A Genealogy of “The Social”. Or, The Social Must Be Defended

“The social” is not society understood as the set of material and moral conditions that characterize a form of consolidation. It would appear to be rather the set of means which allow social life to escape material pressures and politico-moral uncertainties; the entire range of methods which make the members of a society relatively safe from the effects of economic fluctuations by providing a certain security – which give their existence possibilities of relations that are flexible enough, and internal stakes that are convincing enough, to avert the dislocation that divergences of interests and beliefs would entail. Continue reading “A Genealogy of “The Social”. Or, The Social Must Be Defended”

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The Rise of the Social

Clearly it is not a question of the adjective that qualifies the set of phenomena which sociology deals with: the social refers to a particular sector in which quite diverse problems and special cases can be grouped together, a sector comprising specific institutions and an entire body of qualified personnel (“social” assistants, “social” workers). We speak of social scourges, from alcoholism to drugs; of social programs, from repopulation to birth control; of social maladjustments or adjustments, from predelinquency, character disorders, or the problems of the handicapped to the various types of social advancement. Jacques Donzelot’s book [The Policing of Families] is a forceful one, because it proposes a genesis of this strange sector, of recent formation an growing importance, the social: a new landscape has risen up around us. As the contours of this domain are nebulous, one has to recognize it first by the way it took form, beginning in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, by the way it sketches out its own originality in relation to older sector, so that it is able to react on them and effect a new distribution of functions. … Continue reading “The Rise of the Social”

Resonance: A New Image of Communication

As the phrase goes, “the communication between two terms generates an independent third.”

Resonance isn’t found by plumbing the interiority of two singularities, or even their overlap. (A U B)

Rather, resonance is an external force in-between singularities that incites forms of content and expression.

Dominic Smith’s response article to Badiou’s Clamour of Being is an amazing descriptive piece that lays the groundwork for theorizing this form of inter-action: Continue reading “Resonance: A New Image of Communication”

Forms-of-Life

What is the reasoning, perceptive, ‘singing’ monad that is only in the passions, affection, and perceptions that it expresses?

Claire Colebrook suggests it’s a queer passive vitalism. Consider this:

In concrete terms, we might begin by thinking of gender. Active vitalism, at least in the form that Deleuze and Guattari trace back to Kant, regards all concepts and categories as originally imposed by the subject upon an otherwise meaningless life. Active vitalism might regard gender as one of the ways in which life or the social ‘constructs’ categories that differentiate an otherwise general or undifferentiated humanity: so the criticism of stereotypes (as clichés or rigid forms imposed upon life) would lead to an overthrow of rigid categories in favour of what we really are (as unique individuals) or would expose that there are no such things as individuals, only effects of gender as it is represented. Genders and kinds are known in the vague and general opposition between male and female, distinctions that are imposed upon life and that need to be reactivated by being traced back to their social and familial origins. By contrast, for Deleuze and Guattari’s passive vitalism genders, kinds and stereotypes are not categories imposed upon life that might be overcome or criticised in the name of a universal and self aware humanity; instead, it is life as a multiple and differentiating field of powers that expresses itself in various manners. Continue reading “Forms-of-Life”

A Million Apologies

Sorry for the extended absence. I was facing a potentially serious legal/disciplinary situation.

I’ll have some musings on it once it has passed completely.

A tiny morsel: Not a single day passed when I didn’t think of Foucault’s article “About the concept of the dangerous individual in 19th century legal psychiatry” and the incitement to discourse more generally. Here’s a snippet from Foucault’s opening passage: Continue reading “A Million Apologies”