DELEUZE AND METAPHOR, LARUELLE AND SUPERPOSITION: Thinking non-reduction with interaction

My post was meant as a response to the idea that the separation between scientific categories and transcendental principles is a necessary demarcation, needed to counter scientism, which conflates them into a simple identity. If one does not feel comfortable with this sort of binary opposition the question arises of their composition « how do you blend them? ». It is a notable feature of WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY? that it seems to abandon the rhetoric of transversality that pervades the previous collaborative books, in favour of a sober set of demarcations. Yet I think that the concept of « zones of indetermination » is a sort of replacement concept for this transversality, and would correspond to a notion of « blending » without fusion. Gregory Flaxman seems to argue along similar lines in his book GILLES DELEUZE AND THE FABULATION OF PHILOSOPHY. This passage from transversality to demarcation quite disturbed me at the time (1991) and it took some years to reconcile myself with WIP.

Deleuze, in DIALOGUES for example, seems to be very critical of « metaphor » and insists that terms such as « face » and « black hole » are not metaphors but deterritorialised expressions. This always used to trouble me and I think that it was due to the context of a polemic with lacanism. Outside that context I see no reason to refuse the word « metaphor » as long as we recognise that it must not be understood in terms of the binary opposition with mimesis. That way we can use the term respecting Deleuze’s concepts without necessarily buying into all his terminological choices.

I think Deleuze’s explicit rejection of metaphor (although for me his work is metaphorical through and through) is tied to his whole rejection of the signifier. The opposition then becomes Guattarian machinic vs Lacanian metaphoric. But a machinic sense of metaphor is possible (as you say in terms of transfer or trans-port) even if it does not occur in the texts. Then the opposition would be machinic metaphor vs signifying metaphor, and the difference between them would be that of pragmatics vs semantics or performance vs representation.

So the question becomes one of  the possible relation between different consistences. Does this diversity of consistences (eg between philosophy and the sciences) imply a total incommensurability and thus the complete closure of a consistence on itself? Or can one affirm simultaneously that partial, local interferences are sometimes not only legitimate but also productive of important advances and breakthroughs?

Michel Filippi in response to this question makes use of the Laruellian concept of a « superposition » of  that « can be explored separately and towards which one can hybridise ». He speculates that after this stage of diachronic hybridisation a subsequent stage of synchronic spatialisation can occur. This confirms my hypothesis that just as in the case of nature we may make the distinction natura naturans/natura naturata, in the case of science too we may distinguish scientia sciens (diachronic heuristic hybridising science in action) from scientia scita (synchronic, apodictic, demarcated results of science).

I like Michel Filippi’s analysis a lot because it affirms an important performative dimension to science in the making, that I call the context of participation (as opposed to both the context of discovery and the context of justification). Superposition can give rise to two different « treatments ». One leans towards an incommensurability of closure,  hermetically sealed off from other paradigms and consistences, the other leans towards an incommensurability of encounter and exchage, which is porous enough to permit hybridisations without imposing them.

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10 commentaires pour DELEUZE AND METAPHOR, LARUELLE AND SUPERPOSITION: Thinking non-reduction with interaction

  1. Jason Hills dit :


    I’m nit-picking, but you want to say « transcendent » and not « transcendental, » because scientific logic is by definition transcendental in an abductive manner.


  2. Kliban dit :

    I am not sure about that. Scientific logic is transcendantal only once you enquire about its rights to provide a clear fundation for knowledge. Otherwise it is simply dogmatic. Transcendantality, if I am not mistaken, is thourougly critical and requires something of a disjunction of some sort, between knowledge and meta-knowledge, for instance, which scientific categories do not provide unless you question them as such, hence moving out of the production of scientific sentences. But I might misunderstand the objection.


  3. Jason Hills dit :


    Using experience as a basis to inquire beyond experience to make the latter the basis of the former is « transcendental, » by definition. The only « wiggle room » here is that « transcendental » has different significations among different thinkers, because one can make transcendental arguments via induction, deduction, abduction, intuition, or some informal logic. Scientific transcendental arguments must be abductive or fail even in principle to be a science.

    I suggested a correction to Terrance because I believe that he was referring to the discussion with Levi Bryant, who is against transcendent reasoning but not transcendental. Of course, certain employments of transcendental logic can easily become transcendent, i.e., basing experience on the extra-experiential with no experiential « corrective ».


  4. terenceblake dit :

    Hello Jason, I was starting out from Deleuze’s opposition between energy as a transcendental principle (philosophy) and energy as an empirical principle (« science », but in fact according to the terms of my argument as it proceeds rather a certain naive image of science). Your point that of course real science contains transcendental principles is where I wanted to arrive. I think that this point pervades Deleuze’s work before WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY? and is backgrounded in that work because of its running polemic with scientism and reductionism. Sorry if my argumentative structure was not clear.


    • Jason Hills dit :

      No, Terrence, it’s not your lack of clarity, but my lack of knowledge of Deleuze and even contemporary French philosophy.


  5. Ping : The Metaphor of Salt, Satyagraha

  6. inthesaltmine dit :

    Terence, what good work! I’ve posted a response here:

    I’d first like to resist a little bit the musings on « incommensurability ». I’ve been down that path and I don’t think it leads anywhere in the wake of postmodernism — at least qua principles. This one is a nit-pick though, feel free to disregard. My curiosity is why we are focusing on this topic as opposed to « commensurability »? Is it because the principle at-hand is one of an otherwise indeterminable superposition?

    Moreover, I would enfold the idea of « participation » in terms of « dialogue » instead (i.e. can there be dialogue but non-participation? can there be non-dialogical forms of participation? these need to be thought through!) . I’m not sure if that has any strengths (pending answers to the questions above) or is just a learned personal preference, but we seem to be working in a similar direction. I’ve also thrown in the concept of uniqueness, which may be interesting in terms of participation, e.g. a unique contribution.

    My concern re: participation seems to be a matter of agency … a caution to the possibility of risking participation for participation’s sake. I think it is important to allow the possibility of a safe space of non-participation (e.g. the shy person who is uncomfortable speaking in the classroom), one which is still technically « in dialogue » with « the class » so to speak. I think putting this in pedagogical terms helps, though I have no experience as a professor myself so I could be wrong here as well.

    Wish you all my best.


  7. michael dit :

    Excellent post asking all the right questions.

    In what sense is what you describe about an ‘ecology (much abused term I know) of knowledge’? What I mean to suggest is that this the type of deterritorialization/reterritorialization and diachronic/synchronic flux can be delineated to some extent via some combination of genealogical and material analysis of the conditions in which knowing (as embodied activity different from its product: ‘knowledge’), remembering and coding happen? The answer may seem obvious to us, but I’m wondering about what we can then say about how this might impact our view of political praxis (the practice of deliberation and creating collectives and resisting collectivization/subjugation), and also what this means for ‘commensurability’, as you say, regarding the practical deployment of philosophy (as wisdom) and scientific knowledge?


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