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Jean-Daniel Boyer “Adam Smith problem ou problème des sciences sociales?”

October 31, 2014 Leave a comment

Boyer, Jean-Daniel 2009. Adam Smith problem ou problème des sciences sociales ? Détour par l’anthropologie d’Adam Smith. Revue Française de Socio-Économie 1(3) : 37-53.

L’anthropologie smithienne est fondée sur un présupposé majeur : l’égalité naturelle entre les hommes. Ceci explique que l’humanité est, selon l’auteur, composée de frères et d’égaux (brethren). (38)

L’inégalité de fait entre les hommes n’est donc pour Smith que le produit des structures sociales et de la socialisation des individus. D’après lui, tous les hommes, égaux par nature, sont mus par des déterminations similaires et universelles, établies originellement par une Divinité créatrice et bienveillante qui apparaît comme le grand Législateur de l’Univers [Dermange, 2003]. (39)

L’homme est tout d’abord, selon Smith, mû par des passions que l’auteur recense essentiellement dans la Théorie des sentiments moraux et dont il dresse une typologie. Il existerait cinq genres de passions : « les passions ayant le corps pour origine », « les passions qui ont pour origine une disposition particulière ou une habitude de l’imagination », « les passions asociales », « les passions sociales » et « les passions égoïstes ». (39)

L’homme est tout d’abord déterminé par des passions physiques qui garantissent à la fois sa conservation et sa reproduction. Une recension de ce type de passions figure dans la Théorie des sentiments moraux et dans les Lectures on Jurisprudence et fait apparaître « la faim, la soif et la passion sexuelle comme les composantes essentielles de l’espèce humaine » [Smith, 1766, p. 527, LJB 300]. (39)

À côté de ces passions corporelles rapprochant l’homme de l’animal, se tient un deuxième type de déterminations constitué des « passions de l’amour de soi » [Brown, 1994, p. 94] comprenant ce que Smith nomme les « passions égoïstes » ainsi que les « passions nées d’une disposition particulière ou d’une habitude de l’imagination ». L’individu est en effet déterminé par sa tendance à se soucier davantage de son propre sort et de sa propre situation que de ceux de ses semblables. (39)

Au final, les passions égoïstes et les passions ayant pour origine une disposition particulière ou une habitude de l’imagination se confondent en passions de l’amour de soi qui pourraient également s’apparenter à des passions égocentriques. Car, « là où Rousseau et la tradition analysée par Hirschman repèrent deux principes actifs : les intérêts – amour de soi – et les passions – amour-propre –, Smith a le génie de voir qu’un seul principe est à l’œuvre » [Dupuy, 1992, p. 103]. L’individu smithien est donc naturellement égocentrique. C’est à ce type de passions égoïstes que nous ferons référence quand nous parlerons d’intérêt. (40)

L’esprit humain est structuré à partir de trois principes spécifiques. La première faculté de l’esprit est la capacité humaine d’associer des idées que Smith dénomme l’imagination. Elle se présente comme cette capacité humaine à relier abstraitement une infinité de choses ou de phénomènes. (41)

Mais l’imagination se trouverait également contrariée quand la raison, tel un tribunal, lui refuserait d’établir un lien entre deux phénomènes compte tenu de l’incohérence de celui-ci. En effet, il existe à côté de l’imagination une autre faculté de l’esprit : la raison qui apparaît comme la capacité humaine réflexive et critique, régie par un impératif de cohérence [Biziou, 2003]. Refusant les liens incohérents, elle est la capacité qui canalise et balise les itinéraires de l’imagination, établissant un ordre convenable et logique entre les choses. (41)

Une fois les liens imaginaires jugés suffisamment cohérents ou vraisemblables par la raison, ils seraient conservés. Apparaît ainsi implicitement une troisième faculté de l’esprit humain : la mémoire, sorte de fonds ou de stock de connaissances potentiellement valides. La mémoire ressemble à un répertoire de liens imaginaires établis et approuvés dans le passé, par la raison ou la pratique, à laquelle l’imagination peut avoir recours, dans le présent ou l’avenir, pour établir des liens entre les phénomènes ou anticiper la survenue d’événements nouveaux. (41-42)

Des facultés de l’esprit et plus particulièrement de l’imagination dérivent, dans l’analyse de Smith, une tendance proprement humaine que l’auteur dénomme, à l’instar de David Hume [Hume, 1739], la sympathie. Elle est un lien spécifique effectué par l’imagination et se présente comme la capacité d’établir des liens abstraits entre des âmes physiquement isolées. (42)

Elle apparaît véritablement comme une modalité de l’imagination. En effet, alors que l’imagination comble les vides (gap) existant entre les phénomènes, la sympathie comble les distances séparant les hommes. (42)

Si ni la sympathie, ni les passions, ne parviennent à expliquer la possible existence des sociétés qui ne peuvent se conserver sans justice [Smith, 1759, p. 140-141, TMS, II, ii, 3, 1],il faut donc qu’il existe un principe singulier supplémentaire. C’est ici que se joue l’originalité de l’analyse smithienne. De telles facultés résident, en effet selon l’auteur, dans le cœur de l’homme et sont personnifiées par la figure du « spectateur impartial » qui apparaît comme la conscience morale individuelle. Ce spectateur impartial serait le lien unissant chaque individu à la Divinité, à ses volontés et à ses caractères. (43)

Ce spectateur impartial, instance du jugement moral, serait la faculté permettant de canaliser les passions de l’amour de soi et d’affirmer les passions sociales ainsi que les impératifs de justice. C’est pourquoi « l’homme idéal au-dedans du cœur est, pour Smith, la voix de Dieu à cause de la force avec laquelle il “fait taire” les passions de l’amour de soi » [Campbell, 1975, p. 81]. L’homme porterait donc, en lui, l’empreinte du sens de la justice divine. (43 – normes a priori)

[…] la sympathie, considérée comme la capacité de l’individu à partager les affections et l’expression des passions d’autrui en situation, serait ainsi le critère du jugement pratique, de la convenance ou de l’inconvenance de l’action [Haakonssen, 1981]. Néanmoins, la convenance d’une action ne permet pas d’assurer sa moralité. Dans une société de malfrats, la sympathie reviendrait, en effet, à tout malfaiteur. (44-45)

La sympathie et le jugement de convenance d’une action sont donc déformés par le statut social et par les richesses, « causes de la plus grande et de la plus universelle corruption de nos sentiments moraux » [Smith, 1759, p. 103-104, TMS, I, iii, 3, 1]. Pour conclure, nous percevons que la morale pratique est tributaire de la situation et des imperfections de la sympathie. Elle n’offre, finalement, les clés que d’une morale en situation ou d’une « petite morale ». La sympathie, seule, ne parvient à faire émerger que des règles de convenance en situation, desquelles aucune proposition universelle ne peut advenir. (45)

