"Bergsonism represents an important moment in Deleuze's development." - Review of Metaphysics. Gilles Deleuze. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara. What is needed for something new to appear? According to Gilles Deleuze, one of the most brilliant contemporary philosophers, this question. Reyes Abstract: This paper aims to explicate Gilles Deleuze's philosophy of Bergsonism. Specifically, I expound on Deleuze's reconstruction of Bergson's.
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Table of contents
Bergson's Creation of the Possible Pete A. It is therefore surprising that this essay has suffered from relative neglect. In The New Aspects of Space and Time, Milic Capek writes, "Space does not permit us to discuss here the precise meaning of the Bergsonian views on possibility which, in appearance were seemingly contradictory" Unfortunately, Capek never responded to this challenge. The proceedings of the Bergson Conference of the centennial of Bergson's birth contain at most only brief allusions to the possible.
The new Bergsonism
But Deleuze if brilliantly reconstructs Bergson's ideas to suit his own views In the concluding section, I will point out some of the difficulties in Bergson's position as stated in "The Possible and the Real" and then show how, based on his earlier writings, Bergson believed that these problems could be overcome. Against Prior Possibility Bergson's argument against preexistent possibilities is linked by him to two other dubious notions: that of substantive "nothing" and that of absolute disorder.
All three ideas possibility, nothingness, disorder have the same behavioral source and lead to the same unexamined assumption. Any human project begins, he points out, from a felt lack. On the face of it these claims look, frankly, ridiculous. In what sense can duration sensibly be seen as an indestructible ontological ground? How indeed can we do without representations of the past? Surely our memories cannot in any meaningful way be a re-established link with the past itself — surely they must be representations?
Bergson, however, insists that the nervous system is in no sense an apparatus which may serve to fabricate, or even to prepare, representations. Its function is to receive stimulation, to provide motor apparatus, and to present the largest possible number of these apparatuses to a given stimulus.
The more it develops, the more numerous and the more distant are the points of space which it brings into relation with ever more complex motor mechanisms. In truth, though, all of them retain models of physical structure which are rather static. What kind of physical structure is not inert, stable, dependent on equilibrium, at some level? Could an answer to this latter question give us some clues about the question of duration itself?
The answer lies in somehow taking seriously the claim — made by Bergson — that we misunderstand the nature of duration when we spatialize it — when we think of it as a fourth dimension of extension.
We seem unable to conceive of it in any other way.
The analogue clock is itself a spatialization of time, and even when using digital timepieces we think of time as number, quantity, and therefore as extension. Pure duration is, however, the dimension of differentiation of quality — of Becoming.
How can we think of the structures of the body and the mind in terms of a duration which is pure Becoming? Fritjof Capra, in his recent work The Web of Life, attempts to develop an analysis of life, cognition and consciousness which is rooted in a theory of structure that is truly dynamic. Capra also rejects this dualism. Indeed one could argue that such a model of consciousness is itself a product of the delusion of spatialized duration.
Dissipative structures are material structures or patterns which appear in thermodynamically speaking far from equilibrium environments. It is well known that much of this paradigm was developed in the analysis of turbulence. If a liquid is placed in a closed container and shaken, then it will dynamically rearrange itself for a short while but eventually stabilize in the bottom of the container and cease moving — it will reach equilibrium.
This turbulence can appear to be random and chaotic; it can then suddenly and again unpredictably develop into an ordered structure — a whirlpool. Such a structure is not a structure in the same sense that a clock or a building, or a piece of furniture is a structure. When we construct a building we do not expect it to exchange every atom in its structure for other atoms within seconds of its construction.
We do not expect to have to feed it with energy constantly in order to stop it from disintegrating. But this is the case with a whirlpool. It is a far from equilibrium dissipative-structure. Indeed the atmospheric chemist James Lovelock and microbiologist Lynn Margulis have argued that the whole planet should be regarded as a far from equilibrium environment.
Biological structures, though, are a special category of dissipative-structures, according to Capra and the Chilean biologists Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana, from whom Capra derives a number of key themes. Autopoietic systems can learn and adapt to their environment. When structural coupling between an autopoietic structure and its environment takes place, then an entirely new extended, autopoietic entity comes into being.
By virtue of language and culture, the human organism extends itself into the autopoietic network of the social group. Higher human consciousness, a special category of cognitive dissipative-structures, appears in this context of the extended, social, autopoietic network.
We can begin to see, then, how Capra helps us to see the body and the mind as structures which have duration built into them as an ontological ground — not as representation, but as progressive differentiation of the dissipative-structure itself. Aspects of this qualitative differentiation are accessible to our bodies because they are built into the very structure of our bodies.
