Rein Raud

Being in Flux

“In this remarkable in-depth discussion of social process ontologies, Rein Raud enlists the resources, methods and intuitions of different philosophical traditions to present an original perspective. Adopting a cross-disciplinary approach, he defends a post-anthropocentric vision that honours the speci- ficity of being human, but also decentres arrogant human exceptionalism. This brilliant and erudite book emphasizes the continuity between humans and nonhumans as the necessary premise to explain our ability to make sense of the world.” — Rosi Braidotti, Utrecht University

“Rein Raud’s position in this book is almost the polar opposite of my own. Nonetheless, he brings fresh insights and arguments to the process materialism camp, and his lasting contributions to the debate make this an important work. Both process- and object-oriented thinkers should read it immediately.” — Graham Harman, Southern California Institute of Architecture

Published by Polity Books in 2021

Reality exists independently of human observers, but does the same apply to its structure? Realist ontologies usually assume so: according to them, the world consists of objects, which have properties and enter into relations with each other, more or less as we are accustomed to think of them.
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Against this way of thinking, this book develops a radical process ontology that does not credit any vantage point, any scale or speed of being, any range of cognitive faculties with the privilege to judge how the world ‘really’ is. In his view, what we think of as objects are recast as fields of constitutive tensions, cross- sections of processes. These are never in complete balance, but always striving for it, and reconfiguring themselves accordingly. The human self is also understood as a fluctuating field, not limited to the mind, but distributed all over the body and reaching out into its environment, with different elements constantly vying for control.
The need for such a process philosophy has often been voiced, but rarely has there been an effort to develop it in a systematic and rigorous manner that leads to original accounts of identity, continuity, time, change, causality, agency and other topics. The book engages with a rather broad range of philosophical schools and debates, from New Materialism and Object-Oriented Ontology to both phenomenological and analytical philosophy of mind, from feminist philosophy of science to theories of extended mind and embodied cognition, as well as neurophilosophy and social ontology.

The introduction to the book can be accessed here.