Shaviro on January 25

February 14, 2010

And somehow I missed SHAVIRO’S POST OF JANUARY 25.

The discussions with Shaviro are always interesting. It’s getting pretty close to the point where I think we’re not talking past each other at all: we simply don’t agree about what’s most important.

But to repeat, I think that for all Shaviro’s claims to discuss change and becoming, he like Whitehead is really left with nothing but perishing. For something to change means that it stays the same despite some of its features changing. Otherwise there is no change, but the thing is replaced by some other thing.

Elsewhere, I saw a recent Shaviro post about my remarks on Simondon. Shaviro says that I only focus on fully formed individuals rather than on genesis. I’ve heard this remark from others, and I think it misses the point. Any philosophy must account for genesis, and any philosophy must also account for fully formed individuals (some philosophies deny they exist, but I don’t think that’s tenable). This is not the real point of incongruence between my position and Simondon’s (or DeLanda’s, for that matter).

Instead, the point of difference is whether a thing’s process of genesis is inscribed in its current reality, and I say “no.” Much of its genetic history does leave traces, but a great deal of history is forgotten by reality in every moment. To say otherwise, I think, is merely to ratify an interesting intuition by Bergson that isn’t really grounded in reality.

It needs to be remembered that much of contemporary philosophy is still too obsessed with the specter of the rock-hard, eternal substances of so-called “naive realism.” Because of the continuing fear of this specter, too much credibility is often given to opposing positions even when they don’t come with enough justification supplied.

If you speak of difference and becoming, and denounce identity, essence, and substance, you’re still going to look like part of the contrarian avant garde, and your unnamed opponents are going to sound like cigar-smoking establishment fogeys. What I aim to do, on a rhetorical level, is to reverse this perception. For in fact, the intellectual establishment is now made up of millions of people who denounce essence and substance and praise difference and becoming. The shoe is now on the other foot. There have been too many dozens of Derridas by now.


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