Thus, while some of the uses of virtual environments presuppose that old and entrenched ideas (about essences or optimality) have been superseded, these abstract worlds can also be used to synthesize the intuitions needed to dislodge other ideas blocking the way to a better understanding of the dynamics of reality. -- DeLandaThis is a good one-sentence summary of DeLanda's realism. He gives examples as follow:
Population thinking seems to have vanished "essences" from the world of philosophy once and for all. Nonlinear dynamics, and more specifically, the notion of an "emergent property" would seem to signal the death of the philosophical position known as "reductionism" (basically, that all phenomena can in principle be reduced to those of physics).A relationship to phatics has to do with the nature of virtual environments, which themselves need to be synthesized. So, here we have a connection between the theme of realism -- the idea that we can apprehend and understand reality -- and the theme of phatic communication, or at least phatic labour.
At the same time, let's point out that the synthesis of new intuitions is different from adopting some particular fixed way of thinking. Something like this is worth mentioning, because DeLanda continues as follows:
Connectionism, in turn, offers a completely new understanding of the way in which rule-following behavior can emerge from a system in which there are no explicit rules or symbols what so ever. This would seem destined to end the domination of a conception of language based on syntactical entities and their formal relations (Saussure's signifiers or Chomsky's rules). This conception (let's call it "formalism") has entirely dominated this century, leading in some cases to extreme forms of linguistic relativism, that is, the idea that every culture partitions the world of experience in a different way simply because they use different linguistic devices to organize this experience.The virtual environments that we're talking about are not just specialized "language games." It may be, for example, that the virtual environment, as an extension of man in the McLuhan manner is a different way of perceiving the world -- but not one that occurs "simply because" of a different linguistic device.
In this way, the ideas seem to connect with a suitably non-reductive "practice theory."
This summary stages the end of the article:
Our intellectual habit of thinking linearly, where the interaction of different causes is seen as additive, and hence global properties that are more than the sum of the parts are not a possibility [...] needs to be eliminated. So does our habit of thinking in terms of conservative systems, isolated from energy and matter flows from the outside. Only dissipative, nonlinear systems generate the full spectrum of dynamical forms of stabilization (attractors) and of diversification (bifurcations).