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Friday, 13 March 2015

Monadology and design

Leibniz was in the endeavour of putting forward a political theology - and, at that, he was close to what was then called natural religion. His way of doing that was to conceive a Great Architect, who was the perfect designer of all things. The design problem for him was one of optimization: how is it possible for a designer to build a perfect order so that he wouldn´t have to interfere whenever things go wrong. The optimal project was the best of all possible worlds. But worlds were conceived in terms of local agents. He optimized design by ascribing agency to the greatest possible number of entities - divide to govern, could be the motto. In this process of optimization, he created the idea of monadology: different entities that are interconnected by a common plan, each makes sure that the common plan is reinforced. It is like a government that tries to maximize its power by maximazing its civil servants. The idea of a monadology was a new deign idea: direct rule works worse than widespread delegation - not sheer atomism where atoms are independent, neither sheer monism where the only agent is the whole (and the parts are no more than obeying parts). But then, monadology was an invention that goes beyond natural religion - and its insistence on a designer, as Latour claims in his first Gifford lecture.

Once freed from design, the idea of interconnected monads that respond to all the others while having full-blown agency can florish, as indeed it did in the hands of Tarde, Latour and Whitehead with his continuity atomism without vacuous actualities. It is also the interconnectedness that appears in the Lovelock´s idea of Gaia. This is what Deleuze called, in Le Pli, capture monadology. Without design, monads have to work by entente, they have to find ways to negotiate. Further, political theology goes Clastrian - monadology against state for negotiation between prevalent entities and other political bodies has to be case by case, what avoids the institutionalization of an overall power. Non-design monadology is a monadology that is cout d´etat-proof.

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