In my research today I came upon this interesting article, “Here comes everything: the promise of object-oriented ontology” by Timothy Morton. (New link, old one broken.) It is of interest not only to speculative realism but also to some recent discussions on Caputo's ontology, modes of apprehension of such, and quantum theory. The article is 27 pages of text so I've culled some excerpts, lengthy in themselves.

 

Excerpts:

 

Speculative realism...asserts the deep mystery of a Non-Nature....object-oriented ontology (OOO)...goes further than this, rejecting essentialist Matter.... OOO is a form of realism that asserts that real things exist--these things are objects, not just amorphous “Matter”.... OOO extends Husserl's and Heidegger's arguments that things have an irreducible dark side: no matter how many times we turn over a coin, we never see the other side as the other side--it will have to flip onto “this” side for us to see it, immediately producing another underside. Harman simply extends this irreducible darkness from subject–object relationships to object–object relationships.... Causation is thus vicarious in some sense, never direct. An object is profoundly “withdrawn”--we can never see the whole of it, and nothing else can either.... We've become so used to hearing “object” in relation to “subject” that it takes some time to acclimatize to a view in which there are only objects, one of which is ourselves.

 

The notion of the “withdrawal” of objects extends my term strange stranger to non-living entities. Strange stranger names an uncanny, radically unpredictable quality of life forms. Life forms recede into strangeness the more we think about them, and whenever they encounter one another--the strangeness is irreducible....the uncanny essence of humans that Heidegger contemplates extends to nonhumans.... The more we know about a strange stranger, the more she (he, it) withdraws. Objects withdraw such that other objects never adequately capture but only (inadequately) “translate” them....This is what “irreducible” means.

 

Rhetoric is not simply ear candy for humans: indeed, a thorough reading of Plato, Aristotle and Longinus suggests that rhetoric is a technique for contacting the strange stranger....[it] amplifies imagination rather than trying to upstage it, and it revels in dislocation, not location.... Harman's imagery differs from ecophenomenological ecomimesis that confirms the localized position of a subject with privileged access to phenomena.... Harman's rhetoric produces an object-oriented sublime that breaks decisively with the Kantian taboo on noncorrelationist scientific speculation....ekphrasis is not about the reaction of the (human) subject, but about rhetorical modes as affective-contemplative techniques for summoning the alien.

 

The aesthetic, as we shall see, is the secret door through which OOO discovers a theory of what is called “subject”.... Melancholia is precisely a mode of intimacy with strange objects that can't be digested by the subject.... To lapse into Californian, OOO is so about the subject. There is no good reason to be squeamish about this. The more the ekphrasis zaps us, the more we fall back into the gravity well of melancholy. Sentience is out of phase with objects, at least if you have a nervous system. So melancholia is the default mode of subjectivity: an object-like coexistence with other objects and the otherness of objects--touching them, touching the untouchable, dwelling on the dark side one can never know, living in endless twilight shadows. If the reader has experienced grief she or he will recognize this state as an object-like entity that resides somewhere within the body, with an amortization schedule totally separated from other temporalities (in particular, the strict digital clock time of contemporary life). Through the heart of subjectivity rolls an object-like coexistence, none other than ecological coexistence--the ecological thought fully-fledged as dark ecology . The inward, withdrawn, operationally closed mood called melancholy is something we shake off at our peril in these dark ecological times.

 

Melancholy starts to tell us the truth about the withdrawn qualities of objects. OOO thus differs from theistic ecophilosophy that asserts, “There is a Nature.” It maintains no absolute distance between subject and object; it limits “subject” to no entity in particular. Žižek's suspicion of SR to do with the “feminine” self-absorption of objects: precisely what he doesn't like about Buddhism. Changing “self-absorption” to “withdrawal” or “operational closure” discloses what's threatening about Buddhism: an object-like entity at the core of what is called subjectivity. Like ecomimesis, Harman's passage affirms a real world beyond mentation. Unlike ecomimesis, this world doesn't surround a subject--it's a world without reference to a subject.

