I often find myself thinking with Alfred North Whitehead. I recall that today is his birthday, Feburary 15 (1861-1947). I don’t remember many birthdays of philosophers, but that is one of them. It’s Galileo’s birthday too, so maybe that has something to do with this date sticking in my memory.
I recently finalized revisions for “A Place for Ecological Democracy in Whitehead’s Philosophy of Religious Entanglements,” which is a chapter for an anthology, Greening Philosophy of Religion: Rethinking Climate Change at the Intersection of Philosophy and Religion (edited by Jea Sophia Oh and John Quiring). In a couple of months I’ll be presenting on Whitehead’s ontological principle for the American Philosophical Association. I keep thinking with Whitehead, but I wouldn’t consider myself Whiteheadian. I continue drawing on his philosophy for a variety of reasons, one of which is that I am often inspired by other contemporary writers who engage with Whitehead in new ways that are relevant to contemporary problems. It is the community of those who think with Whitehead who really make Whitehead interesting to me. In other words, the secondary sources are often more interesting than Whitehead’s primary texts. So maybe I’m a secondary Whiteheadian, if that’s a thing. Not just any secondary Whiteheadian. A Deleuzian Whiteheadian. Continue reading
Our survival on this planet is not only threatened by environmental damage but by a degeneration in the fabric of social solidarity and in the modes of psychical life, which must literally be reinvented. The refoundation of politics will have to pass through the aesthetic and analytical dimensions implied in the three ecologies—the environment, the socius and the psyche. We cannot conceive of solutions to the poisoning of the atmosphere and to global warming due to the greenhouse effect, or to the problem of population control, without a mutation of mentality, without promoting a new art of living in society. We cannot conceive of international discipline in this domain without solving the problem of hunger and hyperinflation in the Third World. We cannot conceive of a collective recomposition of the socius, correlative to a resingularisation of subjectivity, without a new way of conceiving political and economic democracies that respect cultural differences—without multiple molecular revolutions. We cannot hope for an amelioration in the living conditions of the human species without a considerable effort to improve the feminine condition. The entire division of labor, its modes of valorization and finalities need to be rethought. Production for the sake of production—the obsession with the rate of growth, whether in the capitalist market or in planned economies—leads to monstrous absurdities. The only acceptable finality of human activity is the production of a subjectivity that is auto-enriching its relation to the world in a continuous fashion. (Félix Guattari, Chaosmosis, p. 20-21)
“Normality” in the light of délire, technical logic in the light of Freudian primary processes—a pas de deux towards chaos in the attempt to delineate a subjectivity far from dominant equilibria, to capture its virtual lines of singularity, emergence and renewal—eternal Dionysian return or paradoxical Copernican inversion to be prolonged by an animist revival? At the very least an originary fantasm of a modernity constantly under scrutiny and without hope of postmodern remission. It’s always the same aporia: madness enclosed in its strangeness, reified in alterity beyond return, nevertheless inhabits our ordinary, bland apprehension of the world. But we must go further: chaotic vertigo, which finds one of its privileged expressions in madness, is constitutive of the foundational intentionality of the subject-object relation. Psychosis starkly reveals an essential source of being-in-the-world.
Félix Guattari, Chaosmosis: An Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm, trans. Paul Bains and Julian Pefanis (Indiana, 1995), p. 77.