I’ll add to this as terms occur to me, but hopefully it’s a good start.


Act: Local manifestations, qualities, or properties of objects. Qualities or local manifestations are not possessions of objects, but rather acts of objects.

Actant: (Bruno Latour) Synonym for any object. Designed to emphasize the manner in which objects are active and not merely passive recipients of action.

Actualism: (Roy Bhaskar) Any philosophical doctrine that holds that only the actual is real. Examples: Empiricism’s reduction of all beings to actual sensations or impressions, atomism’s reduction of true being to collection of purely actual, indivisible atoms localized in time and space, or relationisms reduction of objects to their relations to other objects.

Asymmetrical Qualities: Local manifestations of an object that are irreversible in the order of time or through a shift in exo-relations. For example, it’s unlikely that I can revert back to my physical being at the age of 12 (though many will say I often behave like I’m twelve). Contrasted with symmetrical qualities.

Attractor: Powers of an object to produce qualities of a particular sort within a particular range. Ex. All the shades of color an object can actualize under various lighting conditions.

read on!


Collective: (Bruno Latour) Regimes of attraction or entanglements of 1) objects, 2) humans and objects, but never 3) humans alone (all human action is mediated by nonhuman agencies). Designed to replace the concept of society.

Community: In classical philosophy the category of community is a concept of causality that refers to relations among objects in which all objects involved in a collective are simultaneously causing and effecting one another. For example, the earth exerts gravity on the moon just as the moon exerts gravity on the earth. Community can pertain to either the endo-structure of relations among parts in a discrete object or to relations among objects in a collectively. In the latter usage the concept of community is closely related to that of regimes of attraction.

Correlationism: (Quentin Meillassoux) The thesis that being and thought can never be thought apart from one another. The dominant, though often implicit, axiom of contemporary philosophy and all variants of anti-realism and idealism. A form of overmining.


Difference Engine: Synonym for “object”. All objects are difference engines insofar as they harbor the power or capacity to produce differences in the form of local manifestations.

Diffraction Pattern: (Karen Barad) Synonym for “translation”. The process by which objects in exo-relations weave their differences or acts together to form new exo-qualities.

Domestic Relation: (Graham Harman) Relations that make up the internal composition or structure of an object independent of other objects. In onticology synonymous with endo-relations, endo-composition, endo-structure, or virtual proper being.


Endo-Qualities: Qualities or local manifestations that arise from an object alone, independent of any exo-relations to other objects.

Endo-Relations: Relations that make up the internal structure of objects, independent of any relations to other objects.

Entanglement: To replace the word “network”. A heterogeneous set of objects inter-acting with one another in a collective.

Epistemic Fallacy: (Roy Bhaskar) Any philosophical position that holds that questions of ontology can be formulated in purely epistemological terms or that all ontological questions can be translated into questions of how we know. Ex. Hume’s rejection of substances as a legitimate metaphysical concept and attempt to treat what we call substances purely in terms of impressions or substances.

Equal Ontological Footing: Not the thesis that all entities are equal or contribute the same degree of difference to the world, but that all entities are equally real.

Essence: Throughout the history of philosophy essence has been associated with types and contrasted with individuals that are treated as tokens of a type. For example, “rational animal” is treated as the essence of the human and Socrates is treated as a token of humans. Onticology conceives of essences as singular essences belonging to a single individual rather than defining what is common to many individuals. The essence of an object is its virtual proper being composed of endo-relations between singularities and powers in an individual object. See also, endo-structure, virtual proper being, domestic relations, and endo-relations.

Event: The local manifestation of a quality or a property in an object. Events belong to the domain of the actual.

Excess: The manner in which the virtual proper being always contains more potential than any local manifestations it happens to actualize at a given point in time.

Exo-Qualities: Qualities or local manifestations that only exist through exo-relations among objects. Ex. Color. Color requires exo-relations between the properties of an object, photons of light, and a neurological system to occur.

Exo-Relations: Relations between discrete and autonomous objects. Often responsible for the production of qualities in local manifestations.

Externalism: The ontological thesis that relations are external to objects. Objects enter into relations but are not constituted by their relations. Contrast with internalism.


Flat Ontology: Any ontology that 1) rejects the nature/culture distinction, treating both cultural entities and natural entities as real entities, 2) any ontology that places entities of all types on equal ontological footing (natural entities, signs, language, humans, animals, etc.). Requires us to think in terms of entanglements of entities rather than in terms of the reduction of one type of entity to another type of entity.

Foreign Relations: (Graham Harman) Relations an object enters into with other objects. Within the framework of onticology, foreign relation is a synonym for exo-relation. Often a major contributor to local manifestations.


Geometry: Geometrical conceptions are conceptions that conceive structures as fixed rather than plastic. For example, triangles aren’t conceived as a series of variations of a structure composed of three singularities, but as discrete and fixed structures such as right-triangles, isosceles triangles, etc. Contrast with topo-structure.


Hegemonic Fallacy: Any philosophy that treats one particular type of entity as the origin of the most significant differences within being. Atomism is a variant of the hegemonic fallacy insofar as it privileges atoms as the source of all difference in the world. All variants of anti-realism and idealism commit the hegemonic fallacy insofar as they treat mind, society, language, etc., as the major source of difference in the world.


Internalism: The ontological thesis that all objects are composed of internal relations to other objects or that objects are their relations, or that being is composed entirely of relations. A variant of overmining. Contrast with externalism.


