Frames /sing


Subjectless Subjectivity, A Geography of Subject: Beyond Objectology

I’ve just listened to Caroline Williams’s wonderful, clear essay on the powers of Subject-less conception to be found within Spinoza’s ontology and his politics, “Reconfiguring Body and Mind: Thinking Beyond the Subject with/through Spinoza” (linked below). Drawing primarily on Althusser, but of course Gatens and Lloyd (a favorite), Balibar, Deleuze and Foucault, professor Williams presents a pristine cartography of longitudes and latitudes on which to trace our future maps. This what I like best about Spinoza, the powerful grammar which he provides by which we are able to say so many things he may have yet fully conceived, but which, nonetheless remain Spinozist. For those who are unfamiliar with this branch of Spinoza studies, in particular Althusser and Balibar’s materialism, this paper makes an excellent introduction and examination.

I found a great number of co-incidences with her paper on complex affectation and conatus bodies and my own thoughts (those on Conjoined Semiosis, Exowelten, Chaoplexic formulation, my recent study of the structure of the Prophetic Imagination as in the Balling Letter, and even the forthcoming thoughts on Absolute Zero and Cold). It is bracing to hear an articulate and condensed groundwork of a territory you yourself have been exploring perhaps more speculatively. For those that wish to know what I am going on about at times, listen to this paper reading.

I’ve asked for a copy of the paper so that I might study its points in more depth. If I receive it I hope to post on it more substantively, there is too much to really speak of here. For those object-oriented ones out there, I cannot help but think that Caroline Williams’s paper would be of some interest as she shows just how rich Spinoza’s subjectless subjectivity defies the said human realm.

The audio is found here, at the record of the “Spinoza and Bodies” conference. Also recommended Daniel Selcer (Duquesne), “Singular Things and Spanish Poets: Spinoza on Corporeal Individuation”.

11 responses to “Subjectless Subjectivity, A Geography of Subject: Beyond Objectology

  1. Paul Bains November 12, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    I will listen to that. Funny, I wrote an essay entitled ‘Subjectless Subjectivities’ on Ruyer and D/G’s use thereof – it is available on the web.

    • kvond November 12, 2009 at 5:17 pm

      Paul, I’m pretty sure that I have read it, not knowing it was you. The title rings in my ear, governing no doubt my word choice for the title of this thread. If I recall correctly (vaguely) I felt that the essay just didn’t go far enough, I really wanted you to push harder (probably in a Spinozist bent) but I really liked the notions. I would have to look at it again, it has been over a year I think. Because of this though I would be very interested in what you think of Williams’s paper. I truly enjoyed it.

  2. Paul Bains November 12, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    btw, did you delete that kkk post?

    • kvond November 12, 2009 at 5:23 pm

      I put the post back into draft mode. Once 80 people had seen it all the interested parties no doubt had received its message. Frankly Levi is so inane politically, emotionally, it felt cruel to force him to look at his own words and how foolish he is when he gets on what he thinks is a high horse. I felt once the point was made, why make it a permanent part of the record? But I am unsure of this. The guys habitual appeal to Nazism and the KKK is a bit insulting on several levels.

  3. Paul Bains November 12, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    It was an immature piece. I was amazed to read Ruyer after seeing d/g refer to him in WIP (and The Fold). It was the concept of absolute survey that got me. It is, in fact. very close to D.E. Harding’s ‘On Having No Head: Zen and the rediscovery of the obvious.’ I met him once about 20yrs ago in Sydney.

    Now I am writing a modified version for a collection of essays on neglected philosophers around the theme of ‘possession’.
    Of course, absolute survey is a form of ‘self-possession’, as Ruyer notes, which is ‘persevering in its own essence.
    This unmediated self-possession is Ruyer’s single great insight which is also that of the Argentine/German tradition of biology….There is no ‘gap’ – contrary to some modern traditions…’antepredicative apprehension’ – or something like that.

  4. Paul Bains November 12, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    ‘The objects are part of the subject.’

    Well, I only have a couple of weeks…’If you want something done, ask someone in a hurry’ (Anon).

    “Nor does any “gap” yawn between a mind and her contents: the relationship between the subject and her objects (or mental contents, or noemata) is not one of observation, that might be conceived as mediated.
    On the contrary, this relationship is not only gnoseological. Far from being constituted by observation, the physical and ontic relationship between the subject and her objects (or mental contents, or noemata) – what the phrase “what objects (or mental contents, or noemata) are for their subject” actually means – is that the objects are part of the subject, those parts differentiated in the subject’s reality throughout her life under regularities that allowed the evolutionary use of the eclosion of existentialities.” (M. Szirko).

