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ISBN 0-8126-9456-2


280 pages


Guerrilla Metaphysics

Phenomenology and the Carpentry of Things

Graham Harman

Too unorthodox to be conservative, too systematic to be postmodern, Guerrilla Metaphysics is a unique attempt to describe the carpentry of things. At once systematic and offbeat, technical and poetic, it is a startling new vision of phenomenology's motto: To the things themselves!

Instead of the occasional cause that makes God responsible for all events, Guerrilla Metaphysics seeks the vicarious cause that links human beings, tools, rivers, mountains, plastic, and clowns. Professor Harman argues for a radical shift in the phenomenological attitude to objects, and explains how phenomenology can be reunified with the physical world that it wanted to bracket from view.

In Part Two Harman takes a fresh approach to metaphor and comedy, showing how even physical causation has the structure of allure. In the final Part, he offers a new account of causation, which is shown to be not only vicarious but also asymmetrical and buffered.

“This vigorously conceived and vividly written work has a mission: to effect an objective turn in philosophy, to direct attention from its present preoccupation with the subjective and linguistic aspects of human beings to the ‘carnival of the world’. . . . full of wonderful insights presented in reader-friendly language. A red-blooded book of solid learning applied to original reflection!”

—Eva Brann, author of The World of the Imagination

“Suppose that intentionality, the favorite vector of phenomenology, was subverted in such a way that instead of linking humans to objects, it became the way objects relate to one another. Then you would have a metaphysics that would give another meaning to the slogan ‘To the things themselves!’ This fully deserves the title of guerrilla warfare, though Harman, instead of wearing Che Guevara’s beret, has adopted William James’s splendid style to bring us back to the buzzing, blooming world.”

—Bruno Latour, author of We Have Never Been Modern

Graham Harman is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the American University in Cairo. He supported himself through part of graduate school as a Chicago sportswriter, in which capacity he interviewed such figures as Sammy Sosa and Bobby Knight. He is the author of Tool-Being: Heidegger and the Metaphysics of Objects and translator of Gudrun Krämer’s History of Palestine.

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