Local Manifestation: Actualizations of powers of objects in the form of qualities or properties. There is no requirement of a sentient witness for local manifestation to take place. Local manifestations are local because they actualize a quality in a particular time and at a particular place. They are manifestations because they actualize a quality or property.


Media/Mediator: An object functioning as the vehicle for the differences or acts of another object. No medium is ever purely passive or transparent, but rather every medium contributes differences of its own to the acts it receives from the other object.

Mereology: The branch of philosophy and mathematics that studies the relationship between parts of an object and wholes of an object. Onticology and OOO is particularly interested in that mereological relation where the parts of an object are themselves objects and where the whole is independent of these parts and the parts independent of the whole.


Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO): A genus consisting of ontologies that argue that being is composed of objects. OOO is not the thesis that we should focus on objects instead of humans, but rather that there’s only one ontological category, objects, which also includes humans, i.e., there aren’t two distinct ontological domains, one composed
of mind, the other composed of natural objects.

Onticology: My variant of object-oriented ontology. Differs slightly from Harman’s in that I defend the category of potentiality whereas he rejects it.

Overmining: (Graham Harman) Any ontology that argues that objects are falsely deep and should be replaced by something more immediate. Ex, Hume’s reduction of substances to impressions.


Part: Objects that enter into the multiple composition of another object. Parts are always independent of the objects to which they belong by virtue of being detachable from these objects. Detaching a part from another object does not entail that either the part or whole will remain unchanged.

Phase Space: All possible points that can be locally manifested in the domain of an attractor.

Point: The local manifestation of a point in a phase space of an attractor.

Poltergeist/Ghost: A synonym for virtual proper being. Objects are not to be identified with their parts nor with matter because objects can gain and lose parts and matter and still remain the object that they are. Consequently, the proper being of an object is its topo-structure or essence, withdrawn from any actuality or presence. In this respect the proper being of objects is analogous to a poltergeist insofar as poltergeist’s can only be detected through their effects and never directly.

Pornography: A variant of actualism that privileges the human gaze as it relates to other objects.

Power: Capacities or abilities of an object that belong to the virtual proper being of an object. What an object can do. To be contrasted with local manifestation, exo-quality, or endo-quality, or what an object has done. See attractor.


Reflexive Objects: Objects capable of treating past states as inputs in their present states in the formation of local manifestations. For example, a society can deploy events of its past in how it thinks its present.

Regime of Attraction: A network of exo-relations among objects presiding over stable state local manifestations of the objects within the network. Ex. An object remaining more or less the same color because of the constancy of lighting conditions. Alternatively, a person remaining more or less the same height because of the constancy of gravitational conditions.


Society: Collections that are composed entirely of humans and human phenomena such as language, ideology, beliefs, etc. Onticology rejects the concept of society and replaces it with that of collectives.

Split-Object: Synonym for difference engine or object. All objects are split between their local manifestations and their virtual proper being.

Symmetrical Qualities: Local manifestations of an object that can revert back to a prior local manifestation when exo-relations change. For example, the color of an object changes depending on lighting conditions but it locally manifest previous colors when lighting conditions or exo-relations shift.


Time-Space Worms: Split-objects comprehended in the duration of their existence, no matter how brief, across time-space.

Topo-Structure: From “topology”. Topology is often referred to as dynamic or rubber sheet geometry. Where classical Euclidean geometry studies fixed forms, topology investigates the transformation of forms into one another through operations of bending and stretching. Onticology conceives the virtual proper being or essence of split objects as plastic topo-structures.

Totality: The endo-structure and virtual proper being of discrete or individual objects. Domestic relations. A totality is a structure in which singularities are interdependent with one another. All objects are open totalities.

Translation: The process whereby the acts of one object are received by another object in an exo-relation producing a new exo-quality as a result. Ex. The manner in which an artist’s conception must be translated into a medium such as paint, marble, or language. Alternatively, the manner in which the stones of the Grand Canyon translate the force of the wind creating a unique configuration of stone.

Transportation: The manner in which the acts of one object are transmitted to another object. There is no transportation without translation (Latour).


Undermining: (Graham Harman) Any ontology that argues that objects are too superficial and should be replaced by some allegedly deeper strata of reality. Ex, atomism’s reduction of objects to atoms or Thales’ reduction of objects to water.


Vehicle: An object that carries the difference or act of another object in an exo-relation. The mediation of the act of another object by an object. No object is a pure vehicle for the act of another object, but rather each object carrying the difference or act of another object also contributes differences of its own producing unique exo-qualities. Media are never transparent or purely passive. See translation. Ex. The game of “telephone” among children.

Virtual: Not to be confused with virtual or artificial reality, nor with possibility. The term “virtuality” derives from the Latin “vitus” and has connotations of power, potency, or strength. The virtual refers to the powers or potentials of an object. Contrasted with actuality which always refers to qualities of an object that are actualizations of a power of an object.

Virtual Proper Being: The withdrawn being of objects defined by the powers and endo-relations of an object. To be contrasted with local manifestation. Virtual proper being is among the conditions of local manifestations.


Withdrawal: (Graham Harman) Within the framework of onticology the manner in which 1) objects are independent of other objects, 2) objects are always distinct from any qualities or local manifestations they happen to actualize at a given point in time, 3) the manner in which the virtual proper being of any object is in excess of any of its local manifestations.

About these ads