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Matter and Matterialism

by on February 7, 2013

The question of matter, materialism, and the real is necessary from the start of the emergence of Speculative Realism, or Speculative Materialism, or Object Oriented Ontology. Indeed each of the three articles from The Speculative Turn we read make efforts, divergent though they are in method and approach, deal at heart with very similar problems, that of relationality vs substantiality, matterialism vs. idealism, and so on. Of the three, Ray Brassier and Iain Hamilton Grant in particular recognize and attempt to address the opposition of German Idealism, specifically that of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, to any sort of approach or access given to a completely separate and other real or object in-itself. Overall, though I did not find Brassier’s essay “Concepts and Objects” overwhelmingly convincing (really it just made me want to read Meillassoux), I do think that Grant’s essay “Does Nature Say What-it-is?: Dynamics and the Antecedence Criterion” holds some interesting argument and relates well to both of the other pieces.

Grant’s fundamental question seems to be “what grounds any particular satisfaction of the principle [PSR]; or again, as Meillassoux notes, what necessitates contingency in nature?” (67). The issue at hand here becomes whether or not there is anything antecedent to or that grounds the notion of sufficient reason, Leibniz’s notion that everything must be caused. Perhaps as Deleuze would put it, what principle makes the principle function? What is chiefly questionable in Grant’s analysis of the antecedence of ground is the function or place of time. He only indirectly answers how time interacts with ground by talking about antecedence. He does not however give or identify a structure in time that could itself serve as the ground for material or actuality. Would he view time as a formal ground for the PSR or somehow an effect of the PSR? And is time conditioned or unconditioned? I am interested to see the materiality or ground of time further explored.

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