Archive for the ‘Gilles Deleuze’ Category

CfP: Phenomenological Approaches to Media, Technology and Communication

14 November 2012

Conditions of Mediation: Phenomenological Approaches to Media, Technology and Communication

2013 International Communication Association (ICA) Preconference
ICA Theory, Philosophy and Critique Division
17 June 2013, Birkbeck, University of London

Paper proposals are invited from a very wide range of perspectives, including but not limited to media history, media archaeology, audience studies, political theory, metaphysics, software studies, science and technology studies, digital aesthetics, cultural geography and urban studies. Though all proposals should relate in some way to phenomenological thinking, this should be interpreted broadly, ranging from core thinkers such as Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and Sartre to those with looser affiliations to phenomenology per se, for example Arendt, Bergson, Bourdieu, Deleuze, Garfinkel, Ingold, Latour, Whitehead and Harman.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

  • Dr David Berry, Swansea University
  • Professor Nick Couldry, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Professor Graham Harman, American University of Cairo
  • Professor Lisa Parks, UC Santa Barbara
  • Professor Paddy Scannell, University of Michigan

Please send an abstract (max 200 words) of your paper to both Scott Rodgers ( and Tim Markham ( by 20 November 2012. Authors will be informed regarding acceptance / rejection for the preconference no later than 20 December 2012.

Henning Schmidgen on the early Latour

14 November 2012

This is one of the most informative articles I’ve read on the early influences on Latour’s work. The role of biblical exegesis is particularly interesting. And even the question of the Heidegger-Latour connection gets a little mention, which was the original impetus behind the reading group that launched this blog. Apparently the link is Latour’s philosophy teacher,  André Malet, who was into Bultmann, Heidegger’s one-time colleague, debating partner and friend.

Schmidgen, H. (2012). “The Materiality of Things? Bruno Latour, Charles Péguy, and the History of Science.” History of the Human Sciences.

This article sheds new light on Bruno Latour’s sociology of science and technology by looking at his early study of the French writer, philosopher and editor Charles Péguy (1873–1914).

In the early 1970s, Latour engaged in a comparative study of Péguy’s Clio and the four gospels of the New Testament. His 1973 contribution to a Péguy colloquium (published in 1977) offers rich insights into his interest in questions of time, history, tradition and translation. Inspired by Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy of difference, Latour reads Clio as spelling out and illustrating the following argument: ‘Repetition is a machine to produce differences with identity’.

However, in contrast to Deleuze’s work (together with Félix Guattari) on the materiality of machines, or assemblages [agencements], Latour emphasizes the semiotic aspects of the repetition/difference process. As in Péguy, the main model for this process is the Roman Catholic tradition of religious events.

The article argues that it is this reading of Péguy and Latour’s early interest in biblical exegesis that inspired much of Latour’s later work. In Laboratory Life (Latour and Woolgar, 1979) and The Pasteurization of France (1988) in particular, problems of exegesis and tradition provide important stimuli for the analysis of scientific texts.

In this context, Latour gradually transforms the question of tradition into the problem of reference. In a first step, he shifts the event that is transmitted and translated from the temporal dimension (i.e. the past) to the spatial (i.e. from one part of the laboratory to another). It is only in a second step that Latour resituates scientific events in time.

As facts they are ‘constructed’ but nevertheless ‘irreducible’. They result, according to Latour, from the tradition of the future. As a consequence, the Latourian approach to science distances itself from the materialism of Deleuze and other innovative theoreticians.

Academic fashions

16 December 2010

Google’s Books Ngram Viewer seems like the ultimate tool for tracing academic fads and fashions. It charts how often a word or phrase has been mentioned in books over a time period (in the last 200 years). Here are some Ngrams just for fun, on ANT, Latour, Heidegger, Harman, Deleuze, Whitehead, Sloterdijk and others. More on Ngram Viewer at The Guardian.

