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2001: a space odyssey Achilles Alan Gabbey Antigone Antonio Negri Arne Naess Art Criticism Augustine Avatar Badiou biosemiotics Bousquet Brian Massumi Caliban Campanella Chalmers Christiaan Huygens Colerus Conjoined Semiosis Critical Theory cybernetics Dante David Graeber David Skrbina Davidson Deleuze Della Rocca Derrida Descartes Duns Scotus Epistemology Ethics Euripedes Exowelt Felix Guattari Foucault Graham Harman Greek Tragedy Guattari Heidegger Helvetica Hevelius Hockney-Falco Thesis Hume Huygens Information John Donne Kepler Kubrick L'occhiale all'occhio Latour Leibniz Letter 39 Letter to Peter Balling Literary Theory Martha Nussbaum Marx Metaphor Micrographia Milton Morality Nicola Masciandaro Nietzsche Optica Promota Ovid Painting panpsychism Parables of the Virtual Patricia Collins Philosophy Philosophy of Mind Photosynth Plato Plotinus Politics Rhetoric Rilke Robert Hooke Rorty Sappho Simulated Annealing Skepticism Slavoj Zizek Sloterdijk Specilla circularia Spinoza Spinoza's Foci St. Paul The Buttle Principle Three Varieties of Knowledge Tommaso Campanella Uncategorized Van Leeuwenhoek Vico Walter Benjamin William of Auvergne Wittgenstein Zizek zombies Zuggtmoy
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- Mitochondrial Vertigo: The New Blog
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- Transcendence or Immanence: Cake-and-eat-it-too-ism
- From Affect to Mutuality, Openness to Rational Co-expression: Massumi to Spinoza
- Is the Medium the Message? Avatar’s Avatar
- Massumi’s Cognitive Doubling, Spinoza’s Numerical Affectivity
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Spinoza Primary Sources
- Ethics, Emendation, Tractatus and Letters, in Latin
- F. van den Enden website
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Ode to Man
Tho’ many are the terrors, not one more terrible than man goes. This one beyond the grizzled sea in winter storming to the south He crosses, all-engulfed, cutting through, up from under swells. & of the gods She the Eldest, Earth un-withering, un-toiling, is worn down, As the Twisting Plough’s year into Twisting Plough’s year, Through the breeding of horse, he turns. & the lighthearted race of birds all-snaring he drives them & savage beasts, their clan, & of the sea, marine in kind With tightly-wound meshes spun from all-seeing is Man. Yet too, he masters by means of pastoral beast, mountain-trodding, The unruly-maned horse holding fast, ‘round the neck yoked, & the mountain’s ceaseless bull. & the voice & wind-fast thought & the passion for civic ways He has taught, so from crag’s poor court from under the ether’s hard-tossed arrows To flee, this all-crossing one. Blocked, he comes upon nothing so fated. From Hades alone escape he’ll not bring. Tho’ from sickness impossible Flight he has pondered. A skilled one, devising of arts beyond hope, Holding at times an evil, But then to the noble he crawls, honoring the laws of the Earth, & Of gods the oath so just, high-citied. Citiless is the one who with the un-beautiful dwells, boldly in grace. Never for me a hearth-mate may he have been, never equal in mind He who offers this.
Ode to Man
A BwO is made in such a way that it can be occupied, populated only by intensities. Only intensities pass and circulate. Still, the BwO is not a scene, a place, or even a support upon which something comes to pass. It has nothing to do with phantasy, there is nothing to interpret. The BwO causes intensities to pass; it produces and distributes them in a spatium that is itself intensive, lacking extension. It is not space, nor is it in space; it is matter that occupies space to a given degree—to the degree corresponding to the intensities produced. It is nonstratified, unformed, intense matter, the matrix of intensity, intensity = 0; but there is nothing negative about that zero, there are no negative or opposite intensities. Matter equals energy. Production of the real as an intensive magnitude starting at zero. That is why we treat the BwO as the full egg before the extension of the organism and the organization of the organs, before the formation of the strata; as the intense egg defined by axes and vectors, gradients and thresholds, by dynamic tendencies involving energy transformation and kinematic movements involving group displacement, by migrations: all independent of accessory forms because the organs appear and function here only as pure intensities. The organ changes when it crosses a threshold, when it changes gradient. "No organ is constant as regards either function or position, . . . sex organs sprout anywhere,... rectums open, defecate and close, . . . the entire organism changes color and consistency in split-second adjustments." The tantric egg. After all, is not Spinoza's Ethics the great book of the BwO?
