Deleuze & Meinong: The Prejudice in Favor of the Actual

In 1999, after the Social Text farce, Alan Sokal, along with fellow physicist Jean Bricmont[1], skewered the contemporary French philosophic community by impugning their use of mathematics and science in their theoretical work. In particular, Sokal and Bricmont attack Gilles Deleuze for his repeated discussion of infinitesimals throughout Difference and Repetition[2]. Sokal and Bricmont write,

“After the birth of this branch of mathematics in the seventh-century through the work of Newton and Leibniz, cogent objections were raised against the use of ‘infinitesimal’ quantities such as dx and dy. These problems were solved by the work of d’Alembert around 1760 and Cauchy around 1820, who introduced the rigorous notion of limit—a concept that has been taught in all calculus textbooks since the middle of the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, Deleuze launches into a long and confused meditation on these problems…What is the point of all these mystifications about mathematical objects that have been well understood for over 150 years.”[3]

The question to arise from this is how Deleuze is to be defended (if one thinks that he must)? One possible approach is to claim that although the mathematical problem of infinitesimals, and thus the status of the infinitesimals in mathematical discourse, has been solved, the philosophical problem and the ontological status of infinitesimals remains. After all, infinitesimals are the invention of Gottfried Leibniz, a philosopher, and the problem of the infinitesimals was not so much solved as it was ignored (as infinitesimals are indistinguishable from zero they can be treated as zero and dropped). This is the approach that Lyotard advanced in his television debate with Sokal after the publication of Fashionable Nonsense, that the philosophers in question were playing language games with mathematical lingo.

But is this correct defense? At least in the case of Deleuze and infinitesimals, the answer is a resounding “No.” To assert that philosophy’s use of mathematics is simply metaphorical, or a language game, is to already give up too much ground to the enemy. The mathematical and philosophical status of infinitesimals is not opposed in the work of Deleuze; they ultimately cannot be distinguished. Mathematics plays an essential role in Deleuze’s thought, and to reduce this role to metaphor is to do great damage to his philosophical edifice.

Why then does Deleuze take up the “solved” problem of infinitesimals? The answer has to do with Deleuze’s understanding of the nature of problems. For Deleuze, problems are not solvable in the way that Sokal and Bricmont understand.[4] Following Kant, Deleuze asserts that Ideas are Problems, and that the problem must be understood as “the indispensable condition without which no solution would ever exist.”[5] Whereas for Sokal and Bricmont (and for a peculiar line of thinkers in Western thought), the solution causes the problem to disappear into the solution, like a conditional statement whose antecedent has been met and thus is collapsed into the consequent, thus transforming the consequent into a detachable conclusion.[6] On the other hand, in Deleuze, the problem is understood as the transcendental condition of the solution, whose actualization will result is a particular outcome, a solution, which does not, for all of that, eliminate the problem as idea. The outcome of this shift from the solution to the problem has a major impact in the way in which philosophy and mathematics come to be related to thought. According to Deleuze, “The relation between mathematics and man may thus be conceived in a new way: the question is not that of quantifying or measuring human properties, but rather, on the one hand, that of problematizing human events, and on the other hand, that of developing as various human events the condition of a problem.”[7] As a result infinitesimals are re-established in the place as problem, and thus work remains to be done.

The shift from the solution to the problem has another impact beyond that of infinitesimals, which is Deleuze’s entrance into intellectual fights that are thought of, like that of infinitesimals, as long settled affairs. An important, and related, example being Deleuze’s use of Alexius Meinong in Logic of Sense. It is reported that Gilbert Ryle, famed analytic philosopher, once said that “If meinongianism isn’t dead, nothing is.”[8] But Meinong, although often treated as the loser in fights involving Bertrand Russell[9] and W.V.O. Quine,[10] plays an essential role in Logic of Sense, especially with the use of his concepts of Sein (being) and Sosein (subsistence), the importance of which will be explained in a coming section. Ultimately, the problem of infinitesimals and the problem of being, as displayed in the work of Meinong, are interrelated and it is the purpose of this paper to bring these seemingly disparate areas together.

