Thursday, September 06, 2007

A similar ethno-socio-historical analysis could be written for various religious experiences

Posted by larvalsubjects under Individuation , Deleuze
For those who are interested, a translation of Tarde’s Social Laws: An Outline of Sociology can be found online here. Tarde is one of those underground figures in the thought of Deleuze and Guattari (if memory serves, Deleuze refers to his work as early as Difference and Repetition). Speaking of his importance, Deleuze and Guattari write,
In homage to Gabriel Tarde (1843 - 1904): his long-forgotten work has assumed new relevance with the influence of American sociology, in particular microsociology. It had been quashed by Durkheim and his school...
It bears repeating that, for Deleuze, the problem of individuation is not the question of how an individual is identified or distinguished from another individual, but rather is the question of how an individual comes-to-be or is produced. As Deleuze will tirelessly repeat, “individuation is not the individual.” Individuation, rather, is an ontological process. In Difference and Repetition, this process is shown to have two dimensions or halves: differentiation and differenciation. Differentiation refers to the differential relations and singularities belonging to a multiplicity and defining a “problematic field”, where a problematic field can be taken as the forces, matters, and tensions a being must navigate in coming to be. Differenciation, by contrast, refers to the manner in which this field is resolved so as to precipitate species, qualities, and parts. For instance, the color of your skin (a quality and part) will be a function of how it is actualized or how it intergrates, sunlight, genetics, diet, and so on. These integrated elements are the problematic field resolved in the course of individuation...
In this particular instance, class would belong to the domain of differenciation, whereas the tensions and forces populating the field of masses would belong to the realm of differentiation. We must not assume a sort of universal human nature where we are born with inherent ways of being affects, of perceiving, of living the world, and so on. For instance, we must not begin with the premise that “humans”, at all times and places, are born with inherent mystical or transcendent experiences, or with the capacity to love as we think it today. Rather, we must examine the way in which bodies are individuated so as to produce these kinds of affects. Niklas Luhmann, for instance, shows how the contemporary experience of love emerged from a particular set of social and historical processes in Love as Passion.
Marx shows how new types, sensibilities, subjectivities emerge historically in the bourgeois and proletariat (thereby undercutting a good deal of bourgeois ideology that posits universal human passions such as greed by showing the historical specificity of this sort of subjectivity). A similar ethno-socio-historical analysis could be written for various religious experiences. These are all instances of subjectivization that refer to particular individuations within a social field. The themes here are very close to those Deleuze had explored decades before in his study of Hume, Empiricism and Subjectivity, where he sought to show how Hume is attempting to account for the formation of the subject or how a subject emerges. I have not yet read the Tarde [here], but it looks well worth the time.

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