Chronically Unstable Ontology: Ontological Dynamics, Radical Alterity, and the “Otherwise Within”
In this article, Jon Henrik Z. Remme develops an anthropological approach to ontology that highlights dynamics, transformation and the permeability of ontological boundaries.
Drawing on empirical material from Ifugao, the Philippines, Remme develops an approach to ontology that emphasizes its chronically unstable character. By showing how relations between humans and nonhuman beings within both Ifugao animism and Pentecostalism are intrinsically unstable and how boundaries between them are partially traversable, Remme demonstrates how ontological differences are transformed, stabilized and destabilized through practice. Remme shows further how such ontological dynamics entail that emerging entities such as humans and spirits always possess a potential for transformation and metamorphosis. Becoming and remaining to become a human is thus an effect of keeping this potential for becoming otherwise at bay. Remme suggests that the ontological dynamics of Ifugao animism and Pentecostalism point toward a rethinking of radical alterity as unbounded, transformative and related to an otherwise existing within emerging entities.