Deleuze's "ontological difference" between virtual multiplicity and intensive individuation processes can help us think the ontological status of "model" in its relation to the events it models. The "doubling" of difference in the post title means that the multiplicity (the model) is differential (a-centered) and that its actualizations are all different events. Translating into other terms, the second claim is that the Deleuzean scheme accounts for the "multiple realizability" of models (but please note that Deleuze would not use this term because for him the virtual is real, so individuation is actualization rather than realization).
In his nice post on the origins of analytic philosophy, a theme that has been addressed many times at this blog, Eric points out that Bergson was among Russell's principle targets. It is perhaps understandable that this part of the story has been forgotten. The Frege-Russell narrative concerning the origins and legitimacy of analytic philosophy has largely maintained its hegemonic status. Within this narrative, Bergson emerges not only as a marginal “continental” figure safely ignored by analytic philosophers but moreover he is a philosopher whose influence on the continent was itself surpassed by the phenomenologists (who, such as Merleau-Ponty, rejected Bergson’s vitalism). However, following up on a comment I made on the thread to John Protevi’s post about Adrian Moore’s book, I would push back the genealogy of an important aspect of the continental/analytic divide to the choice between Spinoza or Leibniz. Understood in this way, Bergson, à la the song "Let's call the whole thing off," says Spinoza and Russell says Leibniz. In targeting Bergson, therefore, Russell is ultimately one in a line of many who are seeking to exorcise the specter of Spinoza.
Now the main problem with naturalistic ethics as practiced by Darwinians (and others) is that it ties philosophy too closely to the present content (or "results") of (fallible) science. Russell correctly discerns that doing so binds philosophy to positions that constantly run the risk of becoming outdated. This is why Russell opted for modeling scientific philosophy on the durable methods of science (and confined ethics to non-philosophy). Interestingly enough Russell lumps Bergson with the Pragmatists (and here). In fact, it is Bergson who is treated as the antithesis of the analytic philosopher: he is the paradigmatic "synthetic philosopher."
Two preliminary points before the discussion, below the break. First, Gutting is correct in what he says about the critical aspect of Deleuze; I just want to add a brief note as to the positive aspect. Second, of course neither Gutting nor myself can be too detailed in a blog post, and Gutting's Thinking the Impossible (Oxford, 2011) does come closer to discussing the positive aspect of Deleuze's project.**
I’ve recently been revisiting Foucault's Birth of Biopolitics lectures, a misnomer if ever there was one since much of the discussion is on neo-liberalism and Foucault never actually gets to biopolitics. Regardless, while going through this book again an important connection and/or difference between the projects of Foucault and Deleuze became clear to me, a difference with clear connections to Hume and Adam Smith. A couple of passages should give a sense of these connections.
The (wide-ranging and very interesting) interview is here. An excerpt:
3:AM: One of the fascinating things that happens in your discussions of David Hume and Deleuze is that you show how a conventional reading of Hume is not the most probable if we take Hume at face value. Ernest Gellner said something about this in his Legitimation of Belief where he points out that if all there is is this buzzing confusion of impressions then cultivating our passions and feelings so we become connoisseurs of them would be the rational thing to do. Creating something anew out of them seems to be what Deleuze also considered an obvious move. This seems to be a separate issue to the question of how to bundle the impressions up so that the idea of a self makes sense. Is this something you’d sympathise with, the idea that Hume and other philosophers Deleuze and yourself examine have been packaged to suit interests external to their own positions and that what you’re doing is getting back to the revolutionary potential in them?
JB: That’s a fair assessment of what I attempted to do in my Hume book. I was certainly challenging many of the contemporary readings of Hume and offering an alternative reading that sits well with Hume both philosophically and historically.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post discussing Dorion Cairns’ critique of Sidney Hook’s “impression” of German philosophy, circa 1929. Cairns took particular aim at Hook’s “identification of phenomenology with psychology, a confusion indicated by Mr. Hook’s epithet, ‘logicized psychology.’” Hook, in other words, remained captive to the naïveté of the natural attitude, when it is the task of phenomenology to detail the constitutive acts of consciousness, regardless of the reality or unreality of the objects being constituted. The very notion of a Humean phenomenology may thus appear to be a blatant oxymoron. How could Humean empiricism, with its embrace of the natural attitude, be reconciled with the phenomenological bracketing of the natural attitude?
