after the Cartesian question

Filed under: culture, philosophy, event, category, difference, the political — sdv @ 03:48:23 pm

We will be able to choose the sex of our children: genetics, biochemistry, physics and the related technologies give us the necessary power, but we will be obliged to administer this power, which for moment seems to elude us , because it goes faster and father than we can see or control, beyond our desires to redirect it, our will to decide about it, our freedom to manage it. We have resolved the Cartesian question ‘How can we domninate the world?’ Will we know how to resolve the next question ‘How can we dominate our domination ? how can we master our mastery ?’ (Serres 1990).

If your philosophy isn’t thinking about the last questions it sn’t philosophy.


silicon assemblages

Filed under: philosophy, event, category, difference, text, Deleuze, the political — sdv @ 05:45:10 pm

“An assemblage is carried along by its abstract lines, when it is able to have or trace abstract lines. You know, it’s curious, today we are witnessing the revenge of silicon. Biologists have often asked themselves why life was “channeled” through carbon rather than silicon. But the life of modern machines, a genuine non-organic life, totally distinct from the organic life of carbon, is channeled through silicon. This is the sense in which we speak of a silicon-assemblage. In the most diverse fields, one has to consider the component parts of assemblages, the nature of the lines, the mode of life, the mode of utterance…” -Gilles Deleuze

This led to a discussion which identified both that ‘that carbon is not the only line to be taken into account’ (organic and non-organic life) but also to an early and incoherent consideration of the way in which a technology might be considered. So perhaps one way of looking at this is Simondon saying ‘It could be said that the technical object evolves by engendering a family; the primitive object is the forefather of this family…’

How could and should silicon chips be considered in the technological lineage of a technological evolution ? Is this useful within the context of the thinking of assemblages or is it marked by a leaning towards the increased specialization of the technological object of the computer chip, achieved not ‘…function by function but synergy by synergy’ so that as Simondon says ‘what constitutes the real system in a technical object is not the individual function but the synergetic group of functions…’ For the group of functions is not related to silicon but to the computing functions. And whilst the underlying concept of non-organic life is interesting and fascinating it cannot be right to identify it with mere silicon, because the technological function is more than this, instead with the evolving technological object. The assemblage appears small whilst at the same time hinting at a larger and more complex concept. So perhaps when Simondon says ‘a natural technical evolution…’ It’s not arguing against the silicon-assemblage but instead identifying the actual component parts.


a note on state thought

Filed under: culture, philosophy, event, category, difference, text, Deleuze, the political — sdv @ 12:05:53 pm

We might consider the conflict between the state and the nomad as being nearly timeless, an ahistorical given, perhaps more gently as being metahistorical. Deleuze and Guattari certainly do, before changing the meaning of the conflict by moving the concept from philosophy and theology - in which there is a clearly identifiable line of state thought which stretches from before the Ancient Greece, the Roman empire through Descartes and Hobbes to Kant, Hegel, Bentham, Mill and Heidegger and beyond to the present day, and nomadic thought – to science and scientific thought. Deleuze and Guattari propose state science as being hylemorphic, by which they mean that is works with form and content, privileging formed and fixed bodies. This places state science as being one of the two heads of political sovereignty the jurist-scientist rather than the magician-king (ATP 351), though equally in the present I might be tempted to substitute scientist for magician in the latter term. Nomadic Science they suggest works rather differently with movements, flows and singularities: events though which qualitative transformations take place. (ATP 372). The difference between these two forms of science is not necessarily permanent, because state science requires nomadic science. Needing the discoveries of nomadic science and conversely nomadic science requires state science. The flows and changes of nomadic science are reterritorialised onto the fixed coordinates, the juridical procedures, the stratifications and the categorizations of state science. Many things could be said about this understanding of science, for it obviously repeats a theme that is core to Anti-Oedipus (and Difference and Repetition for that matter) in which knowledge and information is considered as a deterritorialising force and it can also be seen to be generally equivalent to labour which is endlessly deterritorialised and then reterritorialised back onto property and capital. We can say then that the deterritorialisations of nomadic science are a subset of state science because they are endlessly reterritorialised back into state science, subordinated to the categories that are so alien to them.

