We continue our exploration. In the first Jyri EngestrÃ¶m stresses that a groups engaged in a common are more than just a sum of relationships: they need an object.
The second item is a debate between John Heron, pioneer of cooperative inquiry and relational spirituality, with Ted Lumley, theorist of Inclusionality.
Finally, for those who know French, an extract on the theories of Simondon, one of the prime theorist of the shift to relationality.
CONTRIBUTION FOUR: JYRI ENGESTROM
Introducing Object-oriented sociality:
“[There is a] profound confusion about the nature of sociality, which was partly brought about by recent use of the term ‘social network’ by Albert Laszlo-Barabasi and Mark Buchanan in the popular science world, and Clay Shirky and others in the social software world. These authors build on the definition of the social network as ‘a map of the relationships between individuals.’ Basically I’m defending an alternative approach to social networks here, which I call ‘object centered sociality’ following the sociologist Karin Knorr Cetina. I’ll try to articulate the conceptual difference between the two approaches and briefly demonstrate that object-centered sociality helps us to understand better why some social networking services succeed while others don’t.
Russell’s disappointment in LinkedIn implies that the term ‘social networking’ makes little sense if we leave out the objects that mediate the ties between people. Think about the object as the reason why people affiliate with each specific other and not just anyone. For instance, if the object is a job, it will connect me to one set of people whereas a date will link me to a radically different group. This is common sense but unfortunately it’s not included in the image of the network diagram that most people imagine when they hear the term ‘social network.’ The fallacy is to think that social networks are just made up of people. They’re not; social networks consist of people who are connected by a shared object. That’s why many sociologists, especially activity theorists, actor-network theorists and post-ANT people prefer to talk about ‘socio-material networks’, or just ‘activities’ or ‘practices’ (as I do) instead of social networks.
In my experience, their developers intuitively ‘get’ the object-centered sociality way of thinking about social life. Flickr, for example, has turned photos into objects of sociality. On del.icio.us the objects are the URLs. EVDB, Upcoming.org, and evnt focus on events as objects.
For a much more elaborate academic argument about object-centered sociality, see the chapter on ‘Objectual Practice’ by Karin Knorr Cetina in The practice turn in contemporary theory, edited by Theodor R. Schatzki, Karin Knorr Cetina, and Eike von Savigny (London 2001: Routledge.)”
CONTRIBUTION FIVE: JOHN HERON AND TED LUMLEY
Cooperative individualism and the P2P Self
A debate between John Heron and Ted Lumley:
Lumley quote 1: “We are each unique, and each have a unique and authentic role to play because we are each uniquely situated within and included in, a common hostspace dynamic. When we move, the shape of the hostspace dynamic we are included in transforms… Our individual movement = transformation of the common hostspace dynamic.”
Lumley quote 2: “Rather than having an absolute center of self, our center of self is defined by where our inside-outward asserting meets the outside-inward accommodating of the dynamical hostspace….Our assertive movement is relative to the (simultaneous mutually influencing) assertings of our fellows, together constituting a community hostspace dynamic from which our individual actions push off (rather than pushing off from the ‘absolute center of our self’).”
JH comment: Lumley has two definitions of the self. Quite rightly, because I think both are necessary and interdependent. In quote 1, the self is defined in term of its unique situation within a hostspace, prior to any assertive movement within it. In quote 2, the self is defined in terms of this assertive movement. In my worldview, the first definition relates to the autonomy of the self in terms of its idiosyncratic appraisal of and response to its unique situation within a hostspace; and the second definition relates to the co-operative mutuality of the self in terms of its interactions with the others in a hostspace. The autonomous and the co-operative accounts are correlative and interdependent.
Lumley quote 3: “A ‘peer’ is usually thought of as an abstract entity that is capable of behaviour in-its-own-right, and particularly of peer-to-peer collaboration, …none of which alludes to the common hostspace dynamic as the prime influence in the evolution of the peer-to-peer dynamics.”
