Posted by: Johan Normark | August 14, 2010

Gurus and saviors in academia

Not long ago I referred to a blog post by the philosopher Graham Harman that basically claimed Deleuze to be the new unfalsifiable academic guru (replacing Derrida). In another blog post, Mikhail Emelianov, argues more or less that Harman and his object-oriented ontology (OOO) is striving to become the new Savior. Such academic quarrels will have little impact on archaeology. We have seen similar “gurus” and “saviors” come and go in archaeology as well, but in the end it is always the old fellows that set the standard for the discipline that remain most stable (back in the 19th century). We have already seen a Harmanian inspired archaeology and a Deleuzian/DeLandian inspired archaeology (my own stuff). These “archaeologies” will never make any major changes in this discipline compared to the works by Thomsen, Montelius, etc. They are only differences in degree, not in kind. I no longer believe that changing the focus to an artifact oriented perspective will be a great difference than an anthropocentric perspective. Both terms depends on the other.

The main problem Harman and similar minded philosophers have with contemporary philosophy is therefore that of correlationism. According to Meillassoux this “is the idea according to which we only ever have access to the correlation between thinking and being, and never to either term considered apart from the other.” A human subject is always implied. A few years ago, in my “posthumanocentric” or “polyagentive” phase which argued against anthropocentrism in archaeology, I would perhaps have embraced OOO. However, I no longer have such posthuman aspirations. I guess my search for a line of flight out of the Deleuzian territory will continue.

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