Object-Oriented Ontology and Commodity Fetishism: Kant, Marx, Heidegger, and Things
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There have been several criticisms of Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO) from the political Left. Perhaps the most frequent one has been that OOO’s aspiration to speak of objects apart from all their relations runs afoul of Marx’s critique of “commodity fetishism.” The main purpose of this article is to show that even a cursory reading of the sections on commodity in Marx’s Capital does not support such an accusation. For Marx, the sphere of entities that are not commodities is actually quite wide, including all the beings of nature not subject to exchange, as well as bartered goods, and tithes and rents paid in kind to feudal lords. In short, the theory of commodity fetishism is a theory of v a l u e, not an anti-realist theory of b e i n g, and thus does not touch on OOO at all. In closing, I make some brief comments on Marx’s relation to Kantian formalism and to Heidegger’s famous account of present-at-hand (vorhanden) and ready-to-hand (zuhanden).
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