Tuesday, October 6, 2009

3 Types of Relationships Between Selfish Objects - A Brief Outline

In my last post I argued that Levi’s onticological objects are selfish in nature – that is, that if defined by the Ontic Principle, objects must produce with an indifference to what they are producing. This indifference to the product (or the difference made), I argued, is what made the object ontologically selfish, since it is only worried about producing (i.e., keeping its ontological status as real). But this got me wondering what types of relationships could such ontologically selfish objects have?

Yet before I answer this question, I have to bring up a question of my own. For onticology, every object is radically split between exo- and endo- relationships. Exo-relations are between object and object, while endo-relations are internal to an object independent of any other object. My question, then, has to do with the paradoxical nature of such a split, when ultimately all that is needed in order to be is to be-a-difference that makes-a-difference. Therefore, why split the object? What good does this do since objects, regardless of scale, are all differences that make a difference? How can endo-relations be distinguished from exo-relations (unless by an observer)? Aren’t we essentially talking about a multitude of objects in relation to each other?

So in what follows I would like to briefly outline three types of relations that selfish objects have with each other. Please keep in mind that this is an outline, so I’ve in no way concretized my thoughts. But, I feel that such an outline allows me to not only answer how selfish objects – that is, objects which only seem to reinstate their own ontological status as real by indifferently producing differences – come into relation with other selfish objects, but also how essential it is to deny the split Levi finds necessary to discuss objects in the first place.

3 Types of Relationships Between Selfish Objects:

1) Cooperation: In perhaps the most common type of relationship between objects, differences made are differences that make, with little to no reciprocity between the objects in the relationship. In other words, as an object makes a difference, this difference (as object) makes its own differences which do not directly affect the parent difference, and so on. Metaphorically speaking, we can think of the movement associated with this type of relationship as runners in a relay race, each of whom runs in their own style and with their own object-hood, but nonetheless all have a simple relation to each other runner. However, this might not be the best example since the baton might be taken literally as the same difference, when in onticology this is never the case given Latour’s Principle (that there is no transportation without translation). Regardless, cooperation is often weak, and weakens as the chain of differences lengthens.

2) Collaboration: In this type of relationship objects maintain difference production in a more reciprocal nature, unlike in cooperation. For collaboration, two or more objects benefit from the same relation (i.e., they depend upon each other). Unlike in simple cooperation (which we could read as the simple onticological necessity for beings even to exist), collaboration requires that at least one of the objects involved both makes and is made by another object (difference). Such a relationship maintains the object’s selfishness, since ultimately every object involved satisfies the drive of being, yet at the same time collaboration allows for a slightly stronger tie between objects. An example of this relationship would be the way in which the organs in my body each rely upon each other. So that my heart depends upon my lungs to provide it with enough oxygen, and my lungs depend upon my heart to pump blood to them. Collaboration can be either weak or strong, with the objects’ own dependence upon each other being the deciding factor.

3) Collusion: Finally, we have the most important yet most complex relationship between objects. In collusion the ties between objects are so strong that ultimately this relationship itself becomes an object in its own right – that is, the relationship makes its own difference. The collusive relationship obtains ontological status by making its own differences. This is as close to an idea of form as we can possibly get, since one of our goals here is to deny the split object, which presupposes form in the exo-relation. Therefore, instead of discussing a table as having an endo-relation between its parts (its four legs and flat top) and an exo-relation as a complete table, collusion allows for a single relationship between all of the objects involved. It is because of the strong collusive relationship between the parts of the table that the table exists as a whole. And it is because of the strong collusive relationship of the particles in the wood that the table’s legs, or it’s top exists, and so on. This relationship also allows for the irreducibility claimed by onticology since no object can ever be reduced to any other object – or the table (as a collusive relationship) cannot be reduced to a single leg, or the top; but is instead the complete relationship between all of the parts. In this way collusion is different than both cooperation and collaboration since it provides the structure for a new object or a new difference to be made.