Section 1: Smooth Infinitesimal Analysis

Infinitesimals make their first appearance in the atomistic philosophy of ancient Greece, are discredited by the likes of Aristotle and Zeno, and are used by Archimedes in his geometry.[11] Lucretius used the concept of infinitesimals as well in his description of the swerve of the clinamen in his excellent On the Nature of Things.[12] But it is not until the creation of differential calculus by Leibniz that the infinitesimal gets its proper mathematical home. But from the very beginning it was not accepted as properly rigorous, and the process of getting past the infinitesimal, to solve the problem of the infinitely small, began.

The most consistent reaction against the infinitesimal was its violation of the law of the excluded middle (given x, x must be true or false). D’Alembert, who Sokal and Bricmont cited as the first to overcome the problem, stated that “A quantity is something or nothing: if it is something, it has not yet vanished; if it is nothing, it has literally vanished. The supposition that there is an intermediate state between these two is a chimera.”[13] Bishop Berkley, who famously referred to infinitesimals as the “ghosts of departed quantities,”[14] makes a similar argument when he asserts the impossibility of the mind conceiving of something infinitely small.[15] And so with an obvious logical quandary brewing with infinitesimals, the concept of limit is introduced, as Sokal & Bricmont said it has been taught in calculus textbook ever since.

Then why does Deleuze attempt to reassert these logically dubious entities? The first part of the answer is that Deleuze is not alone in returning to the infinitesimal, and so the authors of Fashionable Nonsense are simply wrong to assert that the problem of infinitesimals is dead, and that no controversy exists within mathematics. There are, in fact, at least two approaches to the calculus that do not do away with infinitesimals. The first, is the creation of non-standard analysis by Abraham Robinson, of which we will not return to, and second, the invention of Smooth Infinitesimal Analysis (SIA) in the 1970’s by F. W. Lavere. It is the assertions of this work that bare a striking resemblance to Deleuze’s own work with infinitesimals and thus will be referred to ground his mathematical speculation, although it would be false to say that Deleuze is using SIA in any way himself.

The most important detail, if we are to return to infinitesimals, is that whatever approach that is adopted must break with the logical condition of the excluded middle. In fact, it is C.S. Peirce who is the first to see this necessity in relation to infinitesimal calculus. Peirce asserted that “Now if we are to accept the common idea of continuity…we must either say that a continuous line contains no points or…that the principle of excluded middle does not hold of these points. The principle of excluded middle applies only to an individual…but places being mere possibilities without actual existence are not individuals.”[16] There are two important outcomes of this insight by Peirce. The first is what we have already discussed in relation to infinitesimal analysis, but the second is that logic should not be confused with Logos, as an over-arching principle of existence, but instead that it must, to use Deleuze’s terminology, be engendered within a world, what Peirce here calls individuals. This understanding of logic will reappear later in the discussion on Meinong.

So, what then is the status of the law of the excluded middle in SIA? To quote from Bell, “…one is forced to acknowledge that the so-called law of excluded middle – every statement is either definitely true or definitely false – cannot be generally affirmed within smooth worlds.”[17] Bell’s argument in defense of this position is as follows:

Assuming the law of the excluded middle, each real number is either equal to 0 or unequal to 0, so that correlating 1 to 0 and 0 to each nonzero real number defines a function – the ‘blip’ function – on the real line which is obviously discontinuous. So, if the law of excluded middle held in a smooth world S, the discontinuous blip function could be defined there. Thus since all functions in S are continuous, it follows that the law of excluded middle must fail within it. More precisely, this argument shows that the statement

for any real number x, either x = 0 or not x = 0

is false in S.[18]

What should not be missed is how the definition of line in SIA, that a line is made up not of points but of lines of infinitesimal length (the fact that Bell has used to eliminate the law of excluded middle), meshes with Deleuze’s own understanding of Sense as aliquid, the “minimum of being which befits inherence,”[19] a position that Deleuze admits originates, at least in part, in Meinong.

