Graham Harman on Heidegger and Latour

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Graham Harman will be giving a talk entitled “On Actors, Networks, and Plasma: Heidegger vs. Latour vs. Heidegger” at ISIG at the LSE at 12:00 on Thursday 29 November 2007.

Here is the abstract:

On Actors, Networks, and Plasma: Heidegger vs. Latour vs. Heidegger

By Graham Harman

Though Heidegger continues to solidify his status as the consensus “great philosopher” of the twentieth century, there are some obvious points of difficulty with his ontology. Latour strikes an effective blow on two of these points. First, he restores agency to non-human actors. Second, he revives a taste for concrete discussion of specific kinds of objects (trains, apricots, volcanoes).

Yet there is one key weakness in Latour’s ontology that must be addressed: his relationism. The reality of an actor, for Latour, is defined by the way it affects, modifies, or perturbs other things. This leads to problems that I will review in my talk, and which are only partly remedied by Latour’s intriguing new concept of plasma.

Surprising resources for a new realism are found in Heidegger’s fourfold of earth, sky, gods, and mortals. Transforming Latour’s army of onefold actors into an armada of fourfold objects, we find a Heideggerian alternative to Latour’s shapeless molten plasma. Latour corrects Heidegger’s Dasein-centrism, but at the same time Heidegger counters Latour’s overinvestment in relationality. In this way, object-oriented philosophy crossbreeds the virtues of its two ancestral heroes.

Biography

Graham Harman is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the American University in Cairo, and currently Visiting Associate Professor of Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science at the University of Amsterdam. He is the author of Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects (2002), Guerrilla Metaphysics: Phenomenology and the Carpentry of Things (2005), Heidegger Explained: From Phenomenon to Thing (2007), and Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics (just completed). His current book project is a systematic work of metaphysics entitled Object-Oriented Philosophy.

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The Information Systems Research Forum (ISRF) is a seminar series focusing on recent advances in research broadly relating to information and communication systems. ISRF is organized by research students of the Information Systems and Innovation Group (ISIG) at LSE. While our Group’s research focus can be described as the social study of ICTs and innovation, ISRF aims to involve speakers from different backgrounds in a cross-disciplinary discussion and debate.

This term’s seminar series has been organised by Aleksi Aaltonen, Ofer Engel and Peter Erdélyi

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2 Responses to “Graham Harman on Heidegger and Latour”

  1. ANTHEM » Blog Archive » The Harman Review: Bruno Latour’s Empirical Metaphysics, 5-Feb-08 Says:

    […] of you who attended Graham Harman’s talk at the LSE or have listened to the recording will already know that Harman has completed the […]

  2. The Harman Review: Bruno Latour’s Empirical Metaphysics, 5-Feb-08 « ANTHEM Says:

    […] Review: Bruno Latour’s Empirical Metaphysics, 5-Feb-08 By PE Those of you who attended Graham Harman’s talk at the LSE or have listened to the recording will already know that Harman has completed the […]

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