I just read Scu’s blog post which provides his riff on Harman’s thoughts on the Adrian Johnston interview carried out by Brian Smith and myself. While I completely get where he is coming from, I think it may be a bit much to call the position outlined by Johnston an ‘anthropocentric backlash’ for at least two reasons. First, it’s hardly a new position to privilege the human to some extent, and there is a certain French reliance on Descartes and Rousseau that seems to have never really left (the best contemporary example would be Badiou). Second, it seems like the position of someone like Johnston is far to subtle to be taking for a sort of reactionary humanism, as for him, following someone like Zizek, the point is that through a sort of evolutionary glitch (or fuck-up) humans have been left with a certain capacity for freedom and reflection which is unique to our species. Thus rather than being a ‘traditional’ humanism, it’s a sort of humanism grounded in a thoroughly materialist account of how life and subsequently thought are events which take place after the primacy of matter. After reading some of the excerpts of Meillassoux’s Divine Inexistence in the Harman book, I think his own position (in which humans are ‘the ultimate’) is probably a better target for anyone out to fight the ‘new humanism’.
humanism as backlash