Section 2: Meinong

The importance of Alexius Meinong cannot be overstated in reference to Deleuze’s Logic of Sense. Primarily, what interests Deleuze is Meinong’s “Theory of Objects,” specifically his concepts of Sein (being) and Sosein (subsist). The concept of Sein[20] can be understood as the existential status of the object in reference to a physical reality. On the other hand, the concept of Sosein refers not to this existential status of the object but to the characteristics that the object has. For example, an object such as a “round rock” would have being (Sein) if I am able to discover a rock that would match the description, whereas the characteristics (Sosein) of the “round rock” would be based upon its shape, mass, and composition, not as they appear in reality, but as they appear within the intellect. Furthermore, the concept of Sein and Sosein exist via a principle of independence, which is to say, that they are not dependent upon one another. The round rock does not need to exist, or even be capable of existing, for its Sosein to subsist. Or as Meinong puts it,

Now it would accord very well with the…prejudice in favor of existence to hold that we may speak of a Sosein only if a Sein is presupposed…However the very science from which we were able to obtain the largest number of instances counter to this prejudice shows clearly that any such principle is untenable. As we know, the figures with which geometry is concerned do not exist. Nevertheless, their properties, and hence their Sosein, can be established.[21]

What the principle of independence asserts is that there is sharp divide between discourse and material reality, between Logos, on one hand, and Being, on the other. The result is that a meinongian discourse would be quite capable of dealing with the “golden mountain made of gold” or “the current king of France being bald.”[22] These statements lead to what Deleuze calls “Meinong’s Paradox” since these statements,

…are without signification, that is, they are absurd. Nevertheless, they have a sense, and the two notions of absurdity and nonsense must not be confused. Impossible objects – square circles, matter without extension…- are objects “without a home,” outside of being, but they have a precise and distinct position within this outside: they are of “extra being—pure, ideational events, unable to be realized in a state of affairs.[23]

To return to the principle of independence, the square circle exists virtually, since it exists as a Problem, an Idea; and of course, it was a problem that was particularly productive in Greek mathematics. It is the separation of Sein and Sosein, of being and language, that allows such an impossible object to be comprehended without damage occurring to rationality itself. Furthermore, Meinong’s Sein and Sosein appear in the Logic of Sense as two series united in Deleuze’s conception of sense. Deleuze states,

Sense is never only one of the two terms of the duality which contrasts things and propositions, substantives and verbs, denotations and expressions; it is also the frontier, the cutting edge, or the articulation of the difference between the two terms, since it has at its disposal an impenetrability which is its own and within which it is reflected.[24]

Sense, then for Deleuze, is a boundary that both separates the thing and the proposition, but equally allows for the two to come into contact via its membrane. And thus Meinong, with his principle of independence, a principle mirrored in Deleuze’s Logic of Sense,[25] begins a fight against Hegel and his insistence that Being says itself.[26]

Section 3: Hegel’s Logic

Deleuze’s first work on the philosophy of language is not Logic of Sense, but instead a review of Jean Hyppolite’s Logic and Existence published in 1954[27]. Although short, this article is highly significant for many reasons. First is the singular importance of Hyppolite for the philosophers of Deleuze’s generation in their attempts to overcome Hegel. Michel Foucault has stated that,

If, then, more than one of us is indebted to Jean Hyppolite, it is because he has tirelessly explored, for us, and ahead of us, the path along which we may escape Hegel…For Hyppolite, the relationship with Hegel was the scene of an experiment, of a confrontation in which it was never certain that philosophy would come out on top. He never saw the Hegelian system as a reassuring universe; he saw in it the field in which philosophy took the ultimate risk.

