Monday, September 17, 2012

a note about "point scoring"

I've actually remarked about this once before.  HERE.  The sooner philosophers learn that it's not about scoring points, gate keeping, clutching spots, and trying to run with fashion, the better.

The better?  The rigor of academic work which draws on chains of reasoning in the mobilization of concepts, a striving to creatively attain theses, activity which acknowledges sources and then builds one's own arguments with those acknowledged sources in the background - this would do everyone some good.

Agent Swarm blog has in mind (I think) what I have in mind, see HERE.

Relevant quotes from his post:
Can the internet favour acts of enunciation, and thus of individuation, of a new and more democratic nature? Adam Robbert at KNOWLEDGE ECOLOGY has published a very interesting post on blogging as a mode of philosophical expression....Robbert admits the possibility of a “carnival of ideas” allowing us to renew our feeling of “intellectual excitement” that presided over oour initial enthusiasm for philosophy. But he seems to relegate this to a purely psychological dimension of passionate exchange between peers....Robbert is concerned about an important aspect of philosophy, namely its dialogical dimension. But surely twitter feeds and comment threads do not exhaust the possibilities of philosophical dialogue on the internet, nor are they condemned  by their very essence to be arbitrary, wrong-headed, and narcissistic. An interesting phenomenon is the dialogue between blogs, which permits the authors to take their time in building up arguments and mobilising concepts. 

I would actually disagree with this last sentence only because blogs tend to be scanned rather than read.  Which is why the blog mini-treatise undoubtedly fails (especially when treatise-length posts are hurled at you every other day).

Robbert affirms that “the ecology of the blogging medium doesn’t permit the kind of long-chain, rigorous explication of ideas that philosophy and academic inquiry require”. I think he is right in emphasizing the importance of long circuits and rigorous explication, but I regret this conclusion in favour of the academic style as the only rigorous one. The carnival of ideas , he seems to say, can get us motivated again, but the real work is in the academy and expressed in the academic style.
I think philosophical blogging can let you highlight what Deleuze and Guattari called the “non-philosophical” comprehension in terms of percepts and affects that provokes, accompanies, and extends philophical comprehension. The danger is to confuse this with your own empirical non-conceptualised feelings and experiences. A blog is also adapted to conceptual experimentation (the “carnival of ideas”), allowing your thought to be a little more open, more fluid, more transversal. It can favour encounters with other thinkers. In my case these encounters have been few and far between, but very enriching when they occur, enough to encourage me to keep on blogging despite meeting often with indifference or hostility. The other aspect that I find important is the exploring of philosophy as a “mode of subjectivation” (Deleuze) or a “spiritual exercise” (Hadot, Foucault, Onfray), or as I now prefer to call it a process of individuation (Jung, Simondon, Deleuze, and Bernard Stiegler).

So in essence blogging can let you highlight your comprehensions and perceptions, but the real hard work comes in the crafting of a tight and solid well-argued article or paper which deserves to be slowly read (or carefully listened to) rather than quickly scanned.  

This need not be a strictly "academic" affair (as in it's worth something only if it's in print), but only requires a medium where a slow, engaged response may be afforded.  And typically that happens in the form of articles or books (open access online or print) rather than through tweets and blog posts.  A tweet of 140 characters contributes only to perception war at best, a blog post communicates a flavor or provisionally articulates a thought or hunch or opinion - to be scanned by the reader, no more than 300-600 words, tops.  An article/paper/review is what I read expecting real philosophical work.  

The upside to blogging is that it is fluid and engages creative ideas with other scholars, it is a spiritual practice in the sense it helps to direct and shape one's own philosophical and personal trajectory of thought - a "mode of subjectivation," and that is good.  But when the rubber meets the road, well-argued articles and books shall forever (it seems) trump blog posts and tweets.