Alors que la morale pratique a pour objet la convenance, la morale abstraite vise à juger du mérite d’une action. Si la première recourt au jugement d’un spectateur réel, la seconde procède davantage de l’abstraction et fait appel au spectateur impartial. Ainsi, dans le jugement moral abstrait, un juge fictif et extérieur à la situation apparaît. (45)

Ce type de jugement a en effet des motifs supérieurs : la justice et le bien commun. Mais rien n’assure qu’un jugement tentant d’évaluer le mérite d’une action y parvienne véritablement. Certes, les injonctions du spectateur impartial, perçues comme des lois divines se présentent comme le centre de gravité des jugements moraux individuels. Mais, à côté d’elles, existent également des forces centrifuges, celles des passions de l’amour de soi et des intérêts privés que Smith désigne quelquefois par le qualificatif de « spectateur partial ». Deux forces s’affronteraient au moment de juger du mérite ou du mérite d’une action, ce qui explique pourquoi l’homme n’est pas mécaniquement vertueux. L’individu serait ainsi libre de choisir de se rapprocher soit des injonctions du spectateur impartial, représentant de la Divinité juste et bienveillante en étouffant ses passions égoïstes, soit du monde animal régi par les passions isolantes de l’amour de soi et des intérêts particuliers [Smith, 1759, p. 234, TMS, III, v, 7]. (46)

La conversation, par l’exercice dialogique pratique qu’elle impose et le fréquent recours à la sympathie qu’elle nécessite, révèle la conscience morale de l’individu. Elle constitue également le moment d’un entraînement développant les capacités individuelles d’abstraction et de distanciation nécessaires pour accéder aux lois divines. Par l’interaction avec ses homologues, l’homme parviendrait alors à éveiller sa propre conscience morale. (46)

Le respect de la morale pratique permettant l’échange conversationnel serait donc une condition d’accès aux injonctions du spectateur impartial gage d’un juste jugement nécessaire à l’affirmation du bien commun. C’est ainsi que nous pouvons comprendre la dynamique de l’histoire conjecturale des sociétés humaines que nous propose Smith et que Ronald Meek appela « The Four Stages Theory » [Meek, 1977, p. 22]. À la suite de l’intensification des échanges conversationnels et marchands, les sociétés se pacifieraient et s’enrichiraient progressivement. Le développement des échanges conversationnels serait ainsi le gage de la révélation progressive du spectateur impartial engendrant un procès de civilisation marqué par l’harmonisation graduelle du monde. Il serait également le gage de l’enrichissement des nations. (47)

De même que l’utilité est insuffisante pour rendre compte de la recherche des richesses, de même l’intérêt n’est pas, pour Smith, le seul motif à l’œuvre dans la sphère économique. L’échange marchand par exemple n’exclut pas que des passions sociales telles que la bienveillance entrent en jeu. (49)

« L’homme a presque continuellement besoin du secours de ses semblables, et c’est en vain qu’il l’attendrait de leur seule bienveillance. Il sera bien plus sûr de réussir, s’il s’adresse à leur intérêt personnel et s’il les persuade que leur propre avantage leur commande de faire ce qu’il souhaite d’eux. […] Ce n’est pas de la bienveillance du boucher, du marchand de bière et du boulanger, que nous attendons notre dîner, mais bien du soin qu’ils apportent à leurs intérêts. Nous ne nous adressons pas à leur humanité, mais à leur égoïsme ; et ce n’est jamais de nos besoins que nous leur parlons, c’est toujours de leur avantage. » [Smith, 1776, t. I, p. 82, WN, I, ii, 2]. (49)

L’échange apparaît finalement comme le moment de la vénération d’autrui et comme celui de la reconnaissance de ses désirs et de ses passions égoïstes. Sans elle, l’échange marchand n’aurait pas lieu et deux formes antagoniques existeraient seulement : le vol niant les propriétés d’autrui (et donc sa personne) et l’aumône motivée uniquement par la pitié et par la supposition qu’autrui est incapable de subvenir seul à ses besoins. (50)

L’échange marchand peut donc être perçu comme le moment de l’utilisation de ses capacités sympathiques et de la canalisation des intérêts individuels et des passions égoïstes par la prise en compte de la situation d’autrui. (50)

Comme dans la sphère morale, la canalisation des intérêts partiaux ne s’opère ni mécaniquement, ni naturellement. Elle ne se réalise que dans l’échange grâce à la libre confrontation des jugements permettant à la fois d’éveiller le spectateur impartial et de modérer les intérêts égoïstes des échangistes. C’est pour cela que Smith est amené à valoriser la liberté de commerce, gage de l’affirmation progressive de la justice dans la sphère économique. Son objectif central est de critiquer le système partial des marchands, qui, du fait de leurs monopoles ou de leurs pouvoirs de marché, accaparent les richesses produites. C’est pour faire face à cet injuste système générant l’enrichissement du plus petit nombre et l’appauvrissement général, que Smith souhaite déterminer « par quels moyens et par quelles gradations rétablir le système de la justice et de la parfaite liberté » [Smith, 1776, t. II, p. 219, WN, IV, vii, 3, 44]. Seul ce système de la liberté naturelle peut, selon lui, permettre de faire en sorte que les potentialités morales de l’individu s’actualisent et que les règles de justice s’affirment partiellement et graduellement. La libre concurrence se présente en effet comme le seul moyen de garantir la libre confrontation des jugements sur la valeur des marchandises sans que celle-ci ne soit biaisée par les inégaux pouvoirs de marché des échangistes. Grâce à elle, grâce au débat sur les prix, et grâce à la confrontation des jugements sur la valeur qui permettent de faire advenir le spectateur impartial, les prix de marché se rapprocheraient alors, selon Smith, des prix justes, permettant de répartir à peu près équitablement les richesses produites à hauteur des contributions productives de chaque facteur. (51)

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Todd May “Humanism and Solidarity”

December 29, 2013 Leave a comment

May, Todd 2013. Humanism and Solidarity. Parresia 18: 11-21.

