The Thingiest Thing

I've been working with rocks as a basic form of non-human object. It is meant to be funny, and maybe  a bit stupid, because of the obvious reductionism of choosing something as 'The Thingiest Thing'.

But the seeming arbitrariness of my choice is meant to touch on a few things.

1. The inevitable anthropocentric nature of thought. By choosing a rock as the most objecty object, I'm positing objects as things as far away from humans as possible. So, objects here become the non-human. Which is reductive and dualistic and falls right into the collaborationist trap of separating humans from the world.

But even if I chose gravity, or a dream about flying, or a killer whale, or moss, then I'd be choosing something non-human. In OOO, humans are objects too - just like killer whales or rocks or moss - but to make this point is to inevitably flag up that a human is thinking it. Talking about humans as examples of objects is very alien to western, correlationist thought. So, it's easier to use a rock as an example of an object, because it plays up to the human notion of what an object is (present, inert, not sentient), even if this example is only to illustrate how objects experience the world in a similarly incomplete way to humans.

I'm interested in how a pathological corelationism could leech off of OOO. Like, using OOO to bring objects down to the level of humans because correlationist thought has trained us to believe that objects are more real and present and solid than humans.

2. Reductionism, or undermining, or the metaphysics of presence. Scientism (not the practice of science itself, but the idea of science having a privileged access to reality) suggests that the things we see aren't really things. So, like a sheep is not really a sheep, but is really wool and flesh and eyes and stuff. But then wool and flesh and eyes are really minerals and bacteria and amino acids. And then but minerals and bacteria and amino acids are really cells and cells are really molecules and molecules are really atoms and atoms are really quarks and quarks are a fundemental bit of matter and but also if you subscribe to certain bits of science all the fundemental bits of matter are just energy waves, which is what matter really is.

Which is not necessarily untrue (that quarks can be talked about and measured and described, for example), but OOO posits that all these bits of reality are just as real as each other. There is no metaphysics of presence. Or at least, that should be avoided.

And so, positing rocks as the most basic bit of matter is not only wrong in an obvious, literal sense (like, not everything is made of rock you idiot), but also wrong in the sense that there is no basic material. Things might be made of other things, but all the things are real.


What's really nice about this is that when Aristotle was around, the Greeks had no word for matter or stuff, so he adapted the world 'xylos' for his purposes. Hyle is still used as a term to refer to the most basic form of material - like, the abstract, primary matter of all things.

And in Ancient Greek, xylos, from which hyle is taken, is the word for wood.

So whenever you use hyle to refer to the abstract, primary matter that makes up all things, you are talking about wood.