January 10, 2006

Philosophy, art, science

Philosophy is the wording of Becoming of the 'world'. As Becoming always creates new forms, philosophy has to fabricate new concepts in order to speak about these forms. This is the history of philosophy. Deleuze's philosophy follows the evolutions of late capitalism where Subject (Body without Organs) and Object (Organ without Body) collapse as permanences in time into spatial partialities, where the emergent Self of autopoiesis has lost its organization and breaks down into a multiplicity of micro-entities seeking for a new unity.
Science, in order to transmit its knowledge into technology, has to freeze Becoming and to develop an ideology of pure Being (static permanences, 'Ideals', 'Identities'. This ideology is always provisional (that's why it is an ideology) and science must change its paradigma, its translation of Chaos into a Kosmic Order, every generation. As science is institutionalized (much more than philosophy is) science changes by long intervals, whereas philosophy follows Becoming every second.
Art presents the concepts of philosophy and the technological precepts of science as materialized 'things' framed into some kind of 'canvas' that can be visited by spectators. As put by Heidegger, art plays with the boundaries of 'langauage', inventing new languages, codes, sentences and words, even phonetic units. As art is the work of a craftsman, it is aestheticized and becomes a 'thing of beuaty': as such it generates affects and percepts.

(Eric Rosseel)


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  1. I'm not sure if I agree with what you're arguing about Philosophy and science. Perhaps it's what philosophy should do but I'm not sure that's what actually happens (or perhaps I should say what happens in philosophy departments). Deleuze and Guattari were very much aware of this and say as much on pg 143 of 'What is Philosophy?' in the paragraph ending:
    'It is like the proverbial lark pie containing one lark and one horse. But the phenomenological lark is not even the most exquisite portion; it is only what the logical horse sometimes leaves for philosophy. The situation is more like the rhinoceros and the bird that lives on its parasites.'
    Maybe that's why a lot of interesting philosophy occurs outside of philosophy departments.
    At the same time I think that your analysis of philosophy is rather simplistic. Concept Creation as D&G outline it is not some sort of simple "happening" but a concept is rather something that is crafted and takes rigourous work to form a consistency. Too much deterritorialization and you end up with something a bit flaky and that can't be put to any use.
    Also, I don't think that science is something more institutionalised than philosophy, nor do I think that it changes by long intervals. Scientific advances are emerging every day and at an increasing speed, one that perhaps follows the speed of capitalism more than philosophy does. Science is very much bound up with the flow of capital as technological advances are necessary for the increase of value. Whereas a "truth" for science is something that can change within a short space of time, there are many "truths" in philosophy which have been stratified for years and don't show any signs of loosening their hold.

    11 Jan 2006, 10:00

  2. well, I think you have read me from the 'within' of my desillsuionement with science. as you lost a bit your faith in philosophy departments, I as a young student very rapidly lost my faith in Psychology Departments (and so in Sociologiy Departments and Biology Departments as Psychology is or should be a kind of 'missing link' between Biology and Social Sciences). Nothing new was produced there. All the injections I received came from philosophers and scientists commititted to the philosophical dimension of their work. Scientists with a doule training (a kind of double articulation).
    I see philosophy indeed not as something that is produced in Departments of Philosophy (but maybe I say this because I am an autodidact philosopher and not a member of the Academia). Science however is produced in labs and thus science is in my view more institutionlized. Philosophy is more free–floating. It is not attached to some devices or meaure instruments: all these scientific devices are subjected to Laws that prescribe their use. This is not the case for Philosophy and its concepts.

    Of course, most philosophies are conservative, but it has always been philosophy that pushed science to a new look at its advances. Indeed, science advances very rapidly in that it creates every day a tremendous amount of material. But its insights are not changing that fast. Of the 3 great revolutionairies of Modernity, Marx, Darwin and Freud, Darwin remains as yet Darwin, but who was Marx (Lenin, Zizek?), who was Freud (Lacan?)? Einstein is Einstein, his thinking has not reached the people really. Science as technology goes hand in hand with every move of capitalism, but it is philosophy who judges its' newness'. Is in this sense I mean that science changes by long intervals as the long waves of capitalism (Ernest Mandel) take about fifty years. Indeed a lot of philosophy is fossilized. Even Deleuze is still very aristotelian. The future always builds on the openess, incompleteness of the past and the present.

    11 Jan 2006, 19:28

  3. sorry for some errors:
    my url is link !! not: tiscVali

    desillsuionemnt = desillusionement
    doule = double
    institutionlized = institutionalized
    Is in this sense ==> It is in this sense

    11 Jan 2006, 19:45

  4. When we are raising the question about the relative institutionalisation of philosophy and science, and their relation to society or culture as a whole, we should be talking in terms of the ways in which science/philosophy permeate culture, and importantly how culture and the 'outside of the institution' permeates institutional science and philosophy.

