1 Jan 2013

Pt2.Ch3 Somers-Hall’s Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. ‘Bergsonism.’ summary

Corry Shores
[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

[Central Entry Directory]
[Deleuze Entry Directory]
[Henry Somers-Hall, Entry Directory]
[Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation, Entry Directory]

[Note: All boldface and underlining is my own. It is intended for skimming purposes. Bracketed comments are also my own explanations or interpretations.]


Henry Somers-Hall


Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation.

Dialectics of Negation and Difference


Part 2: Responses to Representation

Chapter 3: Bergsonism

Very Brief Summary:

Bergson’s method of intuition discovers a continuously integrated heterogeneous multiplicity, as found in duration, which is the opposite ideal limit to pure extension, as both are extremes to which matter/duration tends in its expansion and contraction. This discovery is part of his critique of homogeneous media that allow for the external relating of atomic parts, like homogeneous space and spatialized time. Bergson’s heterogeneous duration better explains life processes, and it reveals a sort of order that is not based on a structuring of atomic parts.

Brief Summary:

Bergson is critical of homogeneous notions of space, like Kant’s and Spencer’s. More basically, he is critical of homogeneous media that allow for parts to be related externally, which for Bergson is spatialization. This spatialization has been wrongly applied to time so to create an atomic model of time as made of discrete parts, but it cannot explain the movement between moments. Bergson’s method of intuition uncovers duration, which is a continuously integrated heterogeneous multiplicity like Riemann space/manifolds. It better explains biological processes like embryonic development, and it can describe the order of a system that would seem disordered to an analysis looking for a structure of atomic elements.



In the previous part, we examined representational theories in the history of philosophy, with a little of Deleuze’s and Hegel’s responses. Kant’s transcendental apperception, represented in the ‘I think’ accompanying every inner act, is a unity that allows for the unities in our understanding’s concepts, our intuition’s synthesized manifolds, and as well the unity between concepts and intuition, which enables us to representationally articulate judgments in subject-predicate form. But Deleuze’s logic of incompossibility also explains our ability to make judgments of the world without the help of representational unities. Aristotle and Russell propose hierarchical logical systems of the division of things, but these systems lead to paradoxes and the inability to explain change on account of their law of excluded middle. Hegel’s solution is a productive sort of contradiction.


In this part we will examine Deleuze’s and Hegel’s responses to representation. Deleuze’s is based on Bergson’s theory of multiplicity. Bergson critiques Kant’s notion of space and more importantly his notion of the transcendental apperception for being a homogenous medium in which discrete atomic elements take on external relations. This notion of space begins with Euclid, runs through the development of physics and mechanism, and is found even in Herbert Spencer’s evolution theory, which says that we evolved to have a priori representations of the homogenized space of the world. But the world and our knowledge of it does not always match. Bergson’s method of intuition uncovers this mismatch, primarily with regard to the concept of duration. In the first phase, we sense something missing about the theory, and in the second we put aside our assumptions to come up with a better theory. When examining the atomic conception of time, which transposes homogenous space onto time, we sense how it is unable to explain the transition between discrete moments, and we are then led to conceive of duration as a continuously integrated heterogeneous multiplicity, like Riemann’s space/multiplicity. Unlike homogenous spatialized time, heterogeneous duration better explains biological phenomena like embryonic growth, where surfaces give way to new surfaces with unique topological features not implied in prior ones. But a closer look at Bergson’s multiplicities finds that they are really two ideal limits toward which the same ambiguous matter/duration can tend in its expansion to extension and contraction to pure duration. There is no pure space without time, nor is there pure duration without extension. Duration is vibrational, and even when matter is considered in its most extended form, with its parts being the most externally related, still these parts are tiny slight vibrations of duration. Matter is succession to its least degree, just as succession is matter to its least degree. So Bergson’s theory is dually monistic and dualistic, as it has two principles different in kind that are intermixed by a continuous scale of variation from one to the other, with neither being able to stand on its own. A heterogeneous multiplicity might seem disordered, but this is only when analyzing systems into discrete externally related parts. Heterogeneous multiplicity merely expresses a different order than homogenous multiplicity. Deleuze will use this concept to portray a field of variation that is ordered and determinate on account of its thoroughgoing internal differentiation, even if discrete entities in it cannot be discerned.

Somers-Hall, Henry (2012) Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. Dialectics of Negation and Difference. Albany: SUNY.

No comments:

Post a Comment