When one looks at the historical narrative Husserl offered to account for the rationale behind the development of phenomenology, we see that an important part of phenomenology’s impetus was its effort to grapple with a problem that Husserl claimed was discovered by Hume, and a problem that was central to Hume’s own project.
One way to look at the history of philosophy is as a series of creative acts, or as the history of the simultaneous creation of problems and solutions. Randall Collins, in his hefty The Sociology of Philosophies, offers such an account. As Collins puts it:
The crucial feature of creativity is to identify an unsolved problem, and to convince one’s peers of the importance of solving it. It is typical for intellectuals to create problems at the very moment they solve them. In India the issue of how to escape from the bonds of Karma did not exist until the Buddhists proposed a means of escape. Epicurus made fear of the gods an issue at the same time he propounded a solution to these fears. Kant discovered that science was threatened when he announced a Copernican revolution to end the threat. (p. 80).
I wonder to what extent philosophers in general would accept Collins’ claim, and if so what other examples one could give. Regardless, it would appear, on the surface at least, that Deleuze would second Collins’ approach, for he too spoke of “a history of philosophy that would list only the new concepts created by a great philosopher,” (Empiricism and Subjectivity, ix) these concepts themselves being “connected to problems without which they would have no meaning and which can themselves only be isolated or understood as the solution emerges.” (What is Philosophy? p. 16). Despite this similarity, there is a crucial difference in how they understand the relationship between problems and solutions.
I usually start this talk with a joke that the title page needs more hyphens, since I'm really talking about "geo-bio-neuro-political-techno-affective assemblages." The slides are here. The text of the paper is here. My thanks to Andrew Marzoni, Joe Hughes, and everyone with the Literary Theory Reading Group at the University of Minnesota for the invitation.
Commenting on Jeff's post from Saturday, I mentioned Deleuze's characterization of Bjorn Borg's tennis style as "proletarian," and John McEnroe's as involving "Egyptian postures." Here are some images below the fold. But above it, this one for fans of early 80s athletic hair.
In 1926 Otto Neurath, writing of the Bauhaus movement and its aspiration to transform social and individual life, argues that the key to the success of the Bauhaus movement, the promise it holds out of entering “the promised land,” will be assured if only we “will seize upon the formation of the new form of life as a technical achievement.” (cited in Origins of Logical Empiricism, p. 33). A promising future, therefore, is to be ushered in by way of technological advancements and improvements, much as Dick Fosbury, for example, gave to high jumpers a more promising future as a consequence of the technological improvement he made with respect to the belly roll. The Fosbury flop was a technological improvement of such a magnitude that it wasn’t long after he debuted his new style at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics that it was adopted by all other high jumpers (and is still the dominant style today, despite some minor technical improvements in the syntax of the Fosbury style [more on this below]).
This story is incomplete, however, for it fails to address the equally important role played by qualitative transformations, a point stressed both by Moritz Schlick and Gilles Deleuze.
Below I pose a definitional question, "what is post-Westphalian war?" Definitions look for essences, a finite list of necessary and sufficient conditions for membership in a class. A provisional defintion would then be defeated by a counterexample, a case that fits the proposed conditions but does not (seem) to belong to the class, or which is an accepted member of the class but does not meet the proposed conditions. [UPDATE: Catarina's post earlier today discusses essential definitions as well.]
Deleuze proposed replacing "what is" questions -- essential definitions -- with "who" or "how" questions -- the search for "dramatizations" or actualizations of a virtual multiplicity, that is, the patterns of a set of dynamic processes linked in such a way so that when the relations of the processes hit a threshold a qualitative change in the system occurs. In my favorite example, events are hurricanes: they should not be seen as instanciations of a form or members of a species but as singular integrations of a differential field of processes whose patterns form a multiplicity. That is, when linked air and water currents hit a threshold in their relation, a qualitatively novel system, the hurricane, emerges.
