HARMAN’S A-TEMPORAL ONTOLOGY: objects withdraw from facts

“Object-oriented philosophy” is the empty core of a series of books, articles, and blog posts by Graham Harman. No coherent philosophy is enounced in these texts, but a series of simplistic seemingly intuitive theses are propounded in a rhetorical structure that seeks to distract attention from the extremely counter-intuitive consequences of the foundational theses. Harman’s philosophy posits “objects” of such abstraction (invisible, untouchable, unknowable, withdrawn from all relation, a-temporal, a-spatial, and a-numerical (there is no way to count real objects, and the very idea of applying numerical predicates to them is incoherent). Harman’s OOO has no room for facts, and cannot account for the even the most ordinary of states of affairs.

The key theses of this philosophy are:

1) The world divides into objects. (This thesis of objectal reduction makes of Harman’s philosophy not an object-oriented ontology, but rather an object-ontology).

Note: it is interesting to compare this thesis with Wittgenstein’s thesis in the TRACTATUS

1.1 The world is the totality of facts, not of things.

and

1.2 The world divides into facts

For Harman the world divides into things (objects), not facts. He is unable to think facts in the terms of his system.

2) Objects withdraw from relation. (This thesis of a-relationality, or strong withdrawal, reinforces the objectal reductionism by making emergence, or “de-withdrawal” as combinatory novelty, impossible).

Note: compare Wittgenstein on facts

2 What is the case—a fact—is the existence of states of affairs.
2.01 A state of affairs (a state of things) is a combination of objects (things).

 

The thesis that objects withdraw from relations entails that objects withdraw from facts, with facts being the existence of a set of relations between objects. Such an existence is temporal, even in the case of universal or eternal facts (relating to all times). Harman’s real objects have no relation to time, and are strictly a-temporal.

Harman’s OOO is a combination of objectal reduction and strong withdrawal, entailing the irreality of time and the unthinkability of facts.

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