Philosophy is the invention of strange forms of argumentation, necessarily bordering on sophistry, which remains it’s dark structural double. To philosophize is always to develop an idea whose elaboration and defence require a novel kind of argumentation, the model for which lies neither in positive science – not even in logic – nor in some supposedly innate faculty for proper reasoning. – Quentin Meillassoux, After Finitude, pp.76-7
Indeed. Why would it be otherwise? To be novel is to be creative; to create. Whence originality? If we knew precisely where, it would cease being original. That’s still to say that there exists better and worse strategies/approaches/stances/etcetera. than others for discovering (uncovering?) the original. This may help contextualise my love for rhetoric and persuasion.
Another quotation, from Tim Morton this time:
The modern age compels us to think big… Any thinking that avoids this “totality” is part of the problem. So we have to face it. Something about modern life has prevented us from thinking “totality” as big as we could. Now we can’t help but think it. Totality looms like a giant skyscraper shadow into the flimsiest thought about, say, today’s weather. We may need to think bigger than totality itself, if totality means something closed, something we can be sure of, something that remains the same. It might be harder to imagine evolution than to imagine infinity. It’s a little humiliating. This “concrete” infinity directly confronts us in the actuality of life on Earth. Facing it is one of the profound tasks to which the ecological thought summons us. – Morton, The Ecological Thought, p.4
The ecological thought seems to be what I’ve been unconsciously struggling to realise, explain, and understand in almost all my research practice. Starting with the videogame blogosphere was just convenient, because naturally we are going to end up “everywhere” anyway, since everything is connected.
The ecologcical thought it intrinsically open, so it doesn’t really matter where you begin.
This is what attracted me to Latour in the first place – here is a thinker with an approach, a way of studying (and, read through Harman even a whole philosophy!) of capturing the irreducibility of the particular while keeping sight of the inexpressible magnitude of the ‘everything’. No Actor-Network account of anything is ever fully closed off. History marches on and adds and subtracts from the original document. New things happen, new actors appear, new phenomena reveal themselves. Old voices disappear, perhaps to reappear again at a later date, like Maggie Greene going quiet from the internet for a number of years, then suddenly she’s back again, making herself heard.
Thinking the ecological thought is difficult: it involves becoming open, radically open – open forever, without the possibility of closing again…
So what original, creative strategy will my PhD contribute? What novel philosophy will it argue, and will I find the conceptual courage to prosecute it tactically (and well). Where is my original thought, and what does it pertain to? I have a few suspects; PhD writing as in-essence actor-network-theory in practice (assembling from traces); assembling from traces as a modern tech-savvy bread-and-butter activity (i.e. ANT becomes doable for any kid with a net connection and an interest in wikipedia’s history pages); the digital subject of knowledge (the blogosphere as an entity itself that ‘knows’ (erm…)); the extended mind as (another!) challenge to correlationism’s desuetude from absolutes (making techno-cognitive-prosthesis a moral act?); a (doomed?) attempt at a non-subjective, non-perceptive bound notion of affordance (affordance is not the right word, but it’s the best I’ve got at the moment. This project runs the risk of becoming kinematics, engineering, or physics/chemistry).