Ultimately, I will claim that a-humanism has its limits, and that much of what we would like to promote under the banner of politics will require an inescapably humanist approach. (13)

While our specific intellectual skills may differ from one another, we are all equally capable of using those skills to communicate, to discuss, to make decisions, to take account of the world around us, and to act on the basis of all this. The presupposition of the equality of intelligence is the starting point for all politics. (15)

Equality, in challenging hierarchies, does not seek to offer another, better social partitioning than the one that is the object of challenge. To engage in politics is not to commend one police order as better than another. It is to challenge the concept of partitioning itself. The presupposition of equality does not work by offering a stabilizing set of equal roles for everyone to play; it works by undermining the hierarchies inherent in the very idea of a stabilizing set of roles. (16)

Moreover, a collective subject requires more than simply that ability. It requires co-ordinated actions with others on the basis of the expression of that ability. In order to be a member of a collective subject in political action in Rancière’s sense, I must be able to presuppose the equality of another and act alongside that other out of that presupposition. This does not require that I reflectively recognize myself as having that ability or as expressing it in my contribution to collective action. Recall that for Rancière the presupposition of equality in a political action is often “discerned,” not consciously claimed. Nevertheless, beings capable of political action through solidarity must be able to act in a mutual fashion out of that presupposition in order to form the collective subject that solidarity requires. (17)

Political solidarity is the coming together of disparate elements in a horizontal way, an assemblage in the term Deleuze uses and Bennett borrows, that gives rise to an emergent state of the system—a collective political movement. (17)

However, if we turn away from the structural similarities between solidarity and a-humanism, we see an aspect of solidarity that seems to push it into the humanist camp, namely the requirement that participants in a solidarity movement be able to presuppose the equality of others and act in a co-ordinated fashion out of that presupposition. (17)

On the one hand, if we embrace the distributive paradigm for politics, we can accord certain elements or aspects of the environment or certain non-human animals a type of justice. The cost of this is that of losing the perspective and insights that contemporary a-humanism lends us, to violate the horizontal structural approach it commends, and to engage in all of the problems that have been cited for distributive approaches to justice. On the other hand, if we embrace an approach roughly of the type Rancière recommends, we gain on a variety of political fronts but cannot realize at the level of political solidarity the horizontality contemporary a-humanism seeks. Political solidarity must yield, at some point, to a more distributive approach. While Williams may be mistaken in claiming that the only moral question in relation to other animals is how to treat them, he would not be mistaken in thinking it an important one. (19-20)

Nancy Luxon “Ethics and Subjectivity”

December 15, 2013 Leave a comment

Luxon, Nancy 2008. Ethics and Subjectivity: Practices of Self-Governance in the Late Lectures of Michel Foucault. Political Theory 36(3), 377-402.

Solitary individuals are not to be taken as starting points; the relations that bind them to one another are. In such a context, individuals are quite literally what they do; they achieve constancy and ethical excellence not by attaining an ideal, but by cultivating a “disposition to steadiness” in an uneasy context lacking in absolute values. (380)

Rather than a “knowing subject,” produced in reference to a defined body of knowledge and some external order, the “expressive subject” draws on the structural dynamics of parrhesiastic relationships to give ethopoetic content to her actions. Rather than being urged “dare to know,” individuals are encouraged to “dare to act.” (380)

In its crudest formulation, Foucault’s intellectual trajectory is away from a philosophic investigation of the humanist subject and towards the conditions of political possibility. (382)

While Kant’s relationships to priests, doctors, and books are consistently glossed as ones of dependency, Foucault finds in parrhesia a resource for rethinking the interpretive education offered by the “messy middle” of those personal relationships as-yet unstructured by their endpoint and not predefined by their beginnings. Such relationships potentially offer a context in which the past can be problematized, the future left unforeclosed, and the present always ready-at-hand; they also provide a structure for the reconsideration of ethical obligations and responsibility; and they accomplish both of these tasks without recourse to the private terms of taste. (384)

His goal is to offer not an ethics of absolute values, but a set of expressive practices independent of any appeal to the absolute values offered by nature, religion, tradition, sexual identity, or the human. Foucault’s turn towards expressivity in his late lectures is in many ways a return to his initial concern for those structures that sustain significance, meaning, and expression. (385)

The appeal of parrhesia lies in its consistent focus on the present and the immediate (alternately, le présent, le réel, and l’actualité). Less a problem of epistemological uncertainty, the shakiness addressed by parrhesia is an inability to orient and steady oneself through one’s relations to oneself, to others, and to truth-telling. (387)

Different from confessional technologies, parrhesiastic techniques teach student two capacities: they teach an individual to set his standard of value and then begin the patient labor of moving between this standard and the world-at-hand. Relations to himself and to others provide both a context of immediacy and one for the recognition and sustenance of these values through a community, but without the creation of a universal ethical code to be internalized as conscience. (389)

Motivated by curiosity and resolve rather than desire, parrhesiastic accounts of oneself narrate an interaction not an experience, compose a public site of judgment not a character, and leave postponed the finality of their endings. (390)

Renunciation and desire simply return individuals to the unsteady longing to be other than what they are. Paradoxically, the daily adjustments of parrhesia result in a greater steadiness both in thought and action. Requiring individuals to be otherwise is to unsettle them without educating them to the techniques by which they might regain their balance. As a political program, then, its effects will be fleeting, as individuals are unable to situate themselves in these new ideals or to feel invested in the relations—to themselves, to others, to truth—that sustain it. (397)

This distinction draws attention to a fundamental difference between the activity of ethical self-governance and political governance. Where ethical self-governance is governed by norms of harmony, equilibrium, and steadiness, the norms constituting political governance are different. The daily rough-and-tumble of politics rests on norms of dissent and contestation; in choosing their leaders, debating political programs, and distributing resources, citizens argue and inveigh. Politics relies on the contestation of those collective practices that might facilitate the internalization of cultural norms and values, and unfolds through the contest of claims. Where the art of self-governance takes as its goal a steadiness of disposition and a harmony of words and deeds, modern political governance relies on an artful interruption of cultural attitudes and actions. While parrhesia contributes an ethical steadiness to those who participate in such debates, its personal relationships cannot be scaled so as to characterize politics. Differently from what is often inferred in accounts of a Foucaultian politics of resistance, transgression is not the only possible mode of action, and critique does not automatically entail resistance. Indeed the irreducibility of ethical relationships to a single subjectivity and the insistence on modes of responsiveness would seem to extend to parrhesiastic politics. (398)

Michel Foucault “The Courage of Truth”

January 28, 2013 Leave a comment

Foucault, Michel 2011. The Courage of the Truth (The Government of Self and Others II) – Lectures at the Collège de France 1983-1984. Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

 

1st february, first hour

The plea to use „care of the self“ instead of „know thyself“ – because the latter is only one variant of the former (4).

