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Superficiality and Representation:
Adding Aesthetics to “Knowledge without Truth” 


Open Philosophy 4, no. 1, 2021, pp. 36-57.

https://doi.org/10.1515/opphil-2020-0150

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Abstract
This article has two parts. The first one compares the ontological and epistemological implications of two main philosophical stances on how reality relates to appearance. I call the first group the “plane of superficiality,” where reality and appearance are the same; there is no gap between what a thing is and how it manifests itself. I call the second group “volume of representation,” in which reality is beyond appearances; there is an insurmountable gap between the thing and its phenomena. The second part of the article focuses on Graham Harman’s Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO) as the second group’s contemporary position. Within the OOO epistemological model of “knowledge without truth,” Harman’s schema of the observer’s participation in the object’s knowledge production is questioned. Alternatively, based on the notion proposed here of “flat representativity” in which each appearance is equally valuable to represent different aspects of the object, I argue for the full spectrum of the sensual as the basis for “knowledge without truth.” In particular, the aesthetic method, excluded from Harman’s concerns about knowledge, is suggested as another contribution to the episteme.