Graham Harman’s Object-Oriented Ontology: A New Theory of Everything

Although I started reading Graham Harman’s Object-Oriented Ontology: A New Theory Of Everything a few days ago, today (my 32nd birthday) I really dove in. I’ve reached page 38 and the major takeaway is that OOO (read as Triple O) opposes physicalism, smallism, anti-fictionalism and literalism. Quoting Harman’s here, physicalism assumes that “everything that exists must be physical” (25), smallism assumes that “everything that exists must be basic and simple” (29), anti-fictionalism assumes “everything that exists must be real” (33), and literalism assumes that “everything that exists must be able to be stated accurately in literal propositional language” (35).

I certainly stand with him referring smallism because of my standing with New Realism against reductionism. The relationship between objects results in an emergence of a new object/property/event. You secure a cylindrical block to a wooden stick and a hammer emerges. Not only that, but when the hammer is put into various hands, it affords the user a tool, weapon, doorstop, etc. I also agree with the 3rd and 4th point due to my agreement with New Realism (and the fourth also with India and Buddhist philosophy).

However, I’m no so convinced with the first objection against physicalism. I agree, overall, Hartman is right to reject the idea. However, a simple change of wording makes a massive difference. Instead of “everything that exist must be physical”, stating it as “everything that exist must have a physical basis” creates a better view of the world (to my mind). All thoughts and information are stored and process in and through a material object, whether it be neurons, circuits, or simply objects themselves. I call this interaction between objects and data (or information) “relationships.”

But I look forward to seeing how my views and Harman’s might be reconciled as I continue through the book. A mental challenge may be the best thing I could as for as a birthday present.

Harman, Graham. Object-Oriented Ontology: A New Theory Of Everything, Pelican, 2018.

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