THE APORIA OF OOO AND ITS CONCEPT OF “WITHDRAWAL”

Harman’s OOO is a chimera, a relativist epistemology under the guise of a realist ontology. Its key concept of ontological withdrawal prevents any understanding of truth procedures and would put an end to the pratice of science. Once we have dissolved its conflation of ontology and epistemology, we can conclude that OOO’s concept of withdrawal is incoherent. Science is not a static knowledge that can be declared illusory, as a social construction without any access to or possible relation with the withdrawn in-itself. It is rather a historical practice traversed by truth-events, radical paradigm changes whereby our whole understanding of the in-itself is totally transformed. The encounter of cotton and flame (one of Harman’s examples) cannot undergo this type of transformation, and so can never serve as a model capable of explaining paradigm change. This model of the encounter is totally insufficient to account for the history and practice of science, and makes it unthinkable. Real withdrawal, what one could call material withdrawal, is always relative, local, and partial, and has nothing to do with a supposedly absolute noetic withdrawal.

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