OOO 101

Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO) aka.a infra-physics aka. guerrilla metaphysics proposes a model of reality that emphasizes on the importance and autonomy of objects, here considered all equally real, no matter their qualities, adjectives and contexts. Unlike traditional systems, which often prioritizes human experience and perception or takes out certain objects from the equation of reality, OOO posits that objects—whether they are living or non-living, natural or artificial—exist independently of human cognition and have their own agency and existence, no matter which kind of object they are.

The main authors of OOO are Graham Harman and Timothy Morton, whose ideas resonate also with authors such as Katherine Behar, Karen Barad, Ian Bogost, Levi Bryant, Federico Campagna, among others.

OOO is based on a series of postulates, some of the in the core of all OOO thinkers, some other resultant from each author’s way of approaching objects. It’s like an API used by different developers, resulting in different programs

Main OOO programs #

API #

Aesthetic Causality #

The idea that causation is primarily an aesthetic process, involving the interplay of sensual qualities. “Aesthetic-causal nonlocality and nontemporality should not be surprising features of the Universe” (Morton, 2013, p. 20).

Aesthetic Dimension #

The space where objects interact through traces and imprints, constituting a non-mechanical form of causality. “If things are intrinsically withdrawn, irreducible to their perception or relations or uses, they can only affect each other in a strange region of traces and footprints: the aesthetic dimension” (Morton, 2013, p. 15).

Allure #

Allure refers to the seductive power of objects that draws us toward their hidden depths. Allure occurs when an object’s real qualities are partially revealed, creating a sense of mystery and attraction. Harman explains, “Allure is the attraction that an object exerts by revealing glimpses of its hidden reality” (Harman, 2011, p. 13). Allure ties into the quadruple object model by illustrating how objects can captivate us through their sensual qualities while hinting at their withdrawn real qualities.

Blue Notes #

Borrowed from music, referring to the unique and inexpressible qualities of objects. “The chōrismos gives rise to ‘blue notes’ that both do and do not ‘express’ the object in question” (Morton, 2013, p. 36).

Caricature #

Caricature involves the exaggeration of certain features of an object to bring its hidden qualities to the forefront. This exaggerated portrayal helps to reveal the underlying essence of the object that might otherwise remain concealed. Caricature and humor thus serve as tools for accessing the deeper layers of objects, much like metaphors (Harman, 2011, p. 13).

Causality #

The process by which objects affect each other, seen as an aesthetic phenomenon rather than a straightforward mechanical interaction. “Causality is mysterious, in the original sense of the Greek mysteria, which means things that are unspeakable or secret” (Morton, 2013, p. 17).

Chōrismos #

A term borrowed from Greek, referring to the rift or separation between an object and its qualities. “There is a chōrismos, an irreducible gap. Qualities and relations are much the same thing, since they are born in interactions between the object and 1+n other things” (Morton, 2013, p. 27).

Cryptography #

The method by which objects’ true natures are encoded and hidden, accessible only through indirect means. “Things are encrypted. But the difference between standard encryption and the encryption of objects is that this is an unbreakable encryption” (Morton, 2013, p. 17).

Demonic Dimension #

The space where non-human forces and influences interact with human perceptions, often evoking a sense of the uncanny or supernatural. “In an age of ecological awareness we will come again to think of art as a demonic force, carrying information from the beyond, that is, from nonhuman entities such as global warming, wind, water, sunlight and radiation” (Morton, 2013, p. 21).

Dialectical Realism #

A philosophical stance that embraces the contradictions and paradoxes inherent in reality. “Such entities seem to stretch the limits of thought, limits that some philosophers want to keep brittle and rigid” (Morton, 2013, p. 27).

Ecological Awareness #

An understanding of objects within the broader context of their interactions and interdependencies in the natural world. “In an age of ecological awareness we will come again to think of art as a demonic force, carrying information from the beyond, that is, from nonhuman entities such as global warming, wind, water, sunlight and radiation” (Morton, 2013, p. 21).

Elegiac Dimension #

The aspect of objects that evokes a sense of loss or absence, inherent in their withdrawn nature. “Sensual things are elegies to the disappearance of objects” (Morton, 2013, p. 16).

Emergent Properties #

Qualities that arise from the interactions of objects, not reducible to the objects themselves. “For Einstein, space and time are also emergent properties of objects: objects don’t float in a neutral void but emanate waves and ripples of spacetime” (Morton, 2013, p. 30).

Encrypted Objects #

Objects that hold their true nature in an unbreakable form of secrecy, only partially revealed through their sensual qualities. “Things are encrypted. But the difference between standard encryption and the encryption of objects is that this is an unbreakable encryption” (Morton, 2013, p. 17).

Flat Ontology #

A philosophical stance proposed by Levi Bryant that rejects hierarchical distinctions among entities, treating all entities as equally real and significant. “Flat ontology thus designates any sort of being such that it makes no reference to levels of reality or distinct, separate modes of existence” (Bryant, 2011, p. 14).

