Several recent philosophical projects, notably Bruno Latour's empirical meta-physics, Tristan Garcia's formal ontology, Graham Harman's object-oriented philosophy, and Markus Gabriel's new realism, have insisted there is a need for an “egalitarian” or “flat” ontology that would grant an equal ontological status to entities of every kind, whether actual, abstract, material, or fictional. This article groups all of these projects under the heading of “ontological liberalism” and argues that they are inherently problematic, as they sacrifice conceptual coherence and explanatory usefulness in the name of indefinite inclusion. Focusing on Gabriel's recent books Why the World Does Not Exist and Fields of Sense, and with continual reference to Peter Wolfendale's work on the topic, this essay offers a broad but detailed critique of ontological liberalism, with an eye to alternatives emerging from the discipline of anthropology.
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Louis Morelle; THE TROUBLE WITH ONTOLOGICAL LIBERALISM. Common Knowledge 1 September 2016; 22 (3): 453–465. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-3622316
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