Eureka

From Tim Morton’s Hyperobjects:

The Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum theory spearheaded by Bohr holds that though quantum theory is a powerfully accurate heuristic tool, peering underneath this tool to see what kind of reality might underlie it would be absurd because quantum phenomena are “irreducibly inaccessible to us.”

“Powerfully accurate heuristic tool” jumps out of the page at me. It is one of many examples of Morton’s explicit philosophical instrumentalism: discover-creating — instaurating — ways to think realities that otherwise resist thought. This is philosophy’s product: conceivability from what has been inconceivable.

Morton’s justification — his background understanding — came earlier in the book, what I take to be a pluralism rooted in the most radical imaginable take on Heraclitus’s maxim “Nature likes to hide.” Reading this, I imagine reality as a hermeneutic holographic film, with each object existing as a parabolic cell of the interpreting and expressing the reality it encounters in its own dialect:

And as an object-oriented ontologist I hold that all entities (including “myself ”) are shy, retiring octopuses that squirt out a dissembling ink as they withdraw into the ontological shadows. Thus, no discourse is truly “objective,” if that means that it is a master language that sits “meta” to what it is talking about. There is also a necessarily iterative, circling style of thought in this book. This is because one only sees pieces of a hyperobject at any one moment. Thinking them is intrinsically tricky.

This book is a demonstration of thinking hyperobjects. But why think hyperobjects? Even here we must learn to think the importance of the purpose:

Lingis’s book The Imperative is a remarkable reworking of Kantian ethics, taking phenomenology into account. The phenomenology in question is Lingis’s own, developed from years of study and affiliation with Emmanuel Levinas, and very diferent from the Husserlian phenomenology that is its great-grandparent. In particular, Lingis makes it possible to think a truly ecological ethics.

So, back to this idea of philosophy being the instauration of heuristic tools. I looked up the etymology of “heuristic” and was delighted to discover that it is derived from heuriskein “to find”; and that “eureka” is a sibling word coming from heureka “I have found”, perfect tense of heuriskein. Concepts provide us abstract meaningful structures, through which we can find meaning in our experiences.

I really like Hyperobjects. I am going to have to go back and reread Graham Harman and make another attempt at reading Meillassoux. I think Speculative Realism might be more relevant to my philosophy and religious life than I’d imagined.

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One Response to Eureka

  1. anomalogue says:

    Three pages later, Morton is now talking about holographic film.

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