Graham Harman to Deliver Provost’s Lecture on Object-Oriented Method

Distinguished University Professor Graham Harman will be delivering the upcoming Provost’s Lecture titled “Object-Oriented Method in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Art and Architecture” on Sunday, March 30 in Moataz Al Alfi Hall from 3 to 5 pm.

Based on a philosophical approach that Harman developed in the late 1990s, object-oriented philosophy is built on three primary principles. The first is that everything should be considered as being an “object,” including not just the obvious examples of inanimate objects, but things such as historical events, institutions, corporations and even fictional characters. The second principle, Harman explained, “is that objects cannot become directly present to us. If I look at a tree and describe it as exactly as I can, I will still never be able to exhaust all the features of the tree. It will always be something more than meets the eye. The tree is a surplus hidden behind any theory or perception.”

The third and final principle is “one that is found only in object-oriented philosophy,” Harman noted. Martin Heidegger, a German philosopher known for his extensive exploration of phenomenology, determined that the surplus of objects was hidden only to human beings, whereas the third principle of Harman’s object-oriented philosophy believes “that non-living objects hide from each other as well.” He added that the value of object-oriented philosophy is that it resists reducing objects into something they are not. “We need a nonreductive conception of objects that realizes how indirect access is our only way of coming into contact with things.”

Harman is the 2009 winner of AUC’s Excellence in Research and Creative Endeavors Award. He has authored nine books, most notably The Quadruple Object (2011) and Quentin Meillassoux: Philosophy in the Making (Edinburgh University Press, 2011).