Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World
University of Minnesota Press 2013
So much of Science Studies, of STS as a field or a point of engagement, is deeply concerned with objects. We create sociologies and networks of and with objects, we study them as actors or agents or actants, we worry about our relationships to them and their relationships to each other. We wonder if humans and their objects are really so different, or whether we are all octopuses shrinking behind our own ink.
In Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (University of Minnesota Press, 2013), Timothy Morton offers a way of thinking with and about hyperobjects, particular kinds of things of which we see only pieces at any given moment. (Though by the end of the book, Morton invites us to consider that perhaps every object is a hyperobject.) Hyperobjects have a number of qualities in common, and the first half of Morton’s book introduces and explores them: they stick to other beings, and they potentially transform our taken-for-granted notions of time, space, locality, causality, and the possibility of ever being “away.” How this all happens is explained in a wonderfully personal and engaging narrative voice that ranges from Heidegger to The Lord of the Rings to the Tardis to Op Art, and the second half of the book introduces some of the consequences of and opportunities created by thinking with hyperobjects. It is about global warming and intimacy and object-oriented ontology and modern art and the possibilities of a phenomenology after we get rid of any notion of “the world” as something out-there and beyond-us. For those who are interested in STS and its environs, it offers a very different and very thoughtful language for articulating narratives beyond a simple “object agency” frame or a human/object binary. It’s also a great pleasure to read.