Necessity of the other for the practice of truth-telling about myself (5)

However, even if the role of this other person who is indispensable for telling the truth about oneself is uncertain or, if you like, polyvalent, even if it appears with a number of different aspects and profiles—medical, political, and pedagogical—which mean that it is not always easy to grasp exactly what his role is, even so, whatever his role, status, function, and profile may be, this other has, or rather should have a particular kind of qualification in order to be the real and effective partner of truth- telling about self. And this qualification, unlike the confessor’s or spiritual director’s in Christian culture, is not given by an institution and does not refer to the possession and exercise of spe-cific spiritual powers. Nor is it, as in modern culture, an institutional qualification guaranteeing a psychological, psychiatric, or psychoanalytic knowledge. The qualification required by this uncertain, rather vague, and variable character is a practice, a certain way of speaking which is called, precisely, parrhe–sia (freespokenness). (6)

[…] the notion of parrhesia was first of all and fundamentally a political notion. And this analysis of  parrhesia as a political notion, as a political concept, clearly took me away somewhat from my immediate project: the ancient history of practices of telling the truth about oneself. (8)

With the notion of parrhe–sia, originally rooted in political practice and the problematization of democracy, then later diverging towards the sphere of personal ethics and the formation of the moral subject, with this notion with political roots and its divergence into morality, we have, to put things very schematically […] the possibility of posing the question of the subject and truth from the point of view of the practice of what could be called the government of oneself and others. (8)

And to the extent that this involves the analysis of relations between modes of veridiction, techniques of governmentality, and forms of prac-tice of self, you can see that to depict this kind of research as an attempt to reduce knowledge (savoir) to power, to make it the mask of power in structures, where there is no place for a subject, is purely and simply a caricature. (8-9)

It seems to me that by carrying out this triple theoretical shift—from the theme of acquired knowledge to that of veridiction, from the theme of domina-tion to that of governmentality, and from the theme of the individual to that of the practices of self—we can study the relations between truth, power, and subject without ever reducing each of them to the others. (9)

But the word parrhesia is also employed in a positive sense, and then parrhesia  consists in telling the truth without concealment, reserve, empty manner of speech, or rhetorical ornament which might encode or hide it. “Telling all” is then: telling the truth without hiding any part of it, without hiding it behind anything. (10)

The parrhesiast gives his opinion, he says what he thinks, he personally signs, as it were, the truth he states, he binds himself to this truth, and he is consequently bound to it and by it. (11)

For there to be parrhesia, in speaking the truth one must open up, establish, and confront the risk of offending the other person, of irritating him, of making him angry and provoking him to conduct which may even be extremely violent. So it is the truth subject to risk of violence. (11)

[…] it involves some form of courage, the minimal form of which consists in the parrhesiast taking the risk of breaking and ending the relationship to the other person which was precisely what made his discourse possible. In a way, the parrhesiast always risks undermining that relationship which is the condition of possibility of his discourse. (11)

The connection between the person speaking and what he says is broken in rhetoric, but the effect of rhetoric is to establish a constraining bond between what is said and the person or persons to whom it is said. (13)

Let’s say, very schematically, that the rhetorician is, or at any rate may well be an effective liar who constrains others. The parrhesiast, on the contrary, is the courageous teller of a truth by which he puts himself and his relationship with the other at risk. (14)

The parrhesiast is not a professional. And  parrhe–sia is after all something other than a technique or a skill, although it has techni-cal aspects. Parrhe–sia is not a skill; it is something which is harder to define. It is a stance, a way of being which is akin to a virtue, a mode of action. (14)

[…] what fundamentally characterizes the prophet’s truth- telling, his veridiction, is that the prophet’s posture is one of mediation. The prophet, by definition, does not speak in his own name. He speaks for another voice; his mouth serves as intermediary for a voice which speaks from elsewhere. (15)

The figure and characteristics of the parrhesiast stand in contrast with this role, this characterization of the sage, who basically remains silent, only speaks when he really wants to, and [only] in riddles. The parrhesiast is not someone who is fundamentally reserved. On the contrary, it is his duty, obligation, responsibility, and task to speak, and he has no right to shirk this task. (18)

The parrhesiast does not reveal what is to his interlocutor; he discloses or helps him to recognize what he is. (19)

 

1st february, second hour

[…] the person who teaches establishes, or at any rate hopes or sometimes wants to establish a bond of shared knowledge, of heritage, of tradition, and possibly also of personal recognition or friendship, between himself and the person or persons who listen to him. Anyway, this truth- telling establishes a filiation in the domain of knowledge. Now we have seen that the parrhesiast, to the contrary, takes a risk. He risks the relationship he has with the person to whom he speaks. (24)

Whereas, in the case of the technician’s truth- telling, teaching ensures the survival of knowledge, the person who practices parrhe-sia risks death. (25)

[…] inasmuch as he takes the risk of provoking war with others, rather than solidifying the traditional bond, like the teacher, by [speaking] in his own name and per-fectly clearly, [unlike the] prophet who speaks in the name of someone else, [inasmuch as] finally [he tells] the truth of what is in the singular form of individuals and situations, and not the truth of being and the nature of things, the parrhesiast brings into play the true discourse of what the Greeks called ethos. (25)

Prophecy, wisdom, teaching, and parrhe-sia are, I think, four modes of veridiction which, [first], involve different personages, second, call for different modes of speech, and third, relate to different domains (fate, being, tekhne, ethos). (25)

However, as distinct as these roles may be, and even if at certain times, and in certain societies or civilizations, you see these four functions taken on, as it were, by very clearly distinct insti-tutions or characters, it is important to note that fundamentally these are not social characters or roles. I insist on this; I would like to stress it: they are essentially modes of veridiction. (26)

In modern society, rev-olutionary discourse, like all prophetic discourse, speaks in the name of someone else, speaks in order to tell of a future which, up to a point, already has the form of fate. The ontological modality of truth- telling, which speaks of the being of things, would no doubt be found in a certain modality of philosophical discourse. The technical modality of truth- telling is organized much more around science than teaching, or at any rate around a complex formed by scientific and research institu-tions and teaching institutions. And the parrhesiastic modality has, I believe, precisely disappeared as such, and we no longer find it except where it is grafted on or underpinned by one of these three modali-ties. Revolutionary discourse plays the role of parrhesiastic discourse when it takes the form of a critique of existing society. Philosophical discourse as analysis, as reflection on human finitude and criticism of everything which may exceed the limits of human finitude, whether in the realm of knowledge or the realm of morality, plays the role of parrhe-sia to some extent. And when scientific discourse is deployed as criticism of prejudices, of existing forms of knowledge, of dominant institutions, of current ways of doing things—and it cannot avoid doingthis, in its very development—it plays this parrhesiastic role. (30)

 

15 february, first hour

If skillfulness in speech causes forgetfulness of self, then simplicity in speech, speech without affectation or embellishment, straightforwardly true speech, the speech of  parrhesia therefore, will lead us to the truth of ourselves. (75)