    • kvond November 12, 2009 at 8:13 pm

      Sounds quite in consonance with Spinoza’s denial of the separate Will, and Wittgenstein’s thought that speaking of mental objects is an abuse of the language game of ostenstion.

      I look foward to it.

  5. Paul Bains November 13, 2009 at 1:01 am

    I do refer to W in the orig. Tractatus 5.632-5.6331

    ‘And nothing “in the visual field” allows you to infer that it is seen by an eye…for the form of the visual field is surely not like this….”

    We could apparently trace this immediacy back to Galenus’ immediacy of the brain organ

    As opposed to:
    “..the centrencephalic theory [which] presents the brain cortex as if it had evolved, like the other sense organs, to form impressions then conveyed by brain fibers down to the sensorium. This sensorium (scilicet: commune) is localized by the centrencephalic theory of mindfulness in the “sensory ganglia,” held as the sole indwelling of mind in nature, where a mind takes the impressions from the remote, cortical sense organs…”(Szirko).

    “The centrencephalic theory assumes that noeseis in nature are contemplative.
    Contemplativeness (or epiphenomenality) allows for the disengagement of noeseis from their gnoseologically apprehended contents, and anatomical spatiality is alleged as a pretext to deepen this Platonic cut.
    Mental contents are supposed to be brought, to “their” accidental noeseis, as non-mental and already differentiated by peripheral “sense organs” without any participation, in their differentiation, of the activity of their future noeseis; less even of any semovience of these noeseis or of any sedimentation of its previous operations.
    It does not matter that this disengaging gap had been put there, between the center of the encephalon and its peripheries, or that it used the Hesiodic chasm amid earth and heaven, or the Platonic difference between the helmsman and any a ship he accidentally steers, or any other secession (linguistic root *sec-, *sacr-) or mediative discontinuity.” (Szirko)

    “Semovience is perspicuous (or, to use a Nietzschean phrase : the will provides its own certainty).”:

    “The source of the possibility of expressing this fact, encountered by natural sciences, in Nietzsches’s terms (or, by the way, in Spinoza’s terms) is simply Nietzsche’s inseparateness and indivisibility of will and intellect, always “in each other’s pocket.”
    Ironically, Spinoza’s and Nietzsche’s proper recognition of such a natural fact brought about the denunciation of those thinkers by their contemporaries, who did not notice that this recognition creates factual untenabilities only if “to be” is deemed purely distinctional, “truth uninformed by love,” that is to say, a mere predication that sets for reality its existence along with an immutable destiny; a more recently case in point of this argument affected the Spanish philosopher Xavier Zubiri’s recognition on the unity of sentient intelligence, tending volition, and affecting sentiments.
    Of course this recognition was illustratively disbalanced, in both Nietzsche and Spinoza, by their ontological bias (aimed at coping with one of the problems put forward by intellectualism, which pretended that intellect knows the lógos and consequently no will undividable of intellection could be wicked); their ontological bias situated the actuality of the positing will (Wille or conatus) as more fundamental than that of its gnoseological apprehension of itself in both its putting and what it puts or selects to be. E.g., aphorism 588 of “Der Wille zur Macht,” of the years 1883-1886: «The question of values is more fundamental than the question of certainty: the latter becomes serious only by presupposing that the value question has already been satisfied.».

    Once beingness is recognized – beingness taking actuality for Spinoza and Nietzsche only in the sense provided by conatus or Will to Power – it also becomes clear that it acquires certainty from its own truth about itself – finding what it does, enacts, and posits.

    Around the same age (of 44 and 46 years) both Spinoza and Nietzsche stopped prematurely their explorations, leaving dangling and untouched the other, indeed the main, problem put forward by intellectualism, namely the factually decidable yet culturally obscured issue of a pivotal and all-pervading necessity that, for the said lógos to be able to beget any reality, depends on the mentioned, fact-contradicting “being” being a mere distinctional predication.”(Szirko).

    Excuse me, I’m writing notes to myself on your comments page! I probably won’t have time to get to any of that. But the history is remarkable – and probably largely unknown by the ‘masters of suspicion.’

  6. kvond November 13, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    I like that footnote very much, and I can see perhaps how value is more fundamental than certainty in Nietzsche, but I am unsure of that being the case in Spinoza. In Spinoza valuations are modes of certainty, directions of certainty.

    But glad to have your notes here.

    As to Wittgenstein, it is really his post-Tractatus break with the picture theory of language that I was thinking about, where the notion that success of ostension in the world gives us to think that the mental things in the head are of the kind that in some way we can (mentally) point to them, thus are “objects”.

  7. Pingback: Heine: Spinoza Does not Deny God, but Always Humanity « Frames /sing

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