Ode to Man
But human power is extremely limited, and is infinitely surpassed by the power of external causes; we have not, therefore, an absolute power of shaping to our use those things which are without us. Nevertheless, we shall bear with an equal mind all that happens to us in contravention to the claims of our own advantage, so long as we are conscious, that we have done our duty, and that the power which we possess is not sufficient to enable us to protect ourselves completely; remembering that we are a part of universal nature, and that we follow her order. If we have a clear and distinct understanding of this, that part of our nature which is defined by intelligence, in other words the better part of ourselves, will assuredly acquiesce in what befalls us, and in such acquiescence will endeavour to persist. For, in so far as we are intelligent beings, we cannot desire anything save that which is necessary, nor yield absolute acquiescence to anything, save to that which is true: wherefore, in so far as we have a right understanding of these things, the endeavour of the better part of ourselves is in harmony with the order of nature as a whole.
My PhD dissertation was about mental states in non-human (non-linguistic) animals. At that time, I appealed to evidence from ethology (from seed-hoarding chickadees to Savage-Rumbaugh’s bonobos) to argue that animals had mental content just as humans did. Now I continue to think that human and non-human brains must work in the same way, but I’m not sure about mental representations. It seems to me that if there is even the possibility that the intentional/representational model of mind is flawed, we need to get to the bottom of that. That is why I am intrigued by Wittgenstein. For me the issue is motivated mostly by metaphysics (perhaps neither Kevin nor Wittgenstein would agree). Semantic properties seem to me to be impossible (this applies to both mind and language). This is the appeal (to me) of my behavioristic/anthropological interpretation of W. Maybe Descartes had it right: he thought that dream images, for example, were in themselves irrefutable proof of mental content: self-evident. Certainly the intuition that we have mental images is powerful. For myself, I don’t know: I feel that this is an ongoing investigation, for me. I do know that W. wasn’t unaware of the phenomenal argument for content, so I find Descartes’ position of simply plunking dream images down as “proof” to be obtuse. Meanwhile, a humbler point of contention with Kevin is that whatever the case may be here (content or no), his special cases do not add anything to the argument of the person who simply points to calculating and to mental images as proof of content. A concession to Kevin: certainly conscious rule-following emerges somehow from “rule-following,” such that there can be no clear demarcation: to insist that they were essentially different would amount to a kind of mind-body dualism, I think. Anderson Brown
It depends what one means by “content”. It is a tricky word, much abused, both in terms of criteria and attribution. There is of course “propositional content” which in the case of animals would be very difficult to establish in any form other than attributive and explanatory, 3rd person description.
I too am interested in metaphysics (apart from Wittgenstein’s anti-metaphysical project), so perhaps we share some ground. The problem comes in playing the “content” game. Some would have it that the senses bring “content” to our mind, (this to my ear is ridiculous). I believe that much of this problem is dissolved by Davidson’s critique of the “Very Idea of A Conceptual Scheme” the idea that there is some sort of framework, which then gets filled in with “content”. Once we let go of the scheme/content assumption, much that is efficacious gets into play.
For Wittgenstein the issue comes down to “justification”, that is, the appeal to criteria which grounds our public discourse over matters. He wants such ground to be ENTIRELY public, that is, there is no such thing (as a matter of logic), as private justification (we pass for him here, into the realm of causes). Much can be said for this view. At times such an idea strikes one as silly as having a monetary currency which only you exchange with yourself.
But such analogies are misleading. One can use mental events as PART of a justification process to oneself, without collapsing into a completely causal world, without seeming like one is buying only newspapers of the same printing. One is not “proving” such and such to be the case, but one certainly is orienting oneself towards one’s own mental events such that confirmation from others is not the SOLE determiner of sense. One experiences sense, and does so by taking a view towards one’s own mental states.
Daniel Tammet, for instance, might do his calculations in an entirely pragmatic circumstance, but one devoid of the correction from others. He might be building a tree house in a way that needs precise mathematical measure. What confirms to someone like Daniel that the calculation is right is two things, his process of arriving at it (that is, he understands the relationships between spatial manifestations of numbers, as his mind is able to manipulate them), and that they WORK, in the world. There is no need for a public tribunal of whether he got the calculation right.
Now, how far one can go in this solitary, self-justifying process may be fairly limited, for our conceptions of ourselves is based in large measure upon our intersubjective knowledge of others (Wittgenstein got that part right). Limited, but not logically impossible. It is not solely as a point of logic that self-justifying procedures are empty ritual acts in which no gear turns any other gear, because indeed criteria following, even in the private sense, has one corrective measure, and that is real world consequences.
