Many people cling to at least some of the programmatic formulations of OOO mainly for emotional reasons, whether the theses are coherently expressed or the arguments are logically compelling or not. In the general climate of confusion and doubt, Harman’s OOO purports to vindicate faith in and speculation about the world, against post-modern syncretism, relativist tolerance, and sceptical resignation. As a consequence, much of OOO’s appeal is affective rather than conceptual.
Harman dares to take on not just scientism, but science itself, criticising its pretention to capture the real by means of its reductionist model. In opposition to this reductionism, the sense of both abundance and mystery is welcomed and legitimised, and objects become de-reified and re-estheticised. OOO promises a non-reductive approach to the world, and talks about the “inexhaustibility” of the real object, which is conceived as the opposite of its purported reducibility. More, it is taken as a pluralist point favouring the proliferation of interpretations, manifestations, and prehensions.
People seem willing to be indulgent about the details of the system, its tautologies, empty concepts, pseudo-paradoxes, and platitudes, as long as it maintains this sense of wonder and of mystery, of richness and of inaccessibility. They are charmed by the ambivalence of the “withdrawn”, inaccessible real object combined with a sense of the multiplicity and abundance of its inexhaustible manifestations.
However, this affective appeal is insufficient to plaster over the problematic aspects of the concepts proposed, that have themselves become rigidified into a reductive system.
I have tried to take into account both affective and conceptual aspects in a short review of Harman’s shortest book THE THIRD TABLE (only eleven pages in English):