System Seminar 1 – Manuel DeLanda and Levi Bryant

Thanks to all who attended the first system seminar of the semester last week. It was a really engaging few hours, that produced a lot of interesting possibilities, particularly regarding DeLanda, who dominated the conversation. I’ll give a brief account of the main themes covered and leave it open for people to continue the conversation if they wish.

1. The process by which a Metaphor becomes Isomorphism was of interest with regard to Correlationist thinking. Does metaphor lead to an inevitable circularity within thought or can DeLanda move from metaphor to real isomorphic systems without too much concern. This issue reoccured with regard to Bryant’s reference of Bhaskar’s ‘Epistemic Fallacy’ and the dual between epistemology and ontology.

2. Morphogenesis v Autopoiesis: DeLanda’s Hierarchies and Meshworks emerge from geological processes, which helped to position it apart from the anthropocentrism of life. This was held in contrast to Niklas Luhman’s systems theory that starts with life.

3. Hierarchies and Meshworks, how do they combine and interact? I’m still looking for some clear reference in DeLanda for this, however, I think it comes back to where DeLanda cites the intensive differences of temperature and pressure etc, that drive complexity and thus the intermingling of hierarchies and meshworks.

4. Does Agency or Will have a role in Delanda’s social systems?

5. There was a brief mention of thermodynamics and entropy and so I wanted to include a reference to Non Linear Thermodynamics, to which DeLanda often turns. This involves most systems in nature, which are not in thermodynamic equilibrium, but are always open to change as they are open to the flow of matter energy from other systems.

Thanks again for coming and making the seminar really exciting. The next meeting will be on Wednesday 17th October. We’ll be looking Quentin Meillassoux, the main text will be his Berlin 2012 lecture, with a supplementary text by Alexander Galloway entitled ‘French Theory Today’ (Meillassoux is from page 71) are both in the dropbox folder.

See you all next week.


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