Levi has a nice post on pedagogy, objects, and his daughter. His conclusions, I think, can be rephrased in terms more amenable to an objects-relations dialogue. He writes:

“What my daughter has taught me is the withdrawal of objects from their relations. [...] What I’ve discovered through my daughter is that all substances are abyssal black boxes. They are influenced by their surroundings, but they relate to their surroundings through their own internal structure or organization, generating deeply surprising responses to the world around them. She quite literally constitutes and creates her own being.”

Since Graham has set out a challenge (“Take that, relationists!”), I’ll take a very quick stab at a process-relational reply:


Yes, Levi’s daughter is a very specific set of relational processes that are autonomous from her surroundings (which she is also relationally engaged with). The genetic, epigenetic, maternal, bodily, social, and other relations that have collaborated to shape her, along with the ways she (the developing set of ‘internal’ relations that constitute her at any point in time) has responded to all of them, have made her into the kind of thing an OOOist would call an ‘object’ that ‘withdraws’ from its relations, and that a process-relationalist would call a subject-superject (or ‘society’) of the human kind. (These terms are specifically Whitehead’s, and are awkward, but let’s leave them in place for now.)

For the OOOist the ‘real’ object withdraws, as Levi describes, while for the PROist what’s real is not the withdrawal but the engagement, the opening outward, the grasping, clasping, affecting and being affected. There’s no withdrawal that isn’t either a movement ‘back’ toward something else, which means also a grasping, or a movement at a different, and less noticeable, speed. There’s rhythm in that movement, a rhythm that contributes to the process that Levi calls his daughter. The difference here seems to be that the OOOist draws a kind of epistemological line at the withdrawn object, while the PROist assumes that the ‘withdrawal’ is a version of the same basic prehensive/concrescent movement that constitutes any actual occasion or moment of becoming. (Shaviro’s post about Harman’s withdrawn objects is useful in this context.)

In other words, there’s nothing here, from what I can see, that a Whiteheadian process-relational approach couldn’t account for. (But all of that is moot if Graham’s challenge is meant in jest! — except as my two cents worth of continuing to think through these differences…)

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