All 20 entries tagged Philosophy Definitions

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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.

May 17, 2006

Research Notes: The concept of recirculation

The concept of recirculation (repetition/rehearsal and difference) is the key to unfolding Kant, Bergson, Nietzsche, Deleuze, Guattari and T.E. Lawrence.

From an entry on Seven Pillars of Wisdom

The nomads were thus capable of becoming an abstract machine, self–motivated, self–positing, independent but at the same time forming a genuinely connected response to every and any possible experience. The nomad, for example, finds the continuation of the journey as a way of life itself. The journey is the purpose of the journey. The narrower objective being to merely keep circulating within a space that encourages the continuation of the journey, making sedimentation impossible.

And another

This was then a new movement, breaking out of the timeless circulation of peoples and their livestock into and across the desert – a sudden and unprecedented mass carrying with it bodies from the diverse geophysical and social distributions of people into places.

On the will to power

Genetic – quality – affirmative/negative – feedback loops – continuous multiplicity – virtuality

On art and collapse

Art is missing, but why do we need it? My conjecture is this (following, I think, Deleuze and Guattari): 1. That events are organized; this is to say, their repetition and differentiation is controlled by filters of selection. 2. That some of these filters privelige speed and scope of judgement over care and novelty. These filters render the fine detail of events redundant (in the cybernetic sense), so as to cover more ground more quickly. Concepts are such filters. 3. However there is always a side–effect of speed: a loss of feeling (subtle detail). 4. On the contrary, there are filters that amplify detail by taking a set of events and promoting their re–occurrence, emphasing different aspects of the events with each repetition. Artists create such filters. The effect of art is deceleration, or perhaps carefully controlled speed. Art may then prevent the dissociation from the world that is inherent in conceptual activity.

On painting

reduce the world and its vast circuits to a small repetitive loop. In the case of Cezanne, the loop circulates and re–circulates between Mont Saint Victoire, the palette and its oils (themselves reduced to a few greens and blues), the hand, the brush or knife, and the canvas. In this way the artwork is built up over time through a kind of mangrove effect not disimilar to that described by Andy Clark.
Everything is invested – "the artist is already in the canvas" (Deleuze, Logic of Sensation). Then make each run of the circuit entirely dependent upon the last, each time applying a filter modulated by the results of the previous passage (Cezanne, Van Gogh, Bacon and others replace an optical filter with a haptic filter). The circuit carves out an escape route within the imprisonment of actuality. The loops are repetitions, movements between points, but across different virtualities or the infinite and irreducible but necessary slices of reality. This opening up of new degrees of movement is the experiment of the diagram.

On art as monument

The suggestion is that the monument encapsulates a rhythm of deterritorialization and reterritorialization, of pleats of matter rising and falling relative to each other, forming tonalities, a whole music of matter that penetrates substance and carries it away into the plane. The monument is then not a static edifice, it is a continual circulation of matter, captured at some point in history, relative to a virtuality which otherwise disappears. It captures a slice of reality, holds it, and then releases it again in the future, in our aesthetic encounter.
Deleuze and Guattari go further: artworks are monuments. All artworks? What does, for example, Cezanne's painting of Mont Saint Victoire commemorate? In paint it captures a circulation of matter ever connected with the mountain. The rhythm of brush strokes is, as Cezanne claimed, the rhythm of the mountain, of nature as he lived it. His method always struggled to capture the tension, the pattern of connections of those rhythms, to make them permanent in a monument.

Next I must relate this to 'the refrain'; the 'journey' of the nomad and its singular rhythm; dematerialization and virtualization; the clock and the rape scene in Seven Pillars; the movement of the camel; and the clockwork running of the engine in Jupiter's Travels.

April 28, 2006

Discussion Primer: why naive Christians and philosophers no longer talk to each other

Having noticed how many blog entries seem to ask and seek to answer questions of theology, and the almost total lack of response from philosophers, I thought it might be interesting to ask why there is such a disjunction.

