The Obstinate Real: Barad, Escobar, and Object-Oriented Ontology

Michael Feichtinger 1
  • 1 University of Vienna, , Vienna, Austria


Relational ontologies that postulate the primacy of relations over their relata may seem like a contrary and incompatible approach to object-oriented ontology (OOO). Therefore, this paper aims to clarify the relationship between Barad’s and Escobar’s relational ontologies and Harman’s OOO by comparing and contrasting the relative coherences between them. After outlining the central assumptions of the different accounts, I discuss the problems of relational ontologies with regard to several ethical, political, and posthumanist issues. I argue that OOO is able to avoid their pitfalls without rejecting the major benefits of relational ontologies. After a critique of the pluralization of worlds within relational ontologies, I argue for the rejection of the concept of world(s) in favor of understanding space and time as emerging from polar tensions within the quadruple objects. Consequently, this highlights the potential of OOO to encounter the Anthropocene beyond scientific realism and to account for the plurality of reality without granting any hegemonic access to it. This paper, therefore, argues for a conceptualization of ontological difference without one or many worlds.

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