Speculative Romanticism


“Speculative realism” has lately emerged as one of the most provocative, and frequently misrepresented, currents in contemporary intellectual life. As articulated during the 2007 conference from which it takes its name, speculative realism encompasses an entire spectrum of philosophies “committed to upholding the autonomy of reality … against the depredations of anthropocentrism” (Brassier et al. 306). After a century of phenomenological and deconstructive investigations into consciousness and language, speculative realists take seriously the metaphysical claim that the world exists, independent of the mind and its perceptions. At the same time, in contesting all forms of relativism or anti-realism, they are joined in an appreciation of what Graham Harman calls “the strangeness of the real: a strangeness undetectable by the instruments of common sense” (Quentin viii). Speculative realists speak of reality in surprising, even uncanny, ways.

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