Everyone knows the feeling of a sad farewell. The moment you realize the truth about Santa Claus, the final scene of Harry Potter, or the sensational taste of the last Cheeto in the bag – all of these leaves you satisfied, yet disappointed. Of course these don’t seem too severe (rarely things are after enough time), but tonight I find myself reaching that point. I say farewell to the philosophy of Markus Gabriel.
While I’m sure I’ll still interact with him on several occasions, I finally grasped the consequences of his position on objects and realism. For those who do not know Gabriel or his work, he is an incredible writer who playfully espouses his new realist philosophy in the book, Why the World Does Not Exist, complete with a unicorn on the front (1). He tries to link analytic and continental philosophies by basing an ontology on objects and domains, “fields of existence,” as he would call them. Basically, he argues that science and the humanities can all get along now because really we are just talking about the same things from our relative domains. I first had my suspicions roused when I read Maurizio Ferraris’ Introduction to New Realism (2), however, tonight I read an article by Arjen Kleinherenbrink titled “Fields of Sense and Formal Things: The Ontologies of Tristan Garcia and Markus Gabriel” (3).
While Ferraris explained how Gabriel’s ideas still subjected objects to the observer for existence, Kleinherenbrink explained how Gabriel did this. He prevents objects from retaining their identity over time and creates infinite regressions to sustain an sense of existence for objects. This just seems absurd. Gabriel’s conclusion, while inventive, if far too cumbersome to carry weight in the long run. As responses to his philosophy increase, I suspect Gabriel would be the type to modify this thoughts as needed. I look forward to his future work as a result, although I cannot stay with him any longer regarding his new realism. I will carry on his idea that objects require domains for existence, but in my own way. I hope to flesh out my full concept in due time. For now though, I bid a sad farewell to a literary mentor who has taught me how to be original and how to write well enough to keep readers engaged until the end. Thank you, Markus.
(1) Gabriel, Markus. Why the World Does Not Exist. Polity, 2015.
(2) Ferraris, Maurizio. Introduction to New Realism. Bloomsbury, 2015.
(3) Kleinherebrink, Arjen. “Fields of Sense and Formal Things: The Ontologies of Tristan Garcia and Markus Gabriel.” Open Philosophy, no. 1, 2018, 129-142. https://doi.org/10.1515/opphil-2018-0010. Alternative link: https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/j/opphil.2018.1.issue-1/opphil-2018-0010/opphil-2018-0010.pdf