So the Deleuzean question in the al-Awlaki case would be "how did it come about?" What were the linked processes or conflictual forces which hit a threshold triggering the event of the drone strike? Some of them are:
In Eric’s post of a few days ago (here), he continues with his argument that Moritz Schlick ought to be considered the “rightful father of analytic philosophy,” contrary to the more frequent claim that this honor belongs to Frege. This post led me to think yet again about the historical roots of the analytic-continental divide.
The usual story as I would tell it, simplified as it is, was that one could mark the bifurcation with Frege’s critique of Husserl’s habilitation dissertation, On the Concept of Number. In his critique, Frege rejected Husserl’s strong psychologistic tendencies. On this telling, we begin with shared concerns and problems in the foundations of mathematics but then divergence arises as Frege and Husserl set out addressing these problems and concerns, with Husserl taking up the issue along Brentano’s psychologistic lines, and Frege (and subsequently Russell) rejecting this approach and moving in a decidedly realist direction.
This story of the diverging approaches of Husserl and Frege supports the claims of those who read continental thought as being more anti-realist than analytic thought, though there are notable exceptions of course (Deleuze, among others, is more appropriately placed among the realists while the later writings of Putnam have a strong anti-realist flavor).
Thanks to Eric’s post, and to his recommendation of an excellent essay by Abraham Stone, “Heidegger and Carnap on the Overcoming of Metaphysics,” (this and other essays can be found here), I am beginning to rethink the history of the analytic-continental divide.
It is no secret that Deleuze's project is in many ways at odds with Kant's. Whereas Kant's transcendental project sought to set forth the conditions of possible experience, Deleuze's transcendental empiricism (and yes, it is a transcendental project) sought to understand the conditions of real experience. In his efforts to develop this project, Deleuze turned heavily to the early modern philosophers, most notably Spinoza, Leibniz, and Hume. There has been an upsurge of excellent work in early modern philosophy, as is well represented on this blog by Eric Schliesser, Dennis Des Chene, and Charles Wolfe. I would argue that one reason for the increased interest in early modern thought converges with Deleuze's project: namely, it's part of an effort to develop realist alternatives to various forms of Kantian transcendental idealism and anti-realism.
As part of this general trend in philosophy it might be time to reconsider the stoics, and in particular Seneca.
Or better, I want to know what you read last summer, as one of the goals of New APPS is to let us all get a glimpse of the astonishing breadth of contemporary philosophical work. In the spirit of this post on teaching, I thought I would ask now about what people have been reading. So, let us know three pieces you read this summer that made an impact on you, and (briefly) why. My contribution:
Georges Canguilhem, Le normal et le pathologique (PUF, 1966). Worked out in a reflection on medical and scientific literature, what makes this Canguilhem's masterpiece is its profound Spinozist / Nietzschean perspective on immanent modes of power of a life. Norms are not statistical averages of a population but that which an organism develops in its life course as it expresses its power in the range of its affects, what it can do and what it can undergo; illness is not deviation from a species-typical statistical profile but a narrowing of the norm-developing power of an organism.
Anne Sauvargnargues, Deleuze: L'empirisme transcendental (PUF, 2009). A detailed investigation of the conceptual background of Difference and Repetition, with work on Spinoza, Kant, Maimon, Bergson, Proust, Simondon, and others. Erudite without being pedantic, it should become a standard reference for everyone struggling with DR.
Barbara Stiegler, Nietzsche et la biologie (PUF, 2001). A little gem of a book, precise and insightful. Steigler shows that biology is for Nietzsche not just a source of metaphors, nor just a way to continue the project of modern subjectivity, but a way of incarnating the Kantian question of activity and passivity in "a subject, become living body, constituting itself henceforth in the always wounding confrontation [épreuve] with an alterity that resists it and which overturns its proper forms of assimilation" (124).
