Agential realism and physical materialism: Questions


Is agential realism simply an account of the world, i.e. a narrative about the world, using a physical materialist vocabulary?

That is to say, is agential realism performative? If so, what is the character of its ‘doing’, its ‘agency’ or its ‘performativity’? [Note that this is not the same question as ‘What does it do?’]?

Or, in other words, does agential realism simply replace a liberal humanist account of the world with a physical materialist account of the world?

In seeking to make a distinction between ‘agency’ and ‘subjectivity’, which, it is argued, liberal humanism conflates, does agential realism go too far in the direction of a physical materialism (a materialism based on the metaphoric application of some insights from quantum mechanics) that fails to ‘account’ for biological, organic, environmental and societal materialism?

In other words, how does agential realism ‘account for’ ‘subjective agency’? More specifically, how would it deal with the inter-subjective and inter-corporeal materialisation of ‘subjective agency’?

Does agential realism represent a form of ‘quantum mechanical imperialism’?
In this context, witness the statement, ” … quantum mechanics is not a theory that applies only to small objects; rather, quantum mechanics is thought to be a correct theory of nature that applies to all scales” (Barad, 2007: 83)

Arising from this statement, what does it mean to have or possess “a correct theory of nature”? [How does one express this in the vocabulary of agential realism. For example, does one say: “By means of what set of apparatuses is the intra-active becoming of ‘a correct theory of nature’ materialised, how is it iteratively stabilised and how does it matter?” To use a Baradian expression, recall that “Matter is substance in its intra-active becoming – not a thing but a doing, a congealing of agency. Matter is a stabilizing and destabilizing process of iterative intra-activity.” (Barad, 2007: 210) How, one might be tempted to say, does ‘a correct theory of nature’ assert itself?

How does ‘providing an account’ (telling a story, relating a narration) relate to ‘being held to account’, i.e. what is the relationship between one’s own account and an-account-held-in-common, or rather the account which held to be, after-the-fact, in fact, the case, to be a ‘true’ account. Is ‘a true account’ always equivalent to ‘the right account’?

What does an agential realist account imply for ‘the court of reason’? Or, indeed, where are accounts judged, ‘the court of agency’, perhaps, and by means of what set of apparatuses?

Is it all, in the end, of which there is not, because there was no beginning, because the world does not conforms to a teleological or an eschatological narrative, unaccountable? [Which is not to say that the world is without telic or eschatological structures] [Aleatory materialism?]


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