Knowledge in the Age of the Withered Civil Sphere: The Blogger as Intellectual?
This paper will scrutinize contemporary "knowledge" through the problematic status of the "intellectual" in its classical-modern formulation, that is, as the embodied practitioner of reason, and also through its Kantian pairing with freedom ("Dare to know"). With the increase of certain knowledge-practices, in particular, the utilization of new media such as blogs, it seems that knowledge no longer stands as a stable category but one which is challenged by "information," which, I will suggest, does not work at the level of consciousness, but on an affective level, that is, the level of the body. Thus, the intellectual is no longer a fixed instrumentalist of reason, but, as Thomas Osborne and Jakob Arnoldi have proposed, mediators of informational ideas. Ideas, in this sense, are not solely bearers of linguistic signification but inducers of bodily responses. Against popular understandings of "the blogosphere," I will suggest that blogs are "virtual environments," which contain an immanent complexity of potential connectivities that actualize when in relation to certain events, not an electronically-mediated public or civil sphere.
Keywords: Blogs, Intellectuals, Mediators, Information, Civil Sphere, Virtual
Instructor, Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, The College of Staten Island