Thursday, May 04, 2006

Concept Creation/Critique/Capacity

I want to offer, very briefly, a look at the way that concept creation supercedes critique and the idea of capability removes the need for a testing of claimants and the role of rules within ethical systems.

In this little leading sentence I see that I am going to bite off more than I could ever chew in a short post, but I am going to bite away, because I want to get moving. I hope that Dr. Spinoza and those who are viewing the blog will be willing to help me expand the ideas of this very cursory note.

Critique relies on a demarcation of limits. Concept creation, on the other hand, does not. Critique works on something that is pre-existing, and this gives critique a kind of conservatism and a bit of the air of reaction. ( Although this isn't entirely fair - critique can be creative in its own right, I think, but maybe this is the key point - it can't be revolutionarily creative.)

Anyone can critique. Anyone can feed off the ideas of someone else. Anyone can give out the verdicts: this is good or this is bad. Critique gives a spurious illusion of capacity. It also seems always to be accompanied with that terrible sense of superiority to the critic - no matter how silly this is - a bad critic criticizing a great artist can still seem somehow superior.

Concept creation requires a positive capacity. You can either create a new concept or you can't. You might utilize the works of the past, but in doing so , these works are changed into something new, something that has never existed before. The new concept doesn't break back down into its old elements, even though these may be seen to compose the new concept. The created concept is offering something different. If it is not introducing something different, there has been no concept creation. Nothing has been created. There has been no capacitation.

We had talked earlier about the testing of claimants, and whether the discarding of the testing of claimants in philosophy exposed those who discard to having now way to make "selections." ( Selecting continues to be important to the thought of Nietzsche, Deleuze, etc. and this might seem to be without a basis in the absence of a testing of claimants.) What exists in the absence of a testing of claimants is what one is capable of and what one is not capable of. One can either do something or they cannot. If you can't act as a master, you aren't one. You don't require a test of your claim to be a master - and it may even be that in looking for one you are confirming your slavery. What you require is the positive capacity to act powerfully. ( Please keep in mind that in this context I do not mean that to act powerfully does not mean to be an oaf or a tyrant or a bully - quite the opposite.) If you do not have this positive capacity, there is a selection based on this discapacity.

I seek a capacity to create concepts. Whatever remains of criticism in what I am doing exists as discapacity to create concepts. Perhaps I will continue to critique once I have developed the power of concept creation, but it will always be retroactively in the light of something new which will provide an alternative.

7 Comments:

Blogger Dr. Spinoza said...

I'm not sure what to make of the claim that critique cannot be revolutionarily creative.

Kant has often been read as revolutionarily creative.

Either this is a misreading of Kant, or there's something going on in Kant other than the critique.

My own sense is that Kant really is revolutionarily creative, but that he himself hamstrings his own creativity in some intricate and fascinating ways.

The critique of dogmatic metaphysics and theological speculation is made possible by the concepts created (e.g. intuition, understanding, schematism, sensibility).

But I also think that Kant himself didn't fully appreciate what he had made possible. This is an old claim in the history of philosophy. Almost everyone after Kant claims to be fulfilling or completing what Kant began. This is not only true in the obvious cases -- Hegel and Schopenhaer.

Deleuze claims that Nietzsche gives us a true critique of reason, a critique of "sense" and "value", rather than a critique of assertions. I think that might very well be true.

(Or at least that's what I said in my dissertation, and I'm not going to retract those claims until after it's published.)

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for inspiring posts. It’s a thought-PROVOKING experience to read you both (dare I say concept-ually creative?). I want to respond to Yusef’s comments, but first a few remarks that also apply to Dr. Spinoza.

I think semantics might be a way to approach some of your observations. Kant’s use of the German word KRITIK in the titles of his three Kritiks is of course in the meaning of: a review, a definition, a discussion, and an amplification of, in his case, Reason.

The English word critique also comes from the Greek “kritiké”, originally meaning the art of a critic based among other things on the ability to discern.

So I think Yusef is too binary in his logic and definition when he writes:

Critique relies on a demarcation of limits. Concept creation, on the other hand, does not. Critique works on something that is pre-existing, and this gives critique a kind of conservatism and a bit of the air of reaction.”

