Frames /sing


Some Experiments in Re-translation, “idea” as “information”

In lead to some of the thoughts on Idea as “information”, here are a few interesting “distortions” of the Spinoza notion of idea. (These are very rough sketches, mostly a simple swapping out to be read for effect, and then later for analysis):


E1A6: True Information must agree with its correspondent.

E2D3: By Information I mean a reception [conceptus] of the Mind that the Mind forms because it is a thinking thing.

E2D4: By Adequate Information I understand information which, insofar as it is considered in itself, without relation to its correspondent, has all the properties, or intrinsic denomination of true information.

E2P7: The order and connection of Information is the same as the order and connection of things.

E2P8: The Information of singular things, or ways of being [modi], that do not exist must be comprehended in God’s infinite Information in the same way that the formal essences of singular things, or ways of being, are contained in God’s Atrtributes.

E2P13: The correspondent of the information constituting the human Mind is the Body, or a certain mode of Extension which actually exists, and nothing else.

E2P19: The human Mind does not know the human Body itself, nor does it know that it exists, except through the information of affections by which the Body is affected.

E2P20: There is also in God the information, or knowledge, of the human Mind, which follows in God, in the same way and is related to God in the same way as the information, or knowledge, of the human Body.

E2P26: The human mind does not percieve any external Body as actually existing, except through the information of affections of the Body.

E2P28: The information of the affections of the human Body, insofar as it is related to the human Mind, is not clear and distinct, but confused.

E2P29: The information about the information of any affection of the human Body does not involve adequate knowledge of the human Mind.

E2P32: All information, insofar as it is related to God, is true.

E2P33: There is nothing positive in information on account of which it is called false.

E2P36: Inadequate and confused information follows with the same necessity as adequate, clear and distinct information.

E3P40: Whatever information follows in the Mind from information that is adequate in the mind necessarily is also adequate.

E3DOA4: Love is a Joy [a passage from lesser to greater perfection], accompanied by the information of an external cause.

General Definition of the Affects

An affect that is called a Passion of the mind, is confused information, by which the Mind affirms of its Body, or some part of it,  a greater or lesser force of existing than before, which when given, determines the mind to think of this rather than that.

E5P1: In just the same way as thoughts or the information about things are ordered and connected in the Mind, so affections of the body, or images of things are ordered and connected in the body.

E5P14: The Mind can bring it about that all the Body’s affections, or images of things are related to the Information of God.

What becomes clearer, because of what Wittgenstein might say is the grammar of the word “information”, is that there is a conflation that Spinoza performs, particularly with the genitives. The “information of the mind, body or affections” can simultaneously mean “information about the mind, body or affections” and “information which is concordantly expressed in parallel to the mind, body or affections”. This is not understood to be a confusion on Spinoza’s part, but rather is a negotiation of what can be called the two aspects of “sign”, its actionable, dignifying power and its representational power. Information (idea) is always possibly “about” and “of”. It both expresses the state of the mind/body, yet also puts this body into a relation to other bodies (identifiable as a degree of being). This is a fundamental Spinozist point. What turning away from the English word “idea” does, as translation is strained because of distinctions in the use of “information”, is separate out any representationalist picturing from the very act of thinking, which for Spinoza is an act of doing. My idea of dogs, or my dog “Tiger” or my idea of Freedom is primarily information about my body, (but in relation to the rest of the world).

What makes this informational approach in Spinoza startling is that he couples this calculative, even propositional sense with an affective appreciation of the Body. All thoughts carry the body with them and as such are also felt states of the Body, affects, as it seeks to express itself more Joyfully and Powerfully. Bodies, at least in the human/animal sphere, are primarily joined through an imaginary and affective sharing of what is felt. Information, therefore, organizationally feels, and all calculations must be seen as calculations of the Body as Flesh, historically positioned and conjoined to other feeling bodies. (For more on the affective and still rational potentialities in a Deleuzian/Davidsonian sense, see Wasps, Orchids, Beetles and Crickets.)



One response to “Some Experiments in Re-translation, “idea” as “information”

  1. Pingback: The Difference Without a Difference…What? « Frames /sing

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