Not by me and others, e.g. Spretnak. Here’s a quote from my book Sacred Science, pp 10-11
“The distinctness of a person is to do with him or her being one unique focus, among many, of the whole web of interbeing relations. Personal autonomy is grounded in this unique presence, participating resonantly in an unitive field of interconnected beings, within the presence of Being, and in the individual perspective necessarily involved in imaging a world. It is manifest as the individual judgement inalienably required for a person to appraise what is valid and valuable; and as individual responsibility in choosing to act. This is not the personal autonomy of the Cartesian ego, an isolated, self-reflexive consciousness independent of any context – what Charlene Spretnak calls the Lone Cowboy sense of autonomy. It is, rather,
The ecological/cosmological sense of uniqueness coupled with intersubjectivity and interbeingâ€¦One can accurately speak of the â€˜autonomyâ€™ of an individual only by incorporating a sense of the dynamic web of relationships that are constitutive for that being at a given moment. (Spretnak, 1995: 5)
Source P2P News, issue 65
CONTRIBUTION SIX: SIMONDON
The relationality of everything: Simondon
“La modernitÃ© se constitue, selon Simondon, Ã partir dâ€™un paradigme qui traverse tous les domaines de lâ€™expÃ©rience : lâ€™Ãªtre-individuel. Elle se dÃ©finirait comme un ensemble dâ€™opÃ©rations, de techniques, de connaissances visant Ã extraire les dimensions individuelles de ce qui, dans la rÃ©alitÃ©, se prÃ©sente comme essentiellement attachÃ©, reliÃ© et changeant. DÃ¨s lors, une des possibilitÃ©s pour sortir de certains problÃ¨mes (liÃ©s Ã la connaissance, Ã lâ€™expÃ©rience, au social) qui ont accompagnÃ© la pensÃ©e moderne pourrait se situer dans ce que nous avons appelÃ© une Â« pensÃ©e relationnelle Â», dans laquelle la relation occuperait une place centrale.
Whitehead Ã©crit que Â« la philosophie ne revient jamais Ã une position antÃ©rieure aprÃ¨s les Ã©branlements que lui ont fait subir un grand philosophe Â». Lâ€™histoire de la philosophie serait faite de chocs, de ruptures sous lâ€™apparence dâ€™une continuitÃ© de problÃ¨mes. DÃ¨s lors, interroger la Â« nouveautÃ© Â» dâ€™une pensÃ©e revient Ã demander quel Â« Ã©branlement Â» elle a suscitÃ©, quelle irrÃ©versibilitÃ© elle a introduit dans un champ.
On peut dire que Simondon produit quelque chose de proche dâ€™un Ã©branlement lorsquâ€™il place comme une proposition centrale que Â« lâ€™Ãªtre est relation Â» ou encore que Â« toute rÃ©alitÃ© est relationnelle Â». Cette proposition nâ€™est pas neuve ; on la retrouve, chaque fois diffÃ©remment, avec Spinoza, Nietzsche, Bergson et Tarde si bien que dâ€™une certaine maniÃ¨re Simondon ne fait que prolonger un mouvement qui le prÃ©cÃ¨de et duquel il hÃ©rite lâ€™essentiel de la construction quâ€™il opÃ¨re.
Mais ce qui est inÃ©dit, câ€™est la mise en place dâ€™une vÃ©ritable systÃ©matisation de la proposition Â« lâ€™Ãªtre est relation Â», la prise en compte explicite de ce quâ€™elle requiert pour pouvoir Ãªtre posÃ©e et de ces consÃ©quences dans diffÃ©rents domaines – physique, biologique, social et technique. Et câ€™est un nouveau type de questions qui en Ã©merge et qui sâ€™oppose aux questions mal posÃ©es qui ont traversÃ© la modernitÃ© : il ne sâ€™agit plus par exemple de demander Â« quelles sont les conditions pour que deux individus donnÃ©s puissent Ãªtre en relation Â», mais Â« comment des individus se constituent-ils par les relations qui se tissent prÃ©alablement Ã leur existence ? Â» ; de la mÃªme maniÃ¨re, au niveau social, il ne sâ€™agit plus de demander quâ€™est-ce qui fonde lâ€™espace social (les individus ou la sociÃ©tÃ©), mais comment sâ€™opÃ¨rent des communications multiples qui forment de vÃ©ritables Ãªtres-collectifs ?”