Dorothea Olkowski – Deleuze and Guattari: Capitalism and Sovereign Freedom

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

Professor Dorothea Olkowski (Philosophy & Women’s Studies, University of Colorado) – Deleuze and Guattari: Capitalism and Sovereign Freedom
In What is Philosophy? Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari claim that age brings them “sovereign freedom,” a moment of grace for the production of something that cuts across all ages, something like a final question that one’s successors may never catch up with. They note that with respect to what they have been doing (namely, philosophy as the creation of concepts) possibly they have not said this clearly or convincingly enough. And it is not only with their own philosophy that they appear to wish to do this, but everything that they call upon in their articulation of philosophy must do this as well. And what do they call upon?  Amongst the rooted and sovereign formations in philosophy, it seems that they find only one circuitous route. “A conspiracy joining together art and science presupposes a rupture of all our institutions and a total upheaval of the means of production.” Still, this “solution” may overlook the problem it seeks to solve, that problem being, if nature is a process in which there is neither nature nor human being, except as a single reality, then the very idea of “sovereign freedom” and of a philosophy that arises as a rupture of institutions and an upheaval of production in relation to such freedom could turn out to be an illusion.

The background text related to this talk is Chapter 4 of Olkowski, The Universal (In the Realm of the Sensible), 2007, entitled ‘Under Western Eyes’.  It is about the relationship between universals and capitalism, as is the paper.

Dorothea Olkowski is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and Director of the Cognitive Studies Program.  She is a member of the University of Western Ontario, Rotman Institute of Philosophy. Her publications include Gilles Deleuze and the Ruin of Representation (University of California Press, 1999) and The Universal (In the Realm of the Sensible) (Edinburgh University Press and Columbia University Press, 2007).  Her most recent books, Time in Feminist Phenomenology (with Christina Schües and Helen Fielding, 2011) and Postmodern Philosophy and the Scientific Turn, (2012) are both with Indiana University Press.




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