Haecceity #

The unique essence of an object, distinct from its general qualities. “Duns Scotus speaks of the haecceity of a thing, its thisness, and Hopkins translates this into verse” (Morton, 2013, p. 26).

Humor #

Humor is defined by Harman as a mechanism that draws attention to the incongruities between an object’s appearance and its deeper reality. Humor arises from the unexpected revelation of an object’s qualities, often highlighting the gap between its real and sensual aspects. Harman writes, “Humor often works by drawing attention to the gap between an object’s appearance and its deeper reality, making us aware of the hidden depths that lie beneath the surface” (Harman, 2005, p. 90).

Interobjectivity #

The interactions and relations between objects, forming a network of influences and effects. “The samples interact with one another, they interact with us, they crisscross one another in a sensual configuration space” (Morton, 2013, p. 16).

Interobjective Space #

The relational field where objects’ sensual qualities interact and affect each other, without direct access to their core essence. “These samples interact with one another, they interact with us, they crisscross one another in a sensual configuration space” (Morton, 2013, p. 16).

Magic Realism (Philosophical) #

A methodology that incorporates the mystical and elusive nature of objects into philosophical inquiry, challenging conventional boundaries. “Realist Magic argues that reality itself is not mechanical or linear when it comes to causality” (Morton, 2013, p. 17).

Mesh #

The interconnected and interdependent network of all living and non-living things. “The mesh consists of infinite connections between beings” (Morton, 2010, p. 28). It emphasizes the ecological entanglement and the idea that everything is interconnected and affects everything else in some way.

Metaphor #

In Harman’s view, metaphors are not merely linguistic decorations but essential tools for revealing hidden aspects of reality. Metaphors bridge the gap between different realms of experience, allowing us to comprehend objects beyond their immediate empirical data. Harman asserts, “Metaphors transport us beyond the immediate empirical data to a realm of hidden connections and relationships” (Harman, 2005, p. 78). This aligns with the quadruple object model by highlighting how metaphors can reveal the interplay between an object’s real and sensual aspects.

Mysteria #

Derived from the Greek term for unspeakable or secret, used to describe the mysterious and hidden nature of objects. “Mysteria is a neuter plural noun derived from muein, to close or shut. Mystery thus suggests a rich and ambiguous range of terms: secret, enclosed, withdrawn, unspeakable” (Morton, 2013, p. 17).

Nonhuman Phenomenology #

The study of the ways nonhuman entities perceive and interact with the world. “Moreover, since there is very little difference between what happens to a light-sensitive diode and what happens to a human when they encounter a shadow, we can only conclude that there is a strange kind of nonhuman phenomenology” (Morton, 2013, p. 37).

Nonlocality #

The concept that objects can influence each other across distances without direct contact, as seen in quantum phenomena. “Quantum entanglement is truly random. What does this mean? It means for instance that in certain highly repeatable conditions the likelihood of a photon being polarized in a certain direction is totally uncertain before a ‘measurement’ takes place” (Morton, 2013, p. 25).

Object #

According to Graham Harman, an object is anything that exists independently of human perception or thought. This definition encompasses both tangible, physical entities and intangible, abstract concepts. Harman’s conception of objects is central to Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO), which posits that objects have their own realities and exist in their own right, regardless of human interaction or understanding. He argues that “objects withdraw from all human access and interaction, retaining an essence that cannot be fully known or exhausted by any relationship or analysis” (Harman, 2002, p. 6).

Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO) #

A philosophical framework that emphasizes the reality and autonomy of objects. “As part of the project of object-oriented ontology (OOO), the philosophy whose first architect is Graham Harman, this book liberates the aesthetic from its ideological role as matchmaker between subject and object” (Morton, 2013, p. 18).

Ontography #

Ontography is a term used by Ian Bogost and Graham Harman to describe the practice of documenting and representing the existence and interactions of objects in the world. Bogost defines it as “a general inscriptive strategy, one that uncovers the repleteness of units and their interobjectivity” (Bogost, 2012, p. 35). Harman extends this

by stating that ontography is “a practice of recording the specificities and interrelations of objects without privileging any single perspective” (Harman, 2011, p. 69).

Ontological Rift #

The fundamental separation between an object’s essence and its manifestations. “There is already a Rift between an object and its aesthetic appearance, a Rift within the object itself” (Morton, 2013, p. 36).

Open Secret #

The idea that the true nature of objects is both hidden and in plain sight, accessible only through indirect means. “Objects withdraw, yet they appear: p ∧ ¬p (p and not-p)” (Morton, 2013, p. 31).

Paraconsistent Logic #

A form of logic that allows for contradictions, reflecting the complex and paradoxical nature of objects. “Priest and Jay Garfield imagine that ‘Contradictions at the limits of thought have a general and bipartite structure'” (Morton, 2013, p. 27).

