Harman responds to my last post at generous length here. I realize I should have thought this through better before I sent it off, since I don’t really have time to work on a response or an involved dialogue with him at the moment. (And neither does he, as he has said a few times, so I’m grateful he’s taken the time he has to deal with the substance of my complaint.) But I’m of course not the only one pursuing the resonances between Whitehead and Deleuze: Shaviro, Stengers, Keith Robinson, James Williams, and Michael Halewood (and to some extent, at least, Eric Alliez and Jeffrey Bell) are among the others doing that. Not that that makes any of us right — and to the extent that Harman is correct about all this, his arguments should interest the others.
My hunch remains that there are different ways of approaching both thinkers, and that these different ways reveal somewhat different figures. Deleuze himself saw significant affinities between his thinking and Whitehead’s, and I (and the others mentioned) think those affinities are worth pursuing. These affinities have something to do with seeing the world as more dynamic and less static, more processual and relational — seeing objects “as actions, acts, or events,” as Levi Bryant put it in a wonderful post this morning — with the dynamism both ethically and aesthetically imbued (a case Shaviro makes well). Somehow, for me, this locates us, as ethically and aesthetically positioned subjects, in the midst of a more dynamic and creative world and it makes it easier to conceive of the ripples of resonance between us and the others we encounter (people, trees, vampyroteuthises, et al).
But I’ll take Harman’s arguments to heart, and I look forward to his chapter in The Speculative Turn. As I mentioned on Levi’s blog, I appreciate Harman’s writing and his thinking very much, especially the way he pushes Heidegger (in fact the things I like most about Heidegger) beyond any kind of anthropocentrism, as well as the way he has brought Latour into the center of philosophical discussion. I have much to learn from him, and I suspect that, in the end, there will be much more commonality here than difference.