The modes of operation are completely different. Naive Christians are asking completely different questions to philosophers:

Naive Christian:

If I assert X to be "true", what solutions does it provide to the problems of life and death? Which implies the question: if I assert X to be untrue, what things of value (beliefs, institutions, justifications, hopes) might I lose? How might life become less liveable?

Philosopher (from day 1 of an undergraduate philosophy degree you are trained to think in this way):

If I assert X to be true, what forms of justification (types of evidence, types of argument) do I necessarily assert as valid? What are the implications of asserting the validity of those forms of justification? What other truths could be asserted using those forms of justification? What kind of madness and contradiction might that lead to?

Cleverer Christian (oi Kant):

Must I assert X as a necessary condition for the possibility of knowledge (and hence for subjects, collections of subjects, societies, moralities). Is it OK then for me to claim that everyone else can employ the same kinds of justification without resulting in madness and contradiction?

Very clever Christian (has to live in a world dominated by scientific progress):

The truth of my assertions regarding God and morality, as well as the implications of the methods that I use to justify those assertions, are subject to empirical investigation, and can be modified as a result of the investigation. There is progress in spiritual matters as there is in scientific matters.

Transcendental Empiricist or Pragmatist (a kind of post–theological philosopher – my position, with thanks to Nietzsche):

A liveable attitude towards the world requires a complex mixture of beliefs (conceptual components). Some are disposable "helper concepts", used and reused without any siginificant implication ("creativity", "conjecture"), often merely to assist in freeing us from other tired concepts. Other concepts are more critical to the current context (technologies, ecologies), but permanently disposable if circumstances prove them to be no longer useful. The trick is to ensure that we don't think that helper concepts are more than just that (e.g. creativity being confused with divine provinence). But at the same time, we should always have good reliable helper concepts to assist us in assessing and disposing of broken contextual concepts, and therefore being able to cope with real time.

Which one are you? What of Islam?

July 11, 2005

Research Notes: Singularity/continuum, a multiplicitous event

Follow-up to Overman, creativity and beyond transcendental recognition from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

The second chapter of Germinal Life contains some brief commentary on Badiou`s critique of the concept of event in Deleuze and Guattari. I've not succeeded in reading Badiou yet, but can understand the need for a clarification, as the concept of 'singularity', Deleuze and Guattari's event, can be misleading.

Keith writes that for Badiou:

the event does not come into being from the world, whether ideally or materially, but from not being attached to it. The event is an 'interruption' that is always separate from the world. Instead of a world defined by 'creative continuity` there is the 'founding break'.

I had, at one point, a confused concept of singularity that privileged the 'interruption' or 'coupure' (Foucault's cut/break). It worked like this:

  1. The break has an irreversibility. In fact it is the irreversible – about as real as real time can be.
  2. A break can be repaired, but only with the addition of something to the closed system of that which is repaired.
  3. The loss of the originary state is therefore irreversible.
  4. But the break also originates the new individuation, which may be the synthesis of the broken and the repaired.
  5. It then acts as the singular fact of the event of that individuation.

In this model, the break is the singularity around which an individual is oriented. It is the missing, the irrecoverable, the inaccessible that prevents the individual from becoming other. We can then say that the individual is a response to the break, its activity copes with the break, with its history, its singular specificity. That coping is its function, its telos. And its tendency to either simulation or creation, simulacra or originary form, defines its authenticity. The break is the singular first and final cause.

But as Keith states, this:

fails to understand the work being done with Deleuze's conception of the event, namely that, it seeks to provide an account of how rupture and discontinuity are explicable and possible.

This is the very meaning of "schizoanalysis": looking into the specific conditions for each schizm or discontinuity, and considering how those conditions form a continuum with that which is broken, carrying it across the break.