And, after Solon’s speech denouncing what is taking place and criticizing his fellow citizens, the Council replies that in fact Solon is going mad (mainesthai). To which Solon retorts: “You will soon know if I am mad … when the truth comes to light.” (77)

It is precisely this practice of parrhe-sia that Socrates does not want to adopt, this role he does not want to play. He does not venture to give advice to the city publicly by appearing before the people. Socrates will not be Solon. (77)

Socrates has not renounced politics out of fear of death and in order to avoid it. […] So the reason Socrates did not want to tell the truth in the form of political veridiction was not the fear of death, it was not Socrates’ personal relation to his own death. […] He would have been unable to establish with others and himself a particu-lar kind of invaluable, useful, and beneficial relationship. (80-81)

The voice which addresses this injunction to Socrates, or rather turns him away from the possibility of speaking in the form of politics, signals the establishment of another truth- telling, converse to political truth- telling, which is that of philosophy: You will not be Solon, you must be Socrates. (81)

With this form of truth- telling or veridiction we are dealing with a certain form of parrhe-sia, if by parrhe-sia we understand the courage of the truth, the courage of truth- telling. We are dealing with a parrhe-sia which, in its foundation and in the way it unfolds, is clearly very different from political parrhe-sia. (85)

The aim of this mission is, of course, to watch over the others continuously, to care for them as if he were their father or brother. But to what end? To encourage them to take care, not of their wealth, reputation, honors, and offices, but of themselves, that is to say, of their reason, of truth, and of their soul (phrone-sis, ale-theia, psukhe). T hey must at tend to them-selves. This definition is crucial. Oneself in the relation of self to self, oneself in this relation of watching over oneself, is [first] defined by phrone-sis,39 that is to say, practical reason, as it were, reason in practice, the reason which enables good decisions to be taken and false opinions to be driven out. Second, oneself is also defined by ale-theia inasmuch as this is what will in fact be the index of phrone-sis, what it is pegged to, what it looks for, and what it obtains; but ale-theia is also Being insofar as we are related to it, precisely in the form of the  psukhe- (t h e  s o u l) . (86)

And in this we now have a parrhe-sia on the axis of ethics. What is at stake in this new form of parrhe-sia is the foundation of e-thos as the principle on the basis of which conduct can be defined as rational conduct in accordance with the very being of the soul. Ze-te-sis, exetasis, epimeleia. Ze-te-sis is the first moment of Socratic verid-iction—the search.  Exetasis is examination of the soul, comparison of the soul, and test of souls. Epimeleia is taking care of oneself. (86)

In short, if you like, Socrates establishes a search, an investigation with regard to the god’s enigmatic words, whose aim is not to await or avoid its realization. He shifts their effects by embedding them in an investigation of truth. Second, he establishes the difference from the speech, the veridiction, the truth- telling of the sage by radically distin-guishing his object. He does not speak of the same thing and his search is not pursued in the same domain. Finally, he establishes a difference in relation to the discourse of teaching by, if you like, reversal. Where

the teacher says: I know, listen to me, Socrates will say: I know nothing, and if I care for you, this is not so as to pass on to you the knowledge you lack, it is so that through understanding that you know nothing you will learn to take care of yourselves. (89)

So you see that in this text from the Apology Socrates basically does two things which I will summarize in the following way: first, he radically distinguishes his own truth- telling from the three other major [modalities of] truth- telling he meets with around him (prophecy, wisdom, teaching); second, as I was explaining, he shows how cour-age is necessary in this form of veridiction, of truth- telling. But this courage is not to be employed on the political stage where this mission cannot in fact be accomplished. This courage of the truth must be exercised in the form of a non-political parrhe-sia, a parrhe-sia which will take place through the test of the soul. It will be an ethical parrhe-sia. (89-90)

 

15 february, second hour

I think that Socrates’ death founds philosophy, in the reality of Greek thought and therefore in Western history, as a form of veridiction which is not that of prophecy, or wisdom, or tekhne; a form of veridiction peculiar precisely to philosophical discourse, and the courage of which must be exercised untl death as a test of the soul which cannot take place on the political platform. (113-114)

 

22 february, second hour

Free-spokenness hangs on the style of life. It is not courage in battle that authenticates the possibility of talking about courage. (148)

[…] what will Socratic parrhesia speak about? It will not speak of competence; it will not speak of tekhne. It will speak of something else: of the mode of existence, the mode of life. The mode of life appears as the essential, fundamental correlative of the practice of truth-telling. Telling the truth in the realm of the care of men is to question their mode of life, to put this mode of life to the test and define what there is in it that may be ratified and recognized as good and what on the other hand must be rejected and condemned. In this you can see the organization of the fundamental series linking care, parrhesia (free-spokenness), and the ethical division between good and evil in the realm of bios (existence). […] Its privileged, essential object [is] life and the mode of life. (149)

 

7 march, second hour

Given that our mental framework, our way of thinking leads us, not without problems, to think of how a statement can be true or false, how a statement can have a truth value, then what meaning can we give to this expression “true life”? (218)

Moreover, this notion of truth, with its four mean-ings, is applied to logos itself, not to logos understood as proposition, as statement, but logos as way of speaking. Logos ale-the-s is not just a set of propositions which turn out to be exact and can take the value of truth. Logos alethes is a way of speaking in which, first, nothing is concealed; in which, second, neither the false, nor opinion, nor appearance is mixed with the true; [third], it is a straight discourse, in line with the rules and the law; and finally, ale-the-s logos is a discourse which remains the same, does not change, or become debased, or distorted, and which can never be vanquished, overturned, or refuted. (220)

This life of the democratic man, sometimes idle and at others busy, sometimes given over to pleasure and at others to politics, and when given over to politics saying anything and everything that comes into his head, this life without unity, this mixed life dedicated to multiplicity is a life without truth. It is unable, Plato says, to give way to logos ale-the-s (true discourse). (223)

Plural, variagated souls traversed by desire, license, and laxity; souls without truth. (224)

[…] the Cynics do not, as it were, change the metal itself of this coin. But they want to modify its effigy and, on the basis of these same principles of the true life—which must be unconcealed, unalloyed, straight,  stable, incorruptible, and happy—, by going to the extreme consequence, without a break, simply by pushing these themes to their extreme consequence, they reveal a life which is precisely the very opposite of what was traditionally recognized as the true life. Taking up the coin again, changing its effigy, and, as it were, making the theme of the true life grimace. Cynicism as the grimace of the true life. (228)

 

