May 2021

Labont Seminar: Niki Young


May 10, 2021

Niki Young, The Notion of Emergence in OOO

10 maggio, ore 16.00, Webex

The acronym “OOO” – short for “Object-Oriented Ontology” – refers to a contemporary form of philosophical realism dedicated to the exploration of the intrinsic being of “objects” broadly understood. As its founder Graham Harman frequently clarifies, OOO gives the term “object” an especially broad scope, taking it to refer to whatever is ontologically irreducible. In other words, within this specific framework, anything may be said to be an object as long as it cannot be reduced downward (“undermined”) into nothing more than its ultimate component pieces (e.g. “physicalism” and “smallism”), or reduced upward (“overmined”) into nothing more than its relations and effects on humans or other objects (e.g. “anti-fictionalism” and “literalism”).  Relative to this, it may then be noted that Harman’s ultimate qualm with “undermining” specifically is the fact that it is unable to deal with the question of emergence. In other words, if, underminers were right to insist that particular entities are nothing but their ultimate component pre-individual parts, then it would be difficult at best (or impossible at worst) for them to explain how the latter go on to develop into highly specific individual entities. Such a qualm must in turn necessitate an inquiry into Harman’s specific understanding of the term “emergence” given its loaded meaning, and historical susceptibility to mystical connotations. In view of this, my talk shall focus on the semantics of this particular term and its consequences for Harman’s specific variety of OOO, namely “Object-Oriented Philosophy” (OOP).