I have followed the discussion about Object-Oriented Ontology and Process-Relational Ontology ( http://naughtthought.wordpress.com/2011/08/19/ongoing-processes-v-objects/) and Shaviro’s very good response is really near to what I would like to say. I try to ground a process-relational ontology in Simondon’s work and I think this approach can be useful in this discussion.
In my view, it’s a mistake try to make an opposition between substances, objects, or products, in one hand, and processes, in the other. Rather we must learn to think reality as a process-product at time. The critique adressed to subtantialism would be unsuccessful if it’s not able to give an account of persistent objects and only goes in the opposite way –i.e. saying that there are only processes, flows and so on. The first step in this critique must show the limitations of this approach to reality or what is left out in it. And what is left out? As Simondon says, one of the most important failures of substantialism is that it always starts whit already well-formed individuals and, maybe after, it looks for explain individuation. The distinctive feature of process philosophy, I think so, it’s that the primary place of explanation must be the process of individuation which generate the individuals. Maybe this is a fuzzy place where is difficult to enter, but if we don’t do that we won’t be able to understand individuals. Sometimes, philosophy have to deal with fuzzy places, and not only with clear and distinct ideas. If OOO doesn’t accept that the primary are the processes and that the products are the outcomes of the processes which coexist with them, then there’s an important distinction between OOO and PRO, and maybe an opposition. We can’t have individuals without previous (both ontological and chronological) individuations.
Second step, PRO, as I said before, must be able to give an account for persistent objects. We don’t have to deny substances or objects, but his metaphysical priority. Here we can speak of an auto-actualizing structure of the open-ended reality. Inidividuation generate an individual, sure, but this generation doesn’t exhaust the process of individuation (until the final and definitive exhaustion). We can think in a living object, properly speaking a living being. His individuation is the source of his being-an-individual, and he will have further individuations (what Simondon calls individualizations). The crucial point here is that the fact of being an individual doesn’t allow us to speak of a static object with a fixed identity and unity. Some features persists, some objects persists to some extent, but they are always submitted to processes which explain his generation, his constant change and his corruption. The identity, as Deleuze says, is an illusion which hides differences, and the persistence of differences is what explain the persistence of processes (and thermodynamics also show us that). What always persist are the processes, not the individuals. Another time Deleuze: what return in Eternal Return is not the Same, but the Return, the same return of differences. The dinamycal and auto-actualizing structure of reality generate objects with order and stability, but this stability will disappear (and others will appear). Only a reality without differences would have a definitive stability and identity, but this is not, at least at this time, our reality (and we can be happy of that: if not, we wouldn’t exist). If we can speak of individuals without speaking of identity, and to speak of processes without denying the existence of individuals or objects, I think we can advance in our understanding of reality.
I would like to speak about relations and about the distinction between metaphysical and non-metaphysical dimension, with which at first I don’t agree, but I have to leave it for another time.