The design of OOO

I’m reading an Object Oriented Ontology book. The OOO folks talk about withdrawal of objects from one another. Things are essentially hidden from one another prior to interaction. Is subjectivity part of what is withdrawn into the interiority of being?

We can certainly choose to fold subjectivity into the withdrawal, and this choice has interesting implications. But what if we choose not to? What if we brace ourselves and look at things dualistically as if subjects and objects are not reducible to one another as products or emergent properties, what then? What does this allow us to do? What does it inhibit? What are the trade-offs?

Choices? Uses? Trade-offs? That sounds like design, not philosophy.

I am, in fact, a designer. I used to be a designer strictly by profession, but increasingly I am a designer by confession. As I’ve lived a designer’s life, spending my working hours propping and poking at tricky stacks of multi-meta-level of design problems (“how can my collaborator and I get aligned on how to get our team aligned on how to get our client aligned on how to get their organization aligned on how best to satisfy their customer’s need?”) my mind has been trained to move in designerly ways. The domain of design has overgrown my life.

Now I see design problems everywhere I look. What does that mean? It means that I see nearly everything in terms of interactions among subjective and objective elements. To my eyes most problems are self-evidently design problems. And I find myself second-naturally evaluating things of all kinds as solutions to implicit design problems. A major part of this evaluation is determining if the solution is attempted to solve the best problem, or whether it just accepted the most obvious or or most conventional problem without reflection. Or if the solution seemed to be picked on the basis of the novelty, difficulty or complexity of the problem with too much reflection on the thinking part, and too little on the sense of urgency or applicability — a vice endemic to virtuosos. If I end up rejecting OOO it is likely because I’ve concluded that OOO is a virtuoso’s playground, and not a viable way to re-see reality in more effective ways.

In my world, subjects are characterized by inner-lives that determine their outer-behavior, whereas objects are characterized by algorithmic controllability. The mode of thought best suited to subjectivity is understanding; where the mode of thought best suited to objectivity is comprehension. What’s the difference? Understanding a subject entails acquiring some degree of ability to comprehend objectivity as that particular subject comprehends it. This is true for an individual subject and it is true for an academic subject.

An ideal subject is autonomous; an ideal object is automatic. To the degree a subject is freed from the compulsion to follow externally imposed rules it becomes more subjective and less objective. The goal of a designer is to work inside a free subjects’s objectivity so he or she autonomously chooses to participate in your design system along with the other autonomous, semi-autonomous (constrained) and automatic participants.

I think I am engaged in some pretty complex question-begging at this point. Because I choose to see philosophy as a species of design, I am evaluating OOO as a designed thing and wondering if it will help me think in a way helpful to a designer of philosophies (about design) or as a designer of other kinds of useful, usable and desirable systems for my fellow-beings.

I am playing around with the possibility of studying Science, Technology and Society at Tech.

This entry was posted in Philosophy. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply