I thought the following summary by Graham Harman was the most concise so far on how he distinguishes his object-oriented philosophy (or object-oriented ontology (OOO), as it’s been renamed recently) from Latour’s version of actor-network theory. This difference is probably worth exploring further.
(I corrected some of the typos and iPad misspellings in the original, hopefully I got them right).
“…in my Latour book I said that his philosophy contains the four key concepts of actors, irreductions, translation, and alliance. All are crucial, but in a sense OOO departs from Latour on all four, at least in my version of OOO. Namely,
- Actors are not all equal. There is a difference between real and sensual objects, and it is absolute, they are radically different in kind.
- Latour holds that nothing is either reducible nor irreducible to anything else. My position, contrary to false assertions that I think spaghetti monsters are as real as atoms, is that real objects are never reducible and sensual objects always are. There is, however, some difficulty in knowing which objects are real. We can never be sure of this, in fact. No intellectual intuition allows us to make this determination; the belief in a given real object is always falsifiable.
- As for translation, Latour holds that all relations are mediated. I counter that this leads to a Zeno-like paradox, and that there is in fact a kind of direct contact: a real-sensual link is always direct, whereas real-real is always linked by the sensual and sensual- sensual is always linked by real.
- As for alliances, whereas for Latour a thing is determined by its alliances, I hold that it is determined only in isolation from its alliances.”