I’ve been scampering and doing a troll-like stumble, following along with Tim Morton‘s logorrheic flights for some time now, and gotten twinks of excitement about things like Speculative Realism and Object Oriented Ontology (OOO). Of course I have no thorough (or even scanty) background in this stuff or its antecedents, but it gets me tweaked, nonetheless.
So I was happy when I found an all-access kiddie primer on OOO on Ian Bogost‘s web site:
So, I thought I’d try to work on a simple, short, comprehensible explanation of object-oriented ontology so I don’t find myself in this bind in the future. My goal is to assume zero knowledge whatsoever about the history of philosophy or its current trends, even if that means massive oversimplification. I’ve also hoped to offer a characterization of the overall approach of OOO rather than any one position within it. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
Ontology is the philosophical study of existence. Object-oriented ontology (“OOO” for short) puts things at the center of this study. Its proponents contend that nothing has special status, but that everything exists equally—plumbers, DVD players, cotton, bonobos, sandstone, and Harry Potter, for example. In particular, OOO rejects the claims that human experience rests at the center of philosophy, and that things can be understood by how they appear to us. In place of science alone, OOO uses speculation to characterize how objects exist and interact.
This is tentative, and I’m posting it here to seek feedback and discussion, not to declare myself victorious. So, have at it.
Update: Here’s an alternate version, crafted based on some of the excellent discussion below. I’m sure I’ll go through a few of these before finding the right one.
Ontology is the philosophical study of existence. Object-oriented ontology (“OOO” for short) puts things at the center of this study. Its proponents contend that nothing has special status, but that everything exists equally—plumbers, cotton, bonobos, DVD players, and sandstone, for example. In contemporary thought, things are usually taken either as the aggregation of ever smaller bits (scientific naturalism) or as constructions of human behavior and society (social relativism). OOO steers a path between the two, drawing attention to things at all scales (from atoms to alpacas, bits to blinis), and pondering their nature and relations with one another as much with ourselves.