Does a new subject in philosophy lead to a new style in philosophy? Sometimes it does, because it causes us to drop previous disputes, or to take up preoccupations. This is the content however, as contrasted with its expression. How does new content lead to a new style, and is this only of interest in terms of aesthetics or rhetoric? Does a different style of philosophy imply new thought?
In considering this, what is uppermost in my mind is the question of the binary logic which I keep referring to (here and here) . The “one or the other” style of argument is a reflection of the formal thought super-structure. The defining ideas of this paradigms only allow certain questions to be asked. If we have to choose between A or B, and yet we have to admit there are elements of both, then our use of terms and our formulation of the matter are insufficiently precise. In times past, subject matter has reflected expression. The scholastic quaestio as we find in Aquinas was a collective enterprise of students and teacher to come to some decision in a dispute (parallels with the Roman legal quaestio are suggestive). As an aside, this aspect of the scholastic enterprise as a communal activity left it dangerously exposed to the confirmation bias and problems of induction. My point is that when a term such as ‘substance’ requires infinite finessing, then the term itself is flawed. Trying to keep a topic alive by progressingly sub-dividing it like an earthworm doesn’t give you X amount of earthworms, but a dead earthworm in X pieces.
So, turning away from binary logic must imply a concomitant turning towards. To my mind, the introduction of networks to philosophical thought must create a profound qualitative change. This is so in the sense of ‘being’ for example needing to be reconsidered in the light of emergence, non-linear phenomena, spontaneous order, level pushing (which I need to write about). This is the content. The form is that these are not just different topics, as ‘content’ might imply. The form of questioning needs to change too. Perhaps, this might imply a move away from the “individual genius” model of philosophical undertaking (a hangover of Romanticism, and the magnum opus type of thought) towards something that has been developing elsewhere. Open, co-operative, authentic peer-review rather than academia as a paper mill, with publish or perish the negative ideal no matter what tat is put into print. My primary example is of course the open-source movement, but Big Science (outline here) must also be included. Is something like speculative realism (Ray Brassier’s somewhat resentful protestations to the contrary aside) approaching this?