In this way, Deleuze and Guattari run counter to phenomenology and its bracketing-out. In schizoanalysis, as for Nietzsche, everything is implicated in the event. Nothing can be bracketed out, only moved in and out of focus (or folded and un-folded). They say: look at chaos, death and by implication life, right in the eyes, get to know each individual chaos, each death and each life on its own terms…

…to look into the break is in fact to look towards a horizon in which detail disappears into confusion, into chaos. It is to look into a Body without Organs, through which one may deterritorialize by relative degrees, moving around to gain further clarity and to provoke a response, to feel its unique texture and possibilities.

This is not to deny irreversibility or real time. Or indeed that individual A may never become individual B because in doing so individual B is destroyed (which amounts to saying that there is no possible world in which A = B, the difference being absolute). Rather, we can say that there are different kinds of irreversibility. Each exchange with the Body without Organs, the horizon, is itself a different recipe of irreversibility. There are as many such recipes as there are events. In some cases they tend towards entropy. In other cases they provoke outbursts of creativity. Even the individual that seeks never to enter into the exchange, that seeks isolation in the safety of its refrain and turns chaos away with large blocks of redundancy, in fact engages in a brutal interchange with the Body without Organs and provokes a response. In all cases, whether convoluted or relatively direct, the interchange between individual and Body without Organs operates an eventual non-linear effect throughout, resulting in complex but irreversible involutions specific to each unique assemblage. Singular and multiplicitous continua of disappearance.

Importantly, we shouldn't deny the possibility of the kind of 'foundational break' described above as a confused concept of singularity. Rather, consider that such behaviour may occur in certain types of system, such as those in which large blocks of redundancy create highly isolated individuals. This is not however typical, merely one specific type of event. It is interesting to speculate about why philosophy, and so many other aspects of modern Capitalism should raise such a rare case to the level of a universal. We seem obsessed with apocalyptic events, with foundational breaks.

In what sense is the notion that philosophical concepts perform an absolute deterritorialization (D&G What is Philosophy?) also an expression of this fascination with destruction?

And in what sense does the statement "we never deterritorialize alone" (D&G ATP) – provide a model for passing into the BwO with concepts and artworks (monuments) as catalysts and helpers?


If you have something interesting to contribute to this, please contact me

March 12, 2005

Rhythm, in chaosmosis

Follow-up to Expression, content, assymetrical synthesis of the sensible from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Some notes on rhythm.

From chaos, Milieus and Rhythms are born.
Transcoding or transduction is the manner in which one milieu serves as the basis for another, or conversely is established atop another milieu, dissipates in it or is constituted in it.

See the entry on Expression for the mechanics of this.

The milieus are open to chaos, which threatens them with exhaustion or intrusion. Rhythm is the milieus' answer to chaos. What chaos and rhythm have in common is the in-between – between two milieus, rhythm chaos or the chaosmos

Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, p.313

An attendant figure, passing of into chaos or the inexplicable, and back again repeatedly. Losing sense, reforming it seperately, and then reconnecting. Asymetrical synthesis of the sensible.

March 08, 2005

Expression, content, assymetrical synthesis of the sensible

Expression is the operation of a programme of deterritorialization and reterritorialization. Repeatedly carrying elements formed in context or territory A into a new relation with elements formed in context B. The deterritorialized elements being the content or payload carried by the expression.

The effect of the delivery may be entirely disruptive when reterritorialization occurs. But more productively, it could trigger a response in the second context B that dissipates the effect, but at the same time releases further elements that may be deterritorialized and reterritorialized within the first context A.

Furthermore, if the deterritorialization from A into B is effectively handled by B, without the immediate destruction of B, and the transmission of released elements from B back to A (feedback) is beneficial to A, then A will tend towards repeating the exchange. Having responded to A effectively in the first instance, B will is more likely to be prepared for the second instance, and in fact has started to stabilise around the expectation. And in turn A is stabilising around the sensation of the return delivery of content.

