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Episode #125 ... Gilles Deleuze pt. 1 - What is Philosophy?

2018-12-07 | 🔗

Today we begin our discussion on Gilles Deleuze with a special thanks to Felix Guatarri. 

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hello, everyone, I'm Steven West. This is philosophies this thanks again to everyone that supports the show on patreon. Patreon com philosophies. This thanks also to the people to go through the Amazon banner when they're shopping couldn't do this. Without you either philosophies this org today's episode is part, one in a series on Gil Delos. I hope you love the show today. So pretty much since day. One on this podcast, we seen philosophers come along look at the world around them and through intense contemplation, and reasoning holding the world of their version of philosophical scrutiny they ve all come up with their own systems that do their best to define the way the world is The assumptions always been that as time goes on thinkers, build offer the work of the thinkers that came before them over time. Each of these. Since becoming a little more unbiased, little more accurate in terms of understanding the epistemological aesthetics ethics metaphysics of the world, but more specific we and, more importantly, to the conversation that's going on in the middle late twentieth century that we ve been talking about
been an assumption that we ve been heading in the right direction. When it comes to the questions of ontology. What is being what does it mean to be dozens of other questions we talked about on separate episodes But as we see in the early twentieth century, structuralist come along and show how the Use of these individual philosophers are not disinterested, unbiased attempts at trend answer these questions, their view, Of the way the world is as really just been given to them by the cultural climate they were born into and the history that cultural structurally emerged out of. Little later in this century we have. The post structure was come along that go so far as to criticise this entire tradition of trend to rigidly define the way the world is. The tools we have to conduct philosophy with will never be able to give us access to something that ambitious. In their view, we seem dare to do this on the basis of words. The meanings of words are not a stable indefinable, as we once thought that, when it comes to constructing some sort of elaborate ontology is thinkers have done in the past. Language itself will always be insufficient when it comes to setting up.
Sort of ultimate set of parameters for the universe. We sing Foucault reject this tradition on the basis of the categories we used to define. What a human being is, the terms we used to define ourselves our recent inventions to him, who are any of these philosophers throughout history who is fuco for that matter, to make any sort of Rand assertion about the nature of the way the world is or what it is to be a human being. Now, the first step for these types of thinkers has often been shine a light on these grand narratives of the past and then deconstruct or unravel them and show them to be what they really are at, which point the ideology or dogma associated with them will collapse. Out of the bottom we'll take whatever lessons we can from that process, and the goal at that point will be to find a new way. We can proceed with philosophy without falling into the same traps we have in the past, if that's even possible at all, but the question we all need to ask ourselves right here. Once you begin from the starting point of this post, modernist critique of the grand narratives of the past, do you think deconstruction and fragmentation is the only avenue,
postmodernism thinker, could possibly take moving forward. Miss may seem like an easy question to answer like of course nothing's ever that reductive, but its worth. Mentioning there. Some people out there almost always people that have a very shallow or non existent reading of postmodern thinkers. This people out there that conflate post modernism with deconstruction they miss taken. We conclude that the overall goal of postmodernism is to unravel, These grand narratives shake the edges sketch of the history of Olaf. If you start anew, throw out everything, but postmodernism is much more, should I say multivariate than that, deconstruction is just one strategy of many that was proposed. Yes, it was a strategy that rose to popularity through the work of a couple key thinkers, and because of that, it's the one, the apple
persons probably gonna have heard of, but there were many other approaches by postmodern thinkers that have nothing to do with seeing the entire history of philosophy is practically devoid of value moving forward. One such approach lies in the work of a philosopher names, Gilles De Loose Sea, because, if you're, someone that looks at these grand narratives of the past can seize them all to be examples of the failures of philosophy d lose would say that this a lot of assumptions that your bring into the table there yet safer. Second you're, someone who agrees with that statement. Philosophy has largely been a waste of time. Delusive probably want to ask you: what do you think the role of philosophy is? What do you think the role of philosophy has been all throughout history and more generally, he'd want to ask, as he did in his book that were covering today. If the history of philosophy is a failure, what is philosophy so going to talk about the losers? Answer to this question, what is philosophy but before we do that, just to set the stage for
