requiem for certainty

Archive for October 2007

DeLanda on Assemblages

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I’ve been reading some recent work by Manuel DeLanda lately and I think I may have found in it something useful for the sort of inquiry into contemporary social and political (i.e., cultural) forms I am involved in. My hunch, at this point, is that what DeLanda describes as ‘assemblages’ are in fact quite similar to what Dewey describes as ‘publics’ (on which see point below). Rather than spelling out this comparative hunch, though, I’ll simply offer a brief description of what I take assemblage theory to be all about. Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Colin Koopman

October 23, 2007 at 2:03 am

Posted in dewey, pluralism

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Dewey on Publics

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In his 1927 The Public and Its Problems John Dewey offered an argument concerning the relationship between publics and the state which is useful for thinking about the changing forms of public space and practice today, especially in the context of my current research on emerging internet practices. Although Dewey’s book is in my opinion needlessly difficult to follow (a common stylistic feature of Dewey’s labored prose), the core of the argument runs as follows. Dewey argues that public associations conceptually precede state associations such that states impress coherence upon publics. This, however, leads to a seeming paradox about contemporary political reality insofar as the state in Dewey’s day seemed very strong and efficient but the public it was supposed to organize was hardly perceptible. Had the state outgrown the public, thus becoming an empty husk of a political form? Dewey suggests that in response to this difficult problem we must work to reorganize the new public forms in which we find ourselves. Such reorganization, however, may require that we abandon the terms according to which the old public forms were organized. These terms were: organization shall take primarily on the basis of a liberal state which will proceed by way of instituting a distinction between public and private spheres. Dewey is not clear what new alternative terms are required but he does at least say this much: the new political organization shall be democratic and is likely to invoke democracy through a plurality of means including states, corporations, civic associations, and other public forms. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Colin Koopman

October 13, 2007 at 2:43 pm

Emerging Digital Practices

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Another angle I have been looking at in recent work is a sort of half applied-philosophy half theoretical-ethnography project concerning contemporary digital/internet practices. I am only just now kicking this work off. And I certainly have many more questions than answers. I’m in need of collaborators of all sorts in this so please post comments or email me your thoughts. The basic idea of the research project is an inquiry into the new forms of public and private space that are emerging around and within contemporary digital practices. This is currently shaping up as… Read the rest of this entry »

Problematization & Reconstruction

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One of my primary research foci over the past eighteen months has been the development of a new apparatus for critical inquiry which brings together insights from the two philosophical traditions of pragmatism and genealogy. It seems fitting to inaugurate this new blogspace with a statement of what such critical inquiry might look like and how it might shape up. What follows is just one possible way of developing this apparatus. The project as a whole is still very much in development. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Colin Koopman

October 2, 2007 at 1:03 am