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The social struggle between collegiality and bureaucracy

The network scientist Emmanuel Lazega studies collegiality and bureaucracy as ideal typical forms of social organisation which co-exist in a fluctuating balance within organisations. Collegiality involves actors recognising each other as autonomous, existing in relationship to each other and necessitating consensus as a preliminary for what will always be non-routine […]

Proposal for a Concept Lab

The Concept Lab would meet on a weekly basis, usually for an hour unless there was logistical business to be undertaken concerning the future of the lab. Each meeting would revolve around a presentation from one member, detailing either: A practical problem they have faced in their research, as well […]

Social ontology and the challenge of suitcase words

This is a wonderful expression I just picked up from Machine, Platform, Crowd by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson. As they describe on pg 112-113, suitcase words jumble together multiple meanings in a way which renders questions more obscure than they would otherwise be: Is generative-design software really “creative?” It’s a […]

The fetishisation of interiority

From pg 27 of Peter Sloterdijk’s The Art of Philosophy.  Witnesses report that Socrates had the habit of “sinking” into thought, as if thinking involved a kind of trance or obsessive daydream. According to Xenophon, Socrates saw this as “concentrating the mind on itself” by breaking off contact with his environment […]

Some thoughts on the ontology of games 

What is a game? A standard definition is “a form of competitive activity or sport played according to rules” and this has been the working conception when I’ve encountered theoretical engagements with the notion of a game. But a recent symposium on eSports left me reflecting on how much more […]

Archer and Harman on modes of reduction

Reading Immaterialism by Graham Harman, I’m struck by the overlap between his account of ‘duomining’ and Margaret Archer’s critique of conflation. As he writes on pg 27-28, “If we reduce an object downward to its pieces, we cannot explain emergence; if we reduce it upwards to its effects, we cannot […]

The Surplus of Objects

In Immaterialism, Graham Harman offers a provocative critique of Latour’s social theory, praising Actor-Network Theory as “the most important philosophical method to emerge since phenomenology in 1900” (pg. 1) while also regarding its account of objects as philosophically deficient. While he accepts the ANT thesis that objects mediate human relations, […]