Deleuze and Wexler: Thinking brain, body and affect in social context


Forthcoming in Cognitive Architecture: from bio-politics to noo-politics, eds. Deborah Hauptmann, Warren Neidich and Abdul-Karim Mustapha INTRODUCTION The cognitive and affective sciences have benefitted in the last twenty years from a rethinking of the long-dominant computer model of the mind espoused by the standard approaches of computationalism and connectionism. The development of this alternative, often named the “embodied mind” approach or the “4EA” approach (embodied, embedded, enactive, extended, affective), has relied on a trio of classical 20th century phenomenologists for its philosophical framework: Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty.[1] In this essay I propose that the French thinker Gilles Deleuze can provide the conceptual framework that will enable us to thematize some unstated presuppositions of the 4EA School, as well as to sharpen, extend and / or radicalize some of their explicit presuppositions. I highlight three areas here: 1) an ontology of distributed and differential systems, using Deleuze’s notion of the virtual; 2) a thought of multiple subjectification practices rather than a thought of “the” subject, even if it be seen as embodied and embedded; and 3) a rethinking of the notion of affect in order to thematize a notion of “political affect.”[2] I will develop this proposal with reference to Bruce Wexler’s Brain and Culture,[3] a work which resonates superbly with the Deleuzean approach.

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John Protevi
Louisiana State University

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