I have yet to find a good description of the difference between ontology and ontography. Can anyone help clarify?
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The first is a philosophical term describing the study of being. The second is a geographical term, describing the branch of knowledge which deals with the human response to the natural environment.
In object oriented philosophy folks like Ian Bogost and Graham Harman have started to use the word ontography as a term for composing works that help illuminate the existence and relationships between objects.
Ontography as a 'working method' is beautifully explained in Graham Harman's book 'Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy. The context is Lovecraft's writing, but the principles can be applied elsewhere.
I just started watching a DVD of Michael Hordern in Jonathan Miller's 1968 British TV film of M.R. James' Whistle and I'll Come to You (orig. "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come To You, My Lad" 1904). I happen to be studying theories of consciousness, physicality and panpsychism, all ontological subjects ("ontology" lit. study of being) and I've been quite overloaded the last few days and thought I'd just relax this evening with this one before I carry on.
As soon as I heard "ontography" I was suspicious not because it sounds implausible but simply because I hadn't read or heard of it. According to Wikipedia the word has been used by at least one contemporary philosopher to denote the proposition of an objective but necessarily indecipherable nature of cognisance in a closed culture. If it is a James invention (something in his catalogue of library manuscripts perhaps?) then its a cheekily clever one because it perfectly conjurs up the image of a theoretically important but scantily cited domain of academic enquiry (perhaps I am thinking of "psychophysics" which is the modern science of measuring human sensory thresholds but which was coined in the 19th century and can still have an esoteric ring to those unfamiliar with it).
By word root "ontography" should presumably pertain to, as is fitting for a ghost tale, the attempt to formally describe being, not necessarily non-human, but perhaps as is suggested above, of the nature of things in themselves and to each other, on their 'own' natural physical terms as it were; the noumenal, or the spirit body.
Incidentally the Jonathan Miller adaptation is very well made and imparts a genuine atmosphere of doubt and unease which is well worth experiencing. The accuracy of the film as a portrayal of the at once absurd yet deeply serious and disturbing consequences of an episodal encounter with a spirit force is difficult to match on screen. If you might be more inclined to diagnose a psychotic lapse, then as an exemplary and humourous account it also holds true without further comment.
I don't see why "ontography" can't be used in earnest now or ever, indeed it appears as though it has. I suspect its recent employment may be cavalier although perhaps in saying this I only reveal a stiff English old school mentality. The trend for introducing a new word to draw attention and bring legitimacy to a pattern of potentially pertinent (and publishable) interests is unavoidable but definitely one to watch in academia, which should ideally be clearly distinct from politics and commerce. Spontaneous augmentation of specific terms often appears with subtle but palpably selfish motives which one can easily imagine causing eddies of real obfustication at teaching level requiring unnecessarily time-consuming distillation for prospective empirical integrity or wholesale disposal if none is found. So with "ontography" one would most simply just be referring to a description of being as distinct from the particular or combined study which informs it (ontology). Something to occupy the curious minds of frustrated and stuffed up old bachelors at least I would have thought! If I had a brain. MMMMM
protected by Rathony May 1 at 4:16
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