PLURALISM: CLOSED STRUCTURES OR OPEN MULTIPLICITIES?

I think that pluralism becomes interesting when it is not just an acknowledgement of a plurality of totalities but when it sees each totality as open and porous, and constituted as well of open and porous subpluralities. One of the consequences of this way of thinking is that totalities are not consituted by one sole synthesis, but by several different and conflicting operations of synthesis that may draw the boundaries in different ways. Another is that the subpluralities are in interaction inside a totality and between totalities. So I would distinguish a “structuralist” pluralism emphasising macroscopic wholes and closure, and a “poststructuralist” pluralism that completes this picture with a swarm of underlying interferences and interactions and hybridisations.

This means that pluralists in this sense are ready to analyse innovations in terms of metaphor, transfer, translation, transport, transversality, etc and to break down all identities into multiplicitous components. My problem is that they only rarely incorporate these insights into their style of work. Deleuze and Guattari, with their idea of the rhizome and with their slogan “pluralism is not just something you talk about it’s something you do” (my words), made important gestures in this direction. But I think that more can and should be done.

So I think that when these pluralists explain that closed totalities are hallucinatory or fantasmatic pseudo-entities (ie the opposite of what Levi Bryant tries to tout with his indebtedness to Luhmann and his notion of “operational closure”, which I am calling here structuralist pluralism)) with quantum tunnels and relativistic wormholes underlying and undermining their macro-structure, then they should not act like they were the only pluralists in the world. No Latour’s system is not born from some philosophical tabula rasa and he is wrong not to engage with past and present pluralists, and when he talks about Souriau and modes of existence he is doing misdirection in my eyes. Dreyfus and Kelly are wrong to talk about pluralism without discussing people like Deleuze and Feyerabend and Badiou who sometimes confirm sometimes contradict their analyses, and sometimes just plain go further along that path than they do. etc etc.

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10 Responses to PLURALISM: CLOSED STRUCTURES OR OPEN MULTIPLICITIES?

  1. dmfant says:

    I have tried to promote an ethos along Rortyian lines of knowledge/philosophizing as conversation/negotiation, a Wittgensteinian turn to thinking of concepts in terms of as-if qualities, familial resemblances, perspicuous presentations & gestures, and pace TMorton, Heidegger, and others of Logic/Logos as ‘merely’ anthropo-logos, but so far no real takers…

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  2. terenceblake says:

    I am all for solitude but not as an end in itself. Exchange seems deeper than monologue. Maybe you should read more Laruelle, he would not like the Greek root “anthropos” as too impregnated with philosophy in the bad sense, but he makes the human the source of immanence.

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  3. To read more Laruelle, I second the motion.

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  4. terenceblake says:

    Laruelle makes Logic, Science, and Philosophy subservient to the human, and no longer the other way round. Democracy (and thus real conversation) has primacy over thought. Philosophical concepts are treated as a material, as-ifs, rather than transcendent realities.

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    • Bill Benzon says:

      *”…Logic, Science, and Philosophy subservient to the human…”

      Interesting. Do you have any idea of how that relates to constructivist thought about mathematics? [And don’t ask me about constructivist thinking about mathematics, because I don’t know much more than: 1) the phrase and, 2) that it’s a serious position in opposition to something dubbed intuitionism.

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      • From my understanding, this is not completely and by which I mean it is not necessarily a “constructivist” position, but it does contain many elements of what many would call “constructivism”. Again, it is a difficult position to articulate unless one is familiar with the debate in philosophy of mathematics.

        I would recommend taking a look at Wittgenstein’s philosophy of mathematics (plato.stanford.edu/entries/wittgenstein-mathematics/) for what is perhaps at least in my eyes a better over-lap, since it contains subtle tweaks or critiques of standard mathematical constructivist positions and reveals a bit more nuanced position on the matter than one might originally think.

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    • dmfant says:

      sounds good but for me the question is now more one of rhetoric/organization how to get people to make such shifts in their thinking and to than develop/cultivate themselves along such lines. Will surely have to happen outside of the socializations/machinations of higher-ed, the psychiatric disciplines of mental-health, and the various analytic cults of personality, and have to more about creating viable/living/attractive alternatives than making arguments, may be something like design/research studios of the ars of living, engineerings of gay life sciences, or what?

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  5. Turing negates the opposition between mathematics and intuitionism. Its on record. Laruelle for his part does not oppose mathematics. He even extends its axioms to provide his dualysis an intelligible spectrum. This makes him similar to Badiou who however failed to radicalize axioms into something that can unpack the Event. As to ‘reading more Larulle’ I take it to mean a kind of revisiting the very non-philosophical origins of say Rortyian pragmatism. Laruelle’s language is of course continentalist but that does not mean that he ignores other philosophical epistemes that are not extensively treated in the continental. Language is bound to a culture or an episteme endemic to it, but also an episteme into which a certain culture is shaped.

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