Secondly, the article provides us with the Deleuze’s first explication of philosophy’s relation to sense. Following Hyppolite and his anti-humanist reading of Hegel, Deleuze writes, “Philosophy must be ontology, it cannot be anything else; but there is no ontology of essence, there is only an ontology of sense.[28] This ontology of sense arrives due to the Hegel’s destruction of the second world, the transcendent world of essences, of God. According to Hegel, predating Nietzsche and his madman in the market, God is dead, since “inquires, for instance, into the into the immateriality of the soul, into efficient and final causes, where should these still arouse any interest? Even the former proofs of the existence of God are cited only for their historical interest…”[29] And so philosophy can no longer concern itself with the question “what is?”, the platonic question par excellence. Instead, philosophy must come to recognize that there is no true world behind the appearance, but only the truth of sublated appearance, what we have been calling sense. This collapse of the apparent world into the true world means that there is no longer any difference between thought and language, as Plato asserted in the distinction between the form and its empirical appearance. “In logic, therefore, there is no longer…what I say on the one hand, and the sense of what I say on the other…my discourse is logically or properly philosophical when I speak the sense of what I say, and when Being this speaks itself.”[30]

Hegel’s logic, then, offers us the equation Being=Thought=Language as the Spirit “is home with itself” in the logic, as there is no longer a distinction to be made between thought and thing thought.[31] This is what Deleuze refers to as the ontology of sense. The question for us is what is the relationship between this review and the Logic of Sense that will take up many of the same themes? Len Lawlor seems to claim[32] that there is a nature slide from the earlier essay into Logic of Sense. But he accomplishes this only by explicitly rejecting the meinongian theme present in the latter work. This is quite clear when he asserts that Logic of Sense is a misnomer, since Deleuze should have entitled the work the Logic of Nonsense. What Lawlor misses is that what has changed from the review to the book, is the transformation of the ontology of sense into the logic of sense. There simply is no ontology of sense in Deleuze’s actual philosophy, anymore than there is logic of nonsense. This is obvious if one notices the conditions for an ontology of sense set by Deleuze. An ontology of sense exists only with the identification of being and language, with Being capable of saying itself. To quote Hyppolite, “Hegelian Logic is the absolute genesis of sense, a sense which, to itself, is its own sense, which is not opposed to the being whose sense it is, but which is sense and being simultaneously.”[33]

Deleuze is quite correct to assert that philosophy has undergone a quite serious transformation after Hegel’s logic and that is marked by an ontology of sense. In fact, this new understanding of philosophy brings together philosophers whose connection was formerly thought to be tangential at best. We are now able to see the connection between philosophers as disparate as Heidegger and Russell, Derrida and Carnap. What these philosophers have in common is the assertion no only that thought is synonymous with language, but that philosophy finds it end in this realization. It matters little if one associates thought with poetry, as in the case of Heidegger and Derrida, or with logic, as with Russell and Carnap, the end result is the same, and both groups, while explicitly attacking Hegel, affirm the insight that being=thought=language dominates.

What then of Deleuze? It should be clear that Deleuze is not part of the above lineage of thinkers coming from Hegel’s Logic. Although, Deleuze does affirm that philosophy must be an ontology of sense, when he has the opportunity to construct such an ontology, he instead calls it a logic of sense. It could be argued that this shift in terminology is meaningless, a point of style or aesthetics. But such a claim does not take into consideration the relationship between the Logic of Sense and Difference and Repetition. We are told by Hyppolite that the Phenomenology of Spirit is meant to present the empirical that is sublated into the Science of Logic, and can therefore be abandoned after this move of the dialectic. This is obvious if one understands that the Logic removes the distinction between thought and object of thought. However, if one rejects that Being can say itself then one must also reject the relationship between ontology and logic that Hegel had presented. And this is precisely what Deleuze does.

According to Deleuze, sense is incapable of saying itself because of the paradox of infinite regress. Let us look at this paradox as Lewis Carroll presents it in “What the Tortoise said to Achilles.”[34] Let us take an argument:

(A) Things that are equal to the same are equal to each other.

(B) The two sides of this Triangle are things that are equal to the same.

Therefore,

(Z) The two sides of this Triangle are equal to each other.

