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  • Writer's pictureRitchard Allaway

20/07/21 - Object-Oriented Ontology

Pierre Huyghe 'Zoodrama' (2010)

Wiki - In mataphysics, object-oriented ontology (OOO) is a 21st-century Heidegger -influenced school of thought that rejects the privileging of human existence over the existence of nonhuman objects. This is in contrast to what it calls the "anthropocentrism" of Kant's Copernican Revolution, as accepted by most other current metaphysics, in which phenomenal objects are said to conform to the mind of the subject and, in turn, become products of human cognition. Object-oriented ontology maintains that objects exist independently (as Kantian noumena) of human perception and are not ontologically exhausted by their relations with humans or other objects. For object-oriented ontologists, all relations, including those between nonhumans, distort their related objects in the same basic manner as human consciousness and exist on an equal footing with one another.

We humans tend to believe that things are only real in as much as we perceive them, an idea reinforced by modern philosophy, which privileges us as special, radically different in kind from all other objects. But as Graham Harman, one of the theory's leading exponents, shows, Object-Oriented Ontology rejects the idea of human specialness: the world, he states, is clearly not the world as manifest to humans. At the heart of this philosophy is the idea that

How does OOO link to the research practice?

Let’s think about how this then links to my research practice because from first read it seems a little ‘out there’, but I do trust the reasons as to why I have been given this concept to consider. If we think about my interest within the sublime, a phenomenon that is one of overwhelming awe and terror and if we were to view it as nomological, (it is what is because of its existence in nature) then the objects viewed are of a status that is autonomous. Let’s say for arguments sake, we are using a landscape of vast mountain ranges and above lightning cracks through the sky and powers down to Earth with the loud pounding roar of thunder. That collection of natural occurrences is something that is nomological, but those occurrences are all objects within nature (even nature itself is an object). Therefore, in terms of the OOO, there is no separation from each individual object as there is to our human self. We are as (in sublime terms) awe inspiring and terrifying objects or (without sublime terms), we are just an object amongst other nomological objects. We exist in nature and objects exist in nature whether we know of their existence or not but their existence can be one that out lives us.

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