1) Harman’s OOO is a variant within the general paradigm set out by Badiou’s philosophy. The terminological differences are important. Badiou speaks in terms of multiples and events, Harman in terms of objects. Badiou explicitly emphasises the pluralist aspect of his ontology (multiples) and makes room for time and change (events), even if he gives them a secondary place in his ontology. Harman prefers the more unitary term, and consigns time and change to the realm of the “sensual”, ie of “utter sham”.
2) Harman does not understand the positions he is arguing against, and that he is supposed to have gone beyond. He critiques only straw-men who have never existed. He has no understanding of, for example, Deleuze, and just deprecates his philosophy without getting into any detail. He gives affective refutations with no citations and no analysis. Further, he has given no substantial account of what is wrong with so-called “relational” ontologies in general.
3) Harman’s “master argument” against relational ontologies is that they cannot explain change, that if everything were related nothing would change. This is patently false, as relations include temporal relations. Deleuze for example talks about both kinetic (relative speeds and accelerations) and dynamic (relative forces, and relative capacities to affect and to be affected) relations. It is ludicrous to claim that Deleuze’s system entails that change is impossible. This shows once again Harman’s incomprehension of relations.
4) Harman argues against “philosophies of access”, but this is just to redo, only much more sloppily, the critical work done by Popper and Sellars, Quine and Kuhn, Bachelard and Feyerabend, Lacan and Althusser, Wittgenstein and Rorty. Far from going beyond the post-structuralists Harman has not even caught up with the structuralists. No important philosophy of the 20th Century has been a philosophy of access, and Harman’s OOO is a regression on most of the preceding philosophy that he claims to critique and surpass.
5) Knowledge is not “access”, it is not contact. Propositional relations are not access. An interaction is not in general access, either. More importantly, a relation is not the same thing as an interaction. Harman conflates all this to obtain some blurry straw-man that even a 10 year old child would have no trouble refuting. So the whole picture of relations as not “exhausting” the qualities of the object accessed is erroneous. Thus “withdrawal” has no sense as a general concept. These terms “access”, “exhaust” “withdrawal” are normally part of a temporal, dynamic vocabulary. They are used illegitimately in Harman’s system and serve to give an allure of temporality to what is in fact an ontology of stasis.
6) Harman is so concentrated on criticising the privilege given to human access and to anthropocentric assumptions in general, a rearguard action if ever there was one, that he has no understanding at all for the recent and contemporary pluralist philosophies that attempt to track down and dissolve the privilege given to reified categories and to monist assumptions in general.
7) Harman’s ontology falls under the pluralist critiques of Deleuze and Feyerabend. It falls under the Laruellian critique concerning the disguised mixtures of transcendence and immanence. It falls under Stiegler’s critiques of thought that privileges the synchronic over the diachronic. It falls under Latour’s critique of postulating objects outside the felicity conditions of the different modes of existence.
8) Harman’s OOO relies on a systematic ambiguity in his key terms (object, withdrawal) between their use as meta-categories and their use as categories. We can never see or touch or know an object (meta-category) but he constantly gives examples from different domains (category). Withdrawal means ultimate abstraction from sensual qualities and relations, absolutely no direct contact or relation (meta-category), or it just means the sensual richness of objects, always more than our immediate experience of them. We get a contradictory synthesis between a Northern asceticism and a Mediterranean sensualism. But in the last instance this concrete abundance, this aesthetic sensualism is declared to be an “utter sham”.
9) It is at the level of his ontology as rudimentary set of meta-categories that the homology of Harman’s OOO with speculative capitalism can be affirmed. Badiou accepts the existence of this homology for his own ontology, and takes it very seriously as a problem. Hence his repeated engagement with the concepts of the event and change, requiring him to complete his synchronic ontology with a diachronic supplement. Harman’s response is just incomprehension and denialism, as with all the other critiques. Nevertheless it is the internal homology between meta-categories and the categories that instantiate them (which makes of Harman’s system an elaborate pun) that makes possible the external homologies between Harman’s system and various concrete domains, including the economy.