One of the more idiotic charges that sometimes come my way is that if difference is made a criteria for existence, then we are no longer able to make distinctions. I am not sure whether people who advance such charges are idiots, lack the ability to reflect, or have simply become stupid as a result of their knee-jerk attempts to dismiss speculative realist thought and object-oriented ontology in particular. At any rate, I clearly find this to be one of the oddest charges leveled against differential ontology. On the one hand, what else could we possibly mean by “existence” than difference? What else could existence possibly be than the capacity to make and produce differences? More to the point, however, on the other hand, if difference is the ultimate ground well, that entails that differences differ! Differential ontology allows as many differences as we might like. We can examine the differences that compose a piece of technology. We can examine the differences that compose a city. We can examine the differences that compose fictions and signs. We can distinguish all these differences. We can examine how and in what way these various differences make differences in other things. We can examine degrees of strength and weakness, ranging from things that make very slight differences to things like the sun that make extensive differences well beyond their own being.
The only qualification is that if something makes a difference it is. That is all. It is not being suggested that all differences are equal, that all differences are identical, or that all differences impact the world as extensively as other differences. In a certain respect, it could be said that OOO is an attempt to reset the philosophical clock. Rather than accepted a set of rather bad distinctions that we have inherited from the history of philosophy and that have led to a number of deadlocks in thought, OOO instead wipes the slate clean and tries to begin anew. There are many grounds upon which the various forms of OOO can be criticized. The inability to draw distinctions or speak about differences is not one of them.