty thousands of years ago when he said man was a political animal? If we take current science seriously, there is no fact/value distinction as propped up by the old Humean challenge of is/ought. All ethics rely on a kind of ‘spirituality’ as you said, precisely because certain objective facts about human well-being and flourishing as well as fairness, trust, punishment, so on are hardwired into the brain in often incompatible ways. Throw in non-human actors and social networks the problem of determinate political action becomes even more complicated. To add final confusion to the issue, even if such positions are ‘hard-wired’ there is no imperative to follow such dictates.

  2. Thanks for this and I can’t wait to read about what you say in Gnosticism, one of my favorite topics for thinking and reading these last two years.


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