I really don’t think we can cleanly separate ethical questions from ontological questions. For the last few years I’ve pulled away from my prior ontological commitment to the thesis that objects are withdrawn from one another, instead proposing an ontology that conceives entities as pleats or folds (I do think my formulation is significantly different than Deleuze’s inasmuch as I can understand what he’s arguing, though maybe not. At a certain point you just have to get to work and not worry over such things…. I would like to see a new translation of his book on Leibniz by someone competent in the mathematics that is central to his project). The idea is basically this: the minimal unit of being is not individuals (things, substances, or objects), but rather things and fields. Things are something like waves flowing across fields. As such, they pleat or fold features of those fields into themselves. In a way that would make Plato or Hegel frown, I always think in terms of examples or concrete cases from which I make abductions or arrive at more general categories. I’m guilty of what Hegel called “picture thinking”. It is always concrete cases that are most important to me conceptually.

So in this case I think of my grandfather. He had a very unique walk. He was a walking wave. I mean this literally, not metaphorically. You see, he had spent much of his life at sea on tugboats and barges. His walk was the result of how he had pleated the rhythmic waves of the ocean into his body. Similarly I think of the trees about my house. Their canopies grow in a northerly direction. We get strong winds here that come from the south. The trees pleat that wind into themselves determining the direction the grow. They’re a sort of “en-wood-ened” wind. So there is the individual (my grandfather, the tree) and the greater than individual field (the ocean rhythms, the wind) that gets folded into the individual leading it to form the characteristics it has. The features and events of the field are folded into the individual and unfolded in unique characteristics that are a sort of synthesis of the individual and the field. This is why entities are waves. Every wave is a singularity, a unique ongoing event, that emerges in dialogue with ocean currents, the features of the sea bed, wind, and the shoreline. And, of course, folding works in the opposite direction as well. The field pleats the individual, changing in its encounter with the individual. Beaches are dynamic and ever changing in their encounters with each wave. We should not think things as individuals, but as dividuals because they are always intertwined with fields that exceed them.

The ontology of the fold is an ontology of of things intertwine. One might here think of Whitehead’s prehensions. I find the language of pleats and folds more poetic and think poetry, as that which strives to capture what is singular and irreplaceable in language, is important. I’m leery of philosophy that thinks the concept can replace the thing. If somewhat correct, then this means ethics must be rethought as too much ethical thought focuses on the individual. But if we’re all incredibly complex assemblages of pleatings of the larger than individual world, we must be mindful of intertwiningsof our lives with all the rest spanning the entire globe.