MLG Paper: Sloppy Notes on a Deleuzian Metaphysics

I have begun fleshing out the abstract I wrote for the upcoming MLG.

Here are my notes:

Time: Bergson

Following Deleuze and Guattari’s “assemblage” theory, all matter is connected through a set of singularities into ensembles without becoming a totality or whole. Bergson’s notion of duration helps distinguish between the intensive and extensive properties of multiplicities (ATP 484). The first sense of multiplicity are extensive numerical multiplicities (Space — see Riemann), the second continuous intensive multiplicities (Time). Maybe the most self-evidently Bergsonian aspect of multiplicities is found within intensive multiplicities, the idea of the virtual — the real immanent openness to change in in every particular situation. Following Proust on memory, Deleuze argues that the virtual is “real without being actual, ideal without being abstract”.

Here’s a wonderful graph I took from the wiki page for multiplicity:

Continuous multiplicities Discrete multiplicities
differences in kind differences in degree
divides only by changing in kind divides without changing in kind
non-numerical – qualitative numerical – quantitative
differences are virtual differences are actual
continuous discontinuous
qualitative discrimination quantitative differentiation
simultaneity succession
fusion juxtaposition
organization order
subjective – subject objective – object
duration space

Negativity: Nietzsche

Subverting the philosophical concept of original unity, Deleuze argues that Nietzsche presents a concept of original difference. Accordingly, there is only a univocal field of difference. Therefore, difference is not set as a *difference from* an original sameness, but a primary difference that is constantly differentiating. In order to clarify this process of difference even greater, Deleuze argues that there are two types of continuous difference-becoming processes: differentiation and differenciation, which follow the two types of multiplicity found in Bergson/Riemann.

The payoff is an affirmative philosophy that isn’t a reactive overcoming, but an enabling: what can concepts create? what are the effects? Dialectical oppositions are therefore reactive moves that either draw on some (false) transcendent authority or offer denigrated restrictions. Much of this reading is done through Nietzsche’s concept of the ‘eternal return.’

(Anti)-Mediation: Spinoza

Quoting from one of Holland’s piece for the sake of time:

A Spinozan-Marxist politics would, for another thing, eschew mediation, in the sense of a dialectical synthesis/resolution of conflicts or differences on a higher plane — such as the State or the Party, because they tend to re-impose the “higher plane” as self-interested domination over the parties in conflict or difference, as Power (potestas) over force (potentia). Instead, political organization would focus on “the multitude,” working from the grass-roots outward (rather than “up”), making horizontal connections with other grass-roots groups rather than forming hierarchical pyramids; these are already the strategies of “autogestion” and “micropolitics” in France, “autonomia” in Italy (of which Negri was a prominent spokesperson and theoretician), “direct,” “radical,” or participatory democracy and coalition politics in the United States — all of which are profoundly suspicious and critical of “representative” politics in both its institutional and theoretical forms, and construe the State as itself a terrain of immanent struggle among, rather than the transcendent, synthetic mediation of, conflicting social forces. (‘Spinoza and Marx’)

(Anti)-Totality: Riemann

Riemann’s use of space can be contrasted with Euclidean space. A Riemannian space is patchwork, heterogeneous, and has the capacity for continuous variation (ATP 485-6). The space is constructed piece-by-piece without the connections between pieces being pre-determined, which opens up to a theory of the ‘encounter’ (Stivale, L’Abecedaire).

Deleuze also borrows the distinction between two types of multiplicity from Riemann: continuous multiplicities and discrete multiplicities. See the entry on Bergson.

(Anti)-Hylomorphism: Simondon

Quoting from Deleuzian John Protevi’s article on Foucault: Foucault’s reading is non-hylomorphic in the sense that he does not think, as does Kant for example, that the “raw material” of history is senseless, “just one damn thing after another” as the saying goes, and thus, in order to ward off a nihilistic disgust, in need of the imposition of an progressivist narrative grounded in a putative natural purpose (that is, a purpose transcendent to historical events). Kant writes about human history: “It would appear no law-governed history of mankind is possible … We can scarcely help feeling a certain distaste on observing their activities as enacted in the great world-drama … everything as a whole is made up of folly and childish vanity, and often of childish malice and destructiveness…. The only way out for the philosopher … is for him to attempt to discover a purpose in nature behind this senseless course of human events.”4 In this regard, Kant’s position on history parallels his view on cognition, in which we feel the need for the understanding to impose order on the chaotic sensory manifold in order to ward off skepticism.

Foucault, on the other hand, holds that there are orders immanent in historical events with no need of being grounded in or constituted by a transcendent natural or subjective ordering. Rather, Foucault adopts a quite straightforward historical realism. His work consists in proposing a “grid of intelligibility” that reveals these immanent historical orders by showing how they were “possible” (NB 35F / 34E). Now it is true that these historical orders are only revealed by certain grids of intelligibility, and that these are chosen in order to help us with a “history of the present,” one relevant to our concerns as people governed by neoliberalism. Nonetheless, these historical orders are revealed rather than constituted. These immanent orders are power- knowledge dispositifs informed by modes of political rationality inherent in real historical practice; these dispositifs function as “regimes of truth” which constitute objects able to be judged as true or false. The reason these immanent orders require a “grid of intelligibility” for their discovery—and cannot be seen via a simplistic “historicism” that tracks changes in the accidental properties of an underlying substance—is that Foucault sees them as multiplicities in the Deleuzean sense, that is, dynamic differential systems of “incessant transactions” among multiple and ever-changing practices (NB 79F / 77E).

Furthermore from his book “Deleuze and Geophilosophy”:

Hylomorphism is the doctrine that the order displayed by material system is due to the form projected in advance of production by an external productive agent, a form which organizes what would supposedly otherwise be chaotic or passive matter. DG follow Simondon in constructing an artisanal theory of production as part of the critique of hylomorphism (as well as constructing a full-blwon machinic theory of production). The homogenization of matter by tools in a work setting enables the appearance of a hylomorphic production, but Simondon show that, even in the paradigm case of baking clay for bricks, the pressure and heat applied by the brick maker coax forth implicit forms or self-organizing potentials so that colloidal microstructures of the clay interlock and are carried forth from molecular to molar scale (Simondon 1995: 39-40). DG also follow Simondon’s lead in analyzing the political significance of hylomorphism. For Simondon, hylomorphism is ‘a socialized representation of work’, the viewpoint of a master commanding slave labor (1995: 49). For DG, hylomorphism also has an important political dimension, as a hylomorphic representation of a body politic resonate with fascist desire, in which the leader comes from on high to rescue his people from chaos by his imposition of order. [[AC: hylomorphism: the necessity of a leader to prevent “anarchy”]]

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