American Objects vs. Austrian Objects
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This lecture aims to place present-day object-oriented ontology (OOO) in historical context. The recent appearance of this movement in continental philosophy has led some to ask how it differs from the theories of objects found in Husserl and his fellow Austro-Hungarian thinkers, such as Twardowski and Meinong. OOO is contrasted with the work of these thinkers, as well as with later authors such as Heidegger, Whitehead, McLuhan, and Latour. Most philosophical theories of objects tell us nothing about the interaction between two inanimate objects with no human witness. And those that do (Whitehead and Latour come to mind) remain too loyal to the British Empiricist theory of bundles of qualities, leaving no room for objects over and above such qualities. By contrast, the fourfold model of OOO allows an object to exist not only apart from us, but apart from its own features as well. Turning from history of philosophy to systematic metaphysics, the lecture ends with a survey of some familiar problems that look fresh when viewed from an object-oriented stance.