Graham Harman’s THE THIRD TABLE is now officially available free online: http://bettinafuncke.com/100Notes/085_Harman.pdf
Do not miss this quintessence of OOO, an essay that shows its intellectual bankruptcy, without the usual smokescreen of ad hoc epicycles.
My analysis is available here: https://terenceblake.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/graham-harmans-the-third-table.pdf
I reproduce here my balance-sheet for this revelatory episode:
THE THIRD TABLE is very interesting and revealing, as it contains a concise overview of the central themes and arguments of Harman’s object-oriented philosophy. The style is quite engaging as Harman manages to expound his ideas in the form of a response to Sir Arthur Eddington’s famous two table argument.
This argument famously contrasts the familiar solid, substantial table of common sense with the the insubstantial swarm of particles moving rapidly in mostly empty space that constitutes the table as modern physics envisages it. Referring to Eddington’s classical argument allows Harman to couch his own analysis in terms of a running engagement with reductionism, in both its humanistic and scientistic forms.
To overcome the conflict between Eddington’s two tables, Harman declares that neither table is real, both are “utter shams”, and posits the existence of a “third table”, the only real one, existing in a withdrawn mode, “deeper” than all apparent (scientific, artistic, or everyday) objects. This real table is meant to exemplify the sort of object revealed by OOP’s new nonreductionist approach. It exemplifies rather OOP’s monism.
These real objects are radically non-empirical, they are invisible, inaudible, untouchable, undetectable by any scientific process, unimaginable, and unknowable. They are not even subject to time, which Harman declares to be unreal.This is what constitutes OOP as a synchronic ontology.
Real objects are forever inaccessible, hidden behind an impenetrable veil of withdrawal. There is no conceivable mode of access to them, nor method of gaining knowledge about them. However their existence can be known to the object-oriented philosopher by means of an unspecified intellectual intuition and alluded to indirectly by artistic means. This is OOP’s élitism.
Finally, I compare Harman’s OOP with Paul Feyerabend’s ontology and conclude that OOP is a naïve, dogmatic, and self-contradictory form of negative theology. It is caught in the contradiction of affirming the unknowability of the real, and of somehow knowing that it is constituted of objects. This is OOP’s self-contradicting apophaticism. It is a cataphatic onto-theology presented as if it were apophatic.
In conclusion, the ontological investigations undertaken on this blog have crystallised around four criteria, in favour of an ontology that is pluralist, diachronic, apophatic, and democratic. These criteria are heuristic rules of thumb that allow us to evaluate diverse contemporary philosophical research programmes in terms of their degree and mode of satisfaction of each of these criteria. Harman’s OOP is a complete failure when examined in terms of this set of criteria: it is a monist, synchronic, cataphatic, and anti-democratic ideology.