 

If OOO construes everything as objects, some may believe that it would have a hard time talking about subjects--indeed, Slavoj Žižek has already criticized SR in general along these lines. This subjectivity is profoundly ecological and it departs from normative Western ideas of the subject as transcendence. Thus we see off Nature and its correlate, the (human) subject. I argue that OOO enjoins us to drop Matter just as we must drop Nature, and that this means that it can save the appearance of the most coherent and testable physical theory we have, namely quantum theory.

 

Let's turn our attention to... things....how far “down things” does OOO really go? Are these things made of some kind of substrate, some kind of unformed matter? Does “withdrawal” mean that objects are impenetrable in some non-figurative, nonhuman sense? Do objects have a spatial “inside”? Surely they might. But the principle of irreducibility must mean that this inside is radically unavailable. It's not simply a case of the right equipment passing through it, like a knife through butter. Even a knife through butter would not access the butter in all its essential butteriness. The proliferation of things that ecology talks about--from trees to nuclear power--do not compromise a holistic Nature. Nor yet are they comprised of some intrinsic, essential stuff. To dispatch Matter, we must explore the most rigorous and testable theory of physical Matter we know: quantum theory.

 

Unlike some thinkers who discovered OOO in spite of deconstruction, I backed into OOO through deconstruction. SR tends to mistake deconstruction for nominalism, subjectivism and Meillassoux's correlationism.... Contemporary physics concurs with a principle tenet of Lacan and Derrida: there's no “big Other,” no device, for instance, that could measure quantum phenomena without participating in these phenomena. All observations are inside the system, or as Derrida puts it, “There is nothing outside the text” (or, in Gayatri Spivak's alternative, which I prefer, “There is no outside-text”). Arkady Plotnitsky has traced the affinities between deconstruction and quantum physics. People commonly misconstrue “there is no-outside-text” as nominalism: we can only know things by their names. Far more drastically, the axiom means: (1) Any attempt to establish rigid boundaries between reality and information results in unsustainable paradoxes; (2) Language is radically nonhuman--even when humans use it. It would be a mistake to hold that (1) is correlationism. “There is no outsidetext” occurs in a passage in which Derrida is analyzing Rousseau's position on Nature, so it's worth pausing here since this issue is directly relevant to ecocriticism. Derrida tacks close to the text he’s analyzing, which is why he appeals to close readers in the first place. He is not making a sweeping generalization about reality. Derrida is only saying, “Given the kind of closed system textuality that Rousseau prescribes, there is no outside-text.” That is, Rousseau can’t go around making claims about nature, not because there is nothing out there, but because the way he models thinking sets textuality up as a black hole....[but] Derrida abstained from ontology: he considered it tainted by the generalization-disease. Unfortunately this defaults to various forms of antirealism. Derrida's is a sin of omission.... OOO shares one thing at least with deconstruction--refraining from assertions about some general essence or substance at the back of things that guarantees their existence.

 

OOO is troubling for materialisms that rely on any kind of substrate, whether it consists of discrete atoms or of a continuum.... Certain uncontroversial facts, demonstrable in highly repeatable experiments, shatter essentialist prejudices concerning Matter.... Quantum phenomena are not simply hard to access or only partially “translated” by minds and other objects. They are irreducibly withdrawn.

 

OOO is form of realism, not materialism. In this it shares affinities with quantum theory. Antirealism pits quantum theory against its opponents, since quantum theory supposedly shows reality is fuzzy or deeply correlated with perception and so forth. In fact, quantum theory is the only existing theory to establish firmly that things really do exist beyond our mind (or any mind). Quantum theory positively guarantees that real objects exist! Not only that--these objects exist beyond one another. Quantum theory does this by viewing phenomena as quanta, as discrete “units” as described in Unit Operations by OOO philosopher Ian Bogost. “Units” strongly resemble OOO “objects.” Thinking in terms of units counteracts problematic features of thinking in terms of systems. A kind of systems thinking posed significant problems for nineteenth-century physicists. Only consider the so-called black body radiation problem. Classical thermodynamics is essentially a systems approach that combines the energy of different waves to figure out the total energy of a system. The black box in question is a kind of oven. As the temperature in the oven increases, results given by summing the wave states according to classical theory become absurd, tending to infinity.

