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Sunday, 23 February 2014

A hauntology of (maybe all) ontographies

I was wondering whether in all ontographies - be them fully worked out ontologies or just sketchy maps of what there is made en passant by some researcher - there ought to be a room for some matrix of permanence and disruption. In other words, a contrast between what stays the same and what can be changed. I guess this contrasts haunts all attempts to picture the world - something has to subsist in order for something else to be modally or temporally variable. This contrast doesn't entail positing a fixed amount of substances - it can be cashed out in terms of something akin to a Doppler effect, something has to stay fixed for a moment for something else to have trans-time or trans-world movement. For example, Leibniz's way is to have an infinite number of substances that get no trans-world movement and travel in time because there are other substances in the world. There is, I guess, always a negotiation between the accidental and the permanent in all ontographies. I'm not sure this is a condition of possibility for them, maybe it is. But I guess they are all haunted by this matrix somehow.

The work of Descola - and his four types of ontology, animism, naturalism, totemism and analogism - seem to vindicate the widespread character of this matrix. The four types are characterized by different negotiations of continuities and discontinuities. In the first, nature is changing while culture is permanent (substantial) while in the second there is multiculturalism. Here, nature and culture are thought as loci for the stable and the variable. In the last two types, totemism and analogism, there is either complete stability - in the former - and total variability - in the latter. They are types of ontology, nevertheless, because they have a particular position in the matrix of variability and permanence.

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