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Speculative Realism: An Introduction



Speculative Realism: An Introduction

Graham Harman

ISBN: 978-1-509-51999-6 October 2018 Polity 190 Pages

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On April 27, 2007, the first Speculative Realism (SR) workshop was held at Goldsmiths, University of London, featuring four young philosophers whose ideas were loosely allied. Over the ensuing decade, the ideas of SR spread from philosophy to the arts, architecture, and numerous disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. SR has been arguably the most influential new current in continental philosophy since the works of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari found their second wind in the 1990s.

But what is SR? This book is the first general overview by one of its original members, focusing on the aesthetic, ethical, ontological, and political themes of greatest importance to the movement. Graham Harman provides a balanced but critical assessment of his original SR colleagues – Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant, and Quentin Meillassoux – along with a clear summary of his own Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO). A number of central philosophical questions tie the four chapters together: What exactly is "correlationism," the chief enemy of SR? What are the stakes of philosophical realism, and is such realism better served by mathematics and the natural sciences, or by a broader model of cognitive activity that includes aesthetics?

This book covers both the historical and conceptual development of the movement, providing a first-rate introduction for students, aided by helpful end-of-chapter study questions chosen by Harman himself. SR, Harman shows, is a vital and fast-developing field in contemporary philosophy.
  • Introduction
  • 1. Prometheanism
  • A. Brassier at Goldsmiths
  • B. Brassier’s Nihilism
  • C. The Path Ahead
  • 2. Vitalist Idealism
  • A. Grant at Goldsmiths
  • B. Philosophies of Nature After Schelling
  • C. A New Sense of Idealism
  • 3. Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO)
  • A. OOO at Goldsmiths
  • B. The Withdrawn
  • C. Objects and Their Qualities
  • D. Vicarious Causation
  • E. The Crucial Place of Aesthetics
  • 4. Speculative Materialism
  • A. Meillassoux at Goldsmiths
  • B. After Finitude
  • C. Glimpses of the Divine Inexistence
  • Conclusion: The Two Axes of Speculative Realism
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index
“An essential guide by the foremost philosopher of our age. This book will educate and delight both aficionados and those unfamiliar with the first major philosophical movement of the twenty-first century.”
Timothy Morton, Rice University

“Harman presents a clear overview of the development of Speculative Realism’s core debates. He not only reconstructs its genealogy but offers a remarkably concise introduction to his own ontology by putting it in its larger context.”
Markus Gabriel, University of Bonn

"A unique contribution to the growing literature on [Speculative Realism] and ... a go-to text for anyone looking for an efficient and nuanced introduction to its subject, from undergraduate students to curious readers outside of academe."
Tom Sparrow, Notre Dame Philosophical Review