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Showing posts from February, 2013

Alliances and non-human knowledge

Finishing my lectures in epistemology and the final section on non-human knowledge. After stuff on capture and modulation (cf post below from last weekend on white blindness) in the context of process philosophy, we discussed the idea that knowledge is always an (explicit or implicit alliance) involving the knowers and the known. The known is not therefore a passive element that is merely captured or inspected but rather something that takes part in the process by acting in order to form a society (in Tardean sense) of knowledge that assembles a network. This assembling is what took place between Pasteur and the medicine and the science of his time and with the microbes in Latour's description. To present a theory is to present a network with strong and weak links - vulnerable to different tests of force. Knowledge is an assembling (an alliance) that has proven to be reliable (the J factor, in a rough JTB account of knowledge) that helps bringing about (or sponsoring) something so

The plurality of logics in UNILOG

Unilog is taking place in Rio in early April. We (Alexandre Costa-Leite and me) hope to make an official d├ębut there of our much rehearsed galaxy theory. The abstract of our presentation there gives an idea of what we are after in the paper (currently submitted to Logica Uniersalis): The availability of multiple logics, although not a novelty, carries on provoking different kinds of puzzlement. From the point of view of those endeavoring to describe and understand parts of the world, it is a pressing issue to understand how different logics coexist – and eventually how to choose between them. For metaphysicians, who often deal in necessity and make frequent use of modal reasoning, the appeal to a logic is also the appeal to a standard to decide what is possible – typically in terms of which worlds are possible (see D. Lewis’ On the plurality of worlds). The use of a single, fixed logic as a standard of possibility is clearly unsatisfactory as it biases all results. Clearly, what is i

Signals without modulations are blind

Wikipedia has: "modulation is the process of varying one or more properties of a high-frequency periodic waveform, called the carrier signal, with a modulating signal which typically contains information to be transmitted." I was rehearsing the other day, in my attempts to lecture on non-human epistemology, the idea that the Kantian friction and requisite collaboration between receptivity and spontaneity (or the many variations thereafter, like Sellars' conception of the given being insufficient for an empirical report or McDowell's thesis that empirical data without concepts are at most exculpations and intuitions without concepts are mute) could be generalized beyond the usual domain of the relation between experience and concepts. In fact, one needs a pattern of importance - or a matrix of differences and indifferences - in order to be capable to come up with an empirical report - or an empirical judgement. Reliability as such requires a pattern of importance. Ma

Concepts in the space of problems

Deleuze's ontology of problems, object-disoriented as it is, is an approach to process. Any thing came out of a problem and problems came out of repetitions. Rhythms bring about problems and it is in coping with them that things come about. It seems possible, in fact, to understand prehensions and the extensive continuum in subjective forms - and the overall image Whitehead presents - in terms of an ontology of problems. Also concepts can be understood as problems posed to detection machines (like our senses). We could take Sellars' criticism of the Given as a criticism of solutions that are not brought about by problems. To sense sense contents is not yet to know how to answer to a problem (or to apply reliably a concept) - one needs rather to find out how to use one's detecting devices to make empirical reports. Those reports cannot be made before we are inculcated with concepts - that is, inculcated with problems related to what ought to be salient in our experience. Exp

Problems and processes

Deleuze found in differential equations a key to conceive of difference independently of syncategorematic operation of negativity. I think we can understand his trouble with negativity - and therefore contradiction (and, to some extent, contrariety) by considering Blanchot's insistence that denying something is already bringing what is denied to the fore. Negation - and any syncategorematic operation - preserves content (for instance, preserves the constituting propositions). Difference has to operate in a more internal level, in a somehow genetic level - it's got to do with genes and chromosomes or with clinamens that Deleuze (in D&R) takes to be not merely a deviation of the orbit of an atom, but rather what gives rise to the orbit and the movement of the atom. Difference is a drift from something produced not by an external intervention but rather by a modulation - it deals in continuities. Hence, differential calculus instead of propositional logic. Then the issue arris

The biopolitics of human microbiota

Thinking about the politics of cure. Ecology is a battleground between the politics of human self-sacrifice and the politics of human self-enhancement. The latter intends to create varieties of population technologies where plants, bacteria, fungi are put to work for the benefit of human life and ultimately of post-human life. A privileged corner of this battleground is the scope of medicine. The scope of cure - in terms of the battle of germs, the battle in the wilderness of human microbiota. A starting point could be Guattari's model of three ecologies: quite literally, the ecology of subjectivity is populated by all sorts of entelechias, the fauna and flora of human moods, of the animal spirits that live around the chemical environment of human fluids where they find and construct their niches. It is a fight with many speeds, included the speed of some sort of subjective ataraxia - what I once called the pulsion for pause (in a video called "Dexistence" ). The biochemi