“We only ask for a little order to protect us from chaos” (Deleuze/Guattari 2005: 189). The adventure of ontological distinctions might be our way to find a home in a merciless world. It is evident that we cannot survive without cutting through the thicket of impressions that we cannot process without creating just “a little order,” but we might be inclined to go a bit further and make ourselves comfortable in a niche where the world cannot touch us. But maybe it is also due to that niche that we become unable to touch the world — whereby we find ourselves in the midst of ontology.
The critical knife cuts both ways, where what we might assume to be the most self-evident in our daily usage of language turns out to be the sediment of historical processes, or where the attempts to find the foundations of our practices, like mathematics, start hindering our progress and make us turn in circles. But it might also be the good old philosophical “going too far” that might help us see through life’s unbearable discontinuities that we unwillingly perpetuate with our unreflected notions and discover an undercurrent that we’ve taught ourselves to unsee. Ontology, as a search for the underlying structure of Being, might just be marked by this ambivalence, where the search for the irreducible principle is riddled with blind spots, while the blind spots proliferate once we get too comfortable in the arrangement we’ve established. There is a cliché in both, the endless questioning and the final answers, and in the end the best that we can hope for might just as well be the comfort we’ve been seeking all along.
But let us not dwell on this bleak point, and invite you to read our authors’ meditations on the question of philosophical distinction and its multifaceted consequences.