A New Theory of Substance


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.

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One Response to “A New Theory of Substance”

  1. ANTHEM » Blog Archive » Recording of Graham Harman in Dublin Says:

    […] of Graham Harman’s talk at University College Dublin (UCD) yesterday, entitled “A New Theory of Substance“, with Dermot Moran as discussant, is available here (1 hr 45 min). Thank you to Peadar Ó […]

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