Having said that, I have indulged myself in a short break over the festive period and after the hard work involved in completing the assessed work for the course. However, just before Christmas I started to re-read Object Oriented Ontology by Graham Harman as a pre-cursor to more intensive research in the New Year.
I was tempted to skip the Introduction by the author but I am glad I didn’t as it proved to be particularly helpful in reminding me about some of the fundamental principles of object-oriented ontology (OOO). I intend to post a series of blogs as I read the most relevant chapters in depth and speed-read some of the less interesting ones.
Post-modernists including the likes of Barthes, Foucault and Derrida subscribe to the view that reality is constructed through language, power or human cultural practices whereas OOO determines that the external world exists independently of human awareness. Furthermore, that objects do not make full contact with other objects or with the human mind. As Heidegger argued all objects are mutually withdrawn. Object-orientated ontology then is the study of being where being is not just a construct of our minds, or of society, but rather subsists within objects which form part of a reality that is separate and exists independently of our awareness.
Socrates “philosophia” was described as the love of wisdom rather than the possession of it. This differs fundamentally from the principles of mathematics and sciences that aspire to obtain knowledge. The basis for OOO is that no one is in possession of knowledge or truth and that the remedy for ailments in society lies in reality. Its central principle is that reality is radically different from the human experience of it and we are therefore not able to approach it directly. So, how we detect the gap between knowledge and reality is a key concern for OOO. OOO first emerged in the late 1990s but the first conference did not occur until 2010.
In the Introduction to the book, Harman articulates the basic principles of OOO:
- Whether human or non-human, all objects should be given equal attention;
- Objects are not identical to their properties;
- There are two aspects to any object the ‘real object’ (RO) and the ‘sensory object’ (SO);
- Real objects can only relate to one another via their sensory object;
- The properties of objects are also divided into real and sensual;
- The real object and the sensory object with their distinct properties or qualities (RQ and SQ) create four basis permutations: time, space (the two Kantian constructs), essence and eidos;
- Philosophy has a closer relationship with aesthetics than mathematics or sciences.
There are lots of interesting aspects to OOO that will be explored in more detail as I read through the rest of the book. I am keen to hear more about how OOO takes on the might of postmodernist’s theories, although I find some of Heidegger’s work helpful, and I am particularly interested in Harman’s claim that philosophy has a closer relationship with aesthetics than mathematics or sciences. As far as my practice is concerned the division of objects between real and sensual will help me understand better how I might capture that which is hidden.
My next post will be about Chapter 1: A New Theory of Everything.
HARMAN, Graham. 2018. Object-Oriented Ontology: A New Theory of Everything. London. Penguin Books.