Operative Ontologies

The IKKM’s first research program dealt with the relationship of people and things under highly technologized conditions. This research goal remained also during the second research program starting in spring 2014. It was however altered quite a bit according to the outcome of the first research program. During this first program the ideas of agency theories such as Actor-Network-Theory (ANT), Science & Technology Studies (STS) and the anthropology of art were reconsidered in the frame of media philosophy and research in cultural technologies.

The second research program switched from concepts of relation to operation, guided by the leading concept of Operative Ontologies.

At first sight, this concept seems counterintuitive. Classical ontology for which being is something unchangeable can only think of this concept as a contradictio in adiecto. Operational thought such as systems theory is most of the time regarded as anti-ontological thinking. In contrast to contemporary tendencies to return to pre-critical metaphysics media studies and “Kulturwissenschaft” would agree with Cassirer’s ontology critical formula that science has changed substance based concepts with relational concepts. Operative Ontologies refer to current post-humanist and post-eurocentrist theories of culture and anthropologies which think of themselves as “comparative ontographies” and which document “différents modes d’existence”, “ontological regimes” or “dispositions of being” (Haudricourt, Viveiros de Castro, Descola, Latour following Souriau). Backed up by this state of the art the paradoxical nature of the concept of Operative Ontologies held the potential to fertilize the ongoing discussion on the media technological constitution of the relation of humans and things.