I will openly admit that I have not read very much on Object-Oriented Ontology, and that’s because I feel as though I have a very basic objection that isn’t the kind of thing further study or nuance would fix: the whole critique of correlationism basically makes no sense to me. From what I understand, correlationism seems to take the Kantian position that we can’t get at the things themselves apart from our human filters (the a priori structure of human experience) and then takes the next step and says that the only thing that’s important or even really real about things is what they are for us. So far, so good — I’m not 100% sure any major philosopher has actually held a correlationist position as described (though in practice obviously capitalism presupposes such an attitude), but I can agree that it’s a bad thing.
For me, the most intuitive next step to take is the Hegelian one: the apparent obstacle keeping us from the things is in fact inherent to the things themselves. This is a “negation of negation” insofar as the frame that rendered the gap a mere negation is kicked away. By contrast, insofar as I understand the OOO approach, it seems to be a simple negation of correlationism — instead of privileging the human-object relation, it wants to get rid of the problem altogether by going straight for object-object relations, and the human-object relationship is accordingly denigrated, so that even drawing analogies with human experience is somehow inherently correlationist.
So in our recent discussions, it doesn’t matter whether Derrida is actually talking about things outside of texts — he’s still correlationist because he uses language as a model. I don’t understand that objection, though. Shouldn’t the pattern of object-object relations and human-object relations be analogous, if humans really are just one object among others? Totally disqualifying human relations seems to just repeat the dyad between humans and everything else, only it reverses the valuation: object-object relations are what are really important, while human-object relations are scorned. Perhaps this is just a necessary initial gesture to get things moving and make sure that you don’t fall back into correlationism, and maybe if I delved into the literature I’d see that pointing all this out is unfair — but the fact that this is the pattern that reveals itself in conversation seems relevant.
From a basically Hegelian perspective, I would say — and maybe OOO advocates could ultimately agree on some level — that the fact that objects appear to us, if viewed rightly, doesn’t keep us from reaching the object, but rather shows us that the object is always already other than itself, always already split or inconsistent. The fact that we learn of this from human experience doesn’t necessarily submit objects to human ends and purposes (after all, where else could we learn it?) but rather shows us that we, too, are a particular kind of object, one that can never arrive at full self-consistency, can never master reality and make it conform to our plans. From this perspective, the very contrast of correlationism and object-orientation (or at least the contrast that announces itself in casual conversation, if not in the more rigorous investigations, etc.) ceases to make sense — the fact that we started from human experience isn’t the “smoking gun” showing that we’re still correlationists, but is rather the ladder that we climb and then kick out from under us in the mutual becoming of substance and subject.