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The new empiricism of the fractal fold: Rethinking monadology in digital times

De Freitas, E (2016) The new empiricism of the fractal fold: Rethinking monadology in digital times. Cultural Studies - Critical Methodologies, 16 (2). pp. 224-234. ISSN 1532-7086

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Abstract

A new configuration of social science is emerging in these digital times, as we tap into new kinds of data that trouble conventions regarding what constitutes the unit of analysis, and question the extent to which these data are owned or even correlated to a definitive organic and individuated subject customarily referred to as "human." These methodological shifts demand a more careful consideration of the historical lineage of empiricism and its relation to the history of science more generally. In this article, I track the historical mutations of monadology, an ontology well suited to empiricism in these digital times. Both Gilles Deleuze and Bruno Latour ascribe to variants of monadology in their proposals for a new empiricism, drawing extensively on the work of Gabriel Tarde (1843-1904), a French sociologist, judge, and author of the audacious post-humanist 1895 text Sociology and Monadology. In this article, I discuss how monadology helps us rethink research methods in these digital times. I argue that a fractal monadology re-assembles the fold with the digital, the continuous with the discrete, and ultimately offers a philosophical foundation for contemporary social science research.

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