entire series. That's to come. It's probably best to give a little context about to lose. Most of the major works to lose wrote were co written with the french thinker Felix Query, so some of the ideas we're going to discuss were mutually held by both of them. But if there's a a hallmark to all of the work work that can help us, And worries coming from a sum of this bizarre stuff, we're gonna be talking about through the next few episodes. Is it what d lose is primarily interested and, above all else are new ideas, new ways of thinking new ways of looking at the questions ontology new ways of understanding the way the world is that can offer us a different perspective on things. There's a man named Professor Todd. May that sent a lot of work articulating the biggest ideas and to lose his work and at the beginning of one of his books. He talks about how one useful way of thinking of the work of to lose overall is to always consider his ideas within the context of the greater continental tradition of asking the question,
How might one live sea because, especially with postmodern thinkers that are so recent, it's really easy to get lost in some academic discussion? Were it's like a snake eating its own tail? You know some some hyper nuanced interpretation of of what the loose with saying on page one. Seventy two paragraph three of a book he wrote during the early to middle period of his thinking when he was on holiday in Switzerland. It can get in the weeds pretty quickly. This is why I think its useful for upon cast like this one to frame things in terms of a question like how might one live, because the point maize making in his book is it. This hasn't always been the question that we vast throughout the history of philosophy. You wanna go back to antiquity: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. These people were conducting philosophy to figure out. How might one live? No at the time. The question that seems obvious to them that philosophy should be trying to answer is how should one live? They may ask: what's the distinction there, but their entire work presupposes
the idea that what philosophy is looking for is some sort of divine order written into the universe is clearly a way that a horse should be a raccoon should be have a tree should be, and through their discussions about a transcendent world world of forms that contains the essences of things. Through discussions about the of Aristotle, the goal was to find out how we should be acting for human for human beings, naturally fall in line with that divine order. The main point was that there's a level of transcend in order that overhangs all of this. That needs to be discovered by philosophy moving on in history, throughout much of the enlightened The question that seems obvious to philosophers during this time was more like how should one act, the distinction between how one should act and how one live. Live lies in the removal of the idea that a person discovers the significance of their life by appealing to some divine order. May points out but this is commonly thought of as the birth of the individual within history. This moment in history, when alike
answers for its own actions, to a God or to constitute categorical imperative, or to some other moral philosophy in instead of seeking and finding its purpose in the actual order it exists in? This is one of the prime, reasons, there's a shift in philosophy from how one should live to how one should act later on in history, question shifts from how one should act to how might one live. The origins of this are somewhere in the nineteenth century, with the existentialist natures it is the guy responsible for it. In many ways. The death of God, the death of the possibility, for us to arrive at any sort of objective morality and with it the death of these former questions and philosophy like how should we an act that require some sort of transcendent natural order to make them make sense like us before the new game in town at this point becomes a question more like how might one live, and this is the quest may believe continent. A philosophy is still trying to answer to this day and the question we should all consider when looking at the work of de loose.
Now, it's going to take an entire series to get to it, but maybe the best place to begin answering this question: how might one live and looking at delusion lotteries. Ninety ninety one book titled what is philosophy? So what is philosophy? Well, let me first there's a sense in which, if it's nineteen, ninety one and you're writing a book called what is philosophy, you better have something pretty genius to say heard at least far different than anyone. That's ever come before you because of law. For writing a book. Trying to give an answer to that question is just beyond nostalgic at this this point, but really that's good news. If you think about it, you already Before you even begin reading, the book you can expect to see a completely different take on what philosophy is then has ever come before. This is exactly what they're trying to do in this book. To answer the question, what is philosophy a useful starting point is to ask: what is it that philosophy really does and what follows from that is to ask the question: what is it that philosophy has been doing all throughout recorded history.
