Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New Blog Pole

Hi All,

Struggles with Philosophy has a new blog pole running. This time it is asking for your favourite 19th Century Philosopher. The choices are:

Friedrich Nietzsche;
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel;
Soren Kierkegaard;
Gottlob Frege;
John Stuart Mill;
Karl Marx.

the voting box is on the top right of the website.

Let me know if I have missed out any of your favourites.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Nice Interconnected Quotes

'Always Historicize' Frederic Jameson

"Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people." Karl Marx

"God is Dead" Friedrich Nietzsche

"Marx got it wrong! Opium is the opium of the people. we have now become materialists" Rick Roderick

New philosophy blog

News of a new blog from John Protevi:

'In other news, I’ve got a newish group blog I’m trying to promote called “Meta-Philosophy: Reflections on the Practices and Institutions of Philosophy.”

As the title indicates, we’d like to provide a forum for discussion of issues relative to philosophy in the world and in the university. Here is the URL:

Friday, February 22, 2008

DeLanda and Protevi Discussion

I came across this excellent discussion between Manuel DeLanda and John Protevi, which is called Deleuzian Interrogations (PDF file).

It is interesting how Protevi argues the philosophy division should not be drawn between "continental vs analytic", but instead "realist vs anti-realist". So who are the non-realists? DeLanda, when speaking about literary criticism and cultural studies departments, lists the non-realists as social constructivists, idealists, and postmodern semiotics. Now this is interesting, as throughout DeLanda's writings, and presentations for the European Graduate School, he firmly claims Deleuze is a realist. In Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy DeLanda writes:

"When confronted with Deleuze's orginal texts this audience (i.e. analytical philosophers) is bound to be puzzled, and may even be repelled by the superficial similarity of these texts with books belonging to what has come to be known as the "post-modern" tradition. Although as I argue in these pages Deleuze has nothing in common with that tradition" (p3)

DeLanda latter goes onto claim:

There are philosophers who grant reality full autonomy from the human mind, disregarding the difference between the observable and the unobservable, and the anthropocentricism this distinction implies. These philosophers are said to have a realist ontology. Deleuze is such a realist philosopher, a fact that by itself should distinguish him from most post-modern philosophers which remain basically non-realist (p4)

Now, with the idea/argument Deleuze is not a post-modern philosopher I completely agree. If anything, his books are aimed moving 'us' through the post-modern impasse. However, throughout DeLanda's books there is usually kind references to Michel Foucault. The question is where does this leave Michel Foucault on the realist/anti-realist divide?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stratification (Part 2)

A follow up to a previous post:

'Philosophy needs a nonphilosophy that comprehends it' (What is Philosophy? Delueze and Guattari, p218)

For Deleuze and Guattari there ‘occurs upon earth a very important, inevitable phenomenon that is beneficial in many respects and unfortunate in many others: Stratification.’[1] Stratification, a machinic process, produces hierarchies. These hierarchies are not abstract, but materially present. The example of geological stratification demonstrates stratification is not an abstract phenomenon, but something that continual occurs in everyday life. This led me to think about search engines, and in particular Google’s PageRank.

At one point in the 1990s the whole of the Internet could be contained within a single mainframe of a computer. Once this was no longer possible a critical threshold was passed, and a problem was encountered. The problem was how to find websites on the WWW? This was how the phrase ‘surfing the Internet’ came about, ‘using the Internet used to be (and in some cases still is) like looking for a needle in a haystack, and basically what one did in order to find something was ‘surf’ from one site to another until one found it.’[2] Print culture also attempted to combat the problem of finding ‘stuff’ on the WWW. Books, Magazines, and Newspapers would print lists of ‘useful’ websites. Then along came search engines. These search engines allow browser to input keywords, and then return websites relational to these keywords. However, the returning of these websites is a stratification process. For example, Google use a software programme called PageRank, made by Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In simple terms, PageRank uses the vast link structure of the WWW to judge the importance of an individual’s page’s value. It is here I want to remember Delezue and Guattari’s argument that stratification is a process of double articulation. The idea of double articulation is there is (at least) two distinct, yet interconnected, process of stratification. The first process is the gathering of ‘things/materials’. Google do this each day as their vast machinic assemblage downloads the Internet everyday. The second process is the ordering of these ‘things/materials’ into hierarchies. Google do this every time a search is entered into The websites are returned in ranked ‘layers’ after the search is performed. In real terms PageRank judges the websites, and reinforces Deleuze and Guattari’s strange, and important, claim hierarchies/strata are judgements of (an immanent) God.
Is this stratification beneficial of unfortunate? I have my own views, and do not want to impose them. Instead, I suggest you go to, enter a search, and think about how the websites are ranked? What is first? What is lower ranked? What is excluded?

[1] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus p45
[2] Ian Buchanan, “Deleuze and the Internet” Australian Humanities Review Issue 43 2007

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Life Returns to the Accursed Share

Good news. After a period of inactivity life has (re)emerged on the accursed share blog. the quality of content has always been high, and this is no different from the last couple of posts. Time permitting, I hope to reply to them in more detail than the comments I have left.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Philosophical Frontiers Journal

The Journal Philosophical Frontiers is now available online.

