Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Testing of Claimants and Ideas for a Different Kind of Critique

"Is the thought here that "ontological anarchy" should let anything go, so denying any sort of claim is tantamount to metaphysical dogmatism?"- Dr. SpinDroza, taken from the comment section beneath his ‚ÄúScientism and Fundamentalism‚ÄĚ post.

Testing of claims and claimants is at the heart of Platonism.

What is at the heart of " ontological anarchy" is not to test claims or claimants, but to get to an event of thinking.

Does getting to an event of thinking necessarily require any testing of claims and claimants? I want to say here - no, this process of testing claimants sidetracks the processes which might lead to an event of thinking... it is not necessary to these processes.

How do I know this? A good question to which I must return at a later date.

How could we know an event of thinking had been reached unless we tested various claims and claimants of "events of thinking" so that false, illusory claims of what it is to think could be discarded, and true claims recognized?

Here, I think it is possible to distinguish ideas of critique which have a Platonic genealogy from those which have a different genealogy.

The ideas of critique which have a different genealogy do not rest on a model of testing claimants. An event of thinking is not recognized by a process of judgment. It is known by whether it has been productive. It produces a difference - which politically might be known as having produced an alternative. If this alternative is more vital, then it will endure.

It may appear that my proposal for a different kind of critique rests on substituting one set of evaluative terms for another, displacing the older ones, but not changing them.

This is another issue which must be addressed at a later date.

The kind of critique which I want to be able to perform does not seek to judge and glorify or condemn theories or practices. It seeks to produce alternatives which, through their greater vitality cause weaker theories and practices to dry up through disuse and abandonment.


Blogger Dr. Spinoza said...

Again, Yusef, you've really shaken me up -- and shown me what it means to be committed to what I say I'm committed to.

I think that my academic training has given me a near-lethal dose of Platonism (the testing of claims and claimants), and that led things to go subtly awry.

But what if people desire that which lessens or inhibits their vitality? Then what happens when they're shown an alternative to their theories and practices?

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

"But what if people desire that which lessens or inhibits their vitality? Then what happens when they're shown an alternative to their theories and practices?"

If such were the case, then everything I think and have ever proposed crumbles and falls into ashes.

This crumbling and falling into ashes would also befall Deleuze and Spinoza.

We ( I am following Deleuze, and through him also Spinoza - I don't want you to think that I think I can place myself on the same level with them,) are assuming as a bedrock assumption of our philosophy that there is not "the negative" at the very heart of being.

If there is, and following this it is therefore the case that life wills its own cessation, call back in the priests and let the philosophers I admire ( and me with them,) go to bedlam.

Of course, the assumption is not merely an assumption- it is productive. ( I believe.) What I would be interested in seeing is anyone's ideas of how it is not... is there any sense in which this assumption is unproductive?

3:04 PM  
Blogger Dr. Spinoza said...

There's something undeniably attactive about the positivity of being that one finds in Deleuze (and in Spinoza, if one reads Spinoza as Deleuze does).

I think that we can conjure up some powerful mojo by working on this ontological committment.

On the other hand, I also want to account for how negativity is possible. Negativity may be a sort of "transcendental illusion" -- Deleuze and Guattari argue as much in Anti-Oedipus -- but it's a transcendental illusion which is incorporated into the materiality of social (and also psychic) life.

Deleuze and especially Foucault have been castigated for rejecitng or denying "the subject." If this is the Husserlian subject (and it is, to a large extent; Husserl's presence in 20th century French philosophy is eclipsed only by Hegel's), then good riddance!

But the Husserlian subject is the subject-as-hole-in-being (as it is for Kant and for Sartre). I want to think of Deleuze and Foucault as exploring the subject-as-fold-in-being; aa fold, and not a hole.

This opens up the space for thinking about unfoldings and refoldings, and one may read Foucault as having done a great deal to illustrate this.

On the other hand, I also want to be able to explain how a subject can be folded in such a way as to construct a sort of "quasi-negativity" . . . which would allow it to desire its own oppression. The subject somehow becomes turned in or against itself.

The affirmation of being, without any interiority at all, would leave us unable to explain what we want to explain. On the other hand, the negativitiy of being and the myth of original interiority also leaves us unable to explain what we want to explain.

The first option undermines the recognition of interiority and desire-as-lack as phenomena at all; the second option posits interiority and desire-as-lack as fundamental, and so undermines the possibility of explaining them.