Obviously, the argument is built upon the acceptance of A and B, and their acceptance leads to Z. However, this formulates another proposition, let us call it C.

(C) If A and B are true, Z must be true.

This leads to the assertion the following:

(A) Things that are equal to the same are equal to each other.

(B) The two sides of this Triangle are things that are equal to the same.

(C) If A and B are true, Z must be true.

Therefore,

(Z) The two sides of this Triangle are equal to each other.

However, this leads formulates another proposition, let us call it D.

(D) If A, B, and C are true then Z must be true.

Etc.

The paradox of infinite regress asserts that the sense of any proposition is always another proposition. “I never state the sense of what I am saying…This regress testifies both to the great impotence of the speaker and to the highest power of language: my impotence to state the sense of what I say, to say at the same time something and its meaning; but also the infinite power of language to speak about words.”[35]

As we have already seen, for Deleuze, following Meinong, sense operates as a duality, a series made up of the states of affairs, where sense exists, and the proposition, where sense subsists. But sense itself is one part of a duality, with the other series being nonsense. Ultimately, this duality is made of ontology and logic. These separate series then allow us to see the relationship between the Logic of Sense and Difference and Repetition. Unlike, Hegel who wishes the ontology (Phenomenology of Spirit) to be overcome by the logic (Science of Logic), Deleuze inverts the relationship, while asserting the principle of independence between the two. Thus one cannot overcome the logically in favor of the ontological in Deleuze, instead they must be understood as two sides of a duality. This leads to the necessity of reading the Logic of Sense with Difference and Repetition.

In fact, we can see Deleuze construction of this duality in Series Sixteen and Seventeen in the Logic of Sense. In Series Sixteen, entitled “Static Ontological Genesis,” we find Deleuze laying out the production of the world around the actualization and convergence of singularities. Furthermore, in Series Seventeen, entitled “Static Logical Genesis,” we are given an analysis of the logical boundaries of worlds, both in there own construction (the rule of contradiction) but also in their relationship to each other (the law of incompossibles). What we get then with these two series, is a split discourse, where worlds are approached through the discourse of logic, but where the individuation of these worlds is achieved through the discourse of mathematics. Thus ontology for Deleuze, in a way similar to the work of Alain Badiou, is mathematics, specifically the mathematics of infinitesimal calculus.

Section 4: Conclusion

What ground have we covered? As we have seen the problem of the infinitesimals, far from being solved, operates as an essential feature of Deleuze’s ontology. And it is this ontology that allows us to come to an understanding of Deleuze’s placement of logic within his philosophical work. Deleuze, unlike the other major figures in continental philosophy, does not dismiss logic as a metaphysical trap, whether one sees it as technological thinking at its purest (a la Heidegger) or whether one sees it has the culmination of the thinking of presence (a la Derrida). But neither does Deleuze assert its absolute superiority in a way that anglo-american philosophy has. What Deleuze offers is the possibility to understand how logic comes to work, which is to say how a logical world could be engendered, individuated. But he accomplishes this via a turn to mathematics, a turn that I have only been able to hint at here. And so mathematics is ontology for Deleuze and it is through infinitesimal calculus that we are able to understand the ontological conditions that allow for logical worlds.


[1] Sokal, Alan and Jean Bricmont. Fashionable Nonsense. New York: Picador. 1999, 154-168.

[2] Deleuze, Gilles. Difference and Repetition. translated by Paul Patton. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.

[3] Sokal and Bricmont, 160-165.

[4] For a detailed explication of the Deleuze’s problematics, see Smith, Daniel. “Axiomatics and problematics as two modes of formalization: Deleuze’s epistemology of mathematics.” in Virtual Mathematics: the Logic of Difference. edited by Simon Duffy. London: Clinamen, 2006.

[5] Deleuze 1994, 168.

[6] See Deleuze, Gilles. Logic of Sense. translated by Charles Stivale. New York: Columbia University Press. 1990, 3rd Series of the Proposition.

