Leon Niemoczynski’s forthcoming book on Speculative Realism looks very interesting, and is a step in the direction of impartial analysis. Beyond the braggadocio of manifestos and the bitterness of in-group squabbles we need a non-partisan account of the origins and branding of this movement that was never quite able to live up to its promise. Something began to move, a strong desire was felt to get back to the speculative intensity and scope of the thinkers that had inspired so many to want to participate (by reading, but also by discussing and by writing) in philosophical activity of contemporary relevance.
Unfortunately, despite the initial flurry of conceptual creation, this philosophical desire was betrayed. A philosophy arose that was the antithesis of speculation, positing new objects that were invisible, untouchable, unthinkable, cut off from all we know and experience behind a veil of “withdrawal”. This “object-oriented” philosophy failed to indicate that its promotion of withdrawal as a central concept spelled the end, and the impossibility even in principle, of all speculation. Under false pretences a stipulative idealism entered the field of speculative realism and hi-jacked it, becoming its most vocal public face.