Okay, I’ll post this here as well. (Why confuse people?)
I feel like I’ve stepped into a hornet’s nest. My last post had three goals, and three main points:
(1) To summarize, and to support, recent developments in the dialogue between object-oriented ontologists and process-relational philosophers (not relationalists, who ostensibly say that objects are nothing more than their relations, but process-relationists, who say that whatever there is, is in process and is involved in relations);
(2) To respond to Ian Bogost’s characterization of Whitehead’s metaphysics as “firehose metaphysics,” a characterization I find not very consistent with what Whitehead’s followers get from that philosophy; and
(3) To make a larger point about what Whiteheadians and other process-relational folks find most attractive about that tradition, which is, in part, the way it subverts a very prominent and well established way of thinking about the universe (which I characterized as Newtonian) and, in turn, proposes a fundamentally different one. In that different view, I don’t think it would be possible to say that a mouse shot out into space is still a mouse, because the definition of a mouse would include the kinds of processes (or “procedures”, to use Bogost’s term) that make up mouseness, and that mouse would no longer have any of them. It’s mouse-like form would start decaying quickly, and any internality that was characteristic of the mouse as a whole would no longer be there. To put it in OOO terms, once that internality has withdrawn from the mouse, it has withdrawn for good. (Of course, we can argue about whether the mouse’s fur, its teeth, its spleen, etc., have their own internalities, their own withdrawability. Whitehead would probably say that the “society,” the mouse assemblage, is no longer there, but that other actual occasions may continue. Those don’t constitute a mouse — except for someone looking at it from the outside who thinks it’s a mouse because it still has fur, teeth, and other mouse-like features, for a while.)
Both Levi and Graham have now responded to my post, but only to the part about Newton (in point #3). As I mentioned in my comment on Levi’s blog, I probably overreacted to the mouse. In turn, I seem to have triggered a set of overreactions by dragging in Newton. That was a rash move, and I will readily acknowledge that OOO is generally far from Newton. Graham now suggests that I might not have read his books at all, despite my having spent 8000+ words reviewing his Tool-Being and Prince of Networks, and then replying to dozens of his own posts (which I don’t think I could have done without reading them) in the months following. Obviously, bringing in Newton hit a nerve.
But the mouse stands. (And, anyway, I wouldn’t be writing about Graham’s and Levi’s work if I didn’t think it was worth spending a lot of time on.)