Philosophy Today

Volume 67, Issue 2, Spring 2023

Nathan EckstrandOrcid-ID
Pages 373-394

A New Take on Speculative Realism
How Field Theory Both Critiques and Defends Speculative Accounts of Reality

This paper argues that the inclusion of “fields” in speculative realist ontologies better explains human experience, encourages the inclusion of systems thinking, and avoids some of the unusual conclusions speculative realists currently accept. The paper begins by summarizing the philosophies of Quentin Meillassoux and Graham Harman, as well as major criticisms of each. Second, it explores the “math as structure” theories of Stewart Shapiro and Michael Resnik, and the ways relativity and quantum physics account for objects. Using these ideas, the paper argues that Meillassoux’s reference to math and Harman’s account of objects are insufficient without including a concept of “fields.” Third, the paper defines a concept of “field” and discusses how it can be applied to speculative realism. Finally, the paper shows how incorporating the concept of “fields” allows speculative realism to answer critics more effectively by showing how transcendental structures are embedded in reality.

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