Recent posts at Object Oriented Philosophy and Larval Subjects made me think it’s worth disentangling a number of different ways in which objects could be thought to be “real.” First would be to maintain that objects cannot be reduced to their components, either physical or sensory (that is, there really is a chair over there, not just an aggregate of atoms or sense-perceptions). Second would be maintain that these objects exist independently of human minds, knowledge or perception. Third, this could be expanded to get away from a human/object binary, and so maintain that objects are independent of other objects: that in each interaction of an object with something else, there is something in that object over and above what is involved in that interaction. Fourth, one could universalize this position, saying that, not only is an object never completely involved in any particular relation, but that objects are withdrawn from all relations, that their core being is not involved in any relations at all.
Harman, I think, believes a theory must contain all these elements to genuinely count as a realism about objects; the reason I think it’s interesting to disentangle them is that I’m not immediately grabbed by the object-oriented part of object oriented philosophy. Read more↴