Harman, for all of his concern with objects (his branch of speculative realism has been christened “object-oriented ontology”), is not a materialist, and he’s certainly no empiricist. He believes that scientific pursuits that seek the elemental building blocks of the universe are getting most of the story wrong, for though we might be able to learn of the subatomic composition of, say, uranium, the banana or the West Nile virus, none of that knowledge exhausts the ways that an object can affect reality — which is to say, the way objects can relate to each other. An idiosyncratic feature of Harman’s philosophy is that “objects” for him are not just things, and certainly not just natural things, but also concepts, imagined entities, and nearly any entity that can have some effect on reality for however long or short a time, on however large or small a scale, and at whatever level of availability to human perception or “science.