[7] Ibid., 55.

[8] Quoted in Priest, Graham. Towards Non-Being. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 2005, vi.

[9] Russell, Bertrand. “On Denoting.” Mind 14 (56): October 1905, 479-493.

[10] Quine, W.V.O. “On What There Is.” Review of Metaphysics 2(5): 1948, 21-38.

[11] See Boyer, Carl. The History of the Calculus and its Conceptual Development. New York: Dover, 1949.

[12] Lucretius. On the Nature of Things. translated by Martin Ferguson Smith. New York: Hackett Publications, 2001.

On the relation between Lucretius and Archimedian mathematics, see Serres, Michel. The Birth of Physics. London: Clinamen Press, 2001.

[13] Quoted in Boyer 1948, 248.

[14] Quoted in Smith 2006, 152.

[15] Berkeley, George. “On Infinites” in From Kant to Hilbert: A Sourcebook in the Foundations of Mathematics, Vol. 1. edited by William Ewald. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1996, 17.

[16] Quoted in Bell, J.L. A Primer of Infinitesimal Analysis. London: Cambridge University Press. 2008, 5.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Deleuze 1990, 22.

[20] I am really on Preist 2005 for this understanding of Sein as existential status.

[21] Meinong, Alexius. “Kinds of Being” in Logic and Philosophy. edited by G. Iseminger. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts. 1968, 122.

[22] Both of these statements cause a great deal of stress for the likes of Bertrand Russell, see Russell 1905.

[23] Deleuze 1990, 35.

[24] Deleuze 1990, 28.

[25] Deleuze says as much in Logic of Sense when he states, “Undoubtedly there are reasons for these moments (the discovery and rediscovery of sense as expressed of the proposition): we have seen that the Stoic discovery presupposed a reversal of Platonism; similarly Ockham’s logic reacted against the problem of Universals, and Meinong against the Hegelian logic and its lineage.” (emphasis added). Deleuze 1990, 19.

[26] This is the conclusion that Hyppolite claims for Hegel’s logic. See Hyppolite, Jean. Logic and Existence. translated by Len Lawler and Amit Sen. New York: State University of New York Press, 1997.

[27] Deleuze, Gilles. “Jean Hyppolite’s Logic and Existence.” translated by Michael Taormina. In Desert Island and Other Texts 1953-1974. edited by David Lapoujade. New York: Semiotext(e). 2002, 15-18.

[28] Deleuze 2002, 15.

[29] Hegel, G.W.F. Science of Logic. translated by A.V. Miller. New York: Humanity Books. 1969, 25.

[30] Deleuze 2002, 17.

[31] Hegel, G.W.F. The Encyclopaedia Logic. translated by T.F. Geraets, et al. New York: Hackett Publishing. 1991, § 24.

[32] Lawlor, Leonard. “Translator’s Preface.” in Hyppolite, Jean. Logic and Existence. translated by Len Lawler and Amit Sen. New York: State University of New York Press, 1997.

[33] Hyppolite 1997, 161.

[34] Carroll, Lewis. “What the Tortoise said to Achilles.” Mind 104 :416 (October 1995), 691-693

[35] Deleuze 1990, 28-9.

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~ by stellarcartographies on June 2, 2008.

14 Responses to “Deleuze & Meinong: The Prejudice in Favor of the Actual”

  1. Wonderful, man! This looks like great work. I’ll have some more serious comments once I’ve had time to read it more closely and digest it. Good luck with the blog! 🙂

  2. Hey Sid, this essay looks great. I find the connection between Deleuze, Meinong and Hegel extremely interesting: I wonder especially about Deleuze’s renewal of the concept of dialectic in LoS and D+R and his conception of vicediction vs. contradiction.

    Also, I’ve just started reading Fichte and Schelling, and I’m starting to wonder whether or not they have a lot in common.

