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Tag Archives: Adrian J. Ivakhiv

Adrian’s Spinoza

I really like how Adrian writes. It is always fluid, pictoral, thoughtful, clear without simplification. He recently placed a resonant meditation on the new sparrow, paraket and rose encrusted Spinoza’s statue in Amsterdam [july 28th, 09], conjuring up the entire tide of Spinozisms that have brought Baruch closer to our collective attention…

Spinoza has been rediscovered repeatedly, more recently by post-Marxist political theorists like Althusser, Deleuze, and Negri in the 1960s and 1[9]70s, but also, as I’ve discussed here, by deep ecology founder Arne Naess and, a little later, by anti-Cartesian neuroscientist Antonio Damasio. While the world has caught up with him, to some degree, in its political liberalism, his non-Cartesianism represents, to many, the philosophical path not taken — until now, perhaps, as mind-body dualism winds its way down and is replaced by a more subtle understanding of how thinking, feeling, and bodily affects interact to produce the relations that constitute us.

He also reminds us of the wonderful Spinoza onto-psychological reduction (which frankly I missed in my 25 easy Spinoza thoughts)…

Biocultures Manifesto: Disease, Technology, Selves and Knowledge

Adrian over at immanence posts the Biocultures Manifesto which he tells us was originally published in New Literary History back in 2007. Certainly worth repeating here:

* Science and humanities are incomplete without each other.
* It is untrue that the humanities are the realm of values and the sciences the realm of facts.
* Science isn’t hard and the humanities aren’t soft.
* You can’t fully understand the results of a given data set without knowing the historical, social, cultural, discursive fields surrounding the data.
* Any contemporary research needs more than a cursory background in history and in the history of the concepts it employs.
* You can’t study a subject that is an object.
* You can’t study an object that isn’t a subject.
* Diseases are disease entities.
* If you divide truths in half you get half-truths.
* If you divide knowledge, your knowledge is divided.
* Pain is always in your head because your brain is.
* Nothing human is universal or atemporal.
* Embodiment is necessarily biological, and knowledge is always embodied.
* A fact is a socially produced conclusion.
* Bodies are always cultural and biological.
* Selves today are embodied, biologized, shaped by medical knowledge.
* The body-whose, what, when, where-is always in question.
* The boundary between organic and inorganic is no longer clear.
* Technology has become human; humans have become technologies.
* Patients and experimental subjects are part of the decision-making process.
* Science can be postmodern; postmodernisms can be scientific.
* Biology, as a science, cannot exist outside culture; culture, as a practice, cannot exist outside biology.

I have say that I agree with nearly every one of these points (though not big on the subject/object distinction, and the bit on truth and knowledge seems a bit trite). All in all, a nice formulation of principles.  Adrian offers several links, including this.

Comments upon Latour’s Flat Originality and Immanence

Ailsa, over at a musing space; a performance in progress comments upon my recent thoughts on Latour’s concept of Originality, The Flatness of Latour’s Concept of Origin and Holbein’s The Ambassadors. In “it’s not a case of “either or” but of “and, and” she finds that I haven’t fully satisfied on my my claim that Latour’s treatment of originals in some substantive way contradicts or at least is not accountable in his existentialist principle that existence precedes essence:

While I disagree with Kvond who appears to argue against this proposition with reference to art, yet his argument to my mind demonstrates exactly what Latour says. The minutae of detail, the pressure of the paint on the page, the texture of brushstrokes and the variability in paint pigmentation…are all ‘things’ preceding essence. Essence came in the aggrargation of such things in a time and place and viewed in a context, or so I understand Latour. But what then of other ‘things’?
I find myself comparing these arguments of authentic art to the stories I have heard when talking of the shift of phone counselling to text. And am also reminded of the historic stories captured on moving conversation to phones. But to stay with counselling for the moment, is its ‘essence’ lost when the medium changes? The logic from Latours argument, is that it cant be as essence is always preceded by existence.

Because she is applying Latour to counseling solutions (her blog says that she is currently reading Latour’s Reassembling the Social, and she is a teacher of communication skills at a Health Facility), she is particularly interested in how moving therapy processes to the telephone our to text, might or might not involve a change in essence.

The essence is in it’s existence, not an antecedent event, but in it’s being performed. Does the reproduction in another form lessen its value? Perhaps. The processes of translation from one medium to another may fail to capture the ‘things’ of importance , what then can be added or removed? Is it essential to counselling that it be ‘in the moment’ that it be synchronised not asynchronised? Far from becoming “sterile” counselling so reconstructed becomes more accessible. So where does the crime lie? I suggest it lies in the gap where the index for reality is misunderstood. Text counselling far from being barren or sterile is serving a purpose attested to by those who continue to make use of it.
It provides an option, the value of which is evident in its being used and in its ongoing development and ongoing translations.

In such a conclusion she seems to have found something of a resting point on my concept of a change in recording surface, as I describe the differences between a painting and its photograph, and there are signficant productive values to be watched here as translations of subjectivities occur across domains. In the comments section there we touch on the possibility that we are thinking of two different aspects of “essence”, but I also sense that in our valuations of originality and its copies, any interpretive value placed on an original source of replicating effects also must draw its weight form the marks of the forces that brought it into being.

A Blog of Immanence

Also this weekend I ran into an interesting thought stream provided by Adrian J. Ivakhiv who teaches at the Rubenstein School of Environment & Natural Resources at the U of Vermont. He describe’s the weblog’s mission in part as the following:

(1) To communicate about issues at the intersection of environmental, political, and cultural theory, especially at the interdisciplinary junctures forming in and around the fields of ecocriticism , green cultural studies, environmental communication, political ecology, and related areas (biosemiotics, geophilosophy, social nature, poststructuralist and liberation ecologies, zoontologies, animist liberation theologies — invent your own neologisms!).

(2) More specifically, to contribute to the development of a non-dualist understanding of nature/culture, mind/matter, structure/agency, and worldly relations in general. Dualisms aren’t inherently bad, but these have become stultifying; they contribute to the log-jam in which environmental thinking has been caught for too long. To this end, the blog is interested in philosophies of process, ontologies of immanence and becoming, and epistemologies of participation, relation, and dialogue – that is, ways of understanding and acting that take ideas and practices, bodies and minds, subjects and objects, perceptions and representations, agency and structure, to be fundamentally inseparable, creative, and always in motion. The blog will be a place where non-dual mind (/body, subject/object) meets non-dual world (nature/culture), or where rigpa meets anima.

As all these are positions that I have some affinity for, in particular as a Spinozist approach seems to embrace them, it is a webspace I will be watching. Recently there was some discussion on Stuart Kauffman’s new book (which dissappointed me to no end for how much I have loved his past books), and the potential of blogged philosophy as is being done by Levi, Shaviro and Graham, to name just a few. I have not searched the site heavily, but I wonder if how much, if at all Adrian follows Arne Næss’s Spinoza influenced Deep ecology.