In this way each context has its exposed surfaces or senses repetitively disrupted. In isolation this interference could only ever be noise, but when part of such a mutually beneficial relationship, the exchanges are sensible. This is the case even though the payload exchanged and the programmatic form by which it is carried in each direction may have no necessary relation. In fact it can be said that the meaning only exists in the overall process, between the lines carved out by each seperate context, combining both contexts and the movements between them in an asymmetrical synthesis of the sensible.

January 20, 2005


Follow-up to Opinion from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Deleuze and Guattari do sometimes refer to freedom and freeing up, but it is a kind of diagrammatic freedom.

A particular activity may be constrained in several ways. The material of its expression may impose a limit, and as Guattari argues in Chaosmosis, a change in the material may act to free it up, to give it a chance of escape. Conversely, material of expression may be constrained to the point of starvation by a language, concept, artistic practice, scientific experiment (all of the aparatus of capture). Loosening the dependence between the material and the aparatus may bring life back to the material. This need to do this may be the source of transcendence. Again Guattari employs this as a psychotherapeautic practice, but guards against transcendence.

Regarding literature (Kafka, Lawrence), they say:

It is always a case of freeing life wherever it is imprisoned. p.171


Follow-up to Free expression – a misconception from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Opinion, against philosophy.

The three disciplines advance by crises or shocks in different ways, and in each case it is their sucession that makes it possible to speak of "progress." It as if the struggle against chaos does not take place without an affinity with the enemy, because another struggle develops and takes on more importance - the struggle against opinion, which claims to protect us from chaos itself. WiP p.203

Opinion: a negative term used by Deleuze and Guattari in What Is Philosophy?

Opinion does refer to a specific machinic phylum, but one that invades and parasitises those of art, science and philosophy. The three disciplines, each with their own machinic phyla (creative engine), pass through chaos (change) in their own ways. This relation to chaos defines each discipline. But opinion offers a quick and easy solution to each, a stereotypical creativity – perhaps implying a departure from the appropriate form of creativity, and more contentiously, freedom of expression (see previous entry).

Perhaps it does this by making too immediate and ill-considered a transversal move between phyla: for example, conceptual art. In philosophy it appears as transcendence. In art as the figurative or symbolic. Sophistry.

This also relates to the debate between Klee and Kandinsky concerning the relationship between forms in painting and music.

But opinion is a machinic phylum in itself – is it a phylum of the viral? Of the retrovirus? – as I said in Deleuze and Philosophy.

November 27, 2004


State B follows State A. State B can be replaced with State A precisely. In doing so, not in any way changing State A.

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

November 13, 2004


Aion is the past-future, which in an infinite subdivision of the abstract moment endlessly decomposes itself in both directions at once and forever sidesteps the present. Deleuze, Logic of Sense, p. 77


Chronos is the present which alone exists. It makes of the past and future its two oriented dimensions, so that one goes always from the past to the future… Deleuze, Logic of Sense, p. 77


…the unhistorical vapour that has nothing to do with the eternal, the becoming without which nothing would come about in history but that does not merge with history? WiP? p. 112

The actual is the trajectory through chaos, the virtual, and out again. Not present as a loci, and lost in the determination of the loci. The intensive cartography, rising and falling.

…distinuished from every present: the Intensive or Untimely, not an instant but a becoming. Again, is this not what Foucault called the Actual? ...The Actual is not what we are but, rather, what we become, what we are in the process of becoming - that is to say, the Other, our becoming-other. WiP p.112

Present being the loci. The actual is always already somewhere else.

An actual pathway (becoming) is a form. In virtuality all possible (in relation to the past) forms are considered. A form is as much its relation/consideration of other forms, of incompossible and compossible.

Eq. Nietzsche: inactual, untimely, – What is Philosophy? p 111–112


Chaos is defined as:

a virtual, containing all possible particles and drawing out all possible forms WiP p.118

…indicating that a virtuality contains an incompossible set of forms (actualities).

Chaos as the most virtual of virtualities?