The following clip from Chaplin's 1921 short film, "The Idle Class," one of his Mutual Series films, is for me both a clear example of the action-image as Deleuze discusses this in his Cinema books and it points to an important claim Mark Wilson makes in his book Wandering Significance.
Does anyone know of interesting work on the conatus and Freud ? I remember reading a bit about this sort of thing in Stuart Hampshire's book, and there's a fair bit of (often unnecessary) writing in France on Lacan and Spinoza, but I am looking for helpful, conceptually oriented essays on Spinoza's notion and how it compares to Eros and Thanatos, all that stuff. This is not directly for me but I'll be glancing at the material. (Oh, before someone mentions that, I do remember the long passage in Difference and Repetition on death drive and some faintly Spinozist ideas.) The work can be more analytic (although I suppose it will be soft analytic), or more continental. Or, of course, beyond all that. Please, no Badiou. Thanks!
I'm teaching a Foucault seminar this term (hence the recent flurry of posts on the prison-industrial complex). In prepping the course I re-read this passage I wrote a few years ago (from this article) which claims a close connection between Foucualt's methodology and Deleuze's notion of "multiplicty."
In Security, Territory, Population, Foucault tells us to avoid a "circular ontology of the state" (STP 362F / 354E); we have to keep from hypostasizing the state as a substance, and avoid what Foucault will call "state phobia." In an important passage in Birth of Biopolitics Foucault concentrates on the "statification" [étatisation] of governmental practices. But this does not mean analyzing the "essence" of the state and then trying to deduce current practices of state governmentality as accidents accruing to the substance defined by that essence. For Foucault, flatly stated, "the state does not have an essence"; it is not "an autonomous source of power" (NB 79F / 77E). Rather it is only the "effect, the profile, the mobile shape [découpe mobile] of a perpetual statification [étatisation] or perpetual statifications [étatisations] in the sense of incessant transactions which modify, or move, or drastically change, or insidiously shift" multiple practices such as finance, investment, decision-making, control, and relations of local / central authorities (NB 79F / 77E). The state has no essence; it is not a substance with changing properties, but what Deleuze would call an Idea, a multiplicity, a system of differential elements and relations involved in "incessant transactions."[i]
[i] With "incessant transactions" we have a strong echo of the Deleuzean notion of a multiplicity as a structure of continuous variation. Relatively low-key in Difference and Repetition (e.g., 326F / 253E), continuous variation is a major concept throughout A Thousand Plateaus.
In this week’s Friday version of continental connections (I was too swamped with beginning of the semester duties to get this done earlier), I want to expand upon a couple of points that were made in posts on this blog in the last week. In her post on methodological pluralism (here), Catarina called for a conjunction of four different methodologies that, when done together, will result in a more thoroughgoing philosophical inquiry. In the comments, David Chalmers argued that there was something else besides the four methodologies Catarina listed, what he called “substantive philosophical thinking and reasoning,” or “philosophical abduction,” and he argued that it is at the core of philosophy.
I agreed and argued that what I take to be the core of philosophy, following Deleuze and others, is problematics, or the creation of concepts vis-à-vis problems. Catarina argues that problematics falls under her fourth methodology, what she calls "conceptual reflection," and she is probably right. In a follow-up comment John Protevi pointed out that a subsequent way to think of the history of philosophy would be as a genealogy of problematics, an analysis of how one problematic changed into another – e.g., how did Descartes’s problematic become Kant’s? Understood this way, the history of philosophy is not to be understood in terms of progress, and John, rightly I think, points out that this may well leave us with another point of bifurcation within philosophy, but one that spans both continental and analytic philosophies, and this would be between those who would argue for and those who would argue against progress in philosophy.
We've had wonderfuldiscussionsherelately on philosophy, physics, and metaphysics. The "physics" in question is quantum and relativity physics, AFAICT.
So I'd like to ask whether and / or to what extent the sort of "meso-physics" of dynamical systems theory (DST) is discussed in either philosophy of physics and / or analytic metaphysics.
I have a number of reasons to ask about DST and metaphysics.
