This is Jeff Bell's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Jeff Bell's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Jeff Bell
Recent Activity
Jeffrey Bell Professor of Philosophy Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond USA
I'm in too. I did sign the September statment as an incremental anyone but Leiter move, but ideally no rankings at all would be best.
Thanks for this John. I'm familiar with Jack's more recent work but alas I missed this one so many thanks for the reference. It's no wonder then that Jack expressed an interest to hear more when I made a passing comment about Deleuze and skill in Melbourne a few weeks back.
Thanks for this Phil. The issues you point to are indeed more complex than I set them out in the post, and there is no doubt a Merleau-Ponty scholar might well defend M-P as being much closer to the Stanley position, and further away from they Ryle position, than I claim in the post. The distinction I'm working with from Stanley is that between Knowing How and Knowing that, and you're right that the propositional content of the latter is a type of ordered content - Deleuze will speak of planes of consistency when he talks of the order associated with learning, creating concepts, etc., which I am reading in this context as the type of ordered content necessary to initiate the skilled, knowledgeable action that Stanley discusses. So your question is where M-P falls in this context. Are the "possibilities of achieving certain emotional or musical values" M-P speaks of the type of order on a par with the order Stanley-Williamson associate with propositional content? I think that for M-P this would be an order associated with a bodily disposition - a type of felt kinaesthetic order that would be more aligned with the know how Ryle and others speak of. Where the Deleuze position is closer to the Stanley-Williamson position than M-P's is with respect to the ordered content associated with skilled action, or with learning, which for Deleuze is the result of a passive synthesis. This passive synthesis Deleuze discusses in Difference and Repetition as a contemplation, developing Hume's arguments regarding the emergence of the belief in causal necessity. The ordered content, therefore, is more abstract and intellectual and thus more closely aligned with the intellectualism Stanley defends. This difference emerges for me in the post when M-P associates learning with a representational ability whereas Deleuze argues that learning at bottom is nonrepresentational and is the condition for the rules that come to articulate the processes of learning after the fact. This is the move I don't see in M-P, though one I find compatible with what Stanley argues. Thanks again for your thoughtful reply. There's probably still an excellent defense of M-P to be made. I certainly wouldn't complain about that. I entered graduate school thinking I'd write my dissertation on M-P, so I still have many strong sympathies for his project.
When it comes to learning, Deleuze argues that “it is so difficult to say how someone learns.” (DR 23). More dramatically, Deleuze adds, there “is something amorous – but also something fatal – about all education.” (DR 23). In learning to drive a stick shift car, for example, it is... Continue reading
Thanks for this Wil. Yes, you're right that Nietzsche does not warrant taking license. This would be the topic for a whole new post (or more!), but one can turn to Gay Science §345 where Nietzsche rails against both the view that there are moral absolutes that are binding on everyone as well as the contrary position that assumes, based on cultural differences, etc., that there is no morality that is binding at all. Both views, Nietzsche argues, are "equally childish."
“Rehearse this thought every day, that you may be able to depart from life contentedly; for many men clutch and cling to life, in the same way that those who are carried down a rushing stream clutch and cling to briars and sharp rocks.” -- Seneca, Letter 4 “A free... Continue reading
Thanks for this Gordon! I had forgotten the Kafka quote you close with. It's perfect. Thanks as well for the quotes from the Trombadori interview. The toolbox theme, as you know, was also prominent in the dialogue between Foucault and Deleuze, published as "Intellectuals and Power." I wonder if you would agree with my claim that whatever the merits of the arguments that Foucault's thought was shifting dramatically in his final years might be, Foucault's focus on problematizing the "unquestioned field of experience" was an ongoing concern in his work from the start. It may become a more explicit theme by his later work - Fearless Speech was the 1983 Berkley seminar (so very late indeed) - but it was there all along.
