It can be useful to diagramme alternative philosophies to compare their elements and their relations, and to visualise their movements.
In the case of Graham Harman’s object-oriented philosophy (OOP) we have a strongly eliminativist ontology, in which all observable, imaginable, or even thinkable objects are declared unreal, and only Harman’s intuitively posited « real » objects are real.
The ascending movement of withdrawal
Withdrawal is eliminative, deconstructive, abstractive, élitist – this is the defining movement of OOP
De-withdrawal is emanative, constructive, concretive, democratic – this inverse movement is forbidden by OOP.
The diverse objects that we “know” are emanations of the One real object behind the appearances (Harman’s sensual realm). This sensual realm includes the “folk” realm of common sense, but also the expert realm of the sciences and the humanities. The object behind the veil of unknowing cannot be known, nor even named, as it withdraws from all relations, including the relation of nomination or reference.
The real object does not cause its emanations or sensual counterparts, as causality for OOP is unreal, an intra-sensual notion. The diverse objects and relations of the sensual realm are eliminated from the reality posited by Harman’s OOP. The repeated rhetorical gesture of “turning towards” objects cannot hide the idealism of this position. In fact, OOP turns away from all objects of experience, imagination, and knowledge and turns towards (but cannot attain) the withdrawn real.
Harman is not a materialist, as for him matter is a sensual illusion. In fact, according to OOP we must distinguish between the “folk” matter of common sense and the “expert” matter of the various sciences (the matter of quantum physics is not the same matter as that of geology). Both are unreal in Harman’s system.
The ascending movement is fivefold:
1) ontological: real objects withdraw from relations, in particular they have no relations of causality or of correspondence with sensual objects
2) epistemological: real objects are unobservable, unknown, and unimaginable. We have no epistemic relation with them
3) ethical: real objects can be attained only by an ascesis involving the renunciation of sensual and cognitive access
4) religious: orientation towards objects is a conversion experience, philosophy permits us to « turn » towards real objects without acceding to them
5) methodological: there is no method of access to the inaccessible real object, but its existence is revealed by intellectual intuition (after conversion)
In conclusion, the demarcations between philosophy and common sense, and between philosophy and science are absolute. Harman incoherently excepts art from this rupture in the name of an ad hoc theory of indirect and allusive communication.
Further, it is impossible to explain how OOP crosses the veil of unknowing, attaining to such insights as that the real is made of objects and that objects withdraw from relations. These two principles constitute knowledge of the real, something that is forbidden by the basic assumptions of OOP.
No dialogue between OOP and the unconverted (both « folk » and « experts) » is permissible nor even possible.