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Open Philosophy

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Fields of Sense and Formal Things: The Ontologies of Tristan Garcia and Markus Gabriel

Arjen Kleinherenbrink
Published Online: 2018-08-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opphil-2018-0010


A striking feature of the relatively new philosophical genre of speculative realism is that it includes theories that explicitly seek to bridge or overcome the divide between analytic and continental philosophy. Two such theories are Markus Gabriel’s ontology of fields of sense and Tristan Garcia’s ontology of formal things. Both theories hold that all entities - be they physical, mental, fictional, technical, or otherwise - are equally and irreducibly real. This article first describes the core features of these ontologies. This provides insight into these theories themselves and also gives us a glimpse of what philosophy ‘beyond the divide’ might look like. In addition, both theories are shown to be examples of what I will call ‘relational’ philosophy, or philosophy that exhaustively defines entities in terms of how they appear to or feature in other entities. I argue that all such philosophies are haunted by the ‘infinite deferral of specification,’ a specific problem that I argue renders them inconsistent. Finally, I oppose such ‘relationist’ philosophies to ‘substantialist’ ones, and suggest that this distinction might one day succeed the division between analytic and continental philosophy.

Keywords: Tristan Garcia; Markus Gabriel; Form and Object; Fields of Sense; Speculative Realism; Relationism; Substantialism


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About the article

Received: 2018-06-09

Accepted: 2018-08-15

Published Online: 2018-08-29

Citation Information: Open Philosophy, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 129–142, ISSN (Online) 2543-8875, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opphil-2018-0010.

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© by Arjen Kleinherenbrink, published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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