đź“° Realist Magic: Conclusion

Author: Timothy Morton

Full Title: Realist Magic: Conclusion

URL: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/o/ohp/13106496.0001.001/1:10/--realist-magic-objects-ontology-causality?rgn=div1&view=fulltext

Highlights from March 10th, 2021.

Graham Harman discovered a gigantic coral reef of mysterious entities beneath the Heideggerian submarine of Da-sein, which itself is operating at an ontological depth way below the choppy surface of philosophy, beset by the winds of epistemology and infested with the sharks of materialism, idealism, empiricism and most of the other -isms that have defined what is and what isn’t for the last several hundred years.
The coral reef isn’t going anywhere and once you have discovered it, you can’t un-discover it. And it seems to be teeming with strange facts.
Heidegger descended to this ontological depth without much protective gear. He thought he had hit some kind of authentic bedrock, and in a bitterly ironic way, he had. But voyaging at these depths requires some kind of cognitive protection—this is territory that Buddhist mystics swim in, as Heidegger himself intuited. The depth could drive you crazy. Why? Because there are no guarantees. The protection that a Buddhist has at this depth is the protection of emptiness: not a hard suit of armor or tough diving gear, but a light-touch sense of the openness and illusoriness of things, without cynicism.
What has happened in Realist Magic? There has been a return to a weird non-theistic Aristotle. This Aristotle was left behind at the start of the modern age, when Descartes, Newton and Leibniz (among others) broke with scholasticism. Science as we know it appeared with its rigor and doubt, based on mathematics. At the same time, epistemology became the dominant philosophical game, based again on the doubt that Descartes put at the center of his Meditations. This paved the way for the correlationism of Kant. Kant thought he had finished the job by placing traditional metaphysics on a small island of analytic judgments in the midst of a wide ocean of synthetic judgments. This event also marked the moment at which rhetoric and logic parted company, giving rise to the contemporary discourse of aesthetics. Realist Magic has returned to an Aristotle without Nature, without material and final causes, and without a Prime Mover.
Realist Magic has returned to Aristotle, but not out of some atavistic desire to wipe away the achievements of modernity and return to an oppressive theocratic regime. It is simply that modernity has now reached a certain limit.
This limit is characterized by, to cite only too brief examples, the decisive appearance of nonhumans in human social, psychic and philosophical space. The current ecological emergency consists in this appearance.