Reply: cause and object (or object as cause)

I am beginning to understanding what you are saying. But this does not mean I agree.

It is possible to locate or identify a particular way of knowing which can be generalized to certain characteristics. It is possible to do this in the context of causality.

The question that is primary to knowledge is not what is doing the knowledge; It is not necessary for a cause of knowing, or an ability of knowing, to fall into any Particular category, even while we might be able to identify characteristics of the category.

The question of “what is knowing”, “what is doing the knowing”, “how does knowing occur” And similar as such constructions are not required to reduce to a “knower”. Philosophically speaking, there is no necessity between relations of terms. The conjugates of terms themselves do not necessarily relate; they do not have to relate. Just because someone might know something, does not necessarily connote or refer to that which is doing the knowing. Conjugates of terms do not have to relate to one another; they can and they do often exist together in a causal relation, but it is not necessary that they occur in that way. This is the same for all terms. For example; There is no necessary relationship between a brick and the process of solar fusion. Likewise, there is no necessary relation between known, knowing, knowledge Or any conjugates which extend through the various languages.

Yet, there is a relationship which is well known and discussed often.  A valid way of explaining what appears to be a discrepancy in the category of knowledge is to refer to causality. In this case where there is a relationship of discursive conjugates, as well as a relationship between a brick and nuclear fusion, The mode of causality is called efficient. This is the mode of causality which is most common to what we can further categorize, albeit ironically, as a Modern understanding, a modern way of knowing.And we are able to see the operation of this kind of Ideological fixation and it’s more religious term, Modernity. This more Is causality Of effect, of, as the Oxford English dictionary define, “an agent that brings a thing into being or initiates a change”. Modern knowledge is based, or allows implicit understanding through the efficient cause. In general, modern philosophy functions as though the efficient cause is the fundamental, the most basic, and true manner –the only proper way– of understanding anything that can arise in the universe or as the universe and still be sensible. This is so much the case that to even speak of other types of causes, other modes by which knowledge can be affirmed validly, Efficiency will more regularly and commonly be assumed, As well, q any argumentation which appears in discourse will be taken in the context of the efficient cause And argued accordingly towards ontological surety. It is within this efficient cause that the problems of materialism, empiricism, idealism, etc. are argued.


The philosophy of Graham Harman that we know of as Object Oriented Ontology, on the other hand, Is specifically rooted in what Aristotle calls the formal cause. As we find when we read his works, his concern is not material, but rather substanceAs these designations are consistent with Aristotle discussions from +\-2500 years ago.

There are some inconsistencies here with definitions pertaining to Aristotle. Firstly, formal cause is temporality. It would seem that you or Harman is stretching the meaning to meaning only “change without time”. A possibly perhaps in the mind. Secondly, in Aristotle, again, substance is a material particular. It may be stretched again to the essence of the matter (hylomorphism) but the basis of essence is from the particular for Aristotle. Thirdly, I think you are referring to “categories”, not substance. The inclusion (or non-differentiation) of qualities, relations, etc, for Harman is the flat ontological position. This is clear from OOO being rooted in the formal cause as atemporal object.

The main problem that at least continental philosophers have been dealing with since the designation of the two schools– that is, the analytical and the continental schools which arose in the early 20th Century As a way to try and discern what was happening in philosophy at the time– Is the problem that is most poignantly noticed and discussed in the latter 20th century philosophers such as Badiou, Laruelle, and Zizek. To put a name to it, the salient question is, what is happening that a discussion of true things is not recognized and indeed discounted? The solution that Graham Harman stumbled upon and indeed I noticed right here, is that modern philosophy is rooted in the efficient cause as the source of all things. The issue that is noticed through the 20th century and dealt with in various ways, even as they may not have recognized with the basic issue has been the past 150 years, is that some people are speaking from a different causal orientation. In particular, Harman put a finger on it by talking about objects from the standpoint of form. Hence, my discussion concerns what I call the two routes, which is really a notice upon philosophy which identifies two modes Arising simultaneously, but which are not recognized as such. As some authors of notice, the reason for this is because Modern effieicncy is the standard by which people communicate reality. If someone is not speaking from this standard, if someone is not conveying knowledge in the efficient sense then they are not understood and indeed Perpetually brought into the fence, to defend its structure of cause against the efficient cause. But we know from 2500 years ago that the causes, the different causal foundations, do not argue into one another. But each argue onto themselves toward their own causal basis. Because current knowledge of the human being in the universe is based in efficiency, in the efficient cause, in the determination and manipulation of material, all discussions must (according the the dictates of modern logic of ideas, what we call ideology) reduce to the basic understanding of agency.

I do not see the problem with modern philosophy as being rooted in efficient cause AS the problem. To deal with particulars as particulars is perfectly fine. Limited, yes. Localised, yes. But equally we must deal with universals as universals without the illusion that it has any particular reality, only reality in the mind. If OOO or non-philosophies are useful at all as a philosophy remains to be seen. Root to many of the problems is efficient-based. No amount of mind-objections will help stop another Jacob Blake from occurring. We cannot deal with the physical reality in the mind alone. The physical reality remains to be there whether you choose to know it or not.

Flat material ontology

Harman argues for a flat ontology, in which all objects (of the mind) are on equal footing. Here is his list of examples of things (of the mind) which are real — Sherlock Holmes, real humans and animals, chemicals, hallucinations.

