A (micro) Refutation of "Practical" Metaphysics

If we call metaphysics the discipline … that purports to define the basic structure of the world, then empirical metaphysics is what the controversies over agencies lead to since they ceaselessly populate the world with new drives and, as ceaselessly, contest the existence of others. The question then becomes how to explore the actors’ own metaphysics. - Bruno Latour
Bruno Latour takes it upon himself to suture the fractured and fragmented discourses on Ontology and Metaphysics by resorting to relativism to create what he calls a “practical metaphysics”.

Of course, by “practical” he means “plural”.

The question is this: even if a plural metaphysics as enunciated by Bruno is stable enough to theoretically examine all phenomenon and express it as a function of a most clearly crafted Ontology, will such a relativist theory of reality be able to survive the transition into Praxis? In other words, will my ability to gauge and measure the ontological weight of someone’s claim not break down my own subsequent attempts to affirm or deny the causal contingencies arising out of me being weighed down by the said ontological weight? Put simply, the first step in the exploration of the personal metaphysics of an actor is pretty much always a rejection and denial of the logic and rhetoric structuring the metaphysics of all the other actors in the network. Verily, the very possibility of a metaphysics arises out of the possibility of the metaphysics.

In such a situation, I presume, one will have to forgo one’s commitment to any relativism that is equally and evenly distributed over causality and choose to assemble a single ontology from the multitude of varying and contradictory metaphysical claims of other actors in the network.

However, rationality forces us to conclude that in a finite network ontological patterns will develop within all the local mediators preventing a state where any kind of near-absolute relativism (necessary for any pluralistic idea of metaphysics) may gestate. Latour, therefore, has given birth to a baby that’s stillborn if held upside-down but comes alive as soon as you turn it around and ask : “can metaphysics save relativism”?

A traversal of an actor's own metaphysics then is not much different than the traversal of his own politics. In-fact, such hollow multitudism will only thrive until the actor realizes that by short-circuiting metaphysics with pragmatism, he has all but extinguished both. All that remains thereafter, is to consolidate the (remaining) relativism for the sake of pragmatism and since democracy is the obvious tool-of-choice for such tasks, we can remain sure that one of the last functions it will perform as a human tool is the consolidation and reduction of empirical, metaphysical relativism, thereby giving birth to either a compressed relativism or perhaps even a pragmatic absolutism.

Now can you smell the totalitarian disaster that awaits us at the other end of pragmatic metaphysics? 


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