The best known recent (!) critique of the metaphors we use in our thought is probably Rorty‘s Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, after which we are rightly wary of the implications of our various figures of speech. This has been a big part of what Ricoeur calls the hermeneutics of suspicion, all the the various structuralists and post-structuralists and the we-haven’t-even-heard-of-structuralism-so-don’t-you-dare-lump-us-in-with-those-guys-ists. We know that style in philosophy is never neutral, that what we say is influenced by how we say it. There was a hope that some other metaphors might set the tone for a departure from old ways of saying and thus give us new ways of thinking.
The sun isn’t effective because I use it. Rather it can only be used because it is capable of an effect, of inflicting some sort of blow on reality. Graham Harman, Towards Speculative Realism (p. 51)
So it seems that the closer we get to objectivity, the further away we veer from the perceiving human being, and accordingly the more we swaddle ourselves in a contradiction. The critical project of Kant was an attempt to displace this question, such that the two sides would be mutually implicated by the very reason of their entailing one another. The recognition of the ability to posit both object and subject would lead Fichte to seek security in an absolute solipsism, but this was but one of the possibilities within the critical project, rather than its inevitable unfolding. As such, to question the distinction that has long held there to be a barrier between me and my world isn’t doomed. Is it? Continue reading