With a provocative title such as this, it is easy to imagine how the rest of the story will go. Philosophy, one will read, no longer has an effective role to play in society. One could perhaps draw on the authority of Stephen Hawking and argue, as Hawking does, that... Continue reading
Thanks for this Gordon, This is a fascinating comment for I hadn't thought of my rapprochement strategy in political terms at all and was focused instead on trying to uncover a metaphysics in Hume and a genetic, constitutive notion of substance in Spinoza. That said, your comment brought to mind something Spinoza says about democracy in TTP: "For we have shown that in a democracy (which comes closest to the natural state) all the citizens undertake to act, but not to reason and to judge, by decisions made in common. That is to say, since all men cannot think alike, they agree that a proposal supported by a majority of votes shall have the force of a decree, meanwhile retaining the authority to repeal the same when they see a better alternative." TTP Ch. 20. A couple points from this quote stand out. First, the claim that democracy comes closest to the natural state. Coupled with Spinoza's earlier claim that a democracy is to be "defined as a united body of men which corporately possesses sovereign right over everything in its power," (TTP ch. 16) we can see that a democracy is the truer expression of God's power, or since God is nature this is what it means to be closer to the natural state. This echoes your reference to Spinoza's claim about finite minds constituting the mind of God. The second point, and with respect to what you say about common notions, the common notions you describe sound more like the decrees Spinoza mentions in what I just cited, decrees being the "decisions made in common." Such decisions do not reflect the thoughts of everyone within the democracy - they simply reflect the majority. I don't think the minority thoughts, the thoughts not expressed by the decrees, are what you have in mind by the difference that "escapes the common notions," and you may not have had anything like decrees in mind in thinking of common notions. In fact, common notions couldn't be what Spinoza means by decrees either, for a common notion is common to all extended objects or all thoughts, and it is equally in the part and in the whole; it would thus seem to be equally in the thoughts not expressed by the decrees as in the thoughts that are so expressed. Common notions would thus be a metaphysical rather than a political concept for Spinoza. I do think your socio-political conception of common notions is indeed close to Hume's general rules, and with such rules there are certainly exceptions, and there may well be a good way to bring Hume and Spinoza together on that front. I'll have to think about this more, so many thanks for your comment. I just throw my own thoughts out there to further the conversation.
As I concluded the previous post, I argued that the Deleuzian extension of Hume’s project entailed both the affirmation of monism (Spinoza) and multiplicity (Hume). This point is made crystal clear in A Thousand Plateaus when Deleuze and Guattari announce that “pluralism = monism” (ATP, p. 20; see this earlier... Continue reading
Thanks for this Ed. This was helpful to me! Let me begin at the end: YES, as I see it, and my follow up post will state this explicitly, a Deleuzian (Simondon-inspired) metaphysics of multiplicities bridges the gap between Deleuze's Humean empiricism (multiplicity) and Deleuze's Spinozist monism. This is the basis for the "pluralism = monism" claim from A Thousand Plateaus. So you see quite clearly where I'm going with this. As for the questions about Hume's critique of PSR, let me see if I follow you. Does Hume presuppose a type of passive synthesis (to use Deleuze's phrase) as the basis for the philosophical principle of PSR? Absolutely. It is our natural tendency for easy transitions on the basis of resemblance, etc., and the habits this gives rise to that leads to the philosophical ideas that express these habits in an abstract manner. That's why I like the two quotes, for it brings up the problem of how these habits get started in the first place. Is it the secret powers inseparable from what we perceive that is the basis for the natural habits we acquire and the philosophical ideas that are built upon them, or is it solely on the basis of a self-ordering habit and passive synthesis that accounts for the natural habit and the philosophical ideas? In the Treatise, it appears Hume is more inclined to the latter; in the Enquiry, so the argument goes in the New Hume debate, he inclines to the former. The relevance of all this to the PSR is that Treatise has a stronger argument against the PSR in that the PSR requires that for every phenomenon there is a relationship of dependency to that which serves as its sufficient reason. Spinoza, for example, claims that the one absolute substance is the sufficient reason for the finite modes that are in a relationship of dependency to this one substance. Hume denies this relationship because he argues that one can separate that which is dependent from that which it is dependent upon and then he argues that there is nothing necessary about the relationship between them. It is only habit again that accounts for this relationship. But then what gets habit started? Is this a brute fact of human nature? With the Enquiry and the admission (or slip...?) that there are secret powers inseparable from the regularities we perceive, Hume seems to be allowing for PSR to reappear, though he doesn't embrace it and continues to affirm the separability thesis and the importance of habit, or he calls upon human nature as a brute fact (which is what you brought out in your questions). And the affirmation of brute facts as a move against PSR is precisely what Russell and Moore did in their rejection of Bradley's monism and his affirmation of the PSR, so this reading of Hume has an illustrious legacy.
