I remember reading an interview somewhere with Ray Brassier where he referred to his big work, Nihil Unbound, as a “botched job.” I can’t recall why he thought that (it’s a fantastic work) or what he thought he needed to get right for next time, but I really admired him for saying it. Scholars and artists put so much of themselves into their work that it’s hard not to over-identify with it. It’s hard not to stand by your work, even if there’s something incomplete or perhaps wrong about it. Part of that is ego, but part of it is ethos. And ethos is real. It belongs to audience just as much as it does to the speaker/writer. If you’re publicly honest about the shortcomings of your previous work, you might get some points for that honesty–but how can you expect anyone to invest their time and trust into the next one?
With that in mind, I’m on the road to completing (or rectifying) that which was incomplete (or wrong) about my past work on OOO and epistemology. This includes my book and a recent article that never survived the editing process. Much of the inspiration for revising my thinking comes from the second of my blog-mediated conversations with Eric Taxier, whose sharp insights into object-quality tensions led me to a very different reading of ontography. I’ve never really put much stock into academic conferences but, man, critical engagement does matter.
Anyway, here’s a very rough introduction to a new essay I’m writing in which will attempt to apply a more systematic treatment of the matter. I submit it here not to illicit feedback (not just yet, anyway), but to thumbtack it onto the wall, to try to stay within the bounds of the few basic tasks I’ve laid out for myself:
Why Don’t Objects Have Properties? (subtitle forthcoming)
There is a perfectly efficient answer to the titular question of this essay: People in the analytical tradition tend to talk about ‘properties,’ whereas those in the phenomenological tradition like to talk about ‘qualities,’ even though they’re all essentially dealing with the same thing. Object-Oriented Ontology speaks with a phenomenological accent, so it uses qualities.