Archive for March, 2009

A New Theory of Substance

26 March 2009

Graham Harman will be speaking at two events at University College Dublin (UCD) in the coming weeks. The first one is a seminar, entitled “A New Theory of Substance” (with Dermot Moran as discussant), which will take place on 17 April 2009. The second one, “Toward an Object-Oriented Philosophy,” is a half-day workshop on 20 April 2009.  Please see the CITO (Centre for Innovation, Technology & Organisation) website for further updates regarding the venues and on how to register.

Here is Harman’s abstract for the seminar:

The concept of substance has relatively few defenders in present-day philosophy. I happen to be one of them, though I also believe that several features of the classical concept of substance (simplicity, naturalness, and eternity) must be discarded. For me, the necessity of a new concept of substance (or “objects,” as I prefer) comes from Heidegger’s tool-analysis. With this analysis Heidegger does not just show that invisible human practices come before conscious human awareness. Instead, the analysis shows that objects exist as something over and above all their relations to other things (the exact opposite of Bruno Latour’s relational model of actors). Most contemporary philosophies are simply variant “radical” attempts to deny the existence of objects. Objects are reduced either to their relations, or to how they are manifested in human consciousness, or to tiny material particles, or to “pre-individual singularities,” or to a shapeless, formless rumbling of inarticulate being. I oppose all such radical models, and insist on a “polarized” model of philosophy in which objects can never be reduced to any of their specific incarnations in the world.

Reviews of Reassembling the Social

24 March 2009

There are two new reviews of Latour’s (2005) Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory book on the Space & Culture blog.

A comic response to Latour and Sloterdijk at Harvard

20 March 2009


Invitation to 5th SSIT-ORF at LSE

18 March 2009

The deadline for abstracts for this year’s Social Study of IT Open Research Forum (SSIT-ORF) has been extended to 30 March 2009. This great little conference will take place on 21 and 22 April 2009, at the Information Systems and Innovation Group in the Department of Management at the LSE, hot on the heels of the SSIT9 Workshop. One interesting feature of the SSIT Open Research Forum is that presenters are discouraged from using PowerPoint or transparencies. This format contributes to a unique atmosphere that encourages open debate between the presenters, the panel chair, and the audience. Please see the full call for abstracts below.


The Blog is dead. Long live the Blog!

17 March 2009

Some of you may have noticed that Graham Harman’s Object-Oriented Philosophy blog has expired. It’s no more. It’s an ex-blog. But do not dispair. It has been born again under the new URL of

Actor-network theory and the moral economy

5 March 2009

The next Business and Society Research Group seminar at CRASSH, University of Cambridge, will focus on actor-network theory. It will take place on Monday, 9 March 2009 at 5-7 pm (CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane). The three speakers and their respective topics are:

Peter Erdélyi (PhD Candidate, Department of Management, LSE)
“Actor-Network Theory and the Technological Economy”

Ariane McCabe (PhD, Judge Business School, Cambridge)
“Making TRIPS Global and Local: Using ANT to Explore the Travel of Intellectual Property Rights from Geneva to Mexico and Brazil”

Isam Faik (PhD Candidate, Judge Business School, Cambridge)
“Actor-Network Theory and Modernisation Processes”

Followed by drinks at “The Anchor”.

An Irreductive Approach to Architecture

4 March 2009

Isabelle Doucet will be giving a talk entitled “Learning from Brussels: An Irreductive Approach to Architecture” at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth (AIB) on 11 March 2009 (starting at 16:30 in the Right Hand Conference Centre).


In Irreductions, the (slightly disguised) concluding chapter of the The Pasteurization of France, Bruno Latour tackles the question what would happen if “nothing can be reduced to anything else, nothing can be deduced from anything else, everything may be allied to everything else”. The question of this lecture is what would happen if such question would be applied to the current architecture and urban renewal situation in Brussels. What are the various laboratories at work in urban knowledge construction and which translation processes take place between them? In terms of architecture theory, an irreductive approach seems to allow research questions to move beyond traditional dichotomies such as bottom-up vs. top-down; software vs. hardware; authoritarian vs. participatory; orchestrated vs. everyday space. To understand Brussels and its so-called ‘crisis in architecture’, an irreductive approach does not only seem instructive, but simply vital.