I haven't posted in quite a while, but it seems like it might be time for another continental connections post (this is also cross-posted at my own blog). One of my favorite passages from Hume actually occurs twice – in the Treatise and the Enquiry. This is the passage where... Continue reading
Nice post Jon. I particularly like your third footnote about Jindal's only competence. One data point is that Microsoft has abandoned, as of last November, their stacked ranking system. Whether this will be the beginning of a sea change that leads to less assessments at the university level or not, who knows (I have my doubts), but at least in the case of MS they clearly saw the problems with it. Here's one story on it:
Hi Catarina, I'm not sure if you're familiar with this book but it seems like it will tie in nicely with a number of the arguments you have made in other posts about dialogue and conversation and the role they play in proofs. The book is Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thevenot's On Justification. They work in the context of a Bourdieu-styled sociology, and they rely upon a lot of empirical data, though I do find the six logics they argue for somewhat misguided. Here's the book:
Bat signal received! Great post Catarina and I'm enjoying the discussion about the role of combativeness and cooperation in philosophical inquiry. I do agree with you (or Aristotle) that successful inquiry will entail a mixture of both adversarial and cooperative moves, which brings me to John's comment. One of the reasons Deleuze spoke out against philosophical discussions was precisely for the reason you mentioned - philosophers work through creating concepts in partial response to problems, and any two given philosophers may simply not be addressing or discussing the same problem. Even when the problem is formulated (or actualized) within a set of propositional claims, they may debate the nature of these claims but the adversarial relationship follows more from the non-identity of the problematic conditions with these claims, or the irreducibility of propositional claims to their problematic conditions. Adversarial relations and oppositional positions are thus inevitable from this perspective; however, a productive philosophical concept draws from the problematic conditions in a way that may well be thought of as cooperative (in a sense). The great philosophical concepts thus generate both adversarial debate and further cooperative inquiry. Deleuze cites Plato's concept of the Idea as a response to its problematic conditions, conditions that Kant addresses again with his theory of Transcendental Ideas, which is both in opposition to Plato but also further develops the Platonic inquiry of the problem. Deleuze then develops this point as an explicit theme with his concept of Ideas as multiplicities/problems, which is in opposition to Kant while also being a development of the Kantian problematic. This is all too brief, I know, but your comment makes much of this clear. I just wanted to tie it in to Catarina's post. One modification I'd make to your formulation, John, is when you say that "the concept of 'hurricane' is something like a thesis or proposition. In Deleuze's terms, it's actualized: it's the end result of a thought process that puts forth words as setting forth a concept." I would add to this that the actualized state also modifies the problematic conditions as well and so it's not a simple linear process but a complex recursive/feedback loop process. As we in Louisiana know, Hurricanes undergo similar processes when they churn up the cool water from deeper levels which then leads to a weakening of the hurricane (this is why they think Katrina weakened from a category 5 to a category 3 as it approached landfall. Otherwise, your discussion is clear as usual.
FA. I get it that you have problems with the manner in which the substance of the post has been discussed - namely, the incompetence of McGinn's book. You have studiously avoided discussing this topic so let me ask, yes or no, whether you think David has made the case that the substance of he post was on target? McGinns book is terrible and ought not to have been published. By avoiding this more relevant point I am led to believe you are not really conversing in good faith and you fit to a tee the definition of a concern troll listed above. And thanks David for your comments. They have been great
This has been an interesting discussion but I thought I'd throw in a few of the insights I've gained from living in St. Tammany Parish in Louisiana. Steve Scalise is the representative of my district and he's the chairman of the Republican House Study Committee, a very conservative wing of the house. Having had many conversations with people in the parish, including my own students who are often the children born and raised in this Parish, there's a few common features I've found. 1. A distrust of the federal government. Scalise speaks for many when he thinks the debt default is a scare tactic. As Scalise might put it, we will be bringing in enough revenue to pay the interest on our debt. Nothing terrible will happen on October 18. We won't default. This is often related to the TARP which was similarly sold to the public under the auspices of utter panic - you won't be able to get money out of your ATMs, etc. (which many people here believe was a myth and another scare tactic). This is probably a sub-category of Eric's (i) from his OP. Scalise also thinks that climate change is a hoax, another scare tactic thrust upon the public in order to justify governmental policies that will ultimately be to the detriment of Scalise's constituents. This is a widely held sentiment in my part of the world and when bringing up facts in order to counter those committed to these viewpoints they're just dismissed as "politically motivated." 2. The conservative echo chamber is very strong down here. The conservatives truly think they are in the majority and simply ignore polls to the contrary. The lessons of polls and Nate Silver from 2012 have not been learned very well down here, so given the distrust of government there's a sense that they will win in the end and the scare tactics are evidence for them that they are on the right track. Note the overheard conversation between McConnell and Paul. 3. Racism. It wasn't too long ago when Louisiana had a former Ku Klux Klansman running for governor (David Duke). The racism of the south is still very much a factor. If you compare the election results between Kerry-Bush in 2004 with Obama-McCain and Obama-Romney, Obama outperforms Kerry in every district except those in southern states, where Kerry lost those districts by a smaller margin than Obama did, and Kerry lost the general election while Obama won both! Hard not to conclude that race is a factor. 4. Related point is the fact that Boehner, unlike many previous house speakers, does not have the favor-granting abilities that helps to keep the party on message and to get the votes necessary to follow his will. I'm teaching Seneca's On Favors now and the ability to grant favors is key, and largely one that Boehner is without (the loss of earmarks is one key factor but the flood of money from conservative groups is another). Despite that, if Boehner were to lose the speakership then it would more than likely go to someone even less willing to work with the other party, and since most Republicans probably recognize that this would hurt their party brand even more than it's currently being hurt it's best to stick with Boehner for now than risk that alternative, and so if Boehner is catering to the TP caucus (to save his speakership) the majority of the rest of the party follows suit. As irrational as this may seem, this is their most rational move given the circumstances.