14 march, first hour

The simplest case, political bravery, involved oppos-ing the courage of truth-telling to an opinion, an error. In the case of Socratic irony, it involves introducing a certain form of truth into a knowledge that men do not know they know, a form of truth which will lead them to take care of themselves. With Cynicism, we have a third form of courage of the truth, which is distinct from both political bravery and Socratic irony. Cynic courage of the truth consists in getting people to condemn, reject, despise, and insult the very manifestation of what they accept, or claim to accept at the level of principles. It involves facing up to their anger when presenting them with the image of what they accept and value in thought, and at the same time reject and despise in their life. This is the Cynic scandal. After politi-cal bravery and Socratic irony we have, if you like, Cynic scandal. (233-234)

In the case of Cynic scandal—and this is what seems to me to be important and worth holding on to, isolating—one risks one’s life, not just by telling the truth, and in order to tell it, but by the very way in which one lives. (234)

It is as if philosophy was able to disburden itself of the problem of the true life to the same extent as religion, reli-gious institutions, asceticism, and spirituality took over this problem in an increasingly evident manner from the end of Antiquity down to the modern world. We can take it also that the institutionalization of truth- telling practices in the form of a science (a normed, regulated, established science embodied in institutions) has no doubt been the other major reason for the disappearance of the theme of the true life as a philosophical question, as a problem of the conditions of access to the truth. If scientific practice, scientific institutions, and integration within the scientific consensus are by themselves sufficient to assure access to the truth, then it is clear that the problem of the true life as the necessary basis for the practice of truth- telling disappears. So, there has been confiscation of the problem of the true life in the reli-gious institution, and invalidation of the problem of the true life in the scientific institution. You understand why the question of the true life has continually become worn out, faded, eliminated, and threadbare in Western thought. (235)

The question of the philosophical life has constantly appeared like a shadow of philosophical practice, and increas-ingly pointless. This neglect of the philosophical life has meant that it is now possible for the relation to truth to be validated and manifested in no other form than that of scientific knowledge. (236-237)

There can only be true care of self if the principles one formulates as true principles are at the same time guar-anteed and authenticated by the way one lives. (239)

In a commentator of Aristotle,23 but many other authors refer to it, we find the following interpretation of this  bios kunikos, which seems to have been canonical. First, the kunikos life is a dog’s life in that it is without modesty, shame, and human respect. It is a life which does in public, in front of everyone, what only dogs and animals dare to do, and which men usually hide. The Cynic’s life is a dog’s life in that it is shameless. Second, the Cynic life is a dog’s life because, like the latter, it is indifferent. It is indifferent to whatever may occur, is not attached to anything, is content with what it has, and has no needs other than those it can satisfy immediately. Third, the life of the Cynic is the life of a dog, it received the epithet kunikos because it is, so to speak, a life which barks, a diacritical (diakritikos) life, that is to say, a life which can fight, which barks at enemies, which knows how to distinguish the good from the bad, the true from the false, and masters from enemies. In that sense it is a diakritikos life: a life of discernment which knows how to prove, test, and distinguish. Finally, fourth, the Cynic life is phulaktikos. It is a guard dog’s life, a life which knows how to dedicate itself to saving others and protecting the master’s life. Shameless life, adiaphoros (indifferent) life,  diakritikos life (diacritical, distinguishing, discriminating, and, as it were, barking life), and  phulaktikos (guard’s life, guard dog’s life). (243)

We do not encounter Platonism and the metaphysics of the other world (l’autre monde) on this line. We encounter Cynicism and the theme of an other life (vie autre). These two lines of development—one leading to the other world, and the other to an other life, both starting from the care of self—are clearly divergent, since one give rises to Platonic and Neo- Platonic speculation and Western metaphysics, while the other gives rise to nothing more, in a sense, than Cynic crudeness. But it will revive, as a question which is both central and marginal in relation to philosophical practice, the question of the philosophical and true life as an other life. May not, must not the philosophical life, the true life necessarily be a life which is radically other? (246-247)

In the Gnostic movements, in Christianity, there was the attempt to think an other life (vie autre), the life of severance and ascesis, without common measure with [usual] existence, as the condition for access to the other world (l’autre monde). And it is this relation between an other life and the other world—so profoundly marked within Christian asceticism by the principle that it is an  other life  which leads to the other world—which is radically challenged in Protestant ethics, and by Luther, when access to the other world will be defined by a form of life absolutely conformable to existence in this world here. The formula of Protestantism is, to lead the same life in order to arrive at the other world. It was at that point that Christianity became modern. (247)

 

14 march, second hour

The life of the Cynic is unconcealed in the sense that it is really, materially, physically public. (253)

There is no privacy, secret, or non- publicity in the Cynic life. We constantly come across this theme afterwards: the Cynic lives in the street, in front of the temples. […] Peregrinus decided to burn himself, but in public, during the Games, so that there was the greatest possible number of spectators at his death. Absolute visibility of the Cynic life. (254)

The Cynic public life will therefore be a life of blatant and entirely visible naturalness, asserting the principle that nature can never be an evil. […] The philosophical life thus dramatized by the Cynics deploys the general theme of non-concealment but frees it from all the conventional prin-ciples. As a result, the philosophical life appears as radically other than all other forms of life. (255)

So poverty leads to the acceptance of slavery. It leads to something which was even more serious than slavery for a Greek or Roman (for after all, slavery could always be one of life’s misfortunes): begging. Begging is poverty pushed to the point of dependence on others, on their good will, on the chance encounter. For the Ancients, holding out one’s hand was the gesture of ignominious poverty, of dependence in its most unbear-able form. Begging was Cynic poverty pushed to the point of voluntary scandal. (260)

For the Cynics, the systematic practice of dishonor is on the contrary a positive conduct with meaning and value. (260)

On the basis of this theme of the independent life, and through its dramatiza-tion in the form of poverty, slavery, begging, adoxia, dishonor, there is a reversal of the classical philosophical theme and the emergence of the true life as other, scandalously other. (262)

There are still a great many things that could be said about this naturalness in the Cynics.* This principle of a straight life which must be indexed to nature, and solely to nature, ends up giving a positive value to animality. And, here again, this is something odd and scandalous in ancient thought. In general terms, and summarizing considerably, we may say that in ancient thought animality played the role of absolute point of differentiation for the human being. It is

by distinguishing itself from animality that the human being asserted and manifested its humanity. Animality was always, more or less, a point of repulsion for the constitution of man as a rational and human being. (264)

In the Cynics, in accordance with the rigorous and systematic appli-cation of the principle of the straight life indexed to nature, animality will play a completely different role. It will be charged with positive value, it will be a model of behavior, a material model in accordance with the idea that the human being must not have as a need what the animal can do without. (265)

 

28 march, first hour

There are several ways of telling the truth in the Cynic life. The first route, the first way: the relationship to the truth is an immediate relationship of conformity to the truth in conduct, in the body. (309)

