Sunday, August 17, 2014

After Nature: After Speculative Realism: On online philosophy, a...

After Nature: After Speculative Realism: On online philosophy, a...: Bill Benzon at New Savanna blog has a write up HERE on how he perceives the academy to be changing - specifically the academy understood a…
And Leon goes on from there to offer a sometimes thoughtful sometimes formulaic response to my post.

First, Leon reads me rather too strongly. That post was a quicky when originally put up and so was the repost, perhaps rather too much so. One thing he says that I find, shall we say, irritating is "Benzon believes that as the economy changes learning will too." I said that? It's the word "economy" that I find bothersome, not a word I used nor even implied. What I talked of was a "society-wide shift" that's been going on for the past 50 years. I said nothing about the economic sector specifically and for good reason: I don't believe that the economy is in the institutional driver's seat. I'm not sure that any one sector enjoys that status.

But that's not a discussion I want to enter into here.

And while I certainly did point to philosophical events then taking place in the blogosphere concerning Speculative Realism and Object Oriented Ontology, I certainly didn't say that all the action's shifted to the blogosphere. With respect to the blogosphere my point was more modest: interesting things are happening here. I specifically mentioned Graham Harman, not simply because he is a devotee of OOO, but even more so because he's based at American University in Cairo, which is nowhere near the center of the academic world. I was implying the notion that change sometimes/often comes from the periphery: the blogosphere, Cairo. I suppose the American University of Beirut is as peripheral.

And I suspect, though I don't specifically recall, that I mentioned Morton for the same reason. Back then he was blogging proflically (not so now, he posts less frequently and his posts are shorter) and he's an English professor, not a philosopher at all. For reasons I've articulated at some length in my series of posts on Hyperobjets I still find his thinking interesting.

I don't know how the intellectual world is shifting. But interesting work IS taking place via the blogosphere and more generally the web. Alan Liu has recently put up a more nuanced and detail post that touches on these issues: Theses on the Epistemology of the Digital: Advice For the Cambridge Centre for Digital Knowledge. I'll end with a paragraph of his:
But alluding to the Enlightenment forecloses as much as it discloses. An honest effort to grapple with digital knowledge will also require the Centre for Digital Knowledge to let go of too fixed an adherence to established modern ideas of knowledge (here simplistically branded “Enlightenment”). Those ideas are bound up with philosophical, media-specific (print, codex), institutional (academic and other expert-faculty), and “public sphere” configurations of knowledge that co-evolved as the modern system of knowledge. But today there are new systems, forms, and standards of knowledge, including some that refute or make unrecognizable each of the modern configurations mentioned above–e.g., algorithmic instead of philosophical knowledge, multimedia instead of print-codex knowledge, autodidactic or crowdsourced instead of institutional knowledge, and paradoxically “open”/”private” (even encrypted) instead of public-sphere knowledge.

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