There's a lot of diversity in "post-structuralist French philosophy," and one of the big breaks is between Derrida's "end of metaphysics" position and Deleuze, who once said: “I feel myself to be a pure metaphysician. . . . Bergson says that modern science hasn't found its metaphysics, the metaphysics it would need. It is this metaphysics that interests me.”
There's a school of thought that sees DST as one of the sciences (or perphaps better, one of the scientific tools) that Deleuze targets in his metaphysics. The pioneers here are Brian Massumi and Manuel DeLanda (see here as well) and a number of others including Jeff Bell and Miguel de Beistegui have followed them, as have I.
DST often shows up in 4EA cognitive science; among the major works here are the Naturalizing Phenomenology volume of 1999, and Evan Thompson's 2007 Mind in Life. (I try here to "add Deleuze to the mix" of DST-inflected 4EA work.)
I'm going to put this post in the "analytic - continental divide (and its overcoming)" category, because I think / hope there's a way adding Deleuze to the mix of a "post-divide" metaphysics would be very interesting, as Jeff Bell has argued in a number of his excellent "Continental Connections Thursday" posts.
UPDATE: I've changed the term used to describe the fourth category in the taxonomy below from 'conceptual analysis' to 'conceptual reflection'. I hope the new term is better able to cover the many approaches suggested by commenters which did not seem to fit the original description in a straighforward way.
In light of the very interesting methodological discussions we’ve been having here at New APPS on the relations between physics and metaphysics, I’d like to put forward a tentative taxonomy of different strands within philosophical methodology. I suspect it can also be useful for discussions on the analytic vs. continental divide and its overcoming, which is also a recurrent theme in this blog.
Indeed, looking at past and present work in philosophy (and trying to be as encompassing as possible), it would seem that we can identify four main strands of methods used for philosophical analysis:
Formal methods – these correspond to applications of mathematical and logical tools for the investigation of philosophical issues. As examples one could cite the development of possible world semantics for the analysis of the concepts of necessity and possibility, applications of the Bayesian framework to issues in epistemology (giving rise to so-called formal epistemology), Carnapian explication, and many others.
Historical methods – they rely on the assumption that, to attain a better understanding of a given philosophical concept/problem, it is useful (or even indispensable) to trace its historical origins in philosophical theorizing. Of course, the study of the history of philosophy has intrinsic value as such (emphasis on ‘history’) but at this point I’m interested in what Eric Schliesser has once described as ‘instrumental history of philosophy’ (emphasis on ‘philosophy’).
Empirical methods – these are the methodological approaches that systematically bring in elements from empirical sciences, such as the sciences of the mind (particularly relevant for philosophy of mind, epistemology, but to my mind also for philosophy of logic and mathematics), physics (possibly relevant for metaphysics), biology (arguably relevant for ethics, and everywhere else where evolutionary concepts come into play) etc. Sometimes this approach is described as ‘naturalistic’, but as we know there are (too?) many variations of the concept of naturalistic philosophy (many self-described naturalistic approaches are not sufficiently empirically-informed to my taste).
Conceptual reflection – arguably the most traditional philosophical method, consisting in unpacking concepts and drawing implications, introducing new and hopefully useful concepts, problems, conceptual frameworks etc.
So we seem to have a plurality of methods actually being used for philosophical theorizing. Are they all equally legitimate and adequate, both in general and in specific cases? I submit that the correct response to this plurality is methodological pluralism.
I have been unable to put together a continental connections post of late due to a study abroad program in Scotland I was heading up. The timing of the program worked out well, however, for I was able to attend the Hume Society conference in Edinburgh and meet up with Eric (all of which was very nice). Now that I'm back in sultry Louisiana I should be able to post more regularly. Sticking with Hume, and following up on the discussions of PSR from my previous post (here), I'll connect Quentin Meillassoux's arguments against PSR with the arguments of David Lewis's defense of the same, showing how Deleuze, with his notion of the impossibility of thought (and his concept of concrete universals), differs from both.
