As a result of the Derrida debates, I’ve picked up Michael Marder’s The Event of the Thing. From what little I’ve read so far it looks as if it will be terrific. However, I wanted to draw attention to an opening passage as sometimes OOO has been criticized on these grounds. Marder writes:
A crucial aspect of Derrida’s tendency to think ‘prior to and below’ Kant is the tacit acknowledgment that any attempt to disentangle the thing from the object is necessarily preliminary and provisional, since it threatens to restore the absolute divide between the empirical and the transcendental, by stablizing, objectivizing, and therefore incorporating into the object the distinction outlined. Still, the yardstick (if there is one) for distinguishing the object from the thing is the specific kind of difference each of them entails: whereas the former emerges in opposition to the subject, the latter signifies non-oppositional otherness and non-identity. (xii)
OOO is sometimes criticized on the grounds of the distinction Marder draws in the final sentence of this passage. Here the argument runs that the “true meaning” of the term “object” is “that which is opposed to a subject”, whereas “thing” refers to that which is in its own right. OOO, however, does not draw this distinction, but rather uses the terms “object” and “thing” interchangeably. The reason for this is very simple: OOO does not begin from the standpoint that there is no reason to privilege the subject-object relation over all other relations. The difference between subject-object relations and any other object-object relation is, for OOO, a difference in degree, not kind. Insofar as these relations only differ in degree, there is no reason to grant the subject-object relation any sort of metaphysical privilege. As a consequence, distinctions like the distinction between object and thing are dropped altogether by OOO. From the book’s description, it sounds like there’s quite a bit of overlap between OOO’s conception of objects and Marder’s conception of things. However, if this conception of the thing only emerges within the context of the thing’s relation to the subject, he still remains within the correlationist orbit. But like I said, I’ve only just begun reading so I’ll reserve judgment.