The following link is to a paper I wrote for a special issue of Europe Now that focused on Waste. Original available here: https://www.europenowjournal.org/2019/05/06/the-multiple-ontologies-of-surplus-food/
This paper draws from Mol’s work, and particularly her work on health. And Ontology is the theory of what is real. Because what is real comes before human understanding and sits outside language, humans we can never fully know or describe what is real. Instead we have theories about what it might (ontologies) be and how we can know it (epistemologies).
These theories are based on a metric of good enoughness. Do they work? All sciences are underpinned by this. Knowledge itself is a human construction, although what we seek to know sits beyond that. Understanding different views creates a whole that is rooted in time and place–an ephemeral reality.
Why does this matter? Well, wen we understand this and that what is real in a given time and place, we can seek to und we stand the qualities of a thing that can be called into existence when we shift the configuration. It’s like alchemy. What was in one circumstance waste material can in another configuration become something that produces value.
Another metaphor for this might be the kaleidoscope, where shifting the elements, foregrounding some, changing the juxtapositions changes what we see and what it is.