Over the last few years a self-styled “new” ontological hypothesis, calling itself “object-oriented philosophy”, constituted itself as a movement, and multiplied self-proclaimed and self-propagated signs of success at the same time as showing unmistakable symptoms of conceptual regression and sociological decline. Purporting to represent a step beyond the impasses of post-structuralist “relativism”, it announced itself as a much-desired return to realism. Based on a chimerical denial of epistemology and on blindness to its own status as (bad) epistemology, OOO was able to capture the attention of those who were looking for a new speculative style, after the Science Wars and in opposition to those who were content to extend and revise Heideggerian, Lacanian, Derridean etc. frameworks, now perceived as too obscure and abstruse, too élitist and erudite. A more pop version of the same ambition was needed and Graham Harman’s OOO satisfied a strongly felt need to have done with deconstruction and return to “naiveté” (Harman’s word for his new starting point, from the opening of THE QUADRUPLE OBJECT). Harman is by far the more radical thinker when we compare his ontology of withdrawn objects to the mathematism of Meillassoux, the scientism of Brassier, and the Lacanian naturalism of Bryant. Harman alone has been willing to discard the scientistic prejudice that vitiates the work of these thinkers.
Yet this superiority of Harman could only be maintained by sticking to the pathos of an escape from epistemology. As long as he did not explicitly engage with epistemological themes in his own name the denegation of its status as epistemology on which his work was built gave it even more force of conviction and persuasive power. The objectual conversion remained a potent possibility. With the publication of Harman’s THE THIRD TABLE this anti-epstemological posture was revealed as an imposture, OOO was seen to be far from expressing superior insight over and above “sensual” common sense and scientific realities, as it purports to do, thus gratifying the narcissism of its adherents in the philosophic and artistic community while saving it from the accusation of postmodern relativism. Rather it can now be seen as conceptually incompetent, unable to give a satisfying account of these supposedly “sham” domains.