Life, War, Earth

Life, War, Earth: Deleuze and the Sciences

John Protevi
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Life, War, Earth
    Book Description:

    A deep exploration of the many possibilities inherent in linking Gilles Deleuze's philosophy to contemporary science, John Protevi's Life, War, Earth demonstrates how Deleuze's ontology of the virtual, intensive, and actual can enhance our understanding of important issues in cognitive science, biology, and geography. Protevi illustrates how a Deleuzian approach can illuminate a wide range of concerns and subjects, including ancient and contemporary warfare, human individuation processes, the "granularity problem," panpsychism, the E. coli bacterium, the assassination attempt on U.S. representative Gabrielle Giffords, and the affective dimensions of the Occupy movement. Frequently ambitious but always rooted in the empirical, Life, War, Earth shows how the social and the somatic are not opposed to each other but are interwoven on three time scales-the evolutionary, the developmental, and the behavioral-and on three political scales-the geopolitical, the bio-neuro-political, and the technopolitical. Deeply attuned to the internalities of the thought of Deleuze, the book offers a unique reading of his corpus and a useful method for applying Deleuzian techniques to the natural sciences, the social sciences, political phenomena, and contemporary events.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8449-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. INTRODUCTION I: Deleuze and the Sciences
    (pp. 1-16)

    The subtitle of this book is “Deleuze and the Sciences,” so I will say how I see that relation in this section of the introduction. First, we can note that the very idea that there is a positive relation runs contrary to a widely held belief identifying the mainstream of twentieth-century French thought with a suspicion of science coupled with a commitment to the “end of metaphysics” or “end of philosophy.”¹ However, Deleuze in fact sees himself as providing a metaphysics of contemporary science. In a very clear self-description, Deleuze (as cited in Villani 1999, 130) says, “I feel myself...

  6. INTRODUCTION II: Varela and Bodies Politic
    (pp. 17-38)

    Francisco Varela’s work is a monumental achievement in twentieth-century biological and biophilosophical thought.¹ After his early collaboration in neocybernetics with Humberto Maturana (autopoiesis), Varela made fundamental contributions to immunology (network theory), Artificial Life (cellular automata), cognitive science (enaction), philosophy of mind (neurophenomenology), brain studies (the brainweb), and East–West dialogue (the Mind and Life conferences). In the course of his career, Varela influenced many important collaborators and interlocutors, formed a generation of excellent students, and touched the lives of many with the intensity of his mind, the sharpness of his wit, and the strength of his spirit. In this introduction,...

  7. Part I. Geophilosophy:: Earth and War
    • 1 Geo-hydro-solar-bio-techno-politics
      (pp. 41-58)

      I hope the barbarous nature of my title will be forgiven once it is realized that earth, wind, water, and sun are not just the elements of mythology but are also dimensions of internally differentiated multiplicities whose individuations interlock them with weapons, tactics, and social, political, and physiological processes to produce differenciated “bodies politic.” That is to say, using the language of Political Affect, in this chapter, I enter into the nonhuman elements implicit in the construction of bodies politic as imbrications of the social and the somatic. In still other words, the “social” is just as much an interlocking...

    • 2 The Act of Killing in Contemporary Warfare
      (pp. 59-69)

      This chapter continues the investigation, in the context of warfare, of the relation of the social and the somatic in the production of bodies politic. That is, I look to the spiraling diachronic mutual presupposition that produces the transgenerational fit of subjectification practices and affective cognitive makeup. Here I focus on the interplay between the subsubjective neurophysiological and the adjunct-subjective technical more than in chapter 1, in which I looked more to the interplay of the suprasubjective geopolitical and the adjunct-subjective technical. Chapter 3, the conclusion to part I, achieves more of a balance of going “above, below, and alongside...

    • 3 Music and Ancient Warfare
      (pp. 70-96)

      This is the final chapter of part I, our final look at the supra-, adjunct-, and subsubjective in the production of combat-ready military groups and individuals. As with chapter 1, the focus will be on ancient warfare, as opposed to the contemporary practices we examined in chapter 2. Conversely, as in chapter 2, I will target the subsubjective neurophysiological register more so than I did in chapter 1, which looked mostly at the interlocking of the suprasubjective geopolitical register of water administration and food importation with the adjunct-subjective technical register of the phalanx and the trireme. I will also highlight...

