The Conspiracy of Objects

  • Roland Végső University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Keywords: objectivity, language, translation, fiction, Kant, purposiveness, speculative realism, democracy of objects, flat ontology, conspiracy theory


The task this essay set for itself is a reconsideration of the status of the “object” in contemporary forms of philosophical realism that postulate “flat ontologies.” I argue that the theoretical construction of the “object” often comes about in these ontologies through a fetishistic disavowal that effectively makes these objects speak. As a result, the construction of the generalized field of objectivity (according to which everything that exists is an object) passes through a double articulation. On the one hand, since contemporary realism defines itself as a rejection of all forms of linguistic idealism, it also tries to shift the focus away from human language as the primary medium of the construction of objectivity. On the other hand, however, this demotion of language proceeds in these works simultaneously with the elevation of the concept of “translation” to an ontological principle: these non-linguistic objects exist through their perpetual translations of each other. The fetishistic disavowal at work in realism (we know very well that objects do not speak, yet we act as if objectivity had to be construed as a field of translation) introduces the modality of fiction into the very heart of objectivity. This fictional dimension constitutive of objectivity can be described through an engagement of the Kantian notion of “purposiveness.” I argue that these translations that supposedly constitute objectivity rest on the fundamental presupposition that guides the entire Kantian system: we must presuppose purposiveness even where we can detect no evidence of it at all. Hence, today, the theory of the “democracy of objects” must be supplemented by its necessary correlate, a theory of the “conspiracy of objects.”


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How to Cite
Végső R. The Conspiracy of Objects. FV [Internet]. 2020Dec.31 [cited 2022Jan.22];41(3). Available from: