A New Theory of Causation – lecture by Graham Harman

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Please see the abstract below for Graham Harman‘s forthcoming lecture in Paris on 26 January 2009.

Recent continental philosophy has devoted little attention to the theory of causation, which was so important in the history of metaphysics. Such philosophy remains obsessed with the relation between human and world- whether to posit an infinite gap between them, or to deny that the gap exists. The relation between inanimate objects such as cotton, fire, raindrops, and corn has been treated as a non-philosophical issue best left to the natural sciences. This lecture takes a different view. The world is not made of two distinct zones called human and world, but of countless objects inflicting blows on one another. Yet if we accept Heidegger’s insights concerning the withdrawal of beings into a dark, subterranean reality, the materialist view of causation as physical impact becomes impossible. We need a modified version of the occasionalist vision of two entities making contact only by way of a third. But instead of granting a causal monopoly to a single magical entity called God, occasional causation must be made secular and local- with all objects gaining the ghostly power to relate to others, even while remaining partly veiled from this relation. Reference will be made to kindred insights found in occasionalism, skepticism, and the late Scholastic position of Francisco Suarez.

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