Alberto Toscano – Credit and Critique

Event Date 22 – 23 March 2012
French Institute
17 Queensberry Place
London, SW7 2DT

Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy

Transdisciplinarity and the Humanities: Problems, Methods, Histories, Concepts
2011–2013 (AHRC 914469)

Workshop 2

Case Studies 1 – Transdisciplinary Texts: Dialectic of Enlightenment and Capitalism and Schizophrenia

This two-day Workshop will examine the transdisciplinary dynamics and modes of concept construction of two now-classic transdisciplinary texts from the mid–late twentieth century, one from each of the German and French traditions: Horkheimer and Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944; 1947) and Deleuze & Guattari’s two-volume Capitalism and Schizophenia (1972 & 1980). Written at strongly contrasting moments in European history – in the wake of fascism and of May 68, respectively – these two texts are in many ways emblematic of the national philosophical traditions from which they emerged: the one dialectical, the other anti-dialectical. Yet they are also texts that are profoundly ‘infected’ by their philosophical others – various early 20th-century anthropologies in particular – in their constructions of histories of the subject and the subject-function. And they share certain general methodological features in common: programmatic anti-systematicity and the writing practice of dual authorship, for example. They have also both been subjected to an increasingly global reception.

The Workshop aims to concentrate on the mechanisms and modes of generality/universality involved in the disciplinary dynamics of the two texts (their ‘models’ of transdisciplinarity); to consider the limitations associated with their historical formations; and to identify the continuing productivity of their afterlives, associated with their insertion into new geo-political contexts.

Day 2: Transversality: Experimentation and Dual Authorship in Deleuze & Guattari’s Capitalism and Schizophenia

Dr Alberto Toscano (Goldsmiths, University of London) – Credit and Critique
If capitalism has, in the words of Anti-Oedipus, ‘rendered concrete the abstract as such’, what is to become of philosophy? And if the abstract is the real, what is to become of critique, usually conceived as a practice which reveals the concrete relations behind hypostasized abstractions? This paper will home in on the theorisation of credit money in Anti-Oedipus, and of the axiomatic in A Thousand Plateaus, to consider the formulation in the work of Deleuze-Guattari of a non-dialectical theory of real abstraction, premised on a relationship between philosophy and political economy that supplants critique in favour of ontology. I will contrast the anti-dialectical refunctioning of the Marxian theory of money with contemporary attempts to terminate the critique of political economy, namely Lyotard’s Libidinal Economy (with its own theory of credit) and Baudrillard’s The Mirror of Production and Marxism and the System of Political Economy. This survey of what we could term la pensée soixante-treize – to stress its synchrony with the ‘crisis of Fordism’ – will test three theses: 1. that this philosophical moment, in its appropriation of economic themes, is undergirded by a repudiation of political representation, and more particularly of the very idea of ‘the Left’; 2. that, contrary to a later moment of philosophical retrenchment around the weak leitmotiv of philosophy-as-resistance, the termination of critique also involves the openly assumed risk of losing the very criteria that demarcate between philosophical abstractions and real, economic ones, or between thought and capital; 3. that in still seeking to think capitalism, Anti-Oedipus cannot but totalise and represent, but that the anti-dialectical spirit animating its totalisation and representation of capital poses a significant challenge to the ongoing elaboration of Marxian theories of real abstraction.

Alberto Toscano teaches in the Sociology Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea (Verso, 2010) and The Theatre of Production: Philosophy and Individuation Between Kant and Deleuze (Palgrave, 2006). He is an editor of the journal Historical Materialism.




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