All 2 entries tagged Disjunctive Synthesis
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May 28, 2006
Kay's analysis of my own work quite rightly places me towards the connector end of the line, meaning that my intellectual habits tend towards seeking out related phenomena in distinct realms, looking for connections, and searching for a common underlying dynamic. Other people tend towards the dissector extreme, they are primarily concerned with analysing a single phenomena by dissecting it continually into more fine–grained constituent parts.
I'll leave that conjecture open and unassessed, as there are two more immediate questions that interest me:
- Are the two modes of operation in fact just two aspects of the same intellectual process? – inseparable;
- Does the application of one without the other lead to empty meaningless results?
- Are our learning technologies capable of supporting each mode in the right way and at the right time?
Connective synthesis and disjunctive synthesis
The notional connector person and their counterpart dissector are characterised as such because they tend to make things following one particular pattern. The product of their creativity being conceptual structure, developed within and expressed by various forms (texts, diagrams, programmes, maps).
The creation of concepts, of whatever pattern, is an act of synthesis:
With the two syntheses defined, the inseperability of connection and dissection (question 1 above) is clear. But why should there be character types that favour one of the modes almost exclusively over the other? Surely the best approach would be to recognize the importance of each synthesis in its own time and place, whilst retaining a critical stance? There are no doubt many reasons why people become inflexible in their thinking, becoming trapped within an obsessive dissection or a delirial search for connections. I would like to raise the possibility that our learning technologies may be part of the problem.
To that conjecture, I added the clause 'most current learning technologies'. I do believe that there are a couple of technologies that do encourage this kind of non–linearity, namely wikis and concept maps. Both of these tools allow us to do the following:
- Create a set of topics in relative isolation from each other (the MindManager concept mapping tool even includes a 'brainstorming' tool to assist with this).
- Create a proposed structure drawing upon these topics.
- Extend the structure with new topics, or old topics further dissected.
- Create new connections between the topics.
- Revise topics without drastically effecting the overall structure of connections.
- Revise the structure without drastically effecting the individual topics.
- Track revisions and authoring actions.
In these ways, wikis and concept maps actually work to promote a more effective combination of the three syntheses (connection, disjunction, conjunction), and open that process up to the critical view of both students and tutors.
July 15, 2004
Warning! This won't make any sense to you if you haven't read a substantial amount of work by the philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. That's why it's in the 'philosophy' category. I've posted it because for a few months now i've been trying to understand the diagram in Guattari's Chaosmosis, which is clearly an attempt to summarize his work with Deleuze such that he can use it in his work in psychiatry, education, and cultural practices. I post it as public as I know there are many D&G experts out there who might want to comment and say "you've just got it entirely wrong".
- The whole diagram represents the connective synthesis. Present within it at all points is both the body without organs and the plane of consistency, the composer and the composed of desiring-production. (1)
- The actual column is the always present, active disjunctive synthesis of striated space. (2)
- The virtual column is the always presupposed, passive conjunctive synthesis of smooth space. (3)
- The possible row is formed by organisational strategies that make the repetition of an organisation more likely, projecting the past into the future, a composing force tending towards the body without organs, towards an absolute difference. (4)
- The real row is formed by the absolute difference between past and future states, the composed fact tending towards the plane of consistency. The possible drives this absolute difference.
Every activity involves all four ontological functions. The critical project of Deleuze and Guattari is to demonstrate that separate activities, such as art and science, have mistakenly been placed in relations of subservience to each other. This has been done by associating an activity with a single ontological function, locating it in just one sector of the matrix, whilst another activity is placed in a complementary sector. Instead, we need to recognize that each activity itself involves all four ontological functions simultaneously. Both art and science, for example, are independently operational connective syntheses, and neither is ontologically dependent upon the other. Similarly, the ‘models’ described in A Thousand Plateaus (technological, musical, mathematical, maritime, aesthetic) are all different instantiations of the connective synthesis.
- The Connective Synthesis of Production. (Anti-Oedipus p.68).
- The Disjunctive Synthesis of Recording. (Anti-Oedipus p.75).
- The Conjunctive Synthesis of Consumption and Consummation. (Anti-Oedipus p.84).
- For Deleuze and Guattari, signification is distributed across the disjunctive synthesis (the movement to expressive dissipation) and the conjunctive synthesis (the movement to enunciative concentration): the sign does not produce fantasies, it is a production of the real and a position of desire within reality. (Anti-Oedipus p.111). Lack does not figure in this as both the possible and the real already presuppose all three syntheses: the concentration, the dissipation and the connection. The restriction of an activity to one sector of the diagram introduces lack. The positioning of a complementary activity in another sector of the diagram offers a solution to that lack, hence the relationship of subservience between the activities (e.g. art and science).