Speculative realism

RELATED TERMS: New Materialism; Postanthropocentrism; Posthumanism; Object-Oriented Ontology

According to Inna Viriasova (2018: 104), the shared premise of new materialism, object-oriented ontology and the field of the post-humanist from the perspective of political theory and political philosophy is an affirmation of the political agency of non-human entities, whether considered as beings or things, which traditionally have been excluded from the considerations of political philosophers.

This new materialism, endeavours to accomplish simultaneously two inter-related tasks: to acknowledge the non-political reality and agency of entities that exceed the human-centred world; yet to draw this non-political real back into the fold of politics, by suggesting that the non-human agency of such entities does indeed have a political character and therefore needs to be accounted for in political terms.

From this perspective, people, animals, technologies, things, natural phenomena, and so on, are recognised as active participants in political processes that affect the distribution and management of spaces, interactions and relations, constituting a post- or perhaps non-human politics. Viriasova suggests that this view can lead to the politicisation of the whole of reality.

In contrast, she suggests, Quentin Meillassoux’s speculative realism resists this totalisation of the political, the view that there is no reality beyond humanity that is unpolitical. Meillassoux, she suggests, affirms a reality that exists independently of human thought and the human world, which demands recognition of the limits of the political, one which, In Meillassoux’s terms, is ‘non-correlationist’.


Viriasova, I. (2018). At the limits of the political: affect, life, things. New York, NY: Rowman and Littlefield.

Meillassoux, Q. (2008). After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency. London: Continuum.