SMC (Small and Medium-Sized Concepts)…

Posted: July 25, 2010 in Introduction, Meta-blog

…is itself a Small Concept.

For the French Philosophers Deleuze and Guattari, philosophy is about creating new concepts. And even though I’ve been trained in another tradition (philosophy today is a lot about traditions), I never found a more appealing off-the-shelf definition of philosophical activity.

As opposed to most Philosophers (with a big P) I’ve always felt uncomfortable theorizing big concepts (like The Will, Freedom, God, The Mind, Good and Evil, Art, Beauty). I never got anything satisfactory out of it. So at one point I realized that what I liked to think about were concepts like pictures (which is probably medium-big) or the fleemarket (small)… . The trouble is … most of my conceptualizations start with observation, they are about the things I encounter in the world. And events always distract me when I try to think. So, to do this fundametal trait justice, I added it in the title even though it makes the phrase less catchy.

Now, this is not a philosophy blog (I hope to keep it casual) & I started it because I love to think and theorize and because the other places where I occasionally write only allow me to cover a limited array of my interests (mainly art and innovation/business/the WEB). While this blog is necessarily going to be about what I find interesting, it’s not egocentric. I’d like to say that it’s … about the my world.

Theorizing is one of the things that make me trip. Now what’s theorizing for me? Theorizing has to do with seeing communalities and differences between phenoma. Some things look similar to most people, but once you get close enough, you discover their differences. Other things look very different, but share a common structure below their surface (this is probably one of the main ideas of “structuralism”). I also like to link things that seem disconnected.

On the level of experiences (living is a lot about experiences for me), this activity is enriching. If you see differences (two or more) where you used to see one, this makes your experience of the same thing richer. And one of the subtitles that I thought of for this blog was “I’ll teach you differences”. I liked it because one of the thinkers I feel at home with is Ludwig Wittgenstein and because he considered using this phrase as the motto of his Philosophical Investigations. Obviously I didn’t take it because it sounds a bit arrogant (and I suspect that’s why Wittgenstein prefered to use “Überhaupt hat der Fortschritt das an sich, dass er viel grösser ausschaut als er wirklich ist” (Nestroy) instead – “And by the way, progress has this specificity to always look bigger than it really is” (Nestroy). But the fact that I considered it as a motto for my blog and that I have been thinking about it for many years still shows something.

“Breaking Theory” is a title that still surprises me. I had never used or read the expression until 10 minutes before it became the name of this blog – which makes it very different from the other concepts and potential titles and subtitles I evoke above.

While it is risky to pick such a title, it might also be beneficial because I don’t have any clear understanding and preconceptions of what it might mean. I like it because it evokes fragments and aphorisms, my favourite forms of theorizing and because I believe in the power of discontinuity.

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