  8. Part II. Cognitive Science:: Brain and Body
    • 4 Dynamic Interactionism
      (pp. 99-110)

      Here we begin part II of the book, bringing Deleuze to bear on the cognitive and affective sciences. These sciences have benefited in the last twenty years from a rethinking of the long-dominant computer model of the mind espoused by the standard approaches of computationalism and connectionism. The development of this alternative, often named the embodied mind approach or the 4EA approach (embodied, embedded, enactive, extended, affective), has relied on a trio of classical twentieth-century phenomenologists for its philosophical framework: Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty.¹ In this chapter and those that follow, I show how the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari...

    • 5 The Political Economy of Consciousness
      (pp. 111-125)

      The phrase “the political economy of consciousness” has a dual sense. It means both that the consciousness of individual actors plays a variable role in the “economy” of politics, that is, the analysis of factors that make up political activities, and that the production of the largescale patterns of individual consciousness can often be analyzed in terms of subjectification practices that are tied to political economy. I will discuss the latter sense in the next chapter as the granularity problem. Here I look to political situations in which the effects of consciousness are attenuated or rendered superfluous in the economy...

    • 6 The Granularity Problem
      (pp. 126-136)

      This chapter follows up on the second sense of the concept of the “political economy of consciousness” posed at the beginning of chapter 5. Whereas in that chapter, I considered cases in which the consciousness of individual actors played little or no role in political actions, here I ask about the relation of the production of the large-scale patterns of consciousness (the development and triggering of affective cognitive traits) by subjectification practices that are themselves analyzable in terms of political economy. The question here is the “granularity problem”: what is the level of specification of analysis 4EA cognitive science should...

    • 7 Adding Deleuze to the Mix
      (pp. 137-152)

      This is the final chapter of part II. Whereas the other chapters were quite informal, owing to their origins as talks or blog posts, this is a more formal work for a specialist 4EA cognitive science journal, Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences. I will suggest ways in which adding Deleuze’s philosophy to the mix can complement and extend the 4EA use of these core resources. But why add Deleuze to the mix? Is it worth the trouble? There is no gainsaying the complexity of Deleuze’s thought or the strangeness of his terminology, but I hope to show that the benefits...

  9. Part III. Biology:: Life and Mind
    • 8 Larval Subjects, Enaction, and E. coli Chemotaxis
      (pp. 155-178)

      We now begin part III, in which I rehearse the relation of Deleuze and some of the currents in contemporary biology, among them the developmental systems theory of Susan Oyama and colleagues, the enactive approach of Francisco Varela and colleagues, and the ecodevo-evo approach of Mary Jane West-Eberhard (chapter 10). Chapters 8 and 9 are linked approaches to the relation of Deleuze’s work and the mind in life position of Evan Thompson (2007).

      On first reading, the beginning of chapter 2 of Difference and Repetition, with its talk of “contemplative souls” and “larval subjects,” seems something of a bizarre biological...

    • 9 Mind in Life, Mind in Process
      (pp. 179-196)

      This chapter examines the idea of “biological space and time” found in Evan Thompson’s (2007) Mind in Life and in Deleuze’s (1994) Difference and Repetition. Tracking down this “new Transcendental Aesthetic” intersects new work done on panpsychism. Both Deleuze and Thompson can be fairly said to be biological panpsychists. That is what “mind in life” means: mind and life are coextensive; life is a sufficient condition for mind.¹ Deleuze is not just a biological panpsychist, however, so we will have to confront full-fledged panpsychism. At the end of the chapter, we’ll be able to pose the question whether we can...

    • 10 The Virtual Status of “Unexpressed Genetic Variation”
      (pp. 197-212)

      This concluding chapter is the newest and most ambitious effort of the book.¹ I will argue that Deleuze’s ontological framework can illuminate two key concepts—“unexpressed genetic variation” and “genetic accommodation”—in Mary Jane West-Eberhard’s (2003) Developmental Plasticity and Evolution.² I will first show how the strong antigenetic reductionist stance of some strands of contemporary biology reveals an interlocking system of genetic and epigenetic factors guiding development. In this new perspective, the genome is no longer a blueprint determining development with epigenetic factors being merely occasions for regulatory genes to kick into action and orchestrate development. Rather, the genome is...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 213-228)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 229-246)
  12. Publication History
    (pp. 247-248)
  13. Index
    (pp. 249-256)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 257-258)