But the Cynic life has other responsibilities, other tasks in relation to the truth. The Cynic life must also include precise self- knowledge. The Cynic life is not just the picture of the truth; it is also the work of the truth of self on self. (310)

Measure of self, therefore, but also vigilance over self, appraisal of one’s own abilities and constant watch over the flow of one’s representations, this is what the Cynic must be. But this relationship to the truth of oneself, of what one can do and of the flow of one’s representations, must be coupled also with another relationship, which is that of the supervision of others. (311)

First, in Christian asceticism there is of course a relation to the other world (l’autre monde), and not to the world which is other. […] To that extent, I think we can say that one of the master strokes of Christianity, its philosophical significance, consists in it having linked together the theme of an other life (une vie autre) as true life and the idea of access to the other world (l’autre monde) as access to the truth. [On the one hand], a true life, which is an other life in this world, [on the other] access to the other world as access to the truth and to that which, consequently, founds the truth of that true life which one leads in this world here: it seems to me that this structure is the combination, the meeting point, the junction between an originally Cynic asceticism and an originally Platonic metaphysics. This is very schematic, but it seems to me that there is in this one of the first major differences between Christian and Cynic asceticism. Through histori-cal processes which would obviously need to be examined more closely, Christian asceticism managed to join Platonic metaphysics to that vision, that historical- critical experience of the world. (319)

The second major difference is of a completely different order. This concerns the importance that Christianity, and only Christianity gives to something which is not found in either Cynicism or Platonism. This is the principle of obedience, in the broad sense of the term. Obedience to God conceived of as the master (the despote-s) whose slave, whose servant one is; obedience to His will which has, at the same time, the form of the law; obedience finally to those who represent the despote-s (the lord and master) and who receive an authority from Him to which one must submit completely. So it seems to me that the other point of inflection in this long history of asceticism recounted in counterpoint, facing this relation to the other world (l’autre monde), is the principle of an obedience to the other, in this world, starting from this world, and in order to have access to the true life. There is true life only through obedience to the other, and there is true life only for access to the other world. (320)

The difference between Christian asceticism and other forms of asceticism which may have prepared the way for and preceded it should be situated in this double relation: the relation to the other world to which one will have access thanks to this asceti-cism, and the principle of obedience to the other (obedience to the other in this world, obedience to the other which is at the same time obedience to God and to those who represent him). Thus we see the emergence of a new style of relation to self, a new type of power rela-tions, and a different regime of truth. (320-321)

 

28 march, second hour

Positive parrhesia in Christianity: First, in its positive value, parrhe-sia appears as a sort of hinge virtue, which characterizes both the attitude of the Christian, of the good Christian, towards men, and his way of being with regard to God. With regard to men, parrhe-sia will be the courage to assert the truth one knows and to which one wishes to bear witness regardless of every danger. (331)

But this parrhe-sia, a relationship to others, is also a virtue with regard to God. Parrhe-sia is not just the courage one demonstrates in the face of persecution in order to convince others, [but also a] courage [which] is confidence in God, and this confidence cannot be separated from one’s courageous stance towards others. (332)

Negative Parrhesia in Christianity: That parrhe-sia that had become a relationship of confidence and open-ness of heart that could bind man to God will disappear, or rather, it will reappear as a confidence which is seen as a fault, a danger, a vice. Parrhe-sia as confidence is foreign to the principle of the fear of God. It is contrary to the necessary feeling of a distance with regard to the world and things of the world. Parrhe-sia appears incompatible with the severe gaze that one must now focus on oneself. The person who can bring about his salvation—that is to say, who fears God, who feels him-self to be a stranger in the world, who keeps a watch on himself, and must constantly keep a watch on himself—cannot have that parrhe-sia, that jubilant confidence by which he was bound to God, borne up to grasp Him in a direct face- to- face encounter. So parrhe-sia now appears as a blameworthy behavior of presumption, familiarity, and arrogant self- confidence. (334)

The second characteristic of this  parrhe-sia, which has now become a fault and a vice, is that not only does one not fear God, but one does not take care of oneself. “We drive the fear of God far from ourselves … by not thinking of death or punishment, by not taking care of ourselves, by not examining our conduct.” You see that parrhe-sia is now negligence with regard to self, whereas previously it was care of self. One does not care about self; one lacks the proper mistrust of self. Third, “living anyhow and associating with anyone.” This time, it is confidence in the world. Familiarity with the world, the habit of liv-ing with others, accepting what they do and say, are all hostile bonds, contrary to the necessary strangeness one should have with regard to the world. This is what characterizes parrhe-sia: non- fear of God, non- mistrust of self, and non- mistrust of the world. It is arrogant confidence. (335-336)

Consequently: elimination of parrhe-sia as arrogance and self- confidence; necessity of respect, whose first form and essential manifestation must be obedience. Where there is obedience there cannot be parrhe-sia. We find again what I was just saying to you, namely that the problem of obedience is at the heart of this rever-sal of the values of parrhe-sia. (336)

Parrhesia generally: The positive conception makes parrhe-sia a confidence in God, a confidence as the element which enables an apos-tle or a martyr to speak the truth with which he has been entrusted. Parrhe-sia is also the confidence one has in God’s love and in how one will be received by Him on the Day of Judgment. Around this concep-tion of parrhe-sia crystallized what could be called the parrhesiastic pole of Christianity, in which the relation to the truth is established in the form of a face- to- face relationship with God and in a human confidence which corresponds to the effusion of divine love. It seems to me that this parrhesiastic pole was a source of what could be called the great mystical tradition of Christianity. (337)

And then you have another, anti- parrhesiastic pole in Christianity, which founds, not the mystical, but the ascetic tradition. Here the rela-tion to the truth can be established only in a relationship of fearful and reverential obedience to God, and in the form of a suspicious decipherment of self, through temptations and trials. This ascetic, anti- parrhesiastic pole without confidence, this pole of mistrust of oneself and fear of God, is no less important than the parrhesiastic pole. I would even say that historically and institutionally it has been much more important, since it was ultimately around this pole that all the pastoral institutions of Christianity developed. (337)

Parrhe-sia, or rather the parrhesiastic game, appears in two aspects:

–  the courage to tell the truth to the person one wants to help and direct in the ethical formation of himself

–  the courage to manifest the truth about oneself, to show oneself as one is, in the face of all opposition. (339)

Susan Petrilli “Semioethics, Subjectivity, and Communication”

December 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Petrilli, Susan 2004. Semioethics, Subjectivity, and Communication: For the Humanism of Otherness. Semiotica 148(1/4): 69-92.