Deleuze’s early – and concept-creating – works are all about “something that is pre-existing” = previous philosophers, but his “critique” is not based on “demarcation of limits”, but I guess much more on deterritorializations: shifting the ground, moving the discussion, and so letting something new “become”.

In fact, Kant deterritorialized Hume (or am I being too categorical here, Dr. Spinoza?).

A great example of this Deleuzian concept was described by T. S. Eliot 3 years before Deleuze was born.

From: The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism. 1922.

Tradition and the Individual Talent

…the historical sense compels a man to write not merely with his own generation in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order. This historical sense, which is a sense of the timeless as well as of the temporal and of the timeless and of the temporal together, is what makes a writer traditional. And it is at the same time what makes a writer most acutely conscious of his place in time, of his contemporaneity. No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead. I mean this as a principle of æsthetic, not merely historical, criticism. The necessity that he shall conform, that he shall cohere, is not one-sided; what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it. The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them. The existing order is complete before the new work arrives; for order to persist after the supervention of novelty, the whole existing order must be, if ever so slightly, altered; and so the relations, proportions, values of each work of art toward the whole are readjusted; and this is conformity between the old and the new.

Isn’t this what we should strive for – readjusting the whole, or not to be too ambitious: Readjusting elements of the whole - always BECOMING.

Thanks again for making me think - or digress.

Orla Schantz

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

I definitely think that there is concept creation in Kant. The whole realm of the transcendental is, I believe, a monumental concept creation of Kant.

I was too binary in my contrast of critique and concept creation - I need to give this much more thought.

I am, however, trying to distinguish the two and to show concept creation as an alternative to critique -one much more in line with what I hope to accomplish.

Thanks for the comments.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yusef writes:

I definitely think that there is concept creation in Kant. The whole realm of the transcendental is, I believe, a monumental concept creation of Kant.

I was too binary in my contrast of critique and concept creation - I need to give this much more thought.

I am, however, trying to distinguish the two and to show concept creation as an alternative to critique -one much more in line with what I hope to accomplish.


Oh, yes, Yusef, Kant CREATED modern (enligthened) man. I have so much fondness for this bachelor (and his lively daily lunches with wine and friends) in Könichberg.

And I do recognize and applaud your distinction between critique and concept creation, even if I also think you have to accept the Deleuzian concept of immanence: meaning the free flow of life which is not subjected to logic.

But you have already "accomplished" a lot.

I look forward to reading your thinking.

All the best - and thanks for sharing,

Orla Schantz

7:33 PM  
Blogger Dr. Spinoza said...

There are two sides to Deleuze.

One is the life-philosopher (Lebensphilosoph who affirms that the flows of life exceeds any logic.

The other is the logician who develops a logic of sense that is capable of mapping (not tracing) the flows of life.

10:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, dr. Spinoza, for this distinction which I think is appropriate.

In Deleuze's own words (from What Is Philosophy? in section two on "The Plane of Immanence"):

The plane of immanence is neither a concept not the concepts of all concepts...From Epicurus to Spinoza and from Spinoza to Michaux the problem of thought is infinite speed. But this speed requires a milieu that moves infinitely in itself - the plane, the void, the horizon...Concepts are absolute surfaces or volumes, formless and fragmentary, whereas the plane is the formless, unlimited absolute, neither surface nor volume, but always fractal...The plane is like a desert that concepts populate without dividing it up"

In other words there MAY be a dialectics between the two.

Orla Schantz

5:32 PM  
Blogger Dr. Spinoza said...

Mr. Schantz,

I accept that, on Deleuze's view, concepts should be distinguished from the plane of immanence. However, in doing so, Deleuze and Guattari also invent a new concept of the concept. In the English-speaking world, the dominant concept of the concept is that developed by Frege. (Subsequently refined by Russell and by Carnap.) D&G call this the "propositional form" of the concept. They are interested in constructing a nonpropositional form of the concept -- a non-Fregean form -- which nevertheless does not fall back into the Aristotelian-Kantian-Hegelian problematic which Frege sought to escape.

At risk of hyperbole, there are three theories of the concept in Western philosophy: that of Aristotle, that of Frege, and that of Deleuze. I think that Deleuze's contribution to philosophy is that monumental.

1:28 PM  

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