IS ONTOLOGY MAKING US STUPID?

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Abstract
I begin by “deconstructing” the title and explaining that Feyerabend does not really use the word “ontology”, though he does call his position sometimes (and the “sometimes” is important) ontological realism. I explain that he talks about his position as indifferently a “general methodology” or a “general cosmology”, and that he seems to be be hostile to the very enterprise of ontology, conceived of as “school philosophy”. I then go on to say that there is perhaps a concept of a different type of ontology, that I call a “diachronic ontology” that perhaps he would have accepted,and that is very different from ontology as ordinarily thought, which I claim to be synchronic ontology (having no room for the dialogue with Being, but just supposing that Being is already and always there without our contribution). I discuss Althusser and Graham Harman as exemplifying synchronic ontology, giving a reading of Harman’s recent book THE THIRD TABLE. I then discuss Feyerabend’s ideas as showing a different way, that of a diachronic ontology, in which there is no stable framework or fixed path. I end with Andrew Pickering whose essay NEW ONTOLOGIES makes a similar distinction to mine, expressing it in the imagistic terms of a De Kooningian (diachronic) versus a Mondrianesque (synchronic) approach.
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Archival date: 2014-06-27
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2014-06-27

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