“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Producers: Processes or Objects?

The trouble with the substance–production debate (HT Levi Bryant) is that each side in the debate holds asymmetrical of what is being discussed.

For process relationists, production is different from substance. Substances are agglutinations, vortices, reifications, abstractions etc. of an ongoing production process.

For object-oriented ontologists, production is a substance. (Luckily the English term is a gerundive so you can sort of see what this means when you think of production as a noun.)

This is what “substance is anterior to production” means for OOO.

What it means for process relationism is that in the beginning, at time 0, there were solid lumps. Process relationism can't accept this. Of course it can't.

But what OOO means by anterior is that substance subtends production. What does this mean? Production is substance.

Think of a musical: it's a production. It has a producer. The production is a substance. The producer is a substance.

Production doesn't have to mean “process of production.” That already weights the scales in the process relational direction. We've also come to accept the Marxist notion that products are reifications of a deeper production process.

Seen this way, processes are simply objects that inhabit a higher dimensional phase space. When you look at them from the vantage point of the higher dimensional space, they are quite solid and static. They appear to flow in our dimension. So to some extent the notion that mysterious processes subtend visible subsances is a form of correlationism.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Synchronicity! I was writing about Antony Lisi's E8 Theory tonight, which proposes that the universe can be explained by an extraordinary mathematical object called E8, a complex shape described by a pattern of 248 points in eight dimensions, with a structure that, if written out as an equation in tiny print, would cover an area the size of Manhattan.


I mean think of it: an object that inhabits many levels of being, that crosses over between horizons of being into a myriad of dimensions, interacting with objects from differing levels... both weird and at once, astounding! It could be that what is process on one level is just the sensual notes of an object playing out their music in another level of being... rather than process we have nothing but objects everywhere, and at all times, in all dimensions doing what they do best, creating other objects!