In his book After Finitude: an essay on the necessity of contingency, Meillassoux devotes an entire chapter to what he calls Hume's Problem. The central arguments of this chapter are intended to address objections to the claim, and preciesly the claim Meillassoux seeks to defend, that "not only things but also physical laws are really contingent...these laws could actually change at any moment for no reason whatsoever." Meillassoux's strategy in avoiding the objections is to solve "Hume's problem," which he states as follows: "is it possible to demonstrate that the same effects will always follow from the same causes ceteris paribus, i.e. all other things being equal?" For Hume, and for Meillassoux, the answer is "no," and Meillassoux ushers Hume's famous billiard-ball passage from EHU to the center of his argument:
When I see, for instance, a Billiard-ball moving in a straight line towards another; even suppose motion in the second ball should by accident be suggested to me, as the result of their contact or impulse; may I not conceive, that a hundred different events might as well follow from that cause? May not both these balls remain at absolute rest? May not the first ball return in a straight line, or leap off from the second in any line or direction? All these suppositions are consistent and conceivable. Why then should we give the preference to one, which is no more consistent or conceivable than the rest? All our reasonings a priori will never be able to shew us any foundation for this preference. (EHU section IV)
The draft is here. (Updated with a section on "evolution and involution" as of 5:20 pm CDT.)
It's forthcoming in the Cambridge Companion to Deleuze, edited by Henry Somers-Hall and Daniel W Smith. As it's intended for a reference work it's more of an overview rather than original argumentation. Still, comments welcome here or by email at protevi AT lsu DOT edu.
Here are the introductory remarks, with accompanying notes below the fold:
“Life” was a major theme for Deleuze, so much so that he would say at one point: “Everything I’ve written is vitalistic, at least I hope it is…” (N, 143). But before we get out the pitchforks at this uttering of a forbidden word, we should remember Deleuze’s love of provocation, and read the beginning of the passage to see his idiosyncratic notion of vitalism: “There’s a profound link between signs, life, and vitalism: the power of nonorganic life that can be found in a line that’s drawn, a line of writing, a line of music. It’s organisms that die, not life. Any work of art points a way through for life, finds a way through the cracks.” (N, 143)
In this article we will skirt the relation of life and art,[i] however, and instead focus upon Deleuze’s writings that are aimed at life as it is understood in the biological register.[ii] We’ll begin with a guide to some key biophilosophical investigations in Deleuze’s single-authored masterpiece, Difference and Repetition: Chapter 2 on organic syntheses and organic time, and Chapter 5 on embryogenesis.[iii] Then, in the second part of the article, we will consider several biophilosophical themes in Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus, addressing “vitalism,” “life,” “nature,” “content and expression,” “milieus, codes, territories,” “nonorganic life,” “body without organs,” and “organism.”
I have been unable to put together a post the past few weeks due to a busy travel schedule to, among other places, the Deleuze Studies Conference in Copenhagen. As one of the instructors at this year's Deleuze Camp (or workshop as I'd prefer to call it to avoid thoughts of boy scouts, letters home to mom, etc.), I was given ample time to develop some thoughts associated with what is certainly one of the central projects of Deleuze's thought - if not the central project - which is to account for the emergence of identifiable beings without presupposing a predetermining identity. Perhaps not surprisingly, there was much overlap between my lectures and those of the other Deleuze scholars who participated in this year's camp - Dan Smith, Ronald Bogue, and Ian Buchanan.
Description: Since he never devoted a book to the study of ethics, many scholars have assumed that Gilles Deleuze did not write about the subject. Yet the opposite is true. Concepts such as ethics, values, and normativity play a crucial, if subtle and easily overlooked, role in Deleuze's philosophical project. These essays unearth and explore the ethical dimensions of Deleuzian philosophy across a number of trajectories, ultimately reclaiming his thought as a moral philosophical triumph.