 

By seeing the energy in the black box as discrete quanta (“units”), the correct result is obtained. Max Planck's discovery of this approach gave birth to quantum theory. Now consider perception, for the sake of which antirealism usually cites quantum theory. What does quantum theory show about our mental interactions with things? Perceptual, sensual phenomena such as hardness and brilliance are at bottom quantum mechanical effects. I can't put my hand through this table because it is statistically beyond unlikely that the quanta at the tip of my finger could bust through the resistance wells in the quanta on the table's surface. That's what solidity is. It's an averagely correct experience of an aggregate of discrete quanta. This statistical quality, far from being a problem, is the first time humans have been able to formalize supposedly experiential phenomena such as solidity. What some people find disturbing about quantum theory (once in a gajillion times I can put my finger through the table) is precisely evidence for the reality of things. (This is a version of an argument in Meillassoux, AF 82–5).

 

Quantum theory specifies that quanta withdraw from one another, including the quanta with which we measure them. In other words quanta really are discrete, and one mark of this discreteness is the constant (mis)translation of one quantum by another. Thus when you set up quanta to measure the position of a quantum, its momentum withdraws, and vice versa. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle states that when an “observer”--not a subject per se, but a measuring device involving photons or electrons (or whatever)--makes an observation, at least one aspect of the observed is occluded (QT 99–115). Observation is as much part of the Universe of objects as the observable, not some ontologically different state (say of a subject). More generally, what Niels Bohr called complementarity ensures that no quantum has total access to any other quantum. Just as a focusing lens makes one object appear sharper while others appear blurrier, one quantum variable comes into sharp definition at the expense of others (QT 158–61). This isn't about how a human knows an object, but how a photon interacts with a photosensitive molecule. Some phenomena are irreducibly undecidable, both wavelike and particle-like. The way an electron encounters the nucleus of an atom involves a dark side. Objects withdraw from each other at a profound physical level. OOO is deeply congruent with the most profound, accurate and testable theory of physical reality available. Again, it would be better to say it the other way around: quantum theory works because it's object-oriented.

 

Probing the quantum world, then, is a form of auto-affection. Bohr argued that quantum phenomena don't simply concatenate themselves with their measuring devices. They're identical to it: the equipment and the phenomena form an indivisible whole (QT 139–40, 177). This “quantum coherence” applies close to absolute zero, where particles become the “same” thing.

 

Implication and explication suggest Matter being enfolded and unfolded from something deeper. Even if it were the case that OOO should defer to physics, in the terms set by physics itself objects aren't made “of” any one thing in particular. Just as there is no top level, there may be no bottom level that is not an (substantial, formed) object.

 

To this extent, “object” (as a totally positive entity) is a false immediacy. Positive assertions about objects fail because objects have a shadowy dark side, a mysterious interiority like the je ne sais quoi of Kantian beauty. Is this nothing at all? Is there a path from the carnival of things to a bleak nothingness? Nihilism, believing that you have no beliefs, maintains that things emerge from an impenetrable mystery. Nihilism, the cool kids' religion, shuns the inconveniences of intimacy. We have objects--they have us--under our skin. They are our skin. OOO can't be a form of nihilism. It's the opposite view (relationism) that tends towards nihilism. Relationism holds that objects are nothing more than the sum of their relations with other objects. This begs the question of what an object is, since the definition implies a potential infinite regress: what are the “other objects”? Why, nothing more than the sum of their relations with other objects--and so on ad obscurum. At least OOO takes a shot at saying what objects are: they withdraw. This doesn't mean that they don't relate at all. It simply means that how they appear has a shadowy, illusory, magical, “strangely strange” quality. It also means they can't be reduced to one another. OOO holds that strangeness is impossible if objects are reducible to their relations. Since relationism is hamstrung by its reluctance to posit anything, it tends towards obscurantism. Relationism is stuck in a Euthyphronic dilemma: objects consist of relations between other objects—and what are those objects? An object as such is never defined. So while ecological criticism appears to celebrate interconnectedness, it must in the end pay attention to what precisely is interconnected with what.

