Something Different

Manuel de Landa speaking about the importance of Gilles Deleuze in the 21st century and the fundamentals of materialism in a seminar entitled Gilles Deleuze and Science at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. Questioning the role of structuralism and the post-modern position in philosophy, de Landa argues for a view of a materialist world autonomously removed from the concepts of our own mind. His challenge, he says, is to remove a transcendental plane from material objects, that is to remove the concept of essence from the world, without giving rise to a metaphysical position. Towards this, de Landa used the analogy of the battlefield as an example of the social material space to illustrate a plane of existence of extreme materiality.

… or you may check out a shorter video of Manuel DeLanda lecturing about The Philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. Public Open Video Lecture at European Graduate School EGS, Media and Communication Studies department program. Saas-Fee, Switzerland 2007.

… watcha you guys think?


2 thoughts on “Something Different”

  1. Interesting material. I only wish his “talking” to “saying something” ratio was a little higher;)A couple of comments before a tangent thought… First, I have a general issue with the concept of materialism. Somehow when I hear 'materialism' I picture a world just like the one I experience but without anyone to experience it. If meaning exists only in the mind, then such a world would necessarily be devoid of meaning. To speak of such a world, then, is to talk nonsense. That's fine, I suppose, so long as one proclaiming such a materialism means nothing by it. But it seems they do. They in fact want it to serve as the basic assumption from which arguments proceed.Of course, this only applies to the sort of materialism I've given. Maybe, by 'materialism,' something else is meant entirely. The problem is, I get a hunch that the term is doomed to fail in the same way de Landa wants to say that the terms 'market' and 'state' fail. They're empty concepts. Maybe he needs to define 'materialism' as 'that state of affairs devoid of conceptual content.' Is he? I'm not sure. It's the only version of materialism I'm so far inclined to accept. But it's a concept that I can't make sense of. (Why am I now imagining the sound of a flushing toilet and the voice of a Taosit God?;)My tangent thought: De Landa spoke of eliminating essences by introducing processes. This brought to mind an idea I once had while thinking of Frege and how he appeals to abstract objects to explain sense… I'll just paint broad strokes here: Take a static subject (a 'self' numerical over time) and some static object of its perception. Let's say that in order for the subject to make sense of the object, they need to connect. Makes sense, right? A Fregean sense-providing abstract object could on this simple model be as the projected unity of subject and object. Two statics unite to create an eternal ideal. …But can't action be that which mediates between subject and object? Can't action be the sense-making connection?This sort-of thinking is why I'm drawn to process philosophy. It makes more sense to me to say that everthing is action, and that “static subjects” and “static objects” don't really exist at all. They'd be, rather, as vectors pointing in opposite directions – relative “tendencies” defined, not by static ends, but only by the directionalities to which they are limited.

    1. I appreciate your viewing and your tangent thought. I too share your concerns and general issue with the concept of materialism. Deleuze’s materialism, perhaps shares as well similar concerns, since it’s objective is to steer clear of essences. I believe de Landa defines a materialist here, as “a materialist needs to be somebody who believes there is an external world that exists independent of our minds”. As oppose to a world that is ordered or constructed by our minds concepts or language. But this should not lead one to render all talk of an external world as nonsense. This view of the world is, as I read it, a political move (or too use a similar but more American jargon – a pragmatic move). He does say, “When you begin in believing in a material world, that is autonomous, you begin in taking responsibility for, not only what we do to the world with our ideas, but what we do to the world with our actions.” Granting, for the sake of argument, that meaning, being strictly mind dependent, does exists only in the mind, – still many issues that face us, such as certain ecological problems, economical problems, political problems are, as de Landa puts it, “beyond phenomenology”. However, this still could mean something and can serve as the basic assumption from which certain ecological arguments, economical arguments, and political arguments, to name a few, could proceed.Most of all, it is this thought, “of eliminating essences by introducing processes”, that is what is being “said” and the major theme I get out of this lecture, the rest is, as you put it, just “talking”.

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