Delanda pointed out in that a realist does not necessarily mean one is a default materialist in The Rise of Realism (co-spoken with Harman). What Delanda had meant was materialists take physical objects as what is real. Harman’s position is that objects of the mind are real.

I side with materialists here and treat all physical objects as the only real objects. But equally I treat physical objects on equal footing with equal value. It is only the mind (the perception, conceptualisation and symbolisation) that give various values of things. It is something we do as a sentient/perceptient being. To step away from it is to “deny” (to project the possibly of suspended judgment with perception, conceptualisation and symbolisation) the reality of this being.

In this conception (which is an object of the mind, and not a real thing) the conception of an object of the mind a process of a thing. It marks the reality (things, space and time) of a thing but exists not in itself as a thing.

Knowing and knowledge

The process of knowing is specific to time and place, that is, knowing is a temporal and spatial process of a thing. But knowledge as objects of the mind are atemporal and aspatial. Often, we confuse knowledge for knowing, but rarely do we make the reverse mistake.

Reply (more questions on): orientation upon objects and ontology of objects

Nice background to your thinking. Speaking of backgrounds, I would like to add your bio.

Anyways, and so it is, my work is more about “orientation upon objects“, than it is about an ontology of objects; I actually play around with the notion that I am concerned more with teleology.  

Orientation upon objects and significance of significance

I am assuming that objects are objects of the mind. If so, how does one ‘orientate’ to an aspatial object? I am not saying it is impossible but would like to hear how it is done in this philosophy.

So far as the question about my answer to what religion is, I say that it has to do with an orientation upon objects.  And the arguments that Harmon gives really outline the reason why the fundamental, or what I call the significant issue in philosophy is an orientation upon objects, and not so much about what particular argument I might want to make about an ontology of objects. I speak more to the Being itself in the context of causality. And that’s why I am beginning to look at Aristotle’s notions of cause

It would also seem important establish what exists (ontology of objects) in order to talk about how one may orient to it. To Aristotle I am also looking, so I am interested in this. I am not looking at cause though.

Atemporality and aspatiality

Objects of the mind are characterised by atemporality and aspatiality (my term) while objects of reality (things) are characterised by temporality and spatiality.

Representations of things (mind-objects) are inconsistent with reality (thing-objects) because of this difference in characterisation. Phenomena and noumena are distinct. Problems arise when we engage with reality with non-existent (without ontology) atemporal and aspatial characteristics of objects of the mind.

objects, words, mind, things

There are two things I do as this kind of being – I think and I interact with the world in the world. Without thought, and without the world and being inside of it I will not be interacting with it. I would be “doing something else”. But clearly this “something else” (if it exists at all) has nothing to do with here, not part of this being, so therefore irrelevant.

Within chess the chessboard seems to be the entire reality. It is not. While the action is there, this, itself is within a larger reality. And that is within a larger reality still until we reach “the largest reality”.

This isn’t about God. Religion is a mind-object (not a thing but a concept) within a particular thing-object (the human being). We know God and religion as only word-object and mind-object. We mistake that there is a corresponding thing-object.

I am not saying there is no God or religion but that they – as word-objects and mind-objects – manifest themselves differently to thing-objects. We must deal with them according to their characteristics.

Language and cognition

“I’m wondering how words contain any meaning at all, but then also how definition is then anyway attached to meaning. Why should the definition have a meaning? Does meaning have definition?”

Saussurean linguistics
Saussure is undoubtedly one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century. Almost single-handed he created the modern field of linguistics

Saussure saw that language is a system of difference. This radical idea holds that the sign is a combination of a form or signifier and a concept or signified. These two parts of the sign is arbitrary (there is no natural link between them). This is why the animal dog is called by various names (signifiers) in different languages. We start with a concept then we give it a name. A word in a language only gains meaning from all other words it is held up or contrasted against, not to have full meaning in itself. This is what Derrida had meant by saying words never have full presence of meaning since it relies on all other words for its meaning. Wittgenstein thought the same way when he said the meaning of a word is its use in the language.

Saussure also gave us the concept of langue and parole. Langue is the language as a system (like the dictionary of words, books of grammar) not in use but in theory. Parole is the actual real world use of the language.

Another way to look at language as syntagmatic across a chain of words in a sentence, or as paradigmatic by cycling through possible words in a position. The position ‘in’ for example in the previous sentence can be theoretically replaced by ‘on’, ‘at’, ‘to’, etc, under the correct circumstances and desired meaning may actually be viable. 

Yet another way to look at language is synchronically as snapshot in time (late twentieth century) or diachronically as a series of snapshots (language change, etymology, language death, linguistic imperialism, etc).

Cognitive linguistics
Cognitive linguistics gave us conceptual metaphor theory which explained why words may have more than one meaning. A person may in physical space of a kitchen. But he may also be in a social club not exactly a space but an organisation. He may also be in love even though love is not a space. This kind of extension stems from not only the limit of talking of literal situations (basic schema) but also because we have a need to talk about some things which can only be explained from extensions. But in some ways going against Saussure in that these extensions are not arbitrary but also systematic in some way explains why language changes and grows so to speak. In other words, abstract concepts must rely on literal ones in order to be conceptualised and verbalised.

Closing remark
Language is never fixed. It changes not only slowly but continually. Every use of language necessarily changes it (iterability). We may have a fixed idea about language like a dictionary or grammar book (prescriptive) but really it is from the real world that language receives all its meaning (descriptive), where, for example, intentional meaning and relevance comes into play.