Certain realists (or, rather, “realists”) simply proclaim what the world is like, what it consists of, what sort of stuff is real (or, rather, “real”) – without even a hint of argumentation or even decency of explaining how they arrived at such conclusions. I propose to call this form of realism (or, rather, “realism”) oracular realism.
Let me give you an example: “The world consists of objects,” we hear. “Some objects are sticky and some are bright, some are stinky and some are dim. There are four kind of objects, therefore. These are not static, sticky objects often become stinky, dim objects become bright. It all depends on the speed with which these objects move in the ether.”
“I say the world consists of relations, not objects. Some relations are fast and some are slow. There is nothing that is relating, only the relations themselves.”
“No, the world consists of objects. Instead of arguing about it with me you should develop my theory, see what it does for you, not what it is in itself!”
Any questions regarding this “ontology” are dismissed as irrelevant. Any criticisms are challenged as prejudiced. Any praise is met with exhilaration and supplementary nonsense (“Aha, I see how dim and sticky go together! Thanks, kind person, for developing my theory!”).
It might appear harmless in its utter idiocy and stubborn mediocrity, but it isn’t. It makes claims to knowledge, it disguises itself as knowledge while being, in essence, a series of irrational conjurations. Oracular realism is then a kind of dogmatism – it makes statements about reality (or, rather, “reality”) without providing not only any justification, but also any explanation of how one arrives at such statements. To say that it lacks any real historical development is to say very little – it refuses to explain itself as knowledge while insisting that it is and that you mustn’t question its status as such. Old dogmatism at least graced us with a reference to some higher authority (“The Bible tells me so”); new dogmatism takes even that consolation away from its adherents: things are the way I say they are, period.
Oracular realism as dogmatism, however, positions itself as novel and progressive. In reality, it isn’t simply pre-Kantian, it is unabashedly pre-philosophical:
“Daddy, the rainbow is made of cotton balls!” – “It is, honey, isn’t it?”