(Note: I don't think that Deleuze or Foucault pursue this "first option," but I do think that Zizek and Badiou accuse Deleuze of doing so, and this is what motivates their polemics.)

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

For me, everything is resting on this "ontological commitment," as you call it, and I would do well to explore it more thoroughly. ( I was having trouble yesterday, in comment #2, even indicating it.) These lines you are suggesting are excellent.

One thing which seems crucial to me, and which was emerging for me more powerfully as I read your comment of this morning, is that Deleuze, Guattari, and Foucault abandon the old sense of repression....

....they think of repression as productive. Their new sense of repression has not been understood. ( I've had my own struggles with it, too, which are not over.)

By the sense that they are using repression, it might be better ( assuming that we want to work along the lines that they were working,) if we rewrote " desiring of one's own repression" to be asking something closer to:

-- Why are there folds which are folding so that the fold is folded against itself?

Not only is the ontology revolutionized by this seemingly simple shifting of "metaphors," but so also is the epistemology. The shift may remove some of the worst snarlings of our own foldings.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Dr. Spinoza said...

I've been trying to think through how this re-thinking of the ontology and the epistemology is supposed to work.

For the time being, I'm trying to see what happens to the subject-object epistemology if we put to work a new "vocabulary" (not quite a theory and not quite a language). Can old wine be poured into new skins?

The subject as fold in being means that the subject is neither a hole, a pure void or nothingness. And it would be consistent with Deleuze -- as it is with Leibniz, whom I'm only exploring now -- to say that all objects are also folds. So what makes the subject-as-fold different from the object-as-fold? Does anything make it different?

A Deleuzian epistemology which must be, among other things, a post-Darwinian epistemology, would have to say that there is only a continuum of degrees between subjects and objects, and not a distinction of kind. Perhaps one might think of this continuum in terms of differences of capacity to affect and to be affected? In any event, Deleuze would affirm with Spinoza that one should not treat humanity as separate from the rest of nature, "an empire within an empire," as Spinoza puts it.

If anything really distinguishes subjects from objects, it is that subjects are folds that can participate in their own unfolding and refolding. So there's a reflexive dimension absent from other entities that are unfolded and refolded, but as it were "passively."

Does this help at all?

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

"If anything really distinguishes subjects from objects, it is that subjects are folds that can participate in their own unfolding and refolding. So there's a reflexive dimension absent from other entities that are unfolded and refolded, but as it were 'passively.'"

There are some key comments on the possibility of changing one's mode of existence (eg from reactive to active,) in the latter parts Deleuze's " Nietzsche and Philosophy."

These matters, of how to fold oneself, are also, if I am not mistaken, the preoccupation of Foucault at the latter stage of his career.

5:57 PM  
Blogger Dr. Spinoza said...

There's a new book on Foucault's thinking about subjectivity in the latter stages of his work. It's called Foucault 2.0: Beyond Power and Knowledge. It looks very interesting, but I haven't decided whether or not to buy it.

6:17 PM  
Blogger Dr. Spinoza said...

Deleuze, and Deleuze's Nietzsche, confront a difficult problem. Deleuze, speaking in Nietzsche's voice (in Nietzsche and Philosophy), claims that the one who wills the eternal return wills the return of the different and the active. The reactive will not return. So the eternal return is a principal of selection: one selects the active forces.

Here's the problem: how is selection possible? (This is the problem of agency.) Why isn't the will itself stuck with desiring whatever it desires, active or reactive?

Having fought so hard against the tyranny of the transcendental subject (Husserl, Sartre), Deleuze needs to also retain something like subjectivity, it seems to me, in order to explain how selection is possible.

Now, I think he can do so. I don't think that the subject, or subjectivity, or subjectivization are antithetical to the spirit or letter of Deleuze's works. But it's not easy to figure out just what the heck is going on there.

And maybe there's something insidious about even trying to "figure out what the heck is going on there." I don't know.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

There's nothing whatsoever insidious about trying to figure out what the heck is going on there.

It is extremely important that we try to do so.

The whole idea of Deleuze and Guattari was to achieve an emancipatory social practice, and they confronted these issues head on, with great rigor.

I never want to let go of what they achieved, and I want to explore what they achieved much more thoroughly here at the Enlightenment Underground.

3:59 PM  

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