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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
- Going Dark
- The Becoming-woman of Machine in Avatar
- The Difference Between a Description and an Explanation: Deficits in Latour
- Peking Opera and the Aesthetic Freedoms of Avatar
- 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
- Two Vectors of Avatar’s Cinematic Achievement: Affect and Space Interface
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Spinoza Primary Sources
- Ethics, Emendation, Tractatus and Letters, in Latin
- F. van den Enden website
- Hyperlinked Ethics, Emmendation, Tractatus and Letters
- Nicholas De Cusa’s “De Visione Dei”, English Translation
- Selected Letters, Elwes Translation
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- The Life of Spinoza, by Johannes Colerus (1705)
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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.
Thank you for remarking on exactly what I was about to regarding Levi’s post. I also disagree with the binary of Being and Non-Being, that it is as simple as an on-off switch. Indeed, my whole philosophy claims that there is on ever the awkward in-between of growth and decay, that nothing can ever “be” or “not be” absolutely. I’ve been working on a post about this in regard to Augustine, but your equating it with Plotinus works as well. There is indeed a whole history of thought that seems overlooked in Levi’s binary, from the Neo-Platonists up to Derrida’s hauntology and beyond.
Yes, Augustine is a very good connection (his degrees of Being passages from City of God, I’m sure you’ve located). He got the concept from Plotinus I suspect. I’ve pressed Levi on this before, from the distinct Spinoza position, and each time I have he has acknowledged that this is so, and that he needs to work it into his position. But then he seems to swing back.
Here is my translation of a relevant Degree of Being passage from Plotinus:
It seems to me that if we are to have univocal Being, but also a philosophy of power analytics, Being itself must exist in degrees, or else we face the classic philosophical alternative, some kind Dualism (what which Augustine himself sought to avoid).
I look forward to your future posts on this, from your perspective.
You’re criticisms of Levi are spot on. It seems remarkable to me that, in the quest to level the ontological playing field between humans and other objects, Graham and Levi seem to forget that human beings are objects all the same, and particularly influential ones in this ‘mid-sized’ slice of reality. Moreover, since we are, in fact, this very object, it would make sense that we would be concerned with it and relations involving it.
Object-oriented philosophy acts as if philosophy has committed a sin by worrying about human beings and their relations, instead of relations between coconuts and meteors, or something. It acts as if these relations wouldn’t have unique and especially relevant characteristics, just as all relationships are as unique as their terms and contexts. It acts as if philosophy has always subordinated all problems to this one, which I don’t think is very accurate overall. Certainly this problem is a big and important problem for us, isn’t it? We are human beings, and we do have human relations to everything, don’t we? So why is it wrong to give this question priority?
I’m gonna post about this tomorrow.
I have to say that I find the problem with OOP the opposite of the one you that see. Quite to the contrary to claiming to be very concerned about objects, GH very seldom talks about objects at all (that is with the exception of waxing poetic in very loose terms and sensuous metaphor). This is distinct contrast for instance with Bruno Latour who actually, in non-metaphysicalist fashion, talks about objects with incredible care, sensitivity, acuity of perception and detail. GH concerns himself almost exclusively with the human, and simply uses object-states as mere props for sensations which he wants to concretize.
As for Levi, his game seems to be a different one. He, unlike Graham, is much more concerned with bringing the powers of Science to philosophy. Graham wants to say silly things like “a mosquito can hit a mack truck and have absolutely zero causal effect on the truck” (having no evidence whatsoever) while Levi wants to embrace scientific observation to the utmost degree.
I do agree with you that there is an odd kind of elimination of the human as object, a kind of shortening of the equation of epistemological/ontological effects. If the non-human is going to get its due, it will because the human has taken a rightful place among objects as object, collapsing the epistemic/ontological distinct.
p.s. look forward to your post tomorrow.
I’m not competent in these matters, but I find Levi’s point as you’ve quoted and described it plausible. I also think your gloss at the end works fine (the intensity reflecting us, not them), but suggests that you mean something different by Being than Levi does. If I understand correctly, Levi’s is a thin Being without qualities or interactions; in this sense it either is or isn’t. Once you add qualities like intensity and interactions like perception you’re not talking about Being as such, although you’re talking about important stuff that needs talking about (much more so, I’d say, than thin Being, which as such I don’t find very interesting). Sorry if this is too naive to be any help.
Thanks Carl. I have no idea what “thin Being” is (thin, after all is a quality), and Levi himself has admitted his own problems with this (never bringing up thin Being).
But this really is the point, to say that something has Being without having relations is a kind of philosopher’s fantasy of abstraction (or subtraction), since Being is to be in relation to other things. Now this Being can certainly have degrees of power without having these degrees be called properties or qualities. They are not added onto its Being, but Being is composed of its very capacity TO BE, to persist.
In a thinker like Spinoza, this gives the essence of something to be its conatus, its striving. Is the striving of something its “quality”? I would think not.
From my perspective, the idea that Being is a binary term is largely a product of a philosophy of presence, optical analogy which imagines that things are either seen or not seen. But of course this is not the case, things have degrees of sightedness (which seems to be part of Badiou’s point). Levi is quite correct to say that Badiou is missing something vital, but what is missing is that co-ordination of the degree of Being of the viewer.
In a certain sense, the “thin Being” is a difference that makes no difference, and simply attrophies, or is sliced away by Ockham’s Razor. It is by leaving behind the binary of a philosophy of Presence (its either there or not there), its where we really get our access to an object-oriented framework, where in fine Latourian fashion each object exists in the degree that it can exist. It is not so much as composed of its relations, but rather its capacity to form relations. In this way an object is not JUST its relations (being only a ghost), a kind of internal intra-relationship (within its epistemic horizon), which is expressed as its relations.
Only the need for a Phenomenologist/Idealist, optical image of Being, gives us the binary terms (and its laden dualities). Key is to understanding the (Realist) co-determination between internal relations which establish epistemic powers, and external relations which make up ontological powers. This is the class Medieval “ens reale” and “ens rationalis,” At least that is the way that I see it.
Some thoughts: https://kvond.wordpress.com/2009/02/01/the-ens-reale-and-the-ens-rationalis-spelling-out-differences/
I don’t find your observations naive at all. Bring more of them.