Monday, April 26, 2010

The Penumbra of the Empty, Part XXI

In the last post, I was trying to make a contrast between two kinds of motion-thought: one motion-thought I very vaguely analogized to building, while another I analogized as growth. (I am aware that I am at this point very close to Deleuze’s contrasting images of thought of trees to rhizome.)

The key difference between the two kinds of motion is that in the “building” type, all of the future motion-thought is contained in the present motion-thought. “Contained in” means that if the present motion-thought is fully characterized, all future motion-thought is known. (By fully characterized, I mean to say fully known.) In the “growth” type of motion-thought, there is change which is not contained or predictable from the present motion-thought, even if the present motion-thought is fully characterized. In other words, even if the present motion is fully known, the future motion is not fully known.

Part of the problem with using “growth” to designate the second kind of motion-thought is that we probably typically conceive of growth as the first kind of motion-thought. I say this is the way we typically conceive of growth because we speak of growth as happening “according to nature.” The assumption here is that the present-motion is somehow already fully characterized, and the future motion of the growth is somehow fully known. I’m not saying that most people think that the location of the branches of a tree can be predicted in advance of the growth of the tree from its seed, but most people do think that an oak tree will grow from an acorn and not from a fig, and that this is according to nature. My way of saying this seems a little off, but at least I think it is true that people conceive that as something is growing it is realizing its natural properties—which I see as being to conceive in terms of the first kind of thought-motion.

I want to get at this change-denying quality of “according to nature” as this is used to think nature and thought. Just as one example: to speak of “according to human nature” is almost always a way denying either the possibility or desirability of some kind of change. As I was writing above about an acorn growing naturally into an oak tree, I was realizing that of course an acorn can’t change its course and grow into anything but an oak; however, humans can now control their own evolution…This development has to change the nature of nature…This changed nature of nature would be the thought-motion I am loosely labeling as “growth.” The human change of the human has been entirely unpredictable.


Blogger Christoffer said...

What makes you so sure that human nature was unchangeable in the past, and that this has really changed now?

4:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think human nature was unchangeable in the past, but for those who did, they were on surer footing then than now. Now, I can't imagine how such an idea persists, (though I can easily imagine why.)

Our contemporary power to change ourselves right down to our anatomy, physiology, genetic "structure", is as astounding and dramatic as it has ever been--this I do believe.


12:19 PM  
Blogger Christoffer said...

I think you grossly underestimate the evolutionary history, of the human body.

The experience and perceptions of so many generations that has walked the earth (for well over a million years), are embodied in us, the contemporary human. We havent changed at all.

There are ways to 'connect' to these perceptions and even experiences.

To think that we can change our own nature by technology and even knowledge, is ridicilous, and even a sign of the times .. one of ignorance.

4:59 AM  

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