This brings up an interesting question Eric. My own sense of the reason for the migration you refer to is that Whitehead's metaphysics was perceived to be unnecessary for analytic philosophers to address the problems that were most pressing for them - and you mention the usual suspects here. Whitehead's work in logic and foundations of mathematics is fair game for it is important to the methods of logical analysis as carried forward by Carnap, Quine, et. al., but we can do without his metaphysics (and for Carnap we ought to), and so we can safely ignore the Whitehead of Process and Reality. Most continental philosophers ignored Whitehead too, and for similar reasons--namely, the critique of metaphysics tradition one finds in Heidegger up through and including Derrida had no use for Whiteheadian process metaphysics either. Deleuze and Stengers are pivotal figures here, as you point to in the OP, for Deleuze in particular sees a metaphysics of the event in Whitehead that anticipates his own metaphysical project, and Stengers' book with Ilya Prigogine, Order out of Chaos, provided another entry into process metaphysics that opened the door for Stengers' own work on Whitehead, and for others as well from within the continental tradition (especially those such as myself and Protevi who pursued the metaphysical implications of dynamical systems theory). With all the work being done in analytic metaphysics I wouldn't be surprised to see a migration of work in Whitehead back to analytic philosophy (and I gather from you post you have a similar sense).
Nice post, Eric. Since you've brought up the relationship between Myth and history, I thought I'd mention the historian William McNeill who wrote a nice essay a number of years ago on what he sees as the necessary interplay between myth and history. The essay is titled, appropriately enough, "Mythistory" Where McNeill differs from your account (perhaps not?) is that he argues that we inevitably don't recognize myth for myth and it requires an outsider to call us on our myth making. Otherwise, myths are positive in that they structure and determine much of how an "in-group" conceives itself, its world, and what is important, relevant, etc., in this group and world (the in-group/out-group distinction does a lot of work in McNeill's essay). The good historian, according to McNeill, calls a spade a spade, or a myth a myth, and in doing acts as an outsider and alerts the in-group to the structures, concepts, and commitments the "in-group" is blind to.
Thanks for this post Jon - I agree wholeheartedly with your 2. I just finished a huge essay on this theme. I haven't looked through the SPEP program yet, but anecdotally at least I've been pleased to see that increasingly the move has been back not to Kant but to pre-Kant - Spinoza especially. That's a reason why Deleuze is an interesting figure, I would argue, and it is perhaps one of the reasons he has was initially slow to appear as the subject of SPEP panels, for he is forthright in his infinitism, which is in sharp contrast to the finitism one finds dominant in both analytic and continental traditions. Regardless, I'm looking forward to this year's program.
I second Julie Klein's #33: why not Canetti? His Crowds and Power was very influential on continental thought. Deleuze and Guattari, for example, draw heavily on it in A Thousand Plateaus. Paul Virilio's work is also imbued with the spirit of Canetti's work though I can't recall offhand if he explicitly cites him or not.
I had a problem yesterday as well. I used the username and password I had been emailed but it didn't work. However, I reset the password and once I followed the link I was emailed I was able to change the password and login without a problem. Hope this helps until the glitch is resolved. Thanks for starting this John.
Thanks for this Mohan. As one who has lived in the New Orleans area, I've come to appreciate what restaurants have to offer. You bring up important points about the early history of restaurants. I've found Rebecca Spang's book, The Invention of the Restaurant, a very good account of the history of restaurants. A central thesis in Spang's book is that Mathurin Roze de Chantoiseau was pivotal to the emergence of the restaurant for it was he who first proffered bouillon broths as a restorative - restaurer in French and hence restaurant. In this way, Roze was able to circumvent the challenges of the guild to the selling of broths and sauces. And who needs a restorative more than a weary traveller - and so it wasn't long before the two came together to become the restaurants you describe in the OP. Here's Spang's book:
Yes, one has an obligation to do so. If you sincerely try hard enough you will end up with a balanced volume. There are no excuses otherwise in my opinion.