Graham Harman: Form and its rivals (October 5, 2015)

Graham Harman proposes four “thinkers of the background” as especially relevant today–Sigmund Freud, Martin Heidegger, Clement Greenberg, Marshal McLuhan–and extends Cleaneth Brooks’s notion of the non-paraphrasability of metaphor to all of reality. Harman criticizes formalisms for becoming wholisms, and argues that reality can’t be reduced to a description, either of elements or of effects. Harman singles out Daniel Dennett’s ridicule of the jargon of wine-tasting as misguided. Wine-tasting and other aesthetic judging and art-making discourses do not produce knowledge. They neither reduce objects to their elements or describe their effects. Instead, they approach their objects necessarily indirectly, and the language must be understood as such.

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