The time has come for my posts here to become far less frequent. I really need to get cracking on The Democracy of Objects: An Essay in Object-Oriented Ontology and believe that the major contours of my position are outlined and ready to be worked through in written detail. At present this is what the general structure of the book, chapter by chapter, looks like. It will, of course, change as I work through it in more detail. So without further ado:
The Democracy of Objects: An Essay in Object-Oriented Ontology
Projected Table of Contents
1. Introduction– What is the relation between relations and relata? The relation between relations and relata as a key problem in contemporary epistemology and ontology as a result of the anti-realist turn which argues that philosophy should interrogate our mode of cognition of objects rather than objects themselves (i.e., our relation to objects); The problem with relational conceptions of being; realism as a four letter word, the difference between realist epistemology, anti-realist epistemology, anti-realist ontology, and realist ontology; not your daddy’s realism; a respectful nod to Lee Braver; outline of the book.
2. Copernican Revolutions– What is humanism?; A diagnosis of the Ptolemaic orientation of contemporary philosophy; the call for a true Copernican ontology, arguments for a transcendental realism; the difference between transcendental realism, empirical realism, and transcendental idealism; the problem with epistemological and ontological relationism. Here I will rework a number of Bhaskar’s arguments for realist ontology while distinguishing my ontology and, more broadly, object-oriented ontology from Bhaskar’s position. In addition to this I’ll probably take up some of Harman’s critique of the arguments of transcendental idealism as well. What is a transcendental argument? Transcendental realism and transcendental idealism; blackboxes. Surprise.
Part I: The Onticological Analytic– Doctrine of the Endo-Relational Structure of Objects
Preface– The question of what must belong to beings or objects by right (quid juris) in order to render our praxis or relation to the world intelligible, i.e., the need for an analytic of objects in isolation from their relations. The difference between a knowledge of objects, questions of access to objects, and a philosophical ontology of objects. Why ontological questions are not exhausted by epistemological inquiries or questions of access.
3. The Principles of Onticology– The Categorical Scheme: Whitehead and the idea of a categorical scheme, the principles of onticology (the ontic principle, the principle of translation, the principle of irreduction, etc) along with their deduction.
Intermezzo– The ontological grounds of anti-realist epistemology (follows directly from the principles of chapter 3). How anti-realist epistemology nonetheless leads to a realist ontology of objects.
4. Spectral Objects– The Endo-Relational Structure of Objects: Here I try to rehabilitate a version of substantial forms and distinguish the proper being of objects from material or physical being. A critique of Locke’s and Kant’s critique of substance. Roughly this is where I treat the being of objects as systems of notes composed of attractors in a phase space. This allows me to articulate the relationship between substance and qualities as well as what persists in objects changing across time.
Intermission– Platonic Reminiscences: For a pluralist ontology, i.e., the domain of being is broader than the domain of natural or material objects. The role that time has played in our conception of what counts as real; Plato’s ontological levels in the divided line and how these grades of reality map on to temporal determinations ranging from the eternal and unmediated to the fleeting and mediated; the problems with equating being with eduring; in defense of “artificial” (i.e., produced) objects and their autonomy.
5. Strange Mereologies: Basically the arguments I’ve been making about mereological relations of parts to wholes, objects containing other objects, the independence of objects from one another, the meaning of the term “independence”, and the necessity of this sort of mereology; a friendly response to Shaviro on becoming.
Part II: The Onticological Dialectic: Doctrine of Exo-Relations Between Objects
Preface– The question of how, in light of the arguments and analysis of Part I, we must conceive relations among objects; the idea of ontological dialectic; Kant’s transcendental dialectic; objects are independent of their relations but this does not entail that objects do not enter into relations, nor that through entering into relations objects are not affected in a variety of ways.
6. The World is Flat: The case for flat or immanent ontology that refuses overmining and undermining explanations (against both reductivism and anti-reductivism); a single plane of being ranging from the least powerful or consequential to the most powerful and consequential in which signs and minds have no less a status to the real than stars and planets and where stars, planets, DNA, etc., are not reduced to minds.
7. Objects of Interpretation: Latour’s thesis that all objects interpret one another, not just humans interpreting the world about them or texts interpreting texts; the theory of translation among split or withdrawn objects; Doctrine of black boxes; the “withdrawal” of objects. Basically an account of what happens when objects interact with one another and how no object is a vehicle for other objects in-forming another object through a transparent, frictionless medium; entropy and work; the problem of ports and firewalls or how do objects communicate?; the doctrine of selectivity or “not all objects communicate!”
Intermezzo 2 Remarks about anti-realist epistemologies again and ontological confirmation of these positions; critique of their excesses and detrimental impact on inquiry. Why anti-realist epistemology nonetheless requires a realist ontology.
8. Networks, Assemblages, and Categories: (I need a better title here) The distinction between an object and a network of objects (the question of when we shift from separated objects to a new object); dependency relations between networks where objects nonetheless remain independent; and the theory of categories I’ve developed in terms of Lacanian discourse theory and Badiou’s understanding of categories; networks as dynamic and ongoing systems. Note on where both Badiou and Lacan go wrong in reducing objects to their categorical or dialectical relations.
Conclusion: The end of nature and culture; implications for epistemology; keeping track of work; asking better questions, the end of narcissism and the affirmation of the wound; the re-construction of the history of ontology with realism as its guiding clue.