Object-Oriented Ontology, Jean Baudrillard and Systems of Knowledge
On March 22, 2019, Matthew James King has published an article entitled “Object-Oriented Baudrillard? Withdrawal and Symbolic Exchange” in Open Philosophy.
A Blog Post by Pablo Markin.
In this paper, Matthew James King has explored the extent to which a conjunction between Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO) and Jean “Baudrillard[-derived theory] is possible […] [on the basis of his] reading of Baudrillard and interpretation of OOO’s genealogy” (75). In this context, this researcher also draws on the works of Martin Heidegger, in order to interpret Baudrillard’s seminal texts, such as The System of Objects, originally published in 1968, in order to analyze ““‘spoken’ system of objects,” meaning the “more or less consistent system of meanings that objects institute,” [which] must be founded on a “plane distinct from this ‘spoken’ system, a more strictly structured plane transcending even the functional account of objects […]”” (76). Thus, King argues that “for Baudrillard there also exists a kind of pre-existing backgrounded system, like how for Heidegger the “totality of useful things is always already discovered before the individual useful thing,” in a discovery which is not fully conscious but rather eminently practical” (76).
As this author expounds, for Heidegger “the essence of technology is distinct from its understood functioning […] [as a] a “bringing-forth” which “brings hither out of concealment forth into unconcealment,” […] [which] should lead to the unconcealment of certain truths about an object” (78). These theoretical and conceptual foundations serve as the basis for King’s interpretations of “Baudrillard’s notion of sign-exchange […] via a comparison with Heidegger’s analysis of the essence of technology” (381). In this context, King takes recourse to “ OOO’s critique of overmining, undermining and duomining […] [as] the combination of both [previous] strategies simultaneously, giving two distinct forms of image whilst eliminating the object which withdraws from them” (80-81). More specifically, the concepts of undermining and overmining derive from the OOO terminology as “techniques for explaining what something is, the first being a tactic to undermine it, “replacing a thing with its causal, material, or compositional elements,” and the second a tactic of overmining, by reducing “things to their impact on us or on each other […]”” (81).
Therefore, for this scholar Baudrillard is not “a theorist of overmining […] although the surface effects of things play such a crucial and fascinating role for his critique of the contemporary” (81).Conversely, King suggests that “[Baudrillard is probably best understood as an early critic of the tendency of duomining, despite often indulging in this himself, through his recognition of how reducing things to the dizzying surface, whilst at the same time pursuing a scientism which reduces things to their basic parts, sees the object (and the subject with it as well) become completely lost” (82). This apparently allows this paper to conclude that it is important to avoid “the tendency to duomine objects entirely, by presuming that everything could hypothetically come under the purview of our knowledge, or be accessible by our practice” (85).
By Pablo Markin
Featured Image Credits: Environment – Dining Room (1971) – Ana Vieira (1940-2016), Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Modern Collection, Lisbon, Portugal, November 18, 2019 | © Courtesy of Pedro Ribeiro Simões/Flickr.
King, Matthew James. “Object-Oriented Baudrillard? Withdrawal and Symbolic Exchange.” Open Philosophy 2.1 (2019): 75-85.