It can be reached here.

from waht I can make out it is free to access.

Towards Media Studies 2.0?

An excellent account of media studies, and an argument for media studies 2.o. can be read here.

[...]MEDIA STUDIES 2.0Responding to his critics in his 1968 Playboy interview, McLuhan acerbically commented, ‘for all their lamentations, the revolution has already taken place’. Whether his critics ever later grasped that is a moot point but everyone in media studies today faces an equivalent challenge: something is happening and the only important question is do you know what it is?I began to notice it when I thought about my son’s media world compared to my own at his age. The only difference between the world I grew up in and my parents was that I had two more TV channels and my better-off friends had colour TV. Within the decade the same friends would have a VCR too, though we had to wait till the late 1980s until prices fell for it to be anything other than a luxury. This was a world of separate and more limited forms: the telephone (that you didn’t own) was screwed to the wall and couldn’t take photographs; you couldn’t get the radio on your television; films didn’t have special features, games or Easter eggs and no-one tried to hack into your television to steal your money or identity. Between my childhood media world and my son’s there is a chasm[...]

Friday, February 15, 2008

How are you Stratified?

'Perhaps rocks hold some of the keys to understanding sedimentary humanity, and all their mixtures' (A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History, Manuel DeLanda, 1997: p70)
Sorting machines are all around us. These sorting machines function to stratify life through taking a multiplicity of heterogeneous ‘things’ and ordering them into stratified layers. These stratified layers act as hierarchies, because the sorting machines organised the heterogeneous ‘things’ into ranking layers. Sorting machines are present in both natural and cultural environments. To demonstrate that sorting machines are both human and non-human I will describe a natural sorting machine, and then consider human sorting machines. However, as nature and humans live in flat ontology, which means they co-exist, the separation of humans and nature is an ideal separation that no longer exists. The separation is merely used to imply that sorting machines are not only a dynamic of human habits.
An example of a natural sorting machine, which could occur without human presence, is the process of geological stratification. In geology, the process of stratification means rocky materials are layered into strata, which are stacked on top of each other. The problem is these strata are not pre-formed, as ‘pebbles do not come in standard sizes and shapes, some kind of sorting mechanism must be involved here, some specific device to take a multiplicity of pebbles of heterogeneous qualities and distribute them into a more or less uniform layers’ (DeLanda p59-60). This means geological strata literally have to be constructed, and this construction requires (at least) two distinct operations. The first operation is the gathering of the rocky materials. According to DeLanda, rivers, which gather the rocky materials that (eventually) form the strata, act as verifiable hydraulic computers. Rivers transport the rocky materials from their point of origin to the bottom of the oceans, where the materials accumulate. In the river the rocky materials are sorted as various pebbles reacts differently in the water transporting them, as the various grain sizes, and intensity of the river, will determine the rate of transportation for the rocky material. The second operation of geological stratification is the collection of the loose pebbles into a large-scale entity, known as sedimentary rock. In this operation there is cementing of the components into a new emergent property, which now has properties of its own. Substances in the water, such as silica or hematite, penetrate the sediment, and, eventual, cause stratification, which produces strata. (See A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History, DeLanda, p59-61).

In A Thousand Plateaus Deleuze and Guattari make the strange, and important, claim that strata are judgements of God (ATP p45). This claim is plausible because stratification is the formation of hierarchies in the world by sorting machines. These social machines form strata, gathering different heterogeneous components, and processing them into a rank and/or order. These ranks and orders are the judgements of God. The question is therefore how do these judgements function in everyday social life? Two practical examples can illustrate the continual of judgements of ‘God’ as life is stratified by sorting machines. The first example is codification of educational (undergraduate) degrees. On the whole, the University system stratifies the educational experience into a hierarchical ranking system. This allows universities to award different levels of degrees (e.g. First Class: Second Class; Third Class). Therefore, the students proceed through the ‘university machine’ so they can become stratified. It is expected that this stratification will reflect their ‘academic knowledge’ and further their potential employability. The second example of Stratification is how Tesco use information gathered from consumers using their clubcards. This information flows into the Tesco organisation, and allows them to classification their consumers. Consumers can be classified, for example, as value customers, which means they predominantly purchase Tesco Value products, or classified as finest customers, which means they predominantly purchase Tesco Finest products. The consumers of Tesco, through using their clubcard, are transformed in larger-scale entities, which Tesco create and use for management of their business. In both Universities, and Tesco, there is judgement of ‘God’, which means a form of hierarchal stratification is occurring. It is therefore important to understand how various sorting machines are forming strata in life, both in the human and natural sciences.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New chapter from Shaviro

Sorry about the lacks of posts recently, the PhD work has had to take priority at the moment.

Shaviro has posted another draft chapter, which discusses Whitehead's God. From the draft chapter's I have read from Shaviro they are all worth a reading and of high quality.