Introduction, Nathan Jun;
1. Whistle While You Work: Deleuze and the Spirit of Capitalism, Jeffrey Bell;
2. The Ethics of the Event: Deleuze and Ethics Without ????, Levi R. Bryant;
3. While Remaining on the Shore: Ethics in Deleuze's Encounter with Antonin Artaud, Laura Cull;
4. Responsive Becoming: Ethics Between Deleuze and Feminism, Erinn Gilson;
5. Deleuze, Values, and Normativity, Nathan Jun;
6. Ethics and the World Without Others, Eleanor Kaufman;
7. Deleuze and the Question of Desire: Toward an Immanent Theory of Ethics, Daniel W. Smith;
8. "Existing Not as a Subject But as a Work of Art - The Task of Ethics or Aesthetics?," Kenneth Surin;
9. Deleuze, Ethics, Ethology and Art, Anthony Uhlmann;
10. Never Too Late? On the Implications of Deleuze's Work on Death For a Deleuzian Moral Philosophy, James Williams;
11. Ethics Between Particularity and Universality, Audron Zukauskait;
In this short 40 second clip, Bertrand Russell expresses what is likely a widely shared sentiment - clarity and exact thinking can serve a therapeutic function. Inexact thinking allows for our prejudices, biases, and self-interest to come into play without our noticing, but if we pursue a path of clarity and exact thinking, we will notice. Whether or not "philosophy in the old-fashioned sense," as he puts it, is by its nature immersed in inexact thinking he does not say, though he no doubt thinks a healthy amount of it is so immersed - Russell is nonetheless quite clear that this is not what the world needs now, or it's not the philosophy that will save us from ourselves.
White Light/White Heat refers, as many probably caught, to an album by The Velvet Underground, and hopefully this will not to be a random reference given what I want to make of it. As one of the premier experimental rock bands of the 1960s—their first album was a joint project with Andy Warhol—The Velvet Underground, following the inspiration and lead of front man Lou Reed, would frequently draw upon the use of feedback distortion to the point where it became nearly indistinguishable from white noise. To be fair, Lou Reed also had a knack for writing traditional songs as well, with catchy melodies and a good sense for the use of harmony. In 1975 Lou Reed took his white noise tendency to an extreme when he released Metal Machine Music, which is to many ears (mine included) largely a compilation of white noise. There is some debate about whether or not this album was released as a joke or as a way to quickly complete his contractual obligations to the record label he had become disenchanted with. Whatever the motivations, one should not be too quick to discount the use of white noise or discredit a work that makes use of it.
I'm calling "paracite" a misquotation that lives on, becoming more popular than the original quotation. This is different from a misattribution, as when people think it was Voltaire rather than Diderot who said "mankind will never be free until the last king is strangled in the entrails of the last priest." A paracite would be more like saying that Shakespeare once wrote "gild the lily," which is more famous than what he really wrote: "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily."
Here's a philosophical paracite. First, the original quote, by Deleuze, talking about Wittgensteinians, in the transcript / paraphrase of the Abécédaire / ABCs provided by Charles Stivale:
"W as in Wittgenstein"
Parnet says, let's move on to W, and Deleuze says, there's nothing in W, and Parnet says, yes, there's Wittgenstein. She knows he's nothing for Deleuze, but it's only a word. Deleuze says, he doesn't like to talk about that... It's a philosophical catastrophe. It's the very type of a "school", a regression of all philosophy, a massive regression. Deleuze considers the Wittgenstein matter to be quite sad. They imposed <ils ont foutu> a system of terror in which, under the pretext of doing something new, it's poverty introduced as grandeur. Deleuze says there isn't a word to express this kind of danger, but that this danger is one that recurs, that it's not the first time that it has arrived. It's serious especially since he considers the Wittgensteinians to be nasty <méchants> and destructive <ils cassent tout>. So in this, there could be an assassination of philosophy, Deleuze says, they are assassins of philosophy, and because of that, one must remain very vigilant. <Deleuze laughs>
Whatever you think about Deleuze's views, it's quite clear they pertain to Wittgensteinians, not to Wittgenstein.
Deleuze takes every advantage of this, to the point of being unfair: thus Eco is a know-all, Wittgenstein an assassin of philosophy...
Will this become a paracite, that is, will it become more widespread than the original? It will be interesting to track this.
