Thursday, September 02, 2010

Peepul tree with roots above and branches down

I wanted to do a reading group on DeLanda’s New Philosophy of Society because his work has influenced my own thought nearly as deeply as Graham Harman’s object-oriented philosophy. …  At the outset, I’ll say that I am more or less on board with DeLanda’s assemblage theory. … Trees require rain, carbon dioxide, nutrients in the soil, a certain range of temperatures, gravity, and atmospheric pressures, sunshine, and so on in order to continue the adventure of their existence. Yet no one suggests that trees do not exist or that they are unreal because they draw on all sorts of entities in order to exist. …
The market begins, argues DeLanda, following Braudel, with small village markets. Here their power does not extend beyond the village marketplace wherein these transactions take place. In order for a market to expand, roads, boats, carriages, etc., must be built, linking smaller markets to one another, forming ever larger markets that contain a variety of different scales within them. DeLanda’s point is that linkages must actually be built and formed for these entities to arise.]

Leonard Read’s classic essay, “I, Pencil,” is justly celebrated as the best short introduction to the division of labor and undesigned order ever written. But it holds another, largely overlooked lesson as well: “I, Pencil” is an excellent primer in the Austrian approach to capital theory.
Read’s pencil describes its family tree, beginning with the cedars grown in northern California and Oregon that provide the wooden slats. But he doesn’t really start with the trees. He notes that turning trees into pencils requires “saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding,” and those things have to be produced before a pencil can be produced.
This is what Austrian economists call a structure of production. This structure is characterized by two closely related elements: multiple stages (distinguished by their “distance” from the consumer) and time.] 

Ontological formulations on a materialist framework forms an unenviable task for the current crop of philosophers. Their plight becomes all the more challenging as they are out to plug all the transcendental loopholes which their predecessors had willy-nilly conceded. Those versed in The Life Divine can easily appreciate that this is an impossible mission, an absurd dream. But then who can prohibit people from playing with words and chasing dreams! [TNM] 

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