on 24 November 2010
Funny that the review above should say that the reader felt "like it was hidden on purpose" - the virtual processes of the world being hidden by extensive beings is a recurring theme throughout the book.
I found De Landa's prose to be accessible and, although at times it was "thick", when compared to the texts of Deleuze, it read like children's literature. He wrote lucidly and repeated when it seemed necessary. He unravels and explains some difficult concepts in a professional yet informal manner.
He seems to follow one of Deleuze's ideas well: Philosophical buggery, make a philosopher say what you want. He certainly knows how to connect Deleuze's often times puzzling (difficult to fully understand) choice of language with mathematical and scientific language; see topology and advances in modern evolutionary biology.
Over all, I found this book entertaining and enlightening. And would recommend it to people interested in the philosophy of science and also ontology: In Intensive Science & Virtual Philosophy De Landa expounds a realist take on ontology, which does away with Essence and instead seeks to explain the becoming of extended beings (assemblages - its assemblages all the way down) through intensive processes guided by "virtual" nodes (attractor basins) through the use of state-spaces. Assemblages are explained as being bodies able to affect, and being affected by other bodies. An example would be the leg-foot-floor assemblage with solves the problem of movement for a vast number of different bodies, the foot is affected by the floor, just as the floor is affected by the foot; and the same goes for the leg. This has obvious implications for current ideas in evolutionary biology: evolutionary algorithmic modelling (no longer seeking a final goal, but finding paths towards goals (solutions to problems) that are immediate, and then finding paths from this new position (consider the leg-foot limb a "position"/solution) past new and different problems presented.
This may sound all "post-modern" and therefore glib and without much substance, but it is exactly Substance (Eternal) that he seeks to undermine and replace with these new concepts. It is an ontology of change and probabilities, and I think he explains it well. setting himself up nicely for his later book "A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory & Complexity" which I have yet to read, but am hoping to pick up in the near future.
I will be looking to read more on topology and state-space based mathematical modelling of systems due to this book.
+ The Cover is cool. It's a nice blue colour. And when you have read Anti-Oedipus by Deleuze & Guattari, then the egg on the front can be seen to be a Body without Organs.