Graham Harman recently linked to a “conversion post” by Crispin Sartwell that gushes over the “new realist” or “speculative realist” movement, a supposedly “revolutionary development”. Sartwell is apparently excited by speculative realism because “all of these people in some form or another seem actually to believe that there is a world of objects etc out there outside of human consciousness, and that we didn’t make this all up in a narrative, or construct it socially, or impose on it space and times as forms of perception etc: they are finally turning away from the kantian nightmare.”
This narrative of “finally” moving beyond the “Kantian nightmare” is tired and overplayed. Just once I wish people who are bowled over by the “revolutionary character” of SR would point to a major 20th century philosopher who actually denies that the Earth, moon, and stars exists independently of human perception. They certainly can’t point to Heidegger as a culprit of “strong correlationism“. As I have been at pains to argue, early and late Heidegger would both agree that the “earth is real and exists independently of human access with a determinate spatiotemporal existence”. Accordingly, we see a sharp break with Kantian thought as early as the 1920s with Being and Time. Earlier still, William James and American pragmatism had long since broken with the “Kantian nightmare”. So had Husserl. So had Merleau-Ponty, James Gibson, and the whole tradition of ecological philosophy that started in the 70s and transformed into the current anti-Kantian and anti-representationalist tradition of 4EA philosophy.
Indeed, the whole attempt to make Heidegger a scapegoat for “strong correlationism” in order to tell an intellectual narrative about the “revolutionary” character of speculative realism is based on one-sided readings of Heideggerian phenomenology and simple ignorance concerning ecological philosophy as an intellectual movement stemming from phenomenology and pragmatism. Saying that the “world is real” is nothing new. In fact, it’s just common sense. That SRists attempt to launch a “philosophical revolution” in terms of “anti-correlationism” without ever decisively showing who these “strong correlationists” are bespeaks of hastiness and immaturity as a philosophical movement. Revolutions aren’t started by attacking strawmen. Point me to some “strong correlationist” passages in Heidegger and I will accept the “revolution” of speculative realism. Until then, I will be content to watch SR develop a false sense of accomplishment as it proclaims itself as the “new realism”.