One of the things that we learn from Graham’s book Immaterialism is the difference between Emergence and Growth. I would often mix up these two notions and often wonder, if everything is individuated, how is it that everything grow? or become? I will try to clarify this question, very very briefly in this post, based on the way the book Immaterialism is structured.
The book is about discussing the use of Object-Oriented Ontology in Social Studies. Graham uses the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as a case to illustrate that it should be possible to consider something like the VOC as an object, even though there might not be material object called VOC. Among other important arguments from the book, let us focus on the structure of the book itself, which might itself help us in thinking about the difference between emergence and growth.
The book is about VOC as an emergent object which has hundreds of components and hundreds of effects on a regular basis. Yet, at the same time, the VOC object is produced / put together, it grows, it stabilises, declines, and even dies, eventually. This is how the second half of the book is structured -around the birth and death of VOC. This means, the VOC as an emergent object is not the same as saying VOC is an ever becoming object. This is an important difference to keep in mind, as it might often be mistaken to consider what DeLanda terms as everyday maintenance of the object, including its growth or shrinking, and the emergence of the object -or the object entering into a relation. This also means that not all relations are equally influential on the changes in the object, but only some of them are.
Growth, and even decline / death, of any object is a gradual daily change of smaller properties of the object, real and sensual. Growth can have various stages too in the life of objects, like various stages of growth in humans, animals, plants, trees, mountains, planets, etc. Emergence on the other hand entails birth of a new object by coming together of multiple entities, which does not share the properties of its constituent parts. Manuel DeLanda refers to this as assemblage and Graham as compound objects. For example, the process of procreation in humans and mammals require mating of two bodies; the proliferation of plants can happen by spreading of pollens. Covid-19 is perhaps a cruel example of emergence where the Corona Virus commonly found in bats is now creating a havoc among human species since more than a year. The virus in bat is not of great consequence but the virus in the human body -and the communication corridors of the world, is an emergent object called the pandemic -we can even consider it as a hyper object after Timothy Morton.