Your suspicion that it is metaphysics which might lead one down away from Wittgenstein’s Private Language Argument I think is correct (though one need not be a metaphysician to embrace its critique). It is the metaphysical assumption that we live in one world (monism), and that even our criteria are caused by our interaction with that world, if only in the form of beliefs held. Wittgenstein explanation via language game would not even get off the ground, if not for this cohesive metaphysical assumption. Wittgenstein’s ultimate categorization of cause and reason experiences a double fold, for reasons, (for instance mental predicate attributions, such as beliefs, or fears, or desires), must be understood themselves, as causes of intentional behavior: He was afraid of bees, so he ran home. And in addition, these beliefs, fears, etc., but also be read as caused by the world, in order for the whole explanatory apparatus to fit into a rational view of the world and action in it.
The reason/cause distinction certainly does well to separate out public criteria from the experience of mental events, but an orientation towards those mental events (interpretations of belief or disbelief, for instance), regularly make up our own, individual, justification for sense making in the world. That is, what is merely a “cause” in Wittgenstein’s reason/cause distinction, can be treated as reason, to some effect. And conversely, what is a reason (an explanatory attribution of mental predicates), can be consideration a cause.
This interlacing is the very thing that give substance to the epistemic nature of mental events, without breaking the chain to public intersubjectivity. It is rather, at the very least, once language has been learned, though criteria-sharing does help make up and structure subjectivity, subjectivity itself has the capacity to comment back upon the intersubjectivity which helps make it up. It can “feedback”, so to speak.
By restricting your burden of “proof” to “content” I believe you are missing out the gradated nature of what thinking entails. What is the “content” of Daniel Tammet’s thoughts as he calculates to immense numbers, watching their shapes interact? It is a misplaced question. This does not mean that he is not using criteria, that he is not making judgments, that he is not “thinking”. The mistake really is to assume, for the benefit of philosophical discourse, which for the most part wants to have firmly boundaried, well-defined, quanta of descriptions (so that its logics and science-like actions can take hold), that “content” is the signpost of thought, or even criteria use.
What was the “content” of Mozart’s mind, when composing Piano Sonata #14? Can we not strictly say? If we, or even he, could not specify the “content”, does this mean that he was not using criteria? Does this mean that he was merely operating in a world causes, without reasons? Could Mozart only have composed his sonata if others were there to confirm that he truly was making music, and not merely suffering under the impression that he was? Does this mean that his mind was not “thinking” but only seeming to think? Just because Mozart could not PROVE that he was making music, and not just noise, and if no one had ever heard that one sonata, does not mean that the composition of the music itself would not have real, cognitive, meaningful and orienting effects, for Mozart, and Mozart alone.
One more note that occurs to me. (And thank you for your excellent comments), when you say:
“certainly conscious rule-following emerges somehow from “rule-following,” such that there can be no clear demarcation: to insist that they were essentially different would amount to a kind of mind-body dualism, I think.”
what comes to mind is Rorty’s comment, when he made his final turn towards objectivity, that the Mind/Body distinction, really is a Person/Thing distinction. As a aspect of personhood (that is, the measure by which we respect and identify with another entity’s reports one the world), there is both a categorical, conceptual binary (that is a person, that is not) often ideological or political (that is a citizen, that is not), or (that is a human being, and that is not); but there is also the gradated pragmatism of epistemologically reading the world through others, in which intentionality plays a major role discerning effects. Here, there is no duality of kind, but only the degrees to which others can inform us about the world we share, through their states of experience (so manifested). To try to isolate “thought” and “criteria” works well in the first sort of categorization, that between person/thing, citizen/non-citizen, human/non-human. In such a realm, Wittgenstein’s Private Language argument works perfectly well, (as does “thought content”). What is a reason and what is a cause seems to divide itself up fairly neatly. But in the gradated view of person/thing, it is circumstances and benefits, which guide the distinction. A person afflicted with Alzheimer’s suddenly can become much more like a “thing” in how it/he/she can inform us about the world. And a barely cognitive “thing” (perhaps a fly, or a worm), can suddenly have person-like status in what it informs. Intentionality is shot through the entire description, the degree to which the actions of a person or object can report something about the world, and as such, be reporting about their own states of experience, which color one way or another that report.
Importantly, our connectivity to others (persons and things) is what is at stake when we seek to establish the criteria for what is “mind” and what is not. And for me, any notion of “content” must fall to the circumstantial conditions of epistemic readings.