According to Hannah Arendt, action is the only activity that goes on directly between men without the intermediary of things or matter. From this point of view, action is the basis of political life. But, although human actions are direct human interactions, each person must have a body and senses, a sensation of reality and a feeling of realness—and do we not share these characteristics with animals? Therefore, do we have the right to claim that human interaction and consciousness of (...) an acting self are uniquely, humanly political? For example, what if we were to maintain that language is a second-order conventionalization of the expressive body immersed in an atmosphere, assimilating and being assimilated. If this were to be the case, how then can we explain the passage from elemental life, the life we share with all living things, to the acting in and among human pluralities that Hannah Arendt identifies with the political? Kant tried to do this by separating reason from sensation and separating respect from nature’s purely physical, causal forces. This essay examines Arendt’s claim that it is uniquely the activity that passes between humans that makes it possible for humans to consider themselves political. (shrink)
Gilles Deleuze takes up the challenge to create a philosophy of the interesting, the remarkable and the unusual. He does this in what Alain Badiou calls the ‘‘Grand Style’’, the style of Descartes, Spinoza and Kant whose philosophies arise in relation to developments in the natural sciences and mathematics. Grounding himself in the molar-molecular pair, Deleuze sets out a new image of thought. He conceptualises an immanent but still relatively closed, deterministic, atomistic and reversible system that is not immediately reduced (...) to entropic equilibrium because its processes take place on the molecular level, at speeds which he hypothesises are beyond the speed of light. He postulates a manifold, a sphere of immanence that is the entire universe and not merely the Earth or our solar system. It is a system governed by sensitivity to initial starting points and unstable boundaries, thus although it is chaotic as well as probabilistic, it remains a mathematically formal, deterministic system. (shrink)
The chapter on temporality in Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception , is situated in a section titled, “Being-for-Itself and Being-in-the-World.” As such, Merleau-Ponty’s task in the chapter on temporality is to bring these two positions together, in other words, to articulate the manner in which time links the cogito (Being-for-Itself) with freedom (Being-in-the-World). To accomplish this, Merleau-Ponty proposes a subject located at the junction of the for-itself and the in-itself, a subject which has an exterior that makes it possible for others (...) to have an interior. This analysis will take Merleau-Ponty to an impasse where, on the one hand, there appears to be an objective world and the time of objects in that world, and on the other, there is the subject’s notion of events and the passing of time. Referring to Bergson’s notion of time, this essay proposes that there must be a temporal interval between perception, feeling and action in order for the subject to be “temporal by means of an inner necessity,” as Merleau-Ponty prescribes. (shrink)
According to Gilles Deleuze, the underground world of Alice in Wonderland has been strongly associated with animality and embodiment. Thus the need for Alice's eventual climb to the surface and her discovery that everything linguistic happens at that border. Yet, strangely, in spite of the claim that Alice disavows false depth and returns to the surface, it seems that it is precisely in the depths that she finally wakes from her sleepy, stupified surface state and investigates the deep structures, the (...) rules of logic. In this investigation, Alice questions many formal structures, such as causality, identity, reference and the rules of replacement. She discovers that Wonderland does not generate consequential conduct; in fact, it generates no conduct whatsoever! In other words, when it comes to consequences, Wonderland may not be all that wonderful. Yet, we do not live in Wonderland and therefore, our actions have consequences. The question this poses is, why organise language so as to escape causal relations and why choose the little girl as emblematic of this organisation? (shrink)
In Creative Evolution, Bergson argues that life, the so-called inner becoming of things, does not develop linearly, in accordance with a geometrical, formal model. For Bergson as for classical science, matter occupies a plane of immanence defined by natural laws. But he maintains that affection is not part of that plane of immanence and that it needs new kind of scientific description. For Deleuze, affection does belong to the plane of immanence whose parts are exterior to one another, according to (...) classical natural laws. Out of this may be cut the closed, mechanical world with its immobile sections that Bergson attributes to cinematographic knowledge. Thus, in place of a science of creative evolution, Deleuze has substituted external relations, blocs of becoming and ultimately, a theory of extinction. (shrink)
: Luce Irigaray is often cited as the principle feminist who adheres to phenomenology as a method of descriptive philosophy. A different approach to Irigaray might well open the way to not only an avoidance of phenomenology's sexist tendencies, but the recognition that the breach between Irigaray's ideas and those of phenomenology is complete. I argue that this occurs and that Irigaray's work directly implicates a Bergsonian critique of the limits of phenomenology.
Judith Butler reflects upon the relationship between women and materiality in the context of the history of philosophy. She points to the presumption of the material irreducibility of sex as the ground of feminist epistemology and ethics and analyses of gender. She also finds a similarity between Aristotle's principles of formativity and intelligibility and Foucault's discussion of how discourse materializes bodies. While Butler's analysis reveals much about the history of philosophy with regard to the discourse on matter and women, nonetheless, (...) she appears to begin with the notion of bodies as largely passive, even negative entities. Addition ally, her analysis also implies that principles of formativity and intel ligibility are historically contingent. This essay seeks to undermine those two positions in preparation for inaugurating a positive theory of fluid structures. Key Words: Aristotle Butler contingency feminism Foucault history language materiality power. (shrink)