The soul is the effect and instrument of a political anatomy; the soul is the prison of the body. Even those who have objected to its implications have often been at a loss when it came to saying why.
The reason for this is that it is, of course, true — in the sense that the subject is a product of disciplinary regimes. But it is also false in that it does not give any sense of the paradoxical quality of discipline itself. It closes off creative possibilities, locks the body into repetitive cycles of habit, compulsion and morality.
Jean Baudrillard pointed to the dangers of such a course more than two decades ago. Nor is real freedom and creativity to be found in psychotic breakdown. He argues that deep in the ordered regime the islands of activity would be too small and isolated for complex behaviour to propagate across the system.
Deep in the chaotic regime, on the other hand, the system would be too sensitive to small perturbations to maintain its organization. This, then, is not all simply speculation; the maths works. But what about consciousness on the edge of chaos?
What I am going to argue here is that discipline is a form of structural coupling. It links the intra-organismic dissipative-structures of the individual organism with other dissipative systems and inert structures to create even more complex inter-organismic and organic—inorganic structures. As we have seen, all such encounters leave their mark in the structure of the organism — the organism is duration.
So while discipline is a basis for remote control of the organism it also — paradoxically — extends its structural complexity; its repertoire of dissipative, structural modulation is further extended with every structuralcoupling. The more structural-couplings the organism has, the more it can do with the raw materials of the chaotic, dissipative environment it inhabits.
All organisms learn. The untrained encounter with chaos is rarely productive or liberating. In truth they have a certain uncanny unpleasantness about them, but they will never amount to a great deal in the history of human creativity. The same is not true of Deleuze himself. He was a great philosopher precisely because of what his training and his discipline allowed him to create. Discipline has created this creature within the environment of the human body and nervous system.
Language, culture and discipline take the human body well beyond what evolution on its own provided for. If by behaviourism we mean an attempt to explain human behaviour while pretending that consciousness, meaning, processes of interpretation and so on do not exist, then of course this is not behaviourism.
It is precisely a monist, materialist explanation of the nature, emergence and properties of human consciousness. The virtual, then, is the source of the new, the hybrid, creativity.
It is the source of our sense of aliveness, our vital spark. Freedom has real material roots in the dissipative-structures within the human body. But our need for discipline always leaves us open to the possibility of remote control. We must understand the nature of social and psychological systems as dissipative-structures.
In this context social control should be seen in terms of structural-coupling, and autonomy and creativity in terms of autopoiesis. As we have seen, the two are inextricably linked in the forging of subjectivity, as structural-coupling lays down the vast array of dissipative-structures which provide the conditions of possibility for ever more complex, autopoietic processes. This allows us to reassert the art of the cultivation of subjectivity as the route to freedom, autonomy and creativity none of us would be academics working with, and cultivating, ideas if we did not believe this somewhere in our hearts.
But we must also take note of the other side of this equation. Brian Massumi has already commented very astutely on the capacity of the hyperreal to manipulate individuals and groups affectively at a level well below consciousness.
In addition, the progress of neuroscience and neuro-pharmacological technologies means that the dissipative-structures of consciousness and the rest of the body will also be the direct site of the next wave of social-control technologies.
Such control offensives as Ritalin, Prozac and the minor tranquillizers are only the beginning. Nanotechnologies are already being envisaged, in which the autopoietic capacities of the human body and nervous systems will be the object of direct and calculated assault.
Our existence as dissipative-structures is a real not a socially constructed fact. It is what makes us potentially free and creative creatures; it is also what leaves us open to potentially mindless control.That is, God only differs from us in degree, and properties such as goodness , power , reason , and so forth are univocally applied, regardless of whether one is talking about God, a person, or a flea. He uses the philosophy of the virtual as the underlying theme of his philosophy of difference, non-philosophy, micropolitics etc.
This book will ensure that his role in the creation of a new kind of literature is made convincingly and satisfyingly explicit. However, the important property of intensity is not that it is indivisible, but that it is a property that cannot be divided without involving a change in kind.
1. Against Prior Possibility
Aside from these two books, Bergsonism is also influential in Difference and Repetition where he articulates the concepts of difference, memory, and repetition, as well as in the twin literatures, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image and Cinema 2: The Time-Image, where the terms such as duration, memory, and movement are discussed. But our recollection still remains virtual; we simply prepare ourselves to receive it by adopting the appropriate attitude. And this body is already awash with virtual complexity of its own from the quantum level up, through the machinery of the cell, to the complex electrical, chemical, hydraulic, pneumatic and kinetic functioning of the body and its organs.