The Democracy of Objects
by Levi R. Bryant
Since Kant, philosophy has been obsessed with epistemological questions pertaining to the relationship between mind and world and human access to objects. In The Democracy of Objects, Bryant proposes that we break with this tradition and once again initiate the project of ontology as first philosophy. Drawing on the object-oriented ontology of Graham Harman, as well as the thought of Roy Bhaskar, Gilles Deleuze, Niklas Luhman, Aristotle, Jacques Lacan, Bruno Latour and the developmental systems theorists, Bryant develops a realist ontology that he calls “onticology”. This ontology argues that being is composed entirely of objects, properties, and relations such that subjects themselves are a variant of objects. Drawing on the work of the systems theorists and cyberneticians, Bryant argues that objects are dynamic systems that relate to the world under conditions of operational closure. In this way, he is able to integrate the most vital discoveries of the anti-realists within a realist ontology that does justice to both the material and cultural. Onticology proposes a flat ontology where objects of all sorts and at different scales equally exist without being reducible to other objects and where there are no transcendent entities such as eternal essences outside of dynamic interactions among objects.
“This is one of the best and most thought-provoking books I’ve read in a long time. Bryant, already the author of an excellent book on Deleuze, steps out from the role of commentator to assume that of simply a philosopher, an independent constructor of concepts, one brave enough to tackle some of the deepest questions of ontology.”John Protevi – Louisiana State University
“The Democracy of Objects offers a generous and inventive expansion of the landscape of object-oriented ontology. In reading this book, you will discover a new and rich engagement with a surprising range of thinkers such as Deleuze, Luhmann, Žižek, and Lacan, each put into the context of the broader field of speculative realism. Bryant advances his own theory of ‘onticology’ and seeks to bridge the divide in contemporary philosophy between those who have focused primarily, if not solely, on human experience, and those that have investigated the conditions of the nonhuman, from animals to technologies and beyond. Bryant fulfills his promise, delivering a powerful vision of objects and object-relations to reinvigorate humanistic inquiry.”Alex Reid – State University of New York at Buffalo
“The Democracy of Objects is a work of basic ontology, but it is also a work of deep enchantment. Levi Bryant invites us to take a fresh look at the world around us — or rather, at the innumerable objects among which we find ourselves, perpetually withdrawing from our grasp, and yet ever bursting forth in surprising new configurations. This is a deeply thoughtful book, but it’s also a deeply festive one, a celebration of life and being beyond the human.”Steven Shaviro – DeRoy Professor of English, Wayne State University
Levi R. Bryant is a former psychoanalyst and professor of philosophy at Collin College and Chair of the Critical Philosophy program at the New Centre for Research and Practice. He is the author of Difference and Givenness: Deleuze’s Transcendental Empiricism and the Ontology of Immanence (Northwestern University Press, 2008) and co-editor, along with Nick Srnicek and Graham Harman, of The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism (re.press, 2010). He has written numerous articles on Deleuze, Badiou, Lacan, and Žižek, and has written widely on social and political thought, cultural theory, and media theory at his blog Larval Subjects.
The New Metaphysics series design is by Katherine Gillieson with cover illustrations by Tammy Lu