Difference & Repetition: Dynamic Systems

For post-structuralists of the Deleuzian type, subjectivity is an effect of differential forces. Subjectivity is produced over and over by the relation(s) of differential forces. These forces are actual measurable things. Identity is an effect produced out of a differential field and subjectivity is an identity effect produced by the play of differential forces. These folks are hard core materialists or realists which to me means that they want to account for being through actual events/experiences that can be measured in some way rather than through a symbolic sign/signifier account of being. Knowledge needs to account for order AND novelty for the hardcore materialists, grounded in matter. Actual material processes.

If one thinks that matter is chaotic then you can’t account for order. If the only way one looks at the organization of matter, any object or thing, as chaotic, having no pattern or order to it, then there is no way to explain the ordering of that matter without adding a spiritual element, a transcendent spiritual force that conditions the matter from without, from outside the system of relations in the matter. Lots of different words for this, god, spirit, law etc. If the chaos of matter is pacified then one cannot account for novelty within the same system, also because of the spiritual element. These materialists also believe that “modern science” has moved toward understanding nature as machines or mechanistic which also eliminates freedom of the individual and ultimately difference, unless we say that humans are a special case that are unique in their creation. So instead of using either of these two approaches to matter and materialism, there is nonlinear dynamics or dynamic systems theory. 

Nonlinear dynamics is a non-mechanistic materialism that talks about complex material systems AND allows someone to take order and novelty into account. As I understand it, it’s a way of studying a system of relations that produces a thing always through a series of internal relations. For example, the fertilization of an egg and the resultant baby/animal/thing that is produced. It accounts for the production of the baby as a series of differential relations that occur inside the egg to produce the baby. How matter and energy work together to produce a thing. Manuel Delanda calls this process morphogenesis. It is obviously wicked complicated and I don’t understand it as much as I’d like. In his book Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy, Delanda says:

Deleuze rejects several of the entities taken for granted in ordinary forms of realism. To take the most obvious example, in some realist approaches the world is thought to be composed of fully formed objects whose identity is guaranteed by their possession of an essence, a core set of properties that defines what the objects are. Deleuze is not a realist about essences, or any other transcendent entity, so in his philosophy something else is needed to explain what gives objects their identity and what preserves their identity through time. Briefly, this something else is dynamical processes. Some of these processes are material and energetic, some are not, but even the latter remains immanent to the world of matter and energy. (Delanda 3)

This is all really just stage-setting I think. I don’t want to get into the particularities of dynamic systems theory (DST) yet because none of the terms Deleuze uses in D&R, like multiplicity, singularity, space, etc. have been introduced yet. So I think that the best way to suss out the important points of DST is to tackle them as Deleuze reveals his concepts that correspond in some manner to those of DST. But I do think it is important to introduce this stuff because so much of my understanding of D&R is filtered through DST. When I talk about concepts like difference or repetition or whatever I find that I have the tendency to get lost in the abstract. Deleuze takes great care to always ground his stuff in actual processes and draws upon differential geometry and math and science in very real ways, to talk about real things, which grounds his philosophy in actuality rather than abstraction. This helps me to then use his philosophy to talk about actual things/events/people rather than conceptual ideas. 

Hope this is all making sense. It’s been a  while. If you want to check out other resources for some of this stuff I suggest Delanda’s book, or googling state space, nonlinear dynamics, or differential geometry. But man, getting through even the wikipedia pages for those things was so difficult for me that I had to step away and just use my notes from class. Another day.

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  1. workingthroughprocess posted this