I have often argued that the task of philosophy is to think the present. In my recent interview I observed that philosophy cannot proceed without its others. These two issues are interrelated. In striving to think the present, philosophy strives to think the differential of its time and of a life that requires new conceptual creations seeking to comprehend the real of reality. If there is a greatness to Marx and his historical materialism, it is in the manner in which he strives to think the present. When Marx analyzes, for example, the factory and the working day, the aim is not simply to engage in a moralistic exercise of denouncing exploitation.
No, Marx is no Luddite, nor is he a moralist. He is not a Luddite because his aim is not to return us to a prior form of pastoral social organization. He is not a moralist because he does not begin with a set of pre-defined, a priori normative values, but instead seeks to determine how particular sets of values emerge out of the organization of the historical moment. Rather, while Marx sniffs out forms of alienation and exploitation in these new forms of social organization, he also seeks to determine the affordances or potentials that have been rendered available as a result of how bodies are individuated or formed within these new machines.
For example, Marx argues that the factory disciplines the worker and forms a collective organization that affords the possibility of a revolutionary overturning current regime of production. The factory is not simply a site of alienation and exploitation for Marx, but is a milieu of individuation that forms a new type of body and subjectivity that opens the possibility of a new social order.
I think this sort of analysis is what is missing in a number of the conservative critiques of the new technology. Rather than lamenting the manner in which people are not good readers and writers in the way they were fifty years ago– which is much like lamenting the manner in which workers are not like feudal peasants, i.e., apples and oranges –we should instead seek to determine the new individuations that are taking place within this mechanosphere, the emergent forms of subjectivity, the new structures of cognition, and the new affordances for very different ways of living.
Thursday, July 23, 2009 Interview with Levi R. Bryant
Today we interview Levi R. Bryant, author of Difference and Givenness: Deleuze’s Transcendental Empiricism and the Ontology of Immanence and co-editor (along with Graham Harman and Nick Srnicek of the forthcoming The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism. Many of you will also know Levi from his excellent blog Larval Subjects.
I thus think there are two Heidegger’s. There is the Heidegger that went very far in the deconstruction of ontotheology and what I like to call the “little demiurge” or the sovereign subject, but there is also this other Heidegger that seems to perpetually recoil from this destitution, striving to discover some new ground, meaning, or identity. This has led to a lot of mischief both in his own life and in subsequent engagements with his work. For example, technology studies have been pushed back a great deal as a result of his moralizing and Luddite attitude towards enframing. anotherheideggerblog