Posted by: Johan Normark | April 3, 2013

Inhuman ethics of the 2012-phenomenon

Here is a tentative article and abstract for the AAA session in Chicago.

Inhuman ethics of the 2012-phenomenon

Speculative realism has led to quite different approaches at breaking with correlationism, ranging from Meillassoux’s divine inexistence where human exceptionalism is taken for granted to Bogost’s alien phenomenology that wonders what it is like to be a computer and other things. This paper shall emphasize the object-oriented ontologies (OOO) of the speculative turn. Real objects are withdrawn and we can only access them through sensual profiles and allusion. I make a sensual profile of a computer and the computer makes another sensual profile of me (both within a third real object). I am anthropocentric and the computer is computerocentric. Simply expanding the perspective to a network only shifts the centrism to the network itself. Maybe this is an ethical consequence of “the democracy of objects”? With the expansion of internet, facebook, blogs, twitter, we are becoming more keen to expose ourselves. Although we are participating in a greater network than ever before we are also becoming more centered on ourselves to stand out against others. We try to individualize ourselves instead of being dividuals of a greater object. In a sense, internet is antifragile in Taleb’s sense. It gains in strength from millions of users. It is probably no coincidence that OOO has expanded because of internet. Another object that expanded because of internet was the “2012-phenomenon”. Since it had an end-date related to the Maya Long Count calendar it can serve as an illustrative example of inhuman ethical consequences “before” and “after” a crucial event.


  1. I am wondering, and I have read a lot of the Speculative Turn, and many other writers, what exactly is a co-relationist, and isn’t it some type of red herring? I mean people like Derrida admitted their limitations within their particular field of philosophy, and so did Kant. What I find disturbing perhaps about OOO (among other things) is its insistence on ‘no limits’ as if it ‘gives you the whole enchilada’ of things? Am I being naive?

  2. I am not sure what you mean by “no limits”. If there is someone who has no limits it has to be Meillassoux who believes anything can happen without no reason whatsoever. As for the main proponents of OOO I do believe they mean that we cannot know the limits of an object since there is an infinite amount of ways it can relate to another object. Or do you refer to limits in terms of what can be called an object?

    Reading your comment again I believe you wonder if they believe they can cover all fields of philosophy? I am not a philsopher and I can for sure point out weaknesses when they cover fields where I am better acquinted, such as archaeology, palaeoclimatology, palaeontology, evolution, etc. Likewise, Deleuze and Guattari covered more grounds than they should have. Their understanding of archaeology in A Thousand Plateaus is really old-fashioned. So, should I trust OOO proponents to be able to cover everything from ethics to climate change? I will have to decide that in each case, what I use and what I discard.

    I am right now at the point where I feel that I have read enough OOO for my own purposes. I do not expect anything dramatically new to come out from that field (new to me that is). I followed Bergson in my dissertation thesis, DeLanda in my first postdoctoral project and now I am into OOO. I included Taleb in my abstract, maybe the beginning of a new direction after my own speculative phase. Who knows?

  3. What is not clear in my abstract, which I must add, is that I am focusing on the way certain [human] individuals within the 2012-phenomenon have behaved before and after the “end-date”. Are these anthropocentric ethics (“normal ethics”) different from what vaguely can be called “inhuman ethics” of a now “dying” phenomenon?


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