IS ONTOLOGY MAKING US STUPID? This is the title of my paper given at Bernard Stiegler’s Summer Academy. In it I consider the ontologies of Louis Althusser, Graham Harman, and Paul Feyerabend.
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). So I discuss Althusser and Graham Harman as exemplifying synchronic ontology, giving a reading of Harman’s 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.