In metaphysics, object-oriented ontology (OOO) is a 21st-century Heidegger-influenced school of thought that rejects the privileging of human existence over the existence of nonhuman objects. This is in contrast to what it calls the “anthropocentrism” of Kant’s Copernican Revolution, as accepted by most other current metaphysics, in which phenomenal objects are said to conform to the mind of the subject and, in turn, become products of human cognition. Object-oriented ontology maintains that objects exist independently (as Kantian noumena) of human perception and are not ontologically exhausted by their relations with humans or other objects. For object-oriented ontologists, all relations, including those between nonhumans, distort their related objects in the same basic manner as human consciousness and exist on an equal footing with one another.
Object-oriented ontology is often viewed as a subset of speculative realism, a contemporary school of thought that criticizes the post-Kantian reduction of philosophical enquiry to a correlation between thought and being, such that the reality of anything outside of this correlation is unknowable. Object-oriented ontology predates speculative realism, however, and makes distinct claims about the nature and equality of object relations to which not all speculative realists agree. The term “object-oriented philosophy” was coined by Graham Harman, the movement’s founder, in his 1999 doctoral dissertation “Tool-Being: Elements in a Theory of Objects”. In 2009, Levi Bryant rephrased Harman’s original designation as “object-oriented ontology”, giving the movement its current name.