In Levi Bryant’s terms, the “obscurantists” (who are everywhere) are those who think that materialism is “reductionist”. Yet Bryant does not distinguish between different forms of reductionism, and a non-materialist philosopher like Harman could easily respond with a tu quoque, and argue plausibly that Bryant’s own position is reductionist.

1) regional reductionism: all beings are reduced to and fully explainable in terms of one regional ontology, e.g. the ontology of physics. Bryant is careful to avoid this form of reductionism.

2) instantiative reductionism: the abstract beings posited by a meta-ontology (e.g. Harman’s meta-ontology of real objects) are directly identified with the beings of a concrete ontology, either as an empirical hypothesis (e.g. Ernst Mach’s treatment of an ontology of sensations) or dogmatically (e.g. Levi Bryant’s ontology of material machines).

Bryant’s solution to the problem of ontology is a form of instantiative reductionism. He presupposes the form of Harman’s object-oriented meta-ontology, but he instantiates it with a more concrete hypothesis (every object is a material unit),  without admitting that it is a mere hypothesis, needing to be fleshed out and tested empirically. Bryant provides no specification of the “materiality” of matter, and he elaborates this lack into a refusal in principle to enounce in what that materiality consisits. The posit is circular and self-validating: all is matter, and all matter is material, whatever matter and materiality may be.

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