Ian Bogost weighs in on the question of materialism over at his blog, writing:

Maybe part of the problem is the singularness of materialism. Gratton cites Harman on materialism being reductionist, and this is what I’m getting at too. Rather than seeking to define definitively the nature of matter (a task that inevitably leads to scientific reductionism), or taking material to mean that which mediates or regulates human interactions (which leads to inevitable correlationism), instead we should desire a multitude of materials. True materialism is an aggregate. Or, put differently, “materialism” doesn’t exist, but “materialisms” do.

I get the sense that many people misconstrue object-oriented ontology as a singular material affair, as a reductionism: “everything’s an object.” But instead, proponents of OOO hold that all things equally exist, yet they do not exist equally. The funeral pyre is not the same as the aardvark; the porcelatta is not equivalent to the rubgy ball. Not only are neither pair reducible to human encounter, but also neither are reducible to one another. In this respect, McLuhan is a better place to look for materialism than is Marx.

There’s a lot more in the post, so read the rest of it here. Here I think Ian hits the core of the issue. Both materialism and correlationisms are reductive positions. The variations of anti-realism all seek to reduce objects to some human related phenomenon, while the variants of materialism always seek to reduce objects to some identical material “stuff”. What is always missing is a genuine ontological pluralism, a promiscuous or slutty ontology, that allows for a variety of different actants irreducible to one type of being. This is one of the reasons object-oriented ontologists tend to refer to themselves as realists rather than materialists. Here Latour’s essay “Can We Get Our Materialism Back, Please?” is rewarding reading.

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