zaterdag 16 maart 2024

Object-oriented correlationism

On Graham Harman’s object-oriented ontology, all objects withdraw from each other. Objects have an inner depth or essence that is not exhausted or disclosed by their relations to other objects. Universal withdrawal of objects is the core claim of Harman's object-oriented ontology. Now, Harman is a metaphysical realist. He thus construes his object-oriented ontology as a metaphysics of the absolute or reality in itself. He believes that the core claims of his object-oriented ontology are justified as claims about how the world is in itself. But what if correlationism is irrefutable and therefore inevitable? In that case, Harman may still defend his object-oriented ontology as a metaphysics posited within the correlationist circle and thus within the context of how the world is for us instead of how it is in itself. By doing so he would become an adherent of what we could refer to as object-oriented correlationism (OOC).

In fact, many of Graham's core object-oriented ontology theses - such as that there are multiple objects, that we have to make a distinction between objects and qualities, that there are real and sensual objects and real and sensual qualities, that objects maintain a degree of autonomy and can thus not be reduced to their relations, and that there corresponds exactly one real object to each sensual object of ordinary experience (e.g., a real hammer compared to a sensual hammer, a real table compared to a sensual table, and a real bike compared to a sensual bike) - are epistemically reasonable and defensible as claims within the correlationist circle, that is, as claims about how reality is for us as human beings, whereas these claims are not justifiable as claims about how reality is in itself. For on correlationism no claim at all can be epistemically justitied as claim about the absolute or the 'in itself'.

Harman maintains though that correlationists assume a strict division between humans on the one side and non-humans on the other side. He considers it utterly implausible that human beings deserve to fill up a full half of philosophy. But this critique of correlationism is misconceived. For correlationists do not introduce an implausible taxonomy between human thought and everything else within the realm of objects. They do not allow humans to fill up fifty per cent of ontology. Correlationists do not introduce a horizontal split between humans and all other objects. They introduce instead a vertical distinction between the transcendental level of the human conditions of knowledge of objects and the object level of the objects of human knowledge. For correlationists object-oriented metaphysics resides solely at the object level and thus not at the transcendental level. At the object level an object-oriented correlationist can initially posit any flat ontology that he or she wants to pick as his or her point of departure. There is on correlationism no need at all for a horizontal dogmatic split between humans and non-humans at the level of objects. The human conditions of knowledge only appear vertically at the transcendental level of knowledge of objects and not within the world of objects we perceive and think and speak about. So, as said, all core theses of Harman's object-oriented ontology, including his initial flat ontology, can be posited and reasonably defended - in fact, on correlationism only be posited and reasonably defended - within the correlationist circle. That is to say, they can only be posited and reasonably defended within the-world-as-it-is-for-us or within the world of objects of human knowledge.

Geen opmerkingen:

Een reactie posten