Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Theory and Criticism


Dr. Tim Blackmore


What is to be done about the thing? There is a growing interest in contemporary philosophy in re-considering the ontological status of the object – traditionally considered the passive substrate of human experience. This paper argues that, if we treat the object qua object seriously as an area of inquiry and attempt to accord it – à la Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter – a certain amount of agency, we can come to see it as both unique in its capacities and more than superficially enabling of subjective cognition. By using Jane Bennett’s aforementioned text, Clark and Chalmers’ extended mind theory, and phenomenological description borrowing from Merleau-Ponty, I argue that it is possible to formulate an intuitive and livable account of a vital matter that functions as memory and that, if adopted, could contribute much toward rectifying problematic attitudes about environmental awareness and thus practices.