Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 7, No 1 (2011)

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The Problem With Metzinger

Graham Harman


This article provides a critical treatment of the ontology underlying Thomas Metzinger’s Being No One. Metzinger asserts that interdisciplinary empirical work must replace ‘armchair’ a priori intuitions into the nature of reality; nonetheless, his own position is riddled with unquestioned a priori assumptions. His central claim that ‘no one has or has ever had a self’ is meant to have an ominous and futuristic ring, but merely repeats a familiar philosophical approach to individuals, which are undermined by reducing them downward to their material underpinnings, and ‘overmined’ by reducing them upward to their functional effects. Ultimately, Metzinger blends a rigid form of traditional materialism with an ontology of processes and events that is too reminiscent of late 1990’s continental philosophy. In both directions, the novelty and fertility of Metzinger’s position can be called into question.

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