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An Ontology of Machines and Media

Levi R. Bryant

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An investigation of how material agencies structure social and ecological relations

Onto-Cartography gives an unapologetic defense of naturalism and materialism, transforming these familiar positions and showing how culture itself is formed by nature. Bryant endorses a pan-ecological theory of being, arguing that societies are ecosystems that can only be understood by considering nonhuman material agencies such as rivers and mountain ranges alongside signifying agencies such as discourses, narratives, and ideologies. In this way, Bryant lays the foundations for a new machine-oriented ontology.

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Introduction: For a Renewal of Materialism
Part I. Machines
1. Towards a Posthuman Media Ecology
1.1. Common Prejudices About Machines
1.2. Varieties of Machines
1.3. Posthuman Media Ecology
2. What is a Machine?
2.1. Machines Operate
2.2. Machines are Split Between Their Powers and Products
2.3. Machines are Binary Machines: Trans-Corporeality
3. Alien Phenomenology
3.1. Machines are Structurally Open and Operationally Closed
3.2. Alien Phenomenology, Second-Order Observation, and Post-Vitalist Ethology
4. Machinic Assemblages and Entropy
4.1. Machinic Assemblages
4.2. Assemblages and Individuals
4.3. Extended Minds and Bodies
4.4. Entropy
Part II: Worlds
The Structure of Worlds
5.1. Ecologies of Worlds
5.2. Content and Expression
6. Topologies of Time and Space
6.1. Space
6.2. Time
6.3. Overdetermination
7. Gravity
7.1. The Gravity of Things
7.2. Gravitational Relations Between Machines: The Objects
7.3. Subjects, Quasi-Objects, and Catalysis
7.4. Happenings and Events
8. Earth, Maps, and Practices
8.1. Geophilosophy: A Revised Concept of Nature
8.2. The Three Dimensions of Geophilosophy: Cartography, Deconstruction, and Terraformation

About the Author

Levi R. Bryant is Professor of Philosophy at Collin College outside of Dallas, Texas. He is the author of Difference and Givenness: Deleuze’s Transcendental Empiricism and the Ontology of Immanence (Northwestern University Press, 2008), The Democracy of Objects (Open Humanities Press, 2011), and co-edited The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism (Re.Press, 2011). He has written widely on Lacan, Deleuze, Badiou, Žižek, speculative realism, and object-oriented ontology.


This book finally rescues materialism from the dilution of social historical theory. But rather than rejecting the lessons of Marxism, Bryant substantially extends the material underpinnings of life. Lucid, far-reaching, and urgent, Onto-Cartographies is the book many object-oriented ontology skeptics have been waiting for.

- Ian Bogost, Georgia Institute of Technology

Bryant's ecological focus on the crucial interaction of the corporeal and incorporeal makes his contribution extremely important ... The sturdiest bridge yet built between post-structuralism and the vibrant new research being conducted under the auspices of a return to materialist thought.

- Ian Lowrie, Rice University, Los Angeles Review of Books

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