 

This radical finitude includes a strange irreducible openness.

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Yes, that's a discussion I'd like to see (Levin and the OOO crowd).  I just finished re-reading Bryant's essay in The Speculative Turn and was struck again by its lucidity.  I still don't fully agree with his views, but I found myself appreciating the article more this time through.

Perhaps of interest? Harman's book Heidegger Explained free at Scribd.

Putting aside the deep unease that afflicts me whenever Bohr is mentioned & the seemingly insular inutilty (or "slumming it") vibe that accompanies all pan-European, post-Lacanian quasi-philosophical languaging, I enjoyed this passage.  The critique of Relationism is straightforward enough and it seems apparent, does it not, that unless one "owns" the obscuring quality ("strangely strange") of reality by incorporating it one is destined to lapse into obscurantism.  

I am reminded of Adi Da's comments to the effect that all entities have interiority in tandem with their self-contraction (withdrawal) from all other entities.  

Yet the remarks above on "nihilism" exhibit the most narrow and superficial understanding -- as if "cool kids" professing have "no beliefs" were anything but a tangential mock form of deep culturopathic trends which create the problem of nihilism socially, emotionally, cognitively, etc.

And if I hear one more thing about "radical finitude" I'm going to kill myself!

(Is that the opposite of a joke?)

Cheers.

See this post on the emptiness of emptiness in the Batchelor thread for reference. Both Balder and I see at least some of this doctrine in Bryant's onticology. Balder can speak for himself but I see it as follows. Bryant also refutes the notion of transcendent essences, that all suobjects lack such an inherent, independent self-existence. i.e., all suobjects are interdependent or dependently arisen. Granted he ascribes to each suobject substance or virtual proper being, but this is not a foundational essence or "underlying substratum"; it is entirely constructed and immanent, and impermanent.

Now Bryant also asserts that a suobject's substance is not identical to its exo-relations. There is always a hidden, withdrawn reserve that never fully enters into any given set of relations with other suobjects. If and when a suobject enters into new and different exo-relations with other suobjects these relations may draw out or enact novel aspects from the suobject from this reserve. Theortetically at least the suobject's reserve is infinite, since there is potential for infinite variations of interrelated exo-relations.

However a suobject's substance is also constructed from material in the environment and organized through its endo-relations. So even here there is no non-material (metaphysical) essence, and in this sense even its substance is constructed and dependently originated. Its 'empty' (full) withdrawn endo- relations are not timeless or changeless, for even its substance undergoes continual change in response to its exo-relations.

We might find homeomorphic equivalencies with Prasangika's ultimate nature to withdrawn substance, and conventional nature to actual manifestations via exo-relations, since both sets are mutually entailing is similar ways.

I agree that Bryant smells faintly of onions (Tsongkhapa joke?).  

I would argue that the basic "causal" constraints necessary for any (even apparent) activity to occur are necessarily eternal -- the most general parameters which allow any reality to be enacted.  Now the specific isness (virtual proper being) of a suobject is a formal entity that seems to come and go and therefore must be understood as a locally-appearing, relationally-defined temporary entity.  This gives rises to a historical debate in Buddhism about whether we should say it "is" or "really it isn't".  And that debate bifurcates again among people who apply this same logic to the "emptiness" implied by temporary, locally-appearing, relationally-defined entities.  Is it really?  Or, really, isn't it?  Today we implicate Onion Valley Man & Candrakirit in the Tibetan lineage of these arguments.  Some implicate Nagarjuna but I refuse to do so on the grounds that he was a proto-Zen master misinterpreted as a Buddhist logician.

