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Product as Process

The paper „Product as Process: Commodities in Mechanic and Organic Ontology” by Knut Ims, Ove Jakobsen and Laszlo Zsolnai was published in Ecological Economics  (Vol. 110, pp. 11–14 (2015)).

The paper explores and interprets the product concept in two different ontologies, mechanistic and organic. The authors argue that a shift in ontology for understanding commodities has crucial implications for economic theory and practice. In mainstream economics the product is understood in accordance with mechanistic ontology as a more or less fixed, atomized commodity, what is exhibited in the shelves in the shops or is represented in marketing communication. In the organic ontology of ecological economics the product cannot be separated from the dynamic network of relations among economy, ecology and society involved in the whole process of the product: from the extraction of natural resources to the processing of waste.

The paper elaborates on how the differences between the ontology behind mainstream economics and the ontology behind ecological economics, influence the interpretation of commodities. To elucidate the two ontologies we firstly focus on Hume’s empiricism and secondly on Whitehead’s philosophy of organism.