  3. I would definitely say that there is a connection between Fichte and Schelling. You should take a look at Iain Hamilton Grant and his “Philosophies of Nature after Schelling” and his writings for the journal Collapse. There is also a book by Continuum called “The New Schelling” that might be interesting for you.

  4. Thanks Joe & Taylor for checking out this early blog attempt. How about a shout out from Fractal Ontology?

  5. I feel like an ass…Schelling was Fichte’s student… I meant that there’s a connection with Schelling and Deleuze specifically that I’m interested in…like, for example, Schelling’s insistence on the dominance of the unconscious, etc. I’ll talk to Joe today and we’ll make a post on your blog.

  6. If only Deleuze were Leibniz… 🙂

  7. Great view, yours! I really enjoyed it and I plan to reread it surely.

    Would you agree with me, though, if I say that Deleuze’s mathemathics are neccesary “vital mathematics”? In the sense that mathematics are “only” an «adequated language», let’s say, among others. If not, what would make Deleuze, as Spinoza and Nietzsche above all, a philosopher of the selection and the experimentation?

    Thanks, mainly for your text. I hope I could ask you some other more elaborated questions in according to maths and Deleuze…

  8. Thank you for your kind words. As this is really a beginning project I would appreciate any questions that you have.

    As for experimentation, I am not sure how mathematics interferes with that. My reading of Deleuze’s experimentation has to do with taking a particular image of thought, in this csse, mathematics as ontology, and seeing what flows from this initial insight. I would say that although does not hold to an idea that reality is mathematical, he does seem to believe that there is something special about the mechanism of mathematics, especially infinitesimals. I will hopefully have a newer post on the specifics of this is the next couple of days.

  9. Hey Sid, I’m almost done with the first 20 pages of Principes de la Non-Philosophie…wanna see when I’m done? Also, when does your class start?

  10. Taylor, Stellar Cartographies, and others interested in Fichte and Schelling:

    I’ve been interested for some time in charting the (dis)similarities between Schelling’s notion of the Unconscious (Fichte’s too, insofar as the Not-I is empirically unconscious) and later psychoanalytic notions of the unconscious. I have some familiarity with Freud’s more popular essays and Erich Fromm’s work, but outside of that my knowledge of twentieth-century theories of the unconscious is sorely lacking. Schelling’s best writing on the Unconscious appears in his 1800 System of Transcendental Idealism. Is there anyone here (I’m hoping maybe StellarCartographies) who has maybe read this work and is also read up on current views of the unconscious?

  11. I am not as up on Schelling as I would like to be but I am game for an investigation. I think Taylor over at FracOnto is doing some work on it.

  12. hello,

    this is repetition: nice piece. this is the point i am unable to understand: allow me to quote first:

    “To return to the principle of independence, the square circle exists virtually, since it exists as a Problem, an Idea; and of course, it was a problem that was particularly productive in Greek mathematics. It is the separation of Sein and Sosein, of being and language, that allows such an impossible object to be comprehended without damage occurring to rationality itself.”

    what exactly do you mean by without damage occuring to rationality itself?
    please clarify on this. this is interesting.

    thank you,
    himanshu damle

    • The “damage to rationality” is a phrase that is meant to refer to Russell’s invocation of Meinong in his famous “On Denoting”. In this work Russell rejects Meinong theory of objects has running afoul of the law of contradiction and therefore, running afoul of rationality itself (whose basis is found in this law). I reject the specific philosophical equation that Being=Thought=Language and so what one is capable of thinking is not bound by logical rules. The greeks have shown this with the role that squaring the circle played in the development of their mathematics. I think that Meinong’s view is more fully developed than Russell’s and more importantly, is in a better position to understand contemporary develops coming out of things like non-classical logic, quantum mechanics, etc. I hope this was helpful. I am still working on a reply to the earlier comment.

  13. I take this as a lead and to make sure, i should start reading russell and meinong side by side. yes, i completely agree on meinong’s friendliness in terms of quantum mechanics vis-a-vis russell’s, but the phrase is a real haunt. would get back as soon as iam into something in the simultaneous reading.

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