And, yes, I certainly don't mind saying that the virtual proper being of the suobject is not a transcendental essence (i.e. non-local, permanent) merely because it is characterized by a withdrawn reserves which never fully enters into any given set of relations.  In a move similar to the niggling arguments of the Tibetans we could erect two schools which argue whether Bryant is really saying no to transcendental essences or whether he is specifying what kind of transcendental essences there really are.  There appears to be a little wiggle room either way if we become easy with the terminology.  BUT thinking about this causes me to sway dangerously toward those essences in the following form:

Essence is the "flavor" or pattern associated with a changing, temporary & local structure but this pattern is not necessarily limited to this local event.  It may repeat ostensibly anywhere at anytime.  It is a formal aspect "sea of pattern potentials" which, being massless and unmanifest, require no additional realm for their conceptual but must themselves be viewed as utterly implicit to the total fabric of the immanent reality.  There is no immediate reason why these pattern-potentials need not also partake of a subojective withdrawnness which may be necessarily associated with their capacity to act as subjective entities.  So a man lives and dies in ancient India, another on Mars in 2069, another is virtually replicated inside a AI virtual space.  If their patterns are similar enough they demonstrate a sameness externally and perhaps internally adapt to a self-similar intensity of consciousness which reaches a threshold sufficient to say that they "are" the same guy.  Reincarnation?  Transcendental essence?

What do we make of a repeatable immanent virtual proper being that withdraws from observers and has both objective and subjective possibilities?  What's the neologism for this?  

I'm pretty sure Bryant is not Buddhist literate, so any faint (and/or noxious) smells are of my making.

And yes, I implicate Nagarjuna, as does Candrakirti and Tsongkhapa. I realize just about everyone in Buddhist circles goes back to Nag with their interpretations. As to which are better is obviously up for grand debate.

I'd suggest though that we might frame any of these views through a postmetaphysical lens. I know you started a thread on it as to what it might be or not. One of the things that is generally accepted that it is not is foundationalism based on eternal, unchanging essences. This point is also generally accepted in virtually all Indian and Tibetan Pransangika, though it can be argued (and I certainly have) that some Tibetan sects try to sneak it in the backdoor.

As for Bryant, he seems to agree on this point from a western, non-foundationist, philosophical perspective. And yes, he also seems to posit not essence but substance (as he defines it), and it is most certainly a form of realism (metaphysics). But he adamantly denies that it comes from a "sea of pattern potentials,"* for that leads back to essence. He claims each individual suobject's substance is unique. I suppose this would apply even to a clone, for that clone, though with identical DNA, would not go through exactly the same experiences, the same environment, the same climate, etc. so that it too would have a unique substance.

* In Buddhist-speak, the alayavijnana. Thakchoe has argued that this is what some Tibetan Prasangika sects in fact promote but couched in other terminology with strict qualifications.

Yeah this is a pretty interesting and open-ended type of investigation.  A lot of it hinges on this fundamental question (which you mention) about whether everything is always unique or whether identicals can return.  It's like the question about the Cartesian cogito -- is that first "I" really the same thing as that second "I"?

For me we

(1) cannot ultimately get on one side or other of this issue

(2) must pragmatically act AS IF there are instances of the same-returning

(3) approximate something like "post-metaphysical" by asking these questions, by risking these spaces, rather than by landing on a particular position relative to metaphysical assertions.

So does the same ever really repeat?  That "really" appears to be an agent of espionage within my own sentence!

We can suggest that such identicality might not "be", that every instance is unique, but we are almost instantly subsumed by performative contradictions (which we have some linguistic leeway to wriggle out of... but not by much).  Personally I treat "=" and "identical" as though they meant "maximally identical".  

So now I'm acting like the Onion Valley Man and asserting that two truths describe one ontological-but-tricksy reality.  Maximally identical means it is open to the possibility that nothing repeat, that there is no sameness, but in the same instant it is closed to all the consequences and conundrums which arise.  If "same" means "functionally the same for all our purposes" then I can affirm sameness without too many qualms.

On the other hand, if I want to say, "No two things are ever the same" then I immediately need to begin qualifying this claim until it explains why we constantly encounter the functional appearance of difference-differing-from-sameness.  And, sure, we could be compress that whole relation into the definition of difference itself but I don't think that changes the situation very much.  It just packs it tighter.  

So will all of this in mind I lean pretty heavily towards an affirmation that the same pattern can repeat.  And I am not entirely sure it is fair to attribute speculative substantial otherness to "objects" but not to "object-like pattern structures".

