Prince of Networks, Final Section, Rereading: A Summary of OOO
So, here’s the notes of an outline of Object-Oriented Philosophy as presented in the final section of Graham Harman’s Prince of Networks.
I’ve tried to put no commentary or disagreement in here, but really just try to condense everything on its own terms, and I’ve tried to demarcate quotations from my explanation thereof.
My hope is that others might find this condensation of some difficult text useful. But I also hope that if anyone feels I’ve gotten any key distinctions wrong, to please point that out to me! In particular, I find essence and eidos very tricky, and want to make sure I’ve got them right.
Also, I’ll have a summary of disagreements and concerns I have, in relation to recent discussions with Levi and Graham, in a forthcoming post.
AN OUTLINE: OOO according to FINAL SECTION OF PRINCE OF NETWORKS
SUMMARY: “We have two kinds of objects: real and sensual. And instead of a thing being the same as its qualities, we now have a dual that plays out in both kinds of objects: the unified systematic thing and its plurality of features . . . we have the real moments that the sunflower needs in order to be what it is, and the accidental specific qualities through which the sensual sunflower is incarnated in the experience of perceivers.” (p. 206)
1. CONDITIONS OF REALNESS of an OBJECT:
– autonomous reality, genuine qualities, components, excess to those components, “An object is real by virtue of its autonomous reality, or its possession of genuine qualities. It certainly needs to have component pieces to relate in order for this to occur, but if it is a real object then it will not be identical to such pieces. It will be something over and above these components” (p. 213)
– anything with its own intrinsic reality, above an beyond effects on things: “An object is real . . .by virtue of having an intrinsic reality that is not reducible to its subcomponents or exhausted by its functional effects on other things” (p. 215)
2. THE FOURFOLD:
– a. sensory qualities – ie: the color of a sunflower, the shape of a sunflower, etc.
– b. sensory object – ie: the sunflower as it appears to me as a unity
– c. real object – that which if it ceased to be, would unravel the sunflower’s unity in my experience as sensual object (ie: if the sunflower as real object is destroyed, it is also destroyed in my experience), the ‘stuff’ beneath appearances, the expansion of the ‘noumenal’ beyond Kantianism, that which withdraws, that which is in excess to the sensual object yet allows it to form
– d. real qualities – the moments of the real object, those qualities which would dissolve the real object were they not there (ie: if the sunflower ceases to be yellow, its still a sunflower, but if it is genetically engineered to change species, is it really still a sunflower, or perhaps something else? Or if the sunflower is set on fire and becomes ashes, certainly it is no longer a sunflower!)
2. THE FOUR TENSIONS:
– a. time (relates sensible object and sensual qualities) – adumbrations of an object in appearance (ie: as I move around my room, the arrangement of objects and relations between them change, as do the sides of objects available to me)
– b. space (relates real object and sensual qualities) – that which anchors sensual qualities as a unity in a sensual object, and which then lays out the indirect relation of real objects to each other, giving rise to their intertwining as sensual objects in any given appearance (ie: right now I see my computer related to my table related to my carpet, these things lay out spatial relations at any given slice of time)
– c. essence (relates real object and real qualities, developed via Zubiri) – “real flower and those traits it must have in order to keep on being what it is . . . essence is incarnated in the very reality of the individual thing . . . something completely made factive ” (pp. 205-6), what an object must have in the ‘real world’ to stay a unity which brings together its ‘real’ components, each of which is also an object in its own right, not on the level of meaning, but on the level of its ‘stuffness’ (ie: if a sunflower in front of me has all its leaves, stem, seeds removed, is it still capable of being a sunflower for me? no, because it is no longer a thing! if its burned and turned into ashes, its not still a sunflower, all its parts have been transformed, not at the level of meaning, but at the level of their stuffness, the components of its parts have been dismantled and remixed, etc.)
– d. eidos (in sense used by Husserl (p. 219), relates sensual object and real qualities) – fundamentally related to “unified meaning” (p. 202), “Another term for an eidos is its meaning, in a much broader sense than a linguistic one . . .”, p. 201), “rigidly designating proper name” (p. 202) the entity ceases to be the unified sensual object we thought it was if it loses some of its real components which are qualities of the real object (ie: London is same object if called ‘London’ or ‘Londres’ because it has the same eidos, same intended meaning, which links a set of real qualities like its location to that of a specific sensual unity, namely, that it is THIS city), error (ie: If I suddenly realize that an apparent tree is actually an ugly lightpole disguised as a palm, then I now intend a new object with a different eidos”, p. 200), developed via Husserl
3. TYPES of OBJECTS:
– a. Purely Sensual Objects – ie: ‘Monster X’ example, something I come up with in my head which doesn’t have any existence but there (“have no interior of their own, but exist purely in the interior of some other object” (p. 215). These objects can become ‘realer’ when they enter discussions with others (ie: ‘Speculative Realism’ example), by taking on a ‘life of their own’
– b. Dormant/Sleeping Objects – a real object with real qualities, which at some point related to other things, but which right now lacks a sensual component because nothing is relating to it, paying attention to it, etc.
– c. Non-Relating Objects – objects that could exist as sensual objects, but don’t have a link to sensualness right now, (examples include untapped markets, unknown masterpieces, McCain 2008 Victory Coalition)
– d. Sensual Objects (“any relation forms a new object, p. 211)- What happens when one object envelops another, forming a new object out of their unity (ie: I perceive my table, forming a new object from the relation). This is the standard type of object most commonly discussed.