SpeculativeRealism min min

Speculative Realism

Graham Harman

Speculative Realism has rapidly gone from a loose idea to a discipline-spanning, bonafide philosophical movement. But what is it? Join Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Graham Harman as he delves into the new and exciting field of SR.

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    Graham Harman

    Graham Harman is a key figure in the field of speculative realism and his work grounded the development of object-oriented ontology.


About the Course

In 2007, four philosophers came together to do something that was previously unheard of in continental philosophy – make a case for the existence of an external world. United only by their admiration of Lovecraft and opposition to Kant, they started a philosophical movement known as speculative realism, or SR.

What exactly is SR? What is object-oriented ontology, and how does it differ from the other SR philosophies? Can the gap between a thing and the knowledge of a thing ever be closed? Does a thing need to exist outside the mind to be real? What issues are left for the different forms of SR? And what exactly is the purpose of philosophy?

Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and author of Object-Oriented Ontology Graham Harman uses his inside knowledge to explain the origins, ideas and issues of Speculative Realism.

By the end of the course, you will have learned:

  • Why Quentin Meillasoux believes that God might begin to exist in the future.
  • Why a thing is always more than its relations.
  • Why everything is an object, from Medusa to Churchill’s depression.
  • Why philosophy is more like art than science.
  • Why implication is often a more powerful tool for knowledge than explication.
  • Why time is the tension between an object and its qualities.


As part of the course, there are in-video quiz questions to consolidate your learning.

IAI Academy courses are designed to be challenging but accessible to the interested student. No specialist knowledge is required.

About the Instructor

  • Graham Harman

    “What really lies beneath our feet at each moment is not a usefulness, but an inaccessible netherworld that we can use because it is there."

    Graham Harman is a key figure in the field of speculative realism and his work grounded the development of object-oriented ontology. Graham is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and has written nearly 20 books which have been translated into twenty-one languages. This year he published Art and Objects in which he argues that aesthetics is the central discipline of philosophy. This philosophy puts objects at its centre, arguing that they exist independently of human perception or other objects. Of bananas, Graham writes, ‘A police officer eating a banana reduces this fruit to a present-at-hand profile of its elusive depth, as [does] a monkey eating the same banana...Banana-being is a genuine reality in the world.’

    "The foremost philosopher of our age" - Timothy Morton

Course Syllabus

  • Part One: The Basics
    Since Kant, philosophers have tended towards viewing true reality as inaccessible. The Speculative Realists respond in two completely different ways. One group says that reality itself is accessible through mathematics or natural science, while another sa
  • Part Two: Open Questions
    As discussions around SR spread virally, debates are firing up about the ethical, ecological and even political implications of the theory. Harman takes a look at the unsettled questions that remain for SR and the direction it might be heading.