In this talk, philosopher Levi R. Bryant talks about the history of speculative realism and object-oriented ontology. He then moves into a brief discussion of Graham Harman’s object-oriented philosophy, and an alternative vision he would like to propose.
Listen to Levi Bryant's talk Object and fold: a critique of object-oriented philosophy, given at Litteraturhuset in Oslo June 9 2017. The event was organised by CAS and the project After Discourse: Things, Archaeology, and Heritage in the 21st Century:
In this talk, philosopher Levi R. Bryant talks about the history of speculative realism and object-oriented ontology. He then moves into a brief discussion of Graham Harman’s object-oriented philosophy, and he lays out an alternative vision he would like to propose.
Levi R. Bryant is Professor of Philosophy at Collin College, Texas, and author of several books and articles focusing on object-oriented ontology. He has also written extensively about post-structural and cultural theory. His first book Difference and Givenness: Deleuze’s Transcendental Empiricism and the Ontology of Immanence was published in 2008, and is based on his doctoral research. He has since published The Democracry of Objects (2011), and his latest book Onto-Cartography: An Ontology of Machines and Media (2014). He is co-editor of The Speculative Turn together with Nick Srnicek and Graham Harman.
"Reaches far outside the confiens of his own discipline"
In her introduction to his talk in Oslo, CAS fellow Þóra Pétursdóttir emphasized his crucial role in the emergence of a new materialist philosophy movement during the last decade:
“His work has been especially instrumental for the development of an object-oriented ontology, a term he also coined in 2009 alongside other terms such as ‘onticology’ and ‘wilderness ontology’.
The terms applied characterize and articulate his own projects, distinguishing them from the projects and thinking of other prevailing object-oriented philosophers such as Graham Harman. Like other object-oriented ontologists, Bryant opposes the anthropocentrism of the Copernican Revolution where objects are said to conform to the mind of the subject, and in turn become products of human cognition.
In Bryant’s perspective, the Kantian notion that reality is inaccessible to human knowledge, because it is structured by human cognition, limits philosophy to a self-reflexive analysis of the institutions and mechanisms through which we, in our minds and in us, structure reality.
Bryant’s philosophical thinking and his onticology can be framed as a countermovement to this post-Kantian epistemology, and to a human privilege notion of the world. And here amongst is his proposed wilderness ontology, which I particularly like. Resisting, but also playing, with a traditional understanding of civilization and culture as somehow separate from, and outside and wild nature, Bryant argues that wilderness contains all forms of being, including civilization. And accordingly, the practice of wilderness ontology alludes to an exploration of our being amongst and with other beings, and to the characteristics of, and relations between, different entities in an already mixed world.
Bryant’s work reaches far outside the confines of his own discipline, and is effective also in such fields as architecture, art and design studies, geography and archaeology. This outreach is not least well manifested through his much read blog Larvalsubjects, which he started in 2006 and has kept admirably active ever since. Here, Bryant not only opens up his thinking as it emerges and develops, but also invites to dialogue through his careful and constructive responses to comments and critique.”