All 4 entries tagged Ontology

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September 13, 2006

Short video interview concerning ontology and epistemology today

This is an ad hoc interview carried out by Jon Stevens in the University House cafe, using the camera built into his new MacBook. He hs a friend in Germany who wanted some advice on the relative positions of ontology and epistemology in recent continental philosophy. This is my rambling reply to Jon’s well thought out questions.

It was accompanied with the following text:

Ontology: concerns that which has no further potential for difference, that which is finalised, i.e. Being.

Epistemology: concerns acts of connecting and exploiting latent potentials, surplus values of code, for novel and non-final effects, i.e. Becoming.

How then can these be reconciled?

Note: this is an 8mb file. Click to start downloading, then click the play button at the bottom left of the frame to start playing.

March 04, 2005

Ontology as recognized Being, or creativity as an old friend

Follow-up to Difference and Repetition, Nietzsche and the creative turn from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

…and a tension exists in the work of Deleuze between:

  1. the move from an ontologically foundational Being to a recurrently disruptive but still at the same time foundational and ontological difference and repetition;
  2. the requirement that on each application of that ontology (in science, in painting, in cinema, in psychotherapy…) it is renewed and rephrased differently, but again drawing on its conceptual power.

But of course as Deleuze moves the focus away from recognizing what Is to the question of 'how can we create?' that is not a problem. If a helper concept of creativity or difference works to make thought more creative, less repressive, then use it. If not, abandon it.

And that also makes sense of Deleuze and Guattari's notion of the philosopher as conceptual personae or friend of the concept – a friend recognizes and relies upon a friend, but its not a relationship of absolute foundational dependency. Rather, there is rivalry, competition, and sometimes abandonment.

Difference and Repetition, Nietzsche and the creative turn

Follow-up to Freeing the concept of creativity from the concept of possession from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

The answer, for Deleuze at least, is yes. Or rather, the concept of the new or difference (in its composite with repetition), is one of these 'helper concepts' – Nietzsche's best friend, saving him from the interminable closed cycle of Cartesian recognition or Kantian good-sense.

The Image of Thought chapter in Difference and Repetition states it quite plainly. The really big question for philosophy is not how recognition (clear, distinct, true or otherwise) is possible - that's trivial. Rather it is the question of how we break out of the everyday, the familiar. It is the question of how difference is possible. But not in some abstract sense, but genuinely how we go beyond the algorithms of our constitution. So it is the case that Deleuze is not Kantian (or as Keith Robinson has said, perhaps he is re-activating a pre-Kantianism). He was out to engineer a creative turn rather than fixing the critical turn.

In Difference and Repetition, as in Logic of Sense, we see Deleuze dealing with the metaphysical question of how creativity, difference, is metaphysically possible: what is its ontology? In this domain the question concerns the possibility of time itself.

Nietzsche's distinction between the creation of new values and the recognition of established values should not be understood in a historically relative manner… In fact it concerns a difference which is both formal and in kind. Difference and Repetition p.136

But it takes an involvement with Guattari to give Deleuze a chance to answer the really useful problem of creativity. Guattari the psychotherapist involved on a daily basis with dislodging people from the viscious circle. This engagement combines with Deleuze's fascination with painting and with cinema to establish, following on from the ontology of difference and repetitiion, a practical approach to creativity.

February 15, 2005

Schizoanalysis as philosophical imagination, as philosophical method

Follow-up to The double agenda of this thesis: a method and an application from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Schizoanalysis as a method brought together a psychotherapist (Guattari) and a philosopher (Deleuze). Guattari was concerned with the provision of philosophical concepts to patients in an attempt to give them room to manouvre, the chance of escape, freeing them up from patterns of addiction and inescapable habits. Deleuze moved in the opposite direction, from his studies in the history of philosophy, seeking to re-personalise, situate, and re-animate philosophical concepts, restoring their vitality and application, reconnecting them with their generation in a powerful philosophical imagination, with 'conceptual personae', and hence making the emergence of new concepts a real possibility for us.

The method that resulted, schizoanalysis, tends towards the production of concepts, philosophical creativity and experimentation. The elements of this being:

  • the creation and pedagogy of the concept, its creation and re-creation, its journey (deterritorialization and reterritorialization) in time and space, localized in and transported between people, places, societies, texts and other abstract machines;
  • the result of what could be called a 'philosophical imagination';
  • an imagination that acts to 'free-up' abstract machines, not simply by offering a novel set of possible-worlds, but more radically by offering new sense to what it means to be possible and impossible, to be a world;
  • an imagination capable of taking us beyond the permutations of our operational ontology;
  • doing so in response to and to enable changes in the material of thought and the apparatus of reality, for example at the extremes of physics, or the social production of the human;
  • freeing up and enabling new directions in science and art otherwise locked-in to the currently operational ontology;
  • providing a special class of concepts that can be relied upon to help carry us through these changes, concepts such as 'art', 'science', 'imagination', 'schizoanalysis', and perhaps also 'creativity';
  • whilst guarding against concepts that appear to have this power, but which in fact are empty, meaningless, black-hole concepts that merely absorb energies that drive towards such freeing-up, that act on every such desire with indifference – transcendent.