Sunday, May 06, 2007

Right up my philosophical, interdisciplinary alley

From Urbanomic: Philosophical Research and Development:

URBANOMIC proposes to pursue fundamental research and development in logical ontological and abstract matters, outside any institutional framework, with no thematic disciplinary or methodological constraints.
We seek to support a renewal of philosophy through a vigorous repudiation of its insidious contemporary enemies. Firstly, a theorism which reaches from magazine columns to the exalted heights of 'culturally-engaged' academia, the two being distinguished only by the level of indulgence afforded to the authors' interminable interpretative speculation (magazine readers at least having the sincerity of their attention spans). Secondly the fatal overspecialisation and delimitation of philosophy in its academic setting.
Certainly the sphere of popular culture acts as the unconstrained experimental testing ground for deterritorialised symbolic discourses and new sensations. Equally - despite the depredations of the imperatives of business and management - the university is not yet entirely stripped of its ability to provide, under cover of its nominal traditional purposes, a support for independent thought. However in general in the latter, the productive capacity of abstract thought finds itself asphyxiated by supposed disciplinary self-sufficiency, reinforced by the socialisation apparatus of academic propriety. Whereas in the former a superficial relation of 'thought-provoking' relevance demands the novel application of generalised 'theories' to popular topics, destining thought to become exactly as reactive and inconsequential as its 'objects'.
We propose that philosophy can indeed break away from these malign attractors and reclaim a certain autonomy of purpose, but that the potency required for this escape can only be generated by philosophy's maintaining porous boundaries with other disciplines: art, music, science, mathematics...

Not in a relation of application, where philosophy would theorise external 'subjects' by employing its historical resources; but by enriching and expanding these latter through the rigorous and selective analysis and interrogation of local ontologies and vernacular logics.
Given that we oppose equally the wholesale appropriation of abstract thought by the allied postmodern pseudo-theorisms of therapy, capitalist apologetics and management 'science', why do we borrow a trope from industry to describe our activity? By 'Research and Development' we mean to affirm that we do not believe that philosophy in the present must necessarily limit itself to a mere exegetical and scholarly status. Philosophy - as methodical investigation into abstract matter(s) - enhances its pertinence, and highlights its problematic relation to the sciences, by free recourse to abstract-empirical experimentation, supported by suitable technologies. Philosophy would thus conduct materialised 'thought experiments' outside of the methodological presuppositions which circumscribe scientific disciplines. Even if we mean to problematise and question the nature of such an experimental practice, we do not propose to postpone experimentation indefinitely in lieu of supposedly grounding principles, but rather, in addition to ongoing theoretical work, to conduct open-ended experiments the form of whose outcome is not presupposed (amongst which we count the journal COLLAPSE and the URBANOMIC project itself).
However soberly and prudently it may be necessary to proceed, the involuntary passion for thought that is philosophy is always delirious in so far as at every turn it flees from the forces that prescribe (whether in the name of history or contemporaneity, of personal or institutional authenticity, of romantic passion or academic hard-labour) the path it must take.

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