Phenomenological Approach #

A method of inquiry that focuses on the direct experience and perception of objects. “Thinking objects is one of the most difficult yet necessary things thinking can do—trying to come close to them is the point” (Morton, 2013, p. 37).

Quantum Entanglement #

A phenomenon where objects influence each other instantaneously across distances, used metaphorically to describe aesthetic causality. “Quantum entanglement is truly random. What does this mean? It means for instance that in certain highly repeatable conditions the likelihood of a photon being polarized in a certain direction is totally uncertain before a ‘measurement’ takes place” (Morton, 2013, p. 25).

Realist Magic #

The concept that reality itself is magical and mysterious, with objects interacting in ways that are not purely mechanical. “Realist Magic is an exploration of causality from the point of view of object-oriented ontology” (Morton, 2013, p. 19).

Sensual Ether #

The non-physical space where objects’ sensual qualities interact and influence each other. “Entities interact in a sensual ether that is (at least to some extent) nonlocal and nontemporal” (Morton, 2013, p. 20).

Sensual Qualities #

The perceptible aspects of objects that interact with other objects and beings, distinct from their withdrawn essence. “Sensual things are elegies to the disappearance of objects” (Morton, 2013, p. 16).

Sincerity #

Sincerity in Harman’s framework relates to the genuine interaction with objects without the mediation of metaphors, humor, or caricature. Sincerity involves engaging with objects as they present themselves, accepting both their real and sensual aspects. Harman suggests that sincerity is about acknowledging the full reality of objects, including their hidden depths and overt appearances. He states, “Sincerity is the straightforward engagement with the reality of objects, accepting them in their full complexity” (Harman, 2017, p. 17).

Spatiotemporal Emergence #

The idea that space and time arise from the interactions of objects, rather than existing independently. “Space and time are emergent properties of objects: objects don’t float in a neutral void but emanate waves and ripples of spacetime” (Morton, 2013, p. 30).

Spectrality #

The ghostly or spectral presence of objects, referring to the way they haunt and influence each other beyond direct perception. “Sensual things are elegies to the disappearance of objects. Doesn’t this tell us something about the aesthetic dimension, why philosophers have often found it to be a realm of evil?” (Morton, 2013, p. 15).

Speculative Metaphysics #

A branch of philosophy that explores fundamental questions about reality beyond empirical science. “The world is due for a resurgence of original speculative metaphysics” (Morton, 2013, p. 14).

Vicarious Causation #

The indirect way in which objects influence each other through the aesthetic dimension. “Causality is wholly an aesthetic phenomenon. Aesthetic events are not limited to interactions between humans or between humans and painted canvases” (Morton, 2013, p. 19).

Withdrawal #

The intrinsic aspect of objects that remains hidden and inaccessible, only perceived through indirect manifestations. “Withdrawal means that at this very moment, this very object, as an intrinsic aspect of its being, is incapable of being anything else” (Morton, 2013, p. 16).

References #

Certainly! Here is an expanded list that includes additional references related to Alien phenomenology, recent books by Graham Harman, Karen Barad’s work, and Jane Bennett’s “Vibrant Matter.”

  • Bogost, I. (2012). Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing. University of Minnesota Press.
  • Bryant, L. (2011). The Democracy of Objects. Open Humanities Press.
  • Bryant, L., Harman, G., & Srnicek, N. (Eds.). (2011). The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism. re.press.
  • DeLanda, M. (2006). A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity. Bloomsbury Academic.
  • Harman, G. (2002). Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects. Open Court.
  • Harman, G. (2005). Guerrilla Metaphysics: Phenomenology and the Carpentry of Things. Open Court.
  • Harman, G. (2007). Heidegger Explained: From Phenomenon to Thing. Open Court.
  • Harman, G. (2010). Towards Speculative Realism: Essays and Lectures. Winchester: Zero Books.
  • Harman, G. (2011). The Quadruple Object. Zero Books.
  • Harman, G. (2012). The Third Table. Hatje Cantz.
  • Harman, G. (2013). Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy. Zero Books.
  • Harman, G. (2016). Immaterialism: Objects and Social Theory. Polity.
  • Harman, G. (2018). Object-Oriented Ontology: A New Theory of Everything. Pelican Books.
  • Harman, G. (2018). Art and Objects. Polity.
  • Harman, G. (2020). Speculative Realism: An Introduction. Polity.
  • Heidegger, M. (1927). Being and Time. Harper & Row.
  • Hui, Y. (2016). On the Existence of Digital Objects. University of Minnesota Press.
  • Manovich, L. (2001). The Language of New Media. MIT Press.
  • Morton, T. (2007). Ecology Without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics. Harvard University Press.
  • Morton, T. (2010). The Ecological Thought. Harvard University Press.
  • Morton, T. (2013). Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World. University of Minnesota Press.
  • Morton, T. (2016). Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence. Columbia University Press.
  • Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Duke University Press.
  • Barad, K. (2012). What is the Measure of Nothingness? Infinity, Virtuality, Justice. documenta 13.
  • Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Duke University Press.