For Newton and his colleagues, matter was brute, inert, stupid stuff, and as such had to be set in motion by the external power of the divine will...in the Newtonian view, spiritual forces rule Nature from above rather as monarchs and despots govern their states. For the radical lineage stemming from Spinoza , by contrast, there is no call for such august authorities. Matter itself is alive and self-determining, like the populace of a democratic state...It is thus that one can speak of a politics of matter. To be a materialist in this sense is to invest human beings with a degree of dignity by seeing them as part of a material world which is identical with the Almighty. Such, at least, was the view of the pantheistic Spinoza. (p3, edited a bit)
There is then, an ethical dimension to materialism as well as a political one. In the face of a hubristic humanism, it insists on our solidarity with the commonplace stuff of the world, thus cultivating the virtue of humility...Materialism of this kind fosters not nihilism but realism...Aware of the intractability of matter, materialist thought promotes a respect for the otherness and integrity of the world, in contrast to the postmodern narcissism that sees nothing but reflections of human culture wherever it looks. (p5)
It is not clear what to make of the claim that everything is related to everything else. There seems little in common between the Pentagon and a sudden upsurge of sexual jealousy...
Nor do they appeal to the strictly “flat ontology” of the speculative realists, according to whom “everything exists equally—plumbers, cotton, bonobos, DVD players, and sandstone, for example.” Like the new materialists, the speculative realists (especially those on the “object-oriented” branch) seek to unsettle philosophy’s traditional privilege of the human but reject what they call “process relationalism” insofar as it privileges “alliances” over entities, “couplings” over objects, and motion over rest. Demanding a theory of “sharp, specific units,” these thinkers proclaim the ontological equality of every discrete thing.
Matter, in short. must be rescued from the humiliation of being matter...it is onvious enough that the brand of materialism it advoctes is really a species of post-structuralism in wolf's clothing...Matter may be self-activating, but this is not the same as achieving one's ends. Matter has no ends to achieve.
If reductive materialism finds it hard to make room for the human subject, not least for the subject as agent, so too does this 'new' version of the doctrine. (p13)
Some of the chief vices of vitalism can be found in the work of Gilles Deleuze, a full-blooded metaphysician for whom Being consists in an immanent creativity...a Romanic-libertarian philosophy of unbridled affirmation and inccessant innovation, as though the creative and innovative were unambiguosly on the side of the angels. ...Being is univocal, which means all things are faces of God or facets of the life force. (p16)