Would deconstruction? Is the history of philosophy has been a pretty disappointing endeavour because for millennia, the assumptions been by the people doing work and philosophy that their work was getting us closer and closer to an objective, sometimes transcendent understand, of the way that things are. We talked about the questions of changed over time. Well, if that's you thought philosophy was doing that whole time. It's no wonder, you'd be disappointed. I mean if you're deconstruction of it doesn't believe in something like an objective truth that can be arrived at. Its no wonder. Philosophy starts to look like a couple thousand years of wasted time: reducing grand narratives but the losers gonna take an entirely different approach here, see as a post modernist himself. He so doesn't believe in anything like an objective truth, but the loose doesnt based the validity of philosophical system on whether its true or not see to oppose structuralist those philosophers all throughout history. Regardless of their intentions? Are hopes when it came to their work they were
never going to arrive at the truth about things it was impossible the whole time. So this argument, the full philosophies of failure because it hasn't yet arrived at the truth, just not something to lose This is a very interesting argument to Delos the real question becomes. If law First, we're were never going to arrive at the truth anyway. What was it really that they engaging in all those years to d lose. What ontology has always been is what he calls a process of creation rather than discovery. What he means by that is that the philosophers of the past thought they were discovering the truth about the universe when they did their philosophy when in reality, the work they did could more accurately be described as creating ontological frameworks that help the people of their time understand. The truly able chaos that reality is again creation rather than discovery. Reality is chaos to Delos to a post, structuralist we structuralist have,
the tools. We will never be able to grasp the chaos of reality. What we can do, though, what we have done all throughout history is create ontological systems devised. Concepts that help bring a semblance of order to that chaos. What is philosophy to Delos? The short answer is philosophy is the art of concept creation. Let's talk about this art of concept creation, a bit more because it's an extremely important thing to understand about the way to lose is looking at every see? Delos doesn't see. The history of philosophy like day came along and did his philosophy and then here came along and improved upon, the mistakes of Descartes opened and caught came along and fixed the mistakes and whom, God of LAW, closer to the truth. Now each one of these thinkers whereby products have completely different cultures and times and each one of those unique culture
times had their own unique mysteries about this chaos that we live in, that mattered to them, at which point the philosophers of the day created systems of concepts to be able to bring a semblance of order to those questions that mattered see to lose? It's not that date. Cart and hum are wrong, but con right because he came after them and could see their work, No, none of them were right, but here's the thing. Neither are we. The goal isn't to be right or to find the truth about things. Like some in the past, a mistakenly thought was the goal of philosophy, the chaos of the region. We live in is impossible to fully grasp and when looked at from that perspective, it completely changes the possibilities when it comes to what philosophy has really been doing throughout history and what value it can have for us today. You know common email that I get a common charge by someone in our modern world that might listen to a random episode of a philosophy, podcast and see what it's all about is something like okay. So I live into an episode on day card. I heard it
had to say about the way his metaphysics breaks up reality, and I I just have one question for you. What's the point I mean who cares about what some speculative thinker from the century century had to say about the way the world is broken up? We know he's wrong today. We know he massively simplified it. We have way better theories. Now I just find myself having a really Hard time, caring about any the stuff at all to lose would probably say that the value of Descartes's metaphysics has nothing to do with it being true or at being the best theory that we have today. The value of Descartes Hume can't and all the rest of them is that they can offer us a window into a different way that people have brought order to this chaos. A different set of concepts answering a different set of questions about the chaos that were interesting to a different culture and time, and when you look at it that way, the history of philosophy starts to look a lot, It's like a collection of grand narratives and more like a gold mine of useful ideas. You know this is part of why I said the deluge is, first and foremost a philosopher cancer
with finding new ideas, new ways of thinking. This is the value of the philosophy of the past present and future. The philosophy of the past isn't something construct and show to be meaningless to him. The philosophy of the past can provide us with new ways of looking at things that we might otherwise not see and these new ideas can help us create the ontological frameworks that help us answer. The questions that matter to us and build our world philosophy is the art of concept creation and what we might have to painfully come to realize to lose is that from the beginning of recorded history philosophy as a practice has been a lot more like art than we previously believed a creative. Practice rather than one where we're discovering things to lose and watery talk about three primary creative acts that human beings engaging art, science and philosophy.
Each serving its own, unique and important purpose in its own right and a significant portion of their book, what is philosophy is dedicated to showing how these three practices are distinct from each other. The best way to describe what they mean is probably just a pick something pick picture of a sunset. For example: now an artist through a creative act can depict that sunset in a very specific way, through a complex blending of colours and brush techniques or a specific combination of music notes or through a perfect weaving of words in a poem, an artist can depict the aesthetics and the human experience of that sunset, an extremely unique way that a philosopher scientists can never hope to that said, a scientist could create their own picture. What's going on there. Sunset they can talk about. The sun is a burning ball of gas, its light emanating across the vacuum of space. Only for the light to interact with the chemistry of our atmosphere in the ocean. They could talk about them
and distance of every aspect of that sunset. In a high level of detail, the scientist describes what to lose, calls the functions between things and that's an entire different dimension of that very same sunset, that the artist and philosopher could never hope to describe, but still another dimension to that same sunset and that's what the loose thinks is. The realm of the philosopher For example, a philosopher might ask a question like the burning ball gas in the middle of our solar system and the countless photons that are interacting with our atmosphere in ocean. Should we consider these two separate things or different aspects of the same thing before we had the concept of photon are the rays of light distinct from the sun or part of it philosopher might ask questions like what is it to be a sunset? Should we think, all of it, the sky, the sun, the clouds, the woman
ground, and so many other things as one totality to be observed that couldn't exist without each and every one of those pieces, or maybe we should break it up into pieces. Ok well is the ground distinct from the sky. Maybe. Ground should be one thing in the sky and lights and other should we consider the cow of the sunset distinct from the lights are part of it. The point is to Delos there's something going on in the realm of the philosopher. That's what he calls pre empirical and by that he doesn't mean that they are used, since we to develop concepts. What he means is that all empirical human activity, including science, relies on the art of the creation of concepts. It relies on philosophy, tick, science, for example. Science only analyzes existing concepts. What I mean is it's not until something is declared a concept that we can have a field of science dedicated to study,
For example, you can imagine a society, that's formerly observing the sun for the first time now. Stars are incredibly complex things. There are thousands of moving parts and, despite how obvious it seems to us the real, is no intuitive place where they begin or end because their effect span for millions of light years around them, in fact, even Using the example of a star is a bad idea, because it's an existing concept to us. We've already chopped the world. In a particular way and called this thing a star, but you can imagine how other societies might chop The effects of a star and a million other ways. The reason this matters to science is that it's not until we unite things. It's done until we unite the nuclear fusion going on in the belly of a star, with all the light and heat and gravity and tons of other stuff that make up our concept of a star. It's done until that concept creation happens that we can have scientists dedicated to studying this unity that we defined
star say: the world was chopped up in a slightly different way. Scientists would be studying a slightly different thing.