    Particularly, if we take the comment "Einstein is Einstein, his thinking has not reached the people really", with reference to the permeation of (non–higher) educational institutions by scientific institutions (both in terms of curriculae and the circulation of graduates into teaching), we can see that Einstein has reached the people, many times over, and for the most part during the development of their worldview. Obviously we cannot talk as if all (or even most) secondary school children understand the finer points of relativity, or even as if most of the adult population does. To extend this to those who have a critical engagement with Einstein's thinking is to stretch this yet further. However, there is a steady flow of scientific ideas permeating the mainstream, and not everyone needs to have a critical engagement with them for them to shape our culture. Ignoring the question of technology for now, we could even isolate the steady flow of science graduates (vastly in excess of philosophy graduates) as providing reinforcement to this trend, as well as the consumption of pop–science and science fiction (which despite what might be determined as inaccuracies perpetually provides digestable science to non–scientists).

    If we then compare this to the permeation of Marx and Freud into culture we can see that although ideas from both figures do shape culture, they cannot permeate it to the same extent as Einstein, owing to the mechanisms or routes of permeation being markedly less (No secondary philosophy cirriculae, fewer graduates both teaching and in the general population, etc.).

    On the point that Einstein remains Einstein yet Freud and Marx do not, we must see that this movement is (for the most part) internal to the institution before it oncemore permeates the mainstream. In the case of Lenin, it is merely the case that the institution was not that of institutional philosophy, but the communist party, which shares many of its important characteristics (if not its channels of permeation).

    I should continue this with a further analysis of the permeation of the institutions by culture and the practice of non–institutional science and philosophy, but I need to work on this slightly more before posting something more in depth.

    11 Jan 2006, 21:07

  5. To Peter Wolfendale:

    Your argument is right. Still I wanted to stress the relativelity of measuring the permeation of ideas into culture by the number of curricula, teachers and so on. The permeation through indirect ways (pop science and science–fiiction) is a stronger argument you bring into the debate. I thus do not wnat to undermine your argument, but broaden the issue.
    I think there are as much 'teachers' in psychoanalysis and marxism as in physics. Marx is a theme in the education through branches such as history, social sciences, economics, moral sciences, cultural studies, politicology. Marx changed the outlook of the 20ste century not only in the USSR. It permeated the labour class through union schools and what we call in Belgium People's High Schools even if they do a lot of work in refutating Marx. I personally heard of Marx and Freud at school when I was 15 and of Einstein when I was 17, even if this physicist–teacher met Einstein personally when Einstein was in Belgium when he passed from Nazi–Germany to the USA. Che Guevara posters has a wider commercial success than Einstein posters.
    A lot of scientists are overtly marxist, especially this was the case in Britaiin. The Britsh Communist Party was filled with scientists like Haldane, Maynard Smith, Bernal and now neurobiologist Steven Rose is an eminent marxist. The permeation of marxism thus follows many indirect ways. Einstein laid the basis of the atomic bomb, but his name is not linked to it.
    Freud has the same direct and indirect permeation into culture: without Freud there would have been no 'sexual revolution', no reorientation of psychiatry from state intervention to the well–being of the individual from the individual's point of view. Of course, this is linked to broader societal and cultural changes. Even if psychoanalysis is refutated by a lot of scientists, they do hard work in this refutation, what means they take the question serious.
    Even if D&G are not what you can call classic Marxists or Freudians, their thinking constantly refers to Marx and Freud. Also to physics, indeed. Deleuze is mainly a phikospher of physics. But Friedrich Engels in his time was too (Dialectics of Nature).
    Maybe science thus do not need great names but the work of endeavoured anonymous scientific workers and teachers. However, science penetrates culture mainly through technology. The rules of scientific methodology and philosophy of science (e.g. Popper or Russell) are not popularized and people are mostly not capable of reading critically the report of scientific results in newspapers and other media.
    So, I think the picture is a bit more complicated.

    12 Jan 2006, 14:11

  6. It is most certainly more complicated… another point I'd introduce briefly would be that it pays to view institutionalised science and philosophy as themselves historical entities, a simple model might even be to view their interpenetration of culture(s)/society(ies) as a kind circuit. In this way we can look at not just the relative permeations now, but over time.

    Given this (admittedly abstract) model, we can characterise a few trends.

    What we can see is the increasing penetration of science into culture via technology, not only changing cultural practices but also engendering an increasing dependency upon institutionalised science. I do not want to get into the other particular elements of technology for the moment, because it is a very complex subject, but at least I will warn that we should not consider it to be a similar kind of permeation to that of the flow of scientific ideas into the mainstream.