Towards Speculative Realism

10 November 2010

Graham Harman’s new book of old essays and lectures has just been published under the title Towards Speculative Realism: Essays and Lectures, by Zero Books. Its publication is a proper ANTHEM event, in the sense that this book deals with both actor-network theory and Heidegger, as well as Harman’s own attempt to build on both, through his object-oriented philosophy. Here are the contents:

    1. Phenomenology and the Theory of Equipment (1997)
    2. Alphonso Lingis on the Imperatives in Things (1997)
    3. The Theory of Objects in Heidegger and Whitehead (1997)
    4. A Fresh Look at Zuhandenheit (1999)
    5. Bruno Latour, King of Networks (1999)
    6. Object-Oriented Philosophy (1999)
    7. The Revival of Metaphysics in Continental Philosophy (2002)
    8. Physical Nature and the Paradox of Qualities (2006)
    9. Space, Time, and Essence: An Object-Oriented Approach (2008)
    10. The Assemblage Theory of Society (2008)
    11. Objects, Matter, Sleep, and Death (2009)

      Metaphysics and Things

      24 September 2010

      Check out the conference website for the Fourth International Conference of the Whitehead Research Project, entitled “Metaphysics and Things: New Forms of Speculative Thought,” at Claremont Graduate University on 2-4 December 2010.

      “This conference will provide the opportunity to identify and work through shared elements and problems, which have been developed by those working in the philosophies of A. N. Whitehead and Gilles Deleuze, Actor-Network-Theory, and Speculative Realism. The extensive work of Isabelle Stengers in its relation to Whitehead and Deleuze could be seen as indicative of the milieu which contemporary thought inhabits and the problems it is addressing. The importance of this major re-conceptualization of the demand for a renewed interrogation of the inter-relation of metaphysics and things is also evident in the work of Bruno Latour who has often discussed the importance of the work of both Whitehead and Stengers for his re-description of objects in terms of associations and networks. Speculative Realism has, recently, developed approaches to such questions which have a tensile but productive relationship with the concepts and approaches raised by Whitehead, Stengers, and Latour. This conference will include participants who are influential in all of these fields and its overall aim is to provide an open forum to further these important debates and to produce new modes of thought.”

      Confirmed conference participants include:

      • Isabelle Stengers (Université Libre de Bruxelles)
      • Donna Haraway (University of California at Santa Cruz)
      • Ian Bogost (The Georgia Institute of Technology)
      • James J. Bono (University at Buffalo)
      • James Bradley (University of Newfoundland)
      • Nathan Brown (UC Davis)
      • Levi Bryant (Collin College)
      • Didier Debaise (Max Planck Institute, Berlin)
      • Roland Faber (Claremont Graduate University)
      • Andrew Goffey (Middlesex University)
      • Michael Halewood (University of Essex)
      • Graham Harman (American University in Cairo)
      • Judith Jones (Fordham University)
      • Steven Shaviro (Wayne State University)

      Deleuze and Speculative Realism

      18 January 2010

      It would sure be interesting to explore further the confluence of Deleuze and Latour,  and the eddies they create in object-oriented philosophy. If you feel inspired to contribute, see this call for papers by Deleuze International (hat tip to Object-Oriented Philosophy and Speculative Heresy).

      Translation and Charles Péguy

      24 November 2009

      “Everything is external to everything else, and it takes difficult work to link any two things” – thus summarises Graham Harman one of Bruno Latour’s metaphysical points (Prince of Networks, pp. 104-105). The blog medium makes linking unrelated things rather easy, so hopefully it is not an entirely frivolous act to link transaction-cost economics with actor-network theory through the figure of Charles Péguy. The Organizations and Markets blog has just highlighted that the following Péguy quote is evoked at a crucial moment in Oliver E. Williamson’s (yes, this year’s economics Nobel Laureate) 1996 book, The Mechanisms of Governance, in support of  the ” microanalytic program” of TCE:

      “The longer I live, citizen. . .” — this is the way the great passage in Peguy begins, words I once loved to say (I had them almost memorized) — “The longer I live, citizen, the less I believe in the efficiency of sudden illuminations that are not accompanied or supported by serious work, the less I believe in the efficiency of conversion, extraordinary, sudden and serious, in the efficiency of sudden passions, and the more I believe in the efficiency of modest, slow, molecular, definitive work. The longer I live the less I believe in the efficiency of an extraordinary sudden social revolution, improvised, marvelous, with or without guns and impersonal dictatorship — and the more I believe in the efficiency of modest, slow, molecular, definitive work.” (pp. 13-14)


      The interactive diagram

      4 November 2009

      Here is how Callon defines homo economicus 2.0 in terms of Barry’s notion of the “interactive diagram:”

      The interactive diagram is a socio-technical agencement configured in such a way that at the center of the collective action we find an individual who is capable of developing projects and is endowed with a will to accomplish them, and who holds herself (because she is held) responsible for her acts and their effects. This diagram constitutes a particular answer to questions concerning the modalities of action. To the question “Who is at the source of the action?” the diagram answers “The individual and her projects.” To the question “What is the status of the different participants in the action?” it answers “On the one hand the individual defining and undertaking projects, whose identity changes and adjusts in relation to feedback and results, and on the other hand the technical devices with which she interacts and which constantly suggest original courses of action.” To the question “What does the action produce?” it answers “The discovery of possible new worlds, the unexpected, constant experimentation.” (p. 39)

      Homo economicus 2.0

      3 November 2009

      In the June 2004 issue of the Economic Sociology Newsletter [PDF] the following exchange took place between the interviewer (Søren Jagd) and Laurent Thévenot (“The French Convention School and the Coordination of Economic Action,” p.  13):


      Michel Callon argues that the model of economic man could be useful for people engaging in economic activities. And that the interesting thing about this model is if it is actually used by economic actors. Do you agree with that argument?


      If Callon says that I would say: Why do they use it? I would ask: What kind of properties should this variety of models have? This is not the kind of question he can answer. He would just answer that they do use it. I think that the problem with this answer is that it will lack a reflection on this architecture of regimes and on the path to the public. This is the main problem for me with this overwhelming notion of network. It doesn’t give any specification of the link, of the social link, of the social action. And again I think a good specification would require this specification both of the good and of the reality as it is used as a test. Instead of that the network modelling in general terms is, I would say, flat, so it cannot give you a good picture of what is needed to go from proximity to the public and to come back from there.

      Callon’s essay, “Economic Markets and the Rise of Interactive Agencements” in Pinch and Swedberg’s 2008 book, Living In a Material World, reads like a reply to this challenge, as he develops exactly what Thévenot seems to be asking for. Callon defends his notion of homo economicus 2.0 (also discussed elsewhere) by developing a conceptual framework that allows him not only to describe the conditions for the emergence of such calculative individual agency and its characteristics but also to present some normative considerations for political action. In the process he also manages to revitalise actor-network theory for the study of economic phenomena.


      Deleuze on apparatuses

      17 October 2009

      From “What is a Dispositif?” by Gilles Deleuze:

      Two important consequences ensue for a philosophy of apparatuses. The first is the repudiation of universals. A universal explains nothing; it, on the other hand, must be explained. All of the lines are lines of variation that do not even have constant coordinates. The One, the Whole, the True, the object, the subject are not universals but singular processes of unification, totalization, verification, objectification, subjectivation immanent to an apparatus. Each apparatus is therefore a multiplicity where certain processes in becoming are operative and are distinct from those operating in another apparatus.


      The second result of a philosophy of apparatuses is a change in orientation, turning away from the Eternal to apprehend the new. The new is not supposed to designate fashion, but on the contrary the variable creativity for the apparatuses: in conformance with the question that began to appear in the 20th century of how the production of something new in the world is possible. (pp. 347-349)

      Deleuze, G. and D. Lapoujade (2007). “What is a Dispositif?” Two Regimes of Madness: Texts and Interviews, 1975-1995. New York, Semiotext(e) ; London : MIT Press [distributor].  pp. 343-352