Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Patricia T. Clough

Subject Categories

Aesthetics | Continental Philosophy | Metaphysics | Other Philosophy


Ontology, speculative philosophy, Graham Harman, Mark Hansen, Steven Shaviro, Alfred N Whitehead, prehension, relationality, speculative realism, twenty-first-century media


This project is framed in the recent turn to speculation in philosophy which aims to develop new ontologies that deprivilege the human and human cognition, in turn claiming the capacity of all entities to hold agency in experiential processes. New philosophical scholarship is seeing the resurgence of an old problematic within this turn: the ontological debate of substances vs. relations. The study is structured around these two positions, represented by Graham Harman's object-oriented ontology which claims the essence of all entities and Steven Shaviro's understanding of relationality through Whitehead's structure of experience and becoming, respectively. These two positions will help us situate the alternative metaphysics posited by media theorist Mark Hansen in regards to twenty-first-century media’s expansion of sensibility and experiential capacities. His analysis of contemporary technologies proposes a new interpretation of Whiteheadian philosophy that inverts the common understanding of his structure of experience. Hansen uses Whitehead to lay out a new post-phenomenology where twenty-first-century media have access to expanded levels of sensibility beyond human cognition and indeed have a central role from outside in the constitution of human experience. This investigation situates Hansen’s radicalization of Whitehead within this problematic and pinpoints the metaphysical aspects that make his media analysis a valid contemporary alternative to rethink such ontological debate in the rise of the nonhuman. Most importantly, however, it is to think politically of Hansen’s paradigm in relation to new contemporary debates about technocultural mediations of subjectivity in the context of worldly sensibility.