Graham Harman and Christopher WitmoreJun 10, 2023
Object-Oriented Philosophy and Archaeology
Polity Press 2023
Objects generate time; time does not generate or change objects. That is the central thesis of this book by the philosopher Graham Harman and the archaeologist Christopher Witmore, who defend radical positions in their respective fields.
Against a current and pervasive conviction that reality consists of an unceasing flux - a view associated in philosophy with New Materialism - object-oriented ontology asserts that objects of all varieties are the bedrock of reality from which time emerges. And against the narrative convictions of time as the course of historical events, the objects and encounters associated with archaeology push back against the very temporal delimitations which defined the field and its objects ever since its professionalization in the nineteenth century.
In a study ranging from the ruins of ancient Corinth, Mycenae, and Troy to debates over time from Aristotle and al-Ash'ari through Henri Bergson and Alfred North Whitehead, the authors draw on alternative conceptions of time as retroactive, percolating, topological, cyclical, and generational, as consisting of countercurrents or of a surface tension between objects and their own qualities. Objects Untimely: Object-Oriented Philosophy and Archaeology (Polity Press, 2023) invites us to reconsider the modern notion of objects as inert matter serving as a receptacle for human categories.
Adam Bobeck is a PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Leipzig. His PhD is entitled “Object-Oriented Azadari: Ontology and Ritual Theory”.