ImmaterialismObjects and Social Theory
Objects and Social Theory

What objects exist in the social world and how should we understand them? Is a specific Pizza Hut restaurant as real as the employees, tables, napkins and pizzas of which it is composed, and as real as the Pizza Hut corporation with its headquarters in Wichita, the United States, the planet Earth and the social and economic impact of the restaurant on the lives of its employees and customers?

In this book the founder of object-oriented philosophy develops his approach in order to shed light on the nature and status of objects in social life. While it is often assumed that an interest in objects amounts to a form of materialism, Harman rejects this view and develops instead an “immaterialist” method. By examining the work of leading contemporary thinkers such as Bruno Latour and Levi Bryant, he develops a forceful critique of ‘actor-network theory’. In an extended discussion of Leibniz’s famous example of the Dutch East India Company, Harman argues that this company qualifies for objecthood neither through ‘what it is’ or ‘what it does’, but through its irreducibility to either of these forms. The phases of its life, argues Harman, are not demarcated primarily by dramatic incidents but by moments of symbiosis, a term he draws from the biologist Lynn Margulis.

This book provides a key counterpoint to the now ubiquitous social theories of constant change, holistic networks, performative identities, and the construction of things by human practice. It will appeal to anyone interested in cutting-edge debates in philosophy and social and cultural theory.

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  • June 2016
  • 140 pages
  • 130 x 190 mm / 5 x 7 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $49.95
  • 9781509500963
  • Paperback $12.95
  • 9781509500970
Table of Contents

Part One: Immaterialism

1. Objects and Actors

2. The Dangers of Duomining

3. Materialism and Immaterialism

4. Attempts to Evolve ANT

5. The Thing-in-Itself

Part Two: The Dutch East India Company

6. Introducing the VOC

7. On Symbiosis

8. Governor-General Coen

9. Batavia, the Spice Islands, and Malacca

10. The Intra-Asian VOC

11. Touching Base Again with ANT

12. Birth, Ripeness, Decadence, and Death

13. Fifteen Provisional Rules of OOO Method


About the Author
Graham Harman is Distinguished University Professor in Philosophy at the American University in Cairo, Egypt
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"Immaterialism is by far the best introduction to object-oriented ontology currently available. Combining stylistic clarity with scholarly confidence, Harman provides us with an arsenal of solid arguments for why objects is a matter of crucial concern also to social theory."
Bjørnar Olsen, The Arctic University of Norway

"With a unique and beguiling voice, Harman sets out a important critique of new materialism through clean logic, compelling examples, and powerful arguments. Harman’s Immaterialism provides some fascinating and novel solutions to many of the problems that ANT and new materialism pose for political theory, and has dramatically changed my own thinking. A book worth reading, and rereading."
Mark B. Salter, University of Ottawa

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