Graham Harman’s Parmenidean Conjecture: Only One Object (OOO)

Harman’s OOO is rarely stated without a deceptive rhetorical wrapping, but its principle ideas lead to extremely unacceptable consequences.

Everything we perceive and know is illusion. In particular, time is an illusion. Literature, science, common sense are all a dream. History is a dream. Change is a dream. Real change is impossible.

Objects cannot be distinguished by any known, perceived, or imaginable property or relation.

Objects withdraw from relation. Mathematical relations are no exception. Objects are non-relational. Difference is no exception, not even bare numerical difference.

There is only one object (in a non-relational, and therefore non-numerical sense of “one”).

This object is cognized by intellectual intuition, its very existence a bold conjecture, in plain words an unsupported guess. The conjecture cannot be supported, there is no referential and no inferential relation going from the unreal to the real, as the real is non-relational (“withdrawn”).

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5 Responses to Graham Harman’s Parmenidean Conjecture: Only One Object (OOO)

  1. Leon says:

    Let me re-state this abit because I like it. It’s a tight argument.

    P1. Whatever is is an object.
    P2. All objects withdraw from all relations (relations, too, are objects, so objects withdraw from each other/relations).
    P3. Objects withdraw from mathematical and differential relations. Numerical identity and ontological difference are both relations (and, accordingly, are objects).
    P4. Objects (themselves, their own individual unique essential natures) are *non-relational* at their core because the core cannot be exhausted by any relation (or any other object).
    P5. For an individual to be an individual itself (an individual proper and not some other individual) bare numerical difference is required in such a way that the core that refrains from exhaustion in order to be that particular core and not some other. Difference thus is concomitantly required to exhaust any core and thus determine the essential nature of an object so as to render that individual object what it is.
    P6. By 4 and 5 there is pain of contradiction: the identity of a particular object cannot be established, even from time eternity, as there is are no non-particular concomitant ontological principles of difference, relation, or numerical identity *that that are not exhausted by at least some other core object itself*. Thus in a purported pluralistic science of particulars we lack non-objectual features that paradoxically need to be included in the essential natures of objects themselves. It is impossible, logically and ontologically, therefore, for there to meaningfully (deferentially, mathematically) be a many – there is only a ONE (Parmenides).

    C: There is only one object (in a non-relational, and therefore non-numerical sense, of “One”). Reality is Object, ONE, rather than many.

    1. Relations do not exist.
    2. Time is not real.
    3. Change is impossible.
    4. Whatever occurs is certain to occur from time eternity.

    All of these directly contradict experience, science, observation, and appear to be clearly false.

    Liked by 1 person

    • terenceblake says:

      Yes, one often fails to note that the thesis is not “Objects withdraw from each other”, but “Objects withdraw from relation”. Time is relational, containing chronological, kinetic, and dynamic relations, thus time is unreal. Harman fails to see that the same applies to space, to any space that we may perceive or conceive, so he cannot hold on to space to mitigate the non-relationality of absolute withdrawal. Arithmetic is relational, so his objects are non-numerical. Given his theory of allusion we may talk about the “one” object, but even this use of “one” is a metaphor.


  2. Leon says:

    Asked to clarify the above, here’s the simple version:

    Identity cannot get off the ground if identity itself is in every instance presumed to be established yet is also forever withdrawn from anything else that can be considered an identity. Relations are part and parcel with identity and can actually exhaust it, not the other way around.


  3. Krull says:

    I’m wondering if you have any comments on the overlap between Harman here and Brassier’s use of Laruelle in his earlier published work (he does, after all, cite Harman favorably in NU). What, if any, do you see as the important differences between their respective ontologies?



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