Which leads me to an old feeling that avant-garde Western theory deals largely with causal-gross interactions (rendered pretty admirably in Bryant) while leaving out the realm of subtle objects.  I use "realm" semi-sarcastically.  Deleuze and Zizek seem to lean towards embracing the subtle as the virtual being of pure surfaces, the sensory-per-se.  Or that's my reading because it corresponds to my own contemplations and glimpsings.  So my approach would be to supplement Bryant with an additional class of massless, qualitative objects which can be considered as maximally self-similar repeating pattern-potentials which nonetheless occur only as implicit-immanent-contextualized & relationally-identified entity-events which do not inhabit a transcendental "other space".

Incidentally, it is a pleasure talking with you.


The Whiteheadian theologian, Roland Faber, discusses religious universals using the term, re-enactment.  He doesn't posit self-existing universal religious essences, but rather locates this universality in lineages of re-enactment.  (Reminiscent, perhaps, of Peirce's "habits," but at a "higher" register, where in both instances there is repetition but not absolute invariance).  Maybe (an extended version of) "re-enactment" can be a way of describing the appearance of "ongoing sameness" in object ontology (while reinforcing relations of OOO to enactive theory and/or Latour's notion of actants)?


Layman Pascal said:

Yeah this is a pretty interesting and open-ended type of investigation.  A lot of it hinges on this fundamental question (which you mention) about whether everything is always unique or whether identicals can return.  It's like the question about the Cartesian cogito -- is that first "I" really the same thing as that second "I"?

For me we

(1) cannot ultimately get on one side or other of this issue

(2) must pragmatically act AS IF there are instances of the same-returning

(3) approximate something like "post-metaphysical" by asking these questions, by risking these spaces, rather than by landing on a particular position relative to metaphysical assertions.

So does the same ever really repeat?  That "really" appears to be an agent of espionage within my own sentence!

We can suggest that such identicality might not "be", that every instance is unique, but we are almost instantly subsumed by performative contradictions (which we have some linguistic leeway to wriggle out of... but not by much).  Personally I treat "=" and "identical" as though they meant "maximally identical".  

So now I'm acting like the Onion Valley Man and asserting that two truths describe one ontological-but-tricksy reality.  Maximally identical means it is open to the possibility that nothing repeat, that there is no sameness, but in the same instant it is closed to all the consequences and conundrums which arise.  If "same" means "functionally the same for all our purposes" then I can affirm sameness without too many qualms.

On the other hand, if I want to say, "No two things are ever the same" then I immediately need to begin qualifying this claim until it explains why we constantly encounter the functional appearance of difference-differing-from-sameness.  And, sure, we could be compress that whole relation into the definition of difference itself but I don't think that changes the situation very much.  It just packs it tighter.  

So will all of this in mind I lean pretty heavily towards an affirmation that the same pattern can repeat.  And I am not entirely sure it is fair to attribute speculative substantial otherness to "objects" but not to "object-like pattern structures".

Which leads me to an old feeling that avant-garde Western theory deals largely with causal-gross interactions (rendered pretty admirably in Bryant) while leaving out the realm of subtle objects.  I use "realm" semi-sarcastically.  Deleuze and Zizek seem to lean towards embracing the subtle as the virtual being of pure surfaces, the sensory-per-se.  Or that's my reading because it corresponds to my own contemplations and glimpsings.  So my approach would be to supplement Bryant with an additional class of massless, qualitative objects which can be considered as maximally self-similar repeating pattern-potentials which nonetheless occur only as implicit-immanent-contextualized & relationally-identified entity-events which do not inhabit a transcendental "other space".

Incidentally, it is a pleasure talking with you.

Alexander Norman, in the introduction to his "Holder of the White Lotus", observes that while he is undecided about whether or not Dalai Lamas actually re-incarnate... he is nonetheless quite certain that the "position" of the Dalai Lama has reincarnated through history from one person to another.  This is a, perhaps crude, example of re-enactment becoming entangled with the concept of universal religious essences.  

Thinking about the difference between "strong Whiteheadian ideas" (Platonic absolutes) and "soft Whiteheadian ideas" (lineages of Peirce-like habits which repeat but not with an assertion of absolute invariance) makes me feel like I'm part of an Obama-led team... since my tendency would be to craft a piece of sliding legislation which could be "recalibrated" depending on the needs of the moment.  