This is the reason why the concepts we create the art of concept creation philosophy to to lose is so important to any empirical area of study. The creation of concepts is a crucial part of what philosophy is contributed to the history of humanity and Delos doesn't give philosophy any sort of privileged position. Here I mean he sees art science and philosophy is equally important all in their own way. It's just that philosophy is the one. Historically, people have been the most confused about the function of now before next episode. It's really important that we talk a bit about how to lose. Describes the way these ontological frameworks are created, systems of concepts to him are always made up of three primary parts. One are the concepts themselves red tree, Sun Et Cetera. Two is something he refers to as a plane of imminence, which we'll talk about more next time and throughout this entire series for that matter, but the one sentence version is that it's a metaphor for the realm philosophers have done their working or, more accurately, the set of parameters.
Erected, underneath the very act of creating concepts that make the creation of concepts even possible. The plain of eminence is where a philosopher goes from just a bunch of concepts to a system of concepts organised and made since by what d lose refers to as an imminent logic that precedes the concepts themselves. For example, he talks in chapter one of what is philosophy about the relationship between the philosopher and the concept. What is the relationship between the philosopher. Concept will again to lose. The work of a philosopher There is far more like the work of an artist than we have ever considered before unchecked, you're one. He says the relationship between a philosopher and a concept is like the relationship between a wood worker and wood We could even use a more explicit artistic example if you want to say that the relationship is like that of a painter to their paint. Both examples make artistic creation
of the raw materials that they have but consider for a second that the wood worker didn't create the wood that they're using they just go out into the forest and get some the painter didn't create their canvas in paints, they just it has got to Joann Fabrics and buy some justice. The creation of concepts precedes any sort of empirical investigation of the universe, we're living in there's something else that even precedes the creation of concepts and the best Del
This philosophy described this place, is plain of eminence once again, we'll talk more on this throughout the series, so the first part of these systems or the concepts themselves. The second part is this plain of eminence. The third and final part is what to lose and water recall. The conceptual persona which simply put is the voice, a particular philosophy as presented, and that gives it context and allows it to make sense. Philosophy is always presented by a particular person or human character. That persona is as crucial to the process, as the concepts of the plain of eminence are just a recap. We have these concepts themselves existing on this metaphorical plain of eminence, delivered by the conceptual personae that gives the work context. This is the
recipe for the work of any great philosopher throughout history. We might talk more about that as well, but the but the point is we talk many times on the show about this old dichotomy that used in tons of different philosophical systems called transcendence versus eminence. We talked at the beginning the episode about these older philosophical questions that rely on transcendence D lose is clearly rejecting any philosophies of transcendence, like the claim that the essence of things exist in a world of forms. A world of human experience for us is a world of things in themselves. Many other examples of philosophers claiming to have arrived at the objective he's rejecting this transcendence and is instead offering this plain of eminence as an explanation that seems to solve many problems. Philosophers have had over the course of thousands of years. It will probably be. Current theme in the series under lose the the resolution of old arguments and philosophy
because, aside from being someone strongly committed to finding paths to new ideas and ways of thinking, he thought so many of the disputes within philosophy that go back sentry sometimes really haven't been about anything that substantive many. These disagreements just come down to a bunch of people disagreeing about the definitions, are interpretations of concepts and how they work will explore this in the coming episodes. Thank you for listening
Transcript generated on 2020-09-29.