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A subset of Speculative Realism is Object-oriented ontology (OOO). This is a metaphysical movement that rejects the privileging of human existence over the existence of nonhuman objects. Object-oriented ontology opposes the anthropocentrism of Immanuel Kant’s Copernican Revolution, whereby objects are said to conform to the mind of the subject and, in turn, become products of human cognition.
Puts Things at the Centre of Study
Ontology is the philosophical study of existence. Object-oriented ontology (“OOO” for short) puts things at the centre of this study. Its proponents contend that nothing has special status, but that everything exists equally—plumbers, cotton, bonobos, DVD players, and sandstone, for example.
In contemporary thought, things are usually taken either as the aggregation of ever smaller bits (scientific naturalism) or as constructions of human behavior and society (social relativism).
OOO steers a path between the two, drawing attention to things at all scales (from atoms to alpacas, bits to blinis), and pondering their nature and relations with one another as much with ourselves.
Speculative Realism is a recent philosophical movement that rejects ‘Correlationism’; a privileging of a subject-object way of understanding the world. The benefit is to change the way that we think about objects. Some of the qualities of objects are not accessible to humans.
Products designed for Human use often go on designing after they have exhausted their intended human use lifespan. The name actually comes from a conference held in 2007, at Goldsmiths College at the University of London. Experts including Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton and Graham Harman came together at this conference to discuss this fairly recently philosophical movement. And so, the name speculative realism was born.
The term “object-oriented philosophy” was officially coined by Graham Harman, the movement’s founder, in his 1999 doctoral dissertation “Tool-Being: Elements in a Theory of Objects.” Since then, a number of theorists working in a variety of disciplines have adapted Harman’s ideas, including philosophy professor Levi Bryant, literature and ecology scholar Timothy Morton, video game designer Ian Bogost, and medievalists Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Eileen Joy. In 2009, Bryant rephrased Harman’s original designation as “object-oriented ontology,” giving the movement its current name.
If you are interested in reading further you can check out the book here:
- The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism
- This book by Graham Harman may also be of interest Towards Speculative Realism: Essays and Lectures
The Life of Objects
Some ways to investigate the life of objects:
- Put one inside another
- Connect them together
- Make them communicate
- Give them meta-data
- Set them in motion
- React them together
- Observe them in different situations
- Disguise them
- Give them away
- Extend, bend, distort their functionality
- Use their function in a different context
- Use them to extremes
- Hide them
- Leave them alone somewhere
- Watch them
- Add something
- Remove something
- Open them up for criticism
- Follow it back to its origin
- Track its onward journey
- Send it on a journey
- Break them
- What is their intention
- Objects as omens
- How do objects perform by themselves?
- Blog of Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Available at < http://lovecraft1890.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/speculative-realism/ >. Accessed Jan 2012.
- What is OOO? Available at <http://www.bogost.com/blog/what_is_objectoriented_ontolog.shtml> [Accessed June 2011].