That is to say, my instinct turns to a half-glimpsed image of some strange semantic machinery in which we can dial the contingency up or down to suit the moment and the discourse.  Of course that runs the risk of allowing uncontested metaphysical notions to persist under the guise of political pragmatism... but at the same (sic) time it may reveal a piece of the dynamic (rather than definitive) concepts necessary to stabilize knowledge in these dense and transient forms of philosophizing.  

When we exo-reference a pattern to its contingent relationships we discover constant change over time.  We are, however, haunted by the possibility of endo-referencing a pattern such that within its withdrawnness it encounters all variations as divergences of the same, from the same.  And this speculation is not forbidden because we must already assume something of that kind about time and change...

Nevertheless, I am quite happy to support an extended form of re-enactments which create the virtual/maximal appearance of ongoing sameness in a way that supports emerging theories of enaction & actants.  

Re-enactants?  

Just because a suobject is unique (different) doesn't mean it doesn't also share a pattern with others of its type (same). E.g., a we can certainly identify a human being based on similarities of its type. And this pattern type is laid down throughout millennia so it will no doubt repeat for several more millennia. And yet each individual is unique. And per above, even if we clone a suobject the clone, while even more similar than usual will still be different.

This notion is expressed by Whitehead as "the many become one and are increased by one."* It is also Derrida's notion of iteration, where not only each suobject repeats the pattern of its general type (many) but is also unique (one), its substantive endo-structure is also constantly repeating its individual pattern but increasing into novelty in each successive moment.

* Granted he also has "eternal objects," but again it depends on how we read this. Some may see them like changeless eternal forms but this blog post compares them to OOO's virtual withdrawn. Granted though many more see them as Platonic forms. Bryant discusses both Whitehead and Deleuze on hylomorphism in this post.

Definitely interesting the connexion between the withdrawn nature of an object and this "indifference" of the eternal object to its particular manifestations.  

As for patterns they must almost always, I suppose, have the twin character of unique difference and shared type.  Even the instances of an apparently singular entity through time may be more like a "family grouping" than a continuity.  And yet this grouping depends upon at least a provisional sameness at some level... but exactly how provisional is open for debate.  Perhaps, indeed, it may not need to be fixed but has some leeway.  Reality may permit variability in the eternalness of eternal objects... perhaps the undecided nature of the debate over the degree of virtuality in potential objects should be reinscribed into the nature of the objects themselves.

And I wonder what becomes of Whitehead's "many increased by one" if we run it through Badiou's skepticism about the nature of "one".  That is to say the additional element in the iteration is almost certainly as much a group of additions as it is a single addition (though I know Whitehead's new one was the new 'prehender'... I wonder if there must not be a set of new patterns involved in every additional instance).

Probably I am rambling as it is late and I & a-filled of the coconut-cherry iced cream.  Goodnight.

As to this: "Which leads me to an old feeling that avant-garde Western theory deals largely with causal-gross interactions (rendered pretty admirably in Bryant) while leaving out the realm of subtle objects."

Not so. Akin to kennilingus,* Bryant accounts for subtle suobjects through mereological emergence. And yet even a thought, or a play, or a mystical experience all require some material; they are not meta-physical. They are not reduced to the material but they do not exist without it. But even at their higher level of organization such subtle suobjects are also material, albeit of a more refined nature. They still interact with other suobjects of like kind through a topography and ecology, i.e., not inherently existent and dependently arisen. He also gets into population thinking and epidemiology, something you note with your "family grouping." See this post for details.

* E.g., from this: "What we call 'matter' is not the lowest rung in the great spectrum of existence, but the exterior form of every rung in the great spectrum. Matter is not lower with consciousness higher, but matter and consciousness are the exterior and interior of every occasion." Granted I've argued against his particular way of 'embodying' more subtle suobjects and find Bryant's (and Lakoff's) more empirically grounded, but it's a similar idea. I also like Edwards' kennilingually framed depths of the exteriors, as he gets into the medium of what I call rhetaphor, as does Bryant in the linked post.

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