    We have also seen an increase in the flow of scientific ideas into the mainstream, but this carries with it a proviso with regard to the nature of the time of science relative to that of philosophy (Deleuze touches on this in part at the end of chapter 2 WIP). The ideas which flow back into the mainstream of science, through certain routes are inherently limited by the development (which roughly characterised would be the increasing complexity and speciation) of science. So, for instance, different levels of education become locked into distributing particular sections of scientific history, and as such with certain names (Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Einstein for Secondary Physics, followed by Planck and possibly Bohr at A level). Each of these levels is meant as an aid in terms of gaining access to the level above it, yet as such they also function as selective, barring information to those who stop at the level below.

    This is not to deny that some of this necessarily takes place in philosophy, nor to deny outright that 'new' science makes it into the curriculum, but merely to point out that relatively speaking the time of philosophy is not as fixed to its serial history as that of science, and this is reflected in how they permeate culture.

    I want to re–emphasise the effect of non–higher (especially secondary) education, which at least in this country is compulsory. As some (such as Feyerabend) have pointed out, this is for the most part dogmatic, and functions very much like indoctrination (I won't argue about how much this is necessary). As I have already mentioned this kind of education functions as an induction into what might ironically be called the 'first circle' of science, whereby the initiates are prepared to accept further instruction, given a certain vague understanding of what science and scientific method 'are', and placed in a deferential relationship to those of the 'higher circles' as it were. This characterisation is perhaps a bit too much, but it brings out two important features, the basic introduction of a scientific worldview into culture, and the deferential attitude towards institutional science.

    If we combine this with two of the other flows we recognised earlier, we see that this basic worldview is reinforced by the circulation of science graduates into the general populace (those in higher circles of initiation to be deferred to), and technology, which through its creation of dependency reinforces the deferential relationship itself. This dual movement opens up the population for the flow of scientific ideas.

    13 Jan 2006, 13:59

  7. Philosophy on the other hand has suffered in its decline in the non–higher curriculum. It can't generate the kind of stable mass deference structures that pertain to science (for various reasons).

    As such, when we talk about philosophy graduates who end up within the education system in various fields, or even just those in society as a whole, or even non graduates who have philosophical knowledge, we can acknowledge that they have an impact in terms of introducing philosophical ideas into the mainstream, but one that is relatively smaller (by quite an amount) to that of scientists due to the lack of such a deference structure.

    There is however another relative trend we can pick out from this. Relatively speaking, the difficulty of introducing new ideas compared to that of old ideas is smaller in philosophy than in science. Additionally, given the more fixed time of science, this relative difference is increasing along with the its development.

    I've already spilled over into a second comment, so I won't provide a full justification of this as yet, but I will say that this is to do with a dissonance between the higher and lower circles of science, which as it increases (coupled with lack of visible technological innovation from those fields) can cause what we might term 'consensus failures'.

    13 Jan 2006, 14:00

  8. I missed a point, in that I think an examination of this might lead to a disproval of your claim that only philosophy can judge the 'newness' of science.

    13 Jan 2006, 14:03

  9. Siobhan et al,
    I wanted to post some references pertaining to Autopoietic systems, especially in light of our discussions at the reading–group.

    Autopoietic systems are "autonomous systems — they depend essentially only on themselves for their continual production, and physically they define themesleves through the production of their own boundaries." (37) According to John Mingers in his book "Self–Producing Systems: Implications and Applications of Autopoiesis" systems which are autopoietic exhibit organizational closure but remain interactively open. "By organization Maturana refers to the relations between components that a give a system its identity, that make it a member of a particular type. Thus, if the organization of a system changes, so does its identity." (29) Futher on he writes, "Autopoietic systems are organizationally closed because the product of their organization is that very organization itself." (33) But "The notion that autopoietic systems are organizationally closed…has been taken to mean that such systems are completely isolated and have no interactions with their environment. This is not all the case. Such systems are organizationally closed but interactively open. They interact with their environment through their structure." (33) This interactivity can lead to "Structural Coupling" (a kind of autopoietic environmental adaptivity) or even lead to what Maturana dubs "ontogenic structural drift." (37)

    I can post a more detailed bibliography if anybody wants…

    Joe

    20 Jan 2006, 17:10

  10. Please do Joe, perhaps even a full blog entry on the notion of autopoesis, which would be excellent. Also please add your comments to my notes from the reading group which I posted earlier today.

    21 Jan 2006, 16:55

  11. Science pentrates culture through technology.
    At the other hand, philosophy penetrates culture through literature and so on, through journalims (many journalists are trained in cultural studies and critics). You cannnot measure and compare these penetrations, as philosophy and science are interwoven. Novelists that introduce science in their work, do it mainly on a philophical and not technical basis: they have no training in scientific methodology.

    28 Jan 2006, 12:22


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