What’s in OOP for me?
Lately I’ve spent a lot of time wondering exactly what it is that interests me in the object-oriented front. Not that I’m wondering whether or not I should be interested; it’s fact that I am. What I’m wondering is why, given that the main focus of the “work” I’m doing (or should be doing) right now lies fairly far afield of the issues discussed in OOP blogs and publications. It’s not that I don’t think one can’t or shouldn’t be interested in, thinking about, and working on more than one thing at a time (though it does seem ill-advised if the main thing one is working on is a doctoral dissertation). Rather, I have this sneaking suspicion that there’s a lot more in OOP that could be directly related to the philosophical questions about religion with which I’m working. (And which would go beyond the commonalities I see between Derrida and Latour or Latour’s critique of sociology.)
Some of this would have specifically to do with ontology; I can’t deny it. But it’s as if I feel ill-equipped at the moment to deal with ontological issues, ones that I do find really interesting when I read about them here and there. For instance, based on the philosophical commitments I’ve developed on the way to and in the middle of my work on religious pluralism, I find the idea that Latour develops of “variable ontologies” to be very attractive. I also think it could be brought into conversation with (again) Derrida, but also Foucault, in a way that upholds “regional” ontologies without the need for a fundamental ontology or an ontology as such (contra one of Levi’s recent comments). But then, to dive in and flesh out, articulate, and defend this seems like it would require more time and effort than I should give it right now, unless it bore a direct relation to my dissertation. And it doesn’t.
So, is this just a grass-is-always-greener situation? Do I want to work on anything other than what I need to be working on? Partly, but not completely, because ultimately I am (becoming) convinced that OOP isn’t simply another “area” of philosophy, but a positive shift in the way philosophy is being thought about and practiced. So, ultimately I will feel obliged to attempt to lay out the philosophy of religious pluralism that I’m working on now in a more object-oriented direction. The question remains, though, as to what exactly that would involve.
It seems to me that what would be at stake is perhaps nothing less than a reintroduction of classical theological questions back into philosophy. I say reintroduction, because it seems to me that since Kant at least (if not earlier), what is usually called “philosophy of religion” has been a bankrupt enterprise. Arguments like proofs of God’s existence (or non-existence) are unconvincing if not just intellectually silly, and with regard to issues like theodicy or the epistemology of faith, theology is in most cases way ahead of the curve compared to philosophy. I’ve though for a long time, then, that questions concerning God can’t be properly philosophical questions anymore (not the least among the reasons for this being that we, in the West, no longer live in a culture oriented almost exclusively by one religion). It’s starting to dawn on me now, though, that OOP might provide a way to make theological questions approachable philosophically, provided that we take into account precisely the multiplicity of objects of religious belief that now confronts us. It would require accepting (at least the possibility of) the reality of these objects of belief, but again I would point to Latour for more than reasonable arguments as to why this should be no more problematic than accepting the reality of computer software, bacteria, motorcycles, or the unconscious. At any rate, this kind of approach would (let’s hope!) preclude a return to proofs of God, and instead get us oriented toward the way that religious actors interact in the world.