All 5 entries tagged Deleuze And Science
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March 22, 2005
Psychology diagrams the internal, mental and neuro-chemical constraints that limit how we think. Sociology diagrams the external, social constraints that limit how we think. Philosophy is different, it seeks new ways to think that go beyond those constraints. It looks for these by experimenting with and inventing the materials of our extended cognitive apparatus: the technology of thought (for example, new ways of writing that enable new concepts to be thought). In this way, as for Nietzsche, the thought experiment (the activity at the heart of philosophy) is not simply a matter of applying a familiar technology of thought to a familar set of concepts, combining them in a new way. Rather, it sets out to invent new concepts through the development and application of a new technology of thought. What kind of experiment is carried out by a child (or other learner) to move to a new way of thinking (not just a new concept)? A new technology of thought must be adopted. Cognitive development is in this way, driven by Nietzschean thought experiments.
A model of constraints only ever maps out an algorithm, programme or expression that repeats itself. It can only account for the emergence of that algorithm from another greater algorithm that contains entirely the conditions of its production. As such, disciplines other than philosophy are not able to account for or make possible creativity in thought. Or at least they cannot do so unless they become philosophical (speculative, experimental). Philosophy is the practice of speculation, experiment, risk. It goes beyond constraints.
February 15, 2005
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.
November 27, 2004
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"Experimental method does sometimes manipulate things" – no, it always manipulates things. Tell me of an experiment that doesn't involve the manipulation of a variable and the recording of the effect of that manipulation. Even in the case of experiments that seek to be purely the observation of 'natural events', those events are manipulated such that variables may be isolated and their relationships, as events occur, quantified. So every form of experiment is engineered, constructed, manufactured. And for every experiment, there is possibly an alternative configuration, a different engineering solution.
"Some of the most famous experiments in modern physics are gedankenexperiment – thought experiments – that don't actually require any prodding of stuff at all." – it depends on what you think that stuff is. A thought experiment considers a possible world in which variable A is somehow related to variable B. Some mechanism is posited that explains how the variables interact. Again the whole thing is engineered, this time as a simulated set of variables and functives. However, those simulated objects must still be constituted as mathematical, computational or conceptual objects so that they may be manipulated. For the thought experiment to have any 'scientific validity' that engineering must hold up to scrutiny, must work, in the same way as any engineered structure must work.
And here's the final twist: are physical experiments and scientific thought experiments different in kind, or only by degree? In the former case, a model is applied to the physical world in order to see if something is missing or inaccurate. The model predicts what will happen. Even when we are just seeking to gather empirical data, we apply a model, assuming that the things that we are measuring are the things that we think them to be and not some figment of our imagination (consider if the sense data that we are tracking turns out not to belong to the object that we assume it to be part of, and in fact is just there by coincidence). In the case of thought experiments, we are again looking to see if the relationships that we posit can be seen to necessarily result in the effect that we posit as the result of the interactions – or is there something missing from our model? Perhaps the only difference between scientific thought experiments, which I am calling simulations, and physical experiments, is that the former deals with a restricted and less complex environment.
Notice the shift of terminology there, from talking of scientific thought experiments to referring to them as simulations. At the moment i'm reading the section of What Is Philosophy? (Deleuze and Guattari) that deals with the difference between science and philosophy. Science we are told is concerned with functions and variable. Philosophy is the realm of concepts, which are quite different. I'm still working on this, but it seems that the key difference is that functions and variables represent reversibles, and concepts are irreversible. Anyhow, D&G seem to reserve the term 'thought experiment' for a mode of experimentation that works with concepts, and is therefore the domain of philosophy. This implies that they see a commonality between experimentation in science (be it physical or simulated) and experimentation in philosophy (with concepts):
To be sure, there is as much experimentation in the form of thought experiment in philosophy as there is in science, and being close to chaos, the experience can be overwhelming in both. What is Philosophy?, Deleuze and Guattari 1994, p. 127
The different modes of experimentation are defined by their relationship with chaos. In the case of philosophy, the aim is to pass through chaos such that an impossible world is actualised, a formerly inconcievable state is reached. In the case of science, experimentation posits a set of possible states that can be interchanged for each other through the operation of a function along variables. The model opens itself to chaos through its application, and on the discovery of missing elements, assimilates them back into the model as further possibilities, as further variables. In this way science progresses, whereas philosophy differentiates.
But in reality science and philosophy are mixed. Scientific models can suddenly breakdown upon their engagement with chaos. And creation (or differentiation, its pseudonymn in D&G) then occurs:
But there is also as much creation in science as there is in philosophy or the arts. ibid p.127
The tendency of science, it could be said, is to sometimes creatively fictionalise the sense of progression by reinventing its model in a new but familiar form. Philosophy, of course, also suffers from this delusion, and must itself be more prepared to abandon the concept of progress. Art, the third of the trinity of disciplines, suffers from a related delusion, in this case the idea that it proceeds without experimentation, simply through a sensus communis of good taste experienced as genius:
There is no creation without experiment. ibid p.127
November 14, 2004
A state of affairs or "derivative" function depends on such a relation: an operation of depontentialization has been carried out that makes possible the comparison of distinct powers starting from which a thing or a body may well develop. WiP p.122
Depontialization introduces a sufficient degree of redundancy, such that small intensive variations do not result in large qualitiative modifications.
a state of affairs does not actualize a chaotic virtual without taking from it a potential that is distributed in the system of coordinates. WiP p.122
By "state of affairs" Deleuze and Guattari are refering to the functive or complex assemblage of variables, the slowing down of matter.
Potential implies an actualisation not passing through chaos, but rather bounded and determinate in outcome such that the variable object remains qualitatively same through intensive variation. The variation remains reversible. It is subject to probability.
Science approaches chaos in a completely different, almost opposite way: it relinquishes the infinite, infinite speed, in order to gain a reference able to actualize the virtual.
In the case of science it is like a freeze-frame. It is a fantastic slowing down, and it is by slowing down that matter, as well as the scientific thought able to penetrate it with propositions, is actualized. A function is a Slow-motion. WiP p.118
it is a complex variable that depends on a relation between at least two independent variables. WiP p.122