Very nice and to the point. Thanks for posting this. One question, though: how does the notion that ecological awareness consists in the realization of connectedness in a world in which "there are no clear boundaries" (as I believe you put it here) square with the ontology of objects, which, as I understand it, is an ontology of clear boundaries par excellence? (Please note: I'm genuinely interested in your answer to this, and I have no hidden agenda in asking.) It does seem, though, that a lot of the disagreements over processual or relational as opposed to object-oriented ontologies turns precisely on this question of whether entities are clearly parsed on a metaphysical level. Sometimes it seems that the debates turn to epistemological questions of whether we can see or know the world as having or not having clear boundaries around the objects that populate it, but it seems you are saying that our current ecological realizations, i.e. epistemological and/or affective events, are indeed indexed to an ontological situation in which a lack of clear boundaries obtains. Does this only apply to boundaries between human, animal, and other nonhuman agencies, or does it also apply to inter-object relations? If the latter, doesn't it make sense to say that the debates over processes vs objects are in a sense undecidable, or that these determinations depend on some sort of non-foundational perspectival selections, which need not be mutually exclusive? I'm just thinking through options here, and I'm really interested to hear your response. Also looking forward to hearing your talk at the Nonhuman Turn conference in Milwaukee!
Easy. The difference between OOO and process philosophies on this point resides in what is logically entailed by the metaphysics of presence that underwrites processes.
Process philosophies are faced with Sorites problems having to do with temporal parts. An ooze of process lava is made of temporal as well as spatial parts. The problem is what counts as a “present” versus a “past” one. Sorites problems are cousins of Zeno's paradox and have to do with subdividing beings—what constitutes a heap or in this case a process? Ten thousand grains of sand, yes; 9999, yes; and so on all the way down to one—so nothing constitutes a heap, or everything. Same with a process. Flow of lava at time a, time b, time delta a, etc. The “thin rigid boundary” is a real problem, entailed by the logic of processes.
Whereas OOO is precisely against the metaphysics of presence. Thus there is no problem whatsoever. Boundaries called “present” or “nature” are always totally arbitrary and metaphysical.
Shane's line of thinking is actually a pretty good symptom of the metaphysics of presence that underlies process philosophy—why for me it is a regression from, rather than progress beyond, Derrida.
If you listen to my CU Boulder talk at The Shape of the I, you will hear some filling out of this argument.
This will be argued in Realist Magic.