As global semiotics, general semiotics today must carry out a detotalizing function. In other words general semiotics must present itself as a critique of all (claims to the status of) totalities, including world and global communication – a task which should have top priority among critics. If the critical and detotalizing dimension is lacking, general semiotics will prove to be no more than a mere juxtaposition to the special semiotics, a syncretic result of the latter, a transversal language of the encyclopaedia of the unified sciences […]

We could make the claim that in today’s dominant communication-production system difference understood in terms of otherness or alterity is substituted ever more by difference understood in terms of alternatives.

[…]according to the global approach communication is no longer considered in the oversimplifying terms described above but rather is equated with life itself. Communication and life coincide, as Sebeok’s biosemiotics in particular has made clear […]

As Emmanuel Lévinas above all has shown, otherness obliges the totality to reorganize itself always anew in a process related to what he calls ‘infinity’, and which may  also be related to the concept of ‘infinite semiosis’ (to use an expression from Charles S. Peirce). This relation to infinity is not limited to a cognitive dimension: beyond the established order, beyond the symbolic order, beyond convention and habit, it implies a relation of involvement and responsibility with what is most refractory to the totality, that is, the otherness of others, of the other person, not in the sense of another self, another alter ego, an I belonging to the same community, but rather in the sense of the other in its extraneousness, strangeness, diversity, difference  toward which indifference is impossible, in spite of all the efforts made by the identity of the I and guaranties offered by the latter.

there is no element whatever of man’s consciousness which has not something corresponding to it in the word … . It is that the word or sign which man uses is the man himself. For, as the fact that every thought is a sign, taken in conjunction with the fact that life is a train of thought, proves that man is a sign; so, that every thought is an external sign, proves that man is an external sign. That is to say, the man and the external sign are identical, in the same sense in which the words homo and man are identical. Thus my language is the sum  total of myself; for the man is the thought. (CP 5.314)

The utterances of the self convey significance beyond words. And yet, the ineffability and uniqueness of the self do not imply the sacrifice of communicability, for what the self  is in itself (in its firtsness) can always be communicated to a degree, even if only to  communicate the impossibility of communicating.

[…] identity  is  not  unitary and compact, but rather it presents an excess, something more with respect to closed and fixed identity. Self does not coincide with the I but is one of its representations, one of its openings, a means, an instrument, or modality, but never an end in itself.

Semioethics may be considered as working toward a new form of humanism, which is inseparable from the question of otherness. This also emerges from its commitment at the level of pragmatics and focus on the relation between signs, values and behavior as well as from the intention of transcending separatism among the sciences insisting on the interrelation between the human sciences, the historico-social sciences and the natural, logico-mathematical sciences.

Human rights as they have so far been claimed tend to be centered on identity, leaving aside the rights of the other. Said differently, the expression ‘human rights’ is oriented in the direction of the humanism of identity and tends to refer to one’s own rights, the rights of identity, of self, forgetting the rights of the other. On the contrary, in the perspective of our concern for life over the planet, human and nonhuman, for  the health of semiosis generally, for the development of communication not only in strictly cultural terms but also in broader biosemiosical terms, this tendency  must quickly be counteracted by the humanism of otherness, where the rights of the other are the first to be recognized. Our allusion here is not just to the rights of the other beyond self, but also to the self’s very own other, to the other of self.

This also leads us to interpret the sign behavior of humanity in the light of the hypothesis that if the human involves signs, signs in turn are human. At the same time, however, we must clarify that such a humanistic commitment does not mean to reassert humanity’s (monological) identity yet again, nor to propose yet another form of anthropocentrism. On the contrary, what is implied is radical decentralization, nothing less than a Copernican revolution.

Semioethics  does  not  have  a  program  with intended aims and practices to propose, nor a decalogue or formula to apply more or less sincerely, or more or less hypocritically. From this point of view, semioethics contrasts with stereotypes as much as with norms and ideology.

Semioethics is not fixed upon a given value or preestablished end, an ultimate end or summum bonum, but rather is concerned with semiosis in its dialogical and detotalized globality: indeed semioethics pushes beyond the totality, outside the closure of totality, with a gaze that transcends the totality, a given being, a defined  entity, in the direction of unending semiosis – a movement toward the infinite, desire of the other. A special task for semioethics is to unmask the illusoriness of the claim to the status of indifferent differences and to evidence the biosemiosic condition of dialogic involvement among signs, intercorporeity.

Levi Bryant “The Ethics of the Event”

November 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Bryant, Levi R. 2011. The Ethics of the Event: Deleuze and Ethics without Arché. – Jun, N.; Smith, D. W. (eds). Deleuze and Ethics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press: 21-43

„Our“ action is a network composed of human and nonhuman actors, rather than two ontologically heterogeneous domains composed of human action on one side, and objects functioning as mere means and possessing only behaviors on the other. For this reason, I include nonhuman entities among the list of actors in collectives and situations. Ethical theory has suffered tremendously as a result of treating ethics exclusively as the domain of human divorced from all relations to the nonhuman. (28)

It is here that the work of ethics begins. And here the question of the work of ethics concerns not the application of a pre-existing rule to an existing situation, but rather how a collective is to be assembled or composed in light of the appearance of these strange new actors, these strangers, or how a new collective is to be formed. In this regard, rather than thinking ethics on the model of judgment, it would be more accurate to think the ethical as a sort of construction or building. (29)

[…] where traditional ethics places emphasis on the autonomy and ontological priority of the agent or subject making choices, emphasizing the duties, responsibility, and obligations of this agent, Deleuze treats both subjects and objects as the result of a development or genetic process of actualization, not as something given at the outset of a process. (31)

Where morality is concerned with judgment or assigning praise and blame, responsibility and obligation, ethics is concerned with affective relations among bodies in a composite or collective, and those assemblages that fit together in such a way so as to enhance the power of acting among the elements of the collective and those that are unable to fit together. (33)

[…] the event is simultaneously general and particular, personal and collective. (34)

Yet it is crucial here to recall that the event is not to be confused with spatio-temporal actualization in states of affairs or bodies. When Deleuze speaks of a universality and eternity specific to the event, he is referring to its curious capacity to exceed and overflow all limits of the situation in which it takes place. (35)

[…] the event itself becomes an actor within the collective, living beyond its spatio-temporal actualization in a a state of affairs and taking on a life of its own. Not only is the event something that takes place, but it is as if being registers and records the event, such that the event becomes an actor in subsequent states of the collective. (35)

To be worthy if the event, to affirm the event, to be equal to the event, is to engage in the work of tracing the true problems. This consists in tracing the differential relations, intensities, and singularities that haunt a collective in a moment of perplexity proper to a situation and assisting in the birth of new solutions. The evaluation of true and false problems will be the ethical work that, in Deleuze, replaces the logic of judgment in our decision-making process. […] Rather than judging acts, the question will be one of exploring the generative field in which acts are produced. (40-41)