[UPDATE: T 19 April, 11:55 am CDT: I may be jumping the gun here and / or being unfair to Lecercle. I'd have to go back to the French video and listen to what Deleuze is saying to determine the correct pronoun and thus the antecedent: "ils sont" where "ils" refers to Wittgensteinians or "il est" where "il" refers to Wittgenstein. Does anyone have access to the video and want to make a judgment?]
[UPDATE 2: W 20 April, 9:55 am CDT: in discussion below, I did find a lecture transcript (link below) where Deleuze accuses Wittgenstein of having "assassinated" Whitehead. Although Lecercle is discussing the Abécédaire, perhaps he has the lecture in mind?]
[UPDATE 3: W 20 April, 9:55 am CDT: Jon Cogburn pushes me to include "parricide" in the series. So we could expand it to read: Paracite (beyond the [correct] citation) / Parasite (on the original) / Parricide (kills the original).]
We our so in the grip of 'Frege-our-Father' that we forget that Schlick invented analytic philosophy. (He would make a great martyr if only he had been shot for philosophical reasons!) Einstein's great achievements had caused a crisis to philosophy--then in the grip of Neo-Kantianism (of various stripes). Schlick's great insight was to insist that part of Einstein's achievement was strictly philosophical: Einstein had developed wholly new concepts that turned out to be extremely fruitful. Frege's logic would be the tool, but it is Schlick that developed the program of the free play in conceptual invention. Carnap debased the coin a bit by insisting we should be more modest conceptual engineers. But a scientific philosophy requires worker-bees and philosophical queens.
While I work on historical figures, I am an analytic philosopher (not just because I did my apprenticeship with some impressive analytic philosophers, but especially) because I follow Schlick's dictum: I develop concepts that help clarify our philosophical situation and that are meant to have fruitful applications. The three main concepts that I have been developing are "Newton's Challenge" (that is the standing challenge of scientific authority vis a vis philosophy); "The Socratic Problem" (the complex relationship between intellectual activity and society); "Philosophic Prophecy" (the way philosophers make future(s) possible). The third is the most reflexive of the group. (I explain these concepts and offer lots of distinctions among them elsewhere more at length.)
This is my response to the recent discussions (here, here, and here); the history of philosophy is first and foremost philosophy.
This is the question of the formalization of formalism itself, of the reflection of formal-symbolic structures within themselves, and thus of the possibility of these structures coming to comprehend and articulate their own internal constitution and limits.
Within the analytic tradition, this question is posed and pursued within the ill-defined field sometimes called "metalogic." Its results are recognized as profound, but their larger significance has, so far at least, been difficult to place. In particular, despite the largely negative significance usually ascribed to them, the transformative results of Russell, Gödel, and Tarski, for instance, have in fact fundamentally articulated what we can expect from a critical reflection on the nature of language and our human access to it.
On the "continental" side, as well, such transformative critical meta-reflection has resulted from the massive mid-century project of structuralism as soon as "post-structuralist" philosophers subjected it to internal critique on its own terms.
One of my chief goals in the present work is thus to argue that these two strands of reflection on language – metalogical analysis on the "analytic" side, and post-structuralism in a deconstructive mode on the "continental" - can be allied, and thus can both be useful sources of critical reflection on the political implications of formalism as such. Their combination can yield, in particular, a formally clarified understanding of the constitution and structure of political communities, as well as of their possibilities of alteration and internal dynamics of change.
I'm very much looking forward to reading this when it comes out. I taught a course on Badiou in Fall 2009 and while it was very rewarding for me, and I can honestly say I greatly admire Being and Event, I couldn't quite buy the linkage of formalism and politics, despite the valiant efforts contained in Peter Hallward's excellent Badiou: A Subject to Truth. To put it in kind of a jokey way (but not too jokey!), Badiou keeps saying you have to choose, so if I have to choose, I'll choose Deleuze, life, affect, biology, and so on, all the things that Badiou wants to leave behind. So I'm hoping that reading Livingston's book will make me choose again, and in a even more informed way this time. I still think I'll make the same choice, but I think it will be a more informed choice, if you see what I'm saying.