Deleuze and Guattari want to establish a point which they could not make in relation to philosophy, though the logic is clear in the ATP, in part of course because as already said above, they correctly argue that religion and philosophy have been supplanted by state science as the primary ideology of our times. That state thought is dependent on nomadic thought, identity is after, dependent on difference, deterritorialisation is prior to reterritorialisation. What is being proposed is that knowledge and labour, thought and action, science and thought are all subject to the same apparatus of capture, processes of homogenisation that are intended to produce quantifiable and exchangeable units from what begins as difference, as differential relations of desire. In this state thought, state philosophy, state theology is no different than state science. At times Deleuze and Guattari discuss state thought as a relation of the identity between capitalist and worker, ruler and ruled, constructing a common rationality between subjects. ‘The state must realize the distinction between legislator and the subject under formal conditions permitting thought…’ (ATP 376). This is sometimes raised as collapsing the distinction between the state and capital but this is mistaken for as we’ve seen they are making an opposition within the present.

Of course my deliberate (mis)reading of Deleuze and Guattari assumes that a number of questions are considered as having been answered both within their work but also within related texts – sample questions might be for example - at what point in the history of western capitalism did state science supplant state philosophy and state theology as the central ideological apparatus ? The trajectory can be traced back to Galileo and Newton but which completes in the 19th Century during the 2nd industrial revolution. In this later period state philosophy and state science establish a social and political paradigm which is maintained up to the present. How did state philosophy respond to this replacement of philosophy and theology by science? The answer to this is simple, Heidegger … Sociology of Science (and its descendants), recent post-secularism and the delusion that science and monotheism are related.

This is a note and consequently I am not going to explain what is wrong with the unnecessary localism of relating state thought to the indo-european concept of political sovereignty, perhaps you noticed I didn’t mention Confucius and Lao Tsu in the opening paragraph ? Which is also why I didn’t reference Adam Smith an exemplary state thinker who referenced the east in the later books of the wealth of nations. But then state thought is not being considered as something western, but as something that extends beyond the locality of the indo-european. Perhaps this is where I should have taken this logic here but consider this a marker… rough notes anyway.


choices and responsibility

Filed under: philosophy, category, difference, the political — sdv @ 11:30:37 am

Thinking of the act of voting and the responsibility and accountability that this implies. Initially I wondered if Lukacs and reification might supply an understanding but finally reverted to thinking that Cohen’s logic as borrowed below and only marginally amended seems more appropriate.

It would seem to be mistaken to say that humans beings are not responsible for their choices because they participate and accept social practices, however awful the practice might actually be.

It seems to be a mistake because we understand that people do make choices that produce and reproduce social practices and critically human beings can choose to not do so, choosing against the predominant lines of ideology and discourse, against the social assemblages they exist within.

However it is not being suggested that that if they do not choose against the predominant social practices that they are choosing badly since that would be unbalanced and probably unfair, because even though there maybe personal choice, it is made within an extremely complex and detailed level of social conditioning that is behind and supports every choice that may be made.

If we care about social justice surely then we need to consider a minimum of four things, the coercive structures (repressive and ideological), other structures, the social ethos and the choices of individuals. In addition any judgment on the choices made should be considered with an awareness of the power of others.


Object Orientation

Filed under: philosophy, event, category, difference — sdv @ 12:09:48 pm

Until fairly recently object orientation (OO (Object Orientated Programming OOP)) had a rather specific set of engineering and philosophical meanings which were fundamentally related to the techno-science interests of my engineering practice. Interesting and useful and yet not that much of an improvement over the previous structured paradigm. On the philosophical line of thought I would have understood OO as existing within the line of working knowledge that represents what Lyotard deliberately and negatively referred to as the Inhuman. It is an inhumanism because OO is an engineering paradigm that forces you to think in a particular way and does not adapt to human concerns, rather the ever flexible human has to adapt to it.

Imagine my surprise when I began to come across a new OOP, Object Orientated Philosophy (OOP2), and my still greater surprise that there are no references within OOP2 to OOP. A few of the intellectual roots are the same and yet OO really doesn’t have the same metaphysic as Object orientated Philosophy. If you review the engineering research paper attached to this post and compare the exactitude of the language with Harman’s treatment of Objects in Guerilla Metaphysics and the various blogs (start here) you will begin to undetand why the difference fascinates me.

In the early 90s I was told that OO was a paradigm that engineered difference, it has never as far as I can ascertain fulfilled this ideological dream but still it’s fascinating to begin to reconsider this logic.

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