Saturday, 28 June 2008

Deleuze2008: About the conference

In 2008 Stavanger, Norway, is the European Capital of Culture, alongside Liverpool, England.

The Stavanger2008 vision is expressed through the concept ‘Open Port’. Open Port – openness towards the world - is about the challenge to be open and inclusive towards others, art, ideas and opportunities.

Deleuze2008 will take this challenge - litterally. One of the main aims of the conference is just to explore the idea of openness. More precisely, as Openness can be said to be such a vital concept in the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze (1925-95), the idea is to explore Deleuze in the Open.

The conference will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the publication of Difference and Repetition. Starting off from this seminal work, the conference will meander through various aspects of the Open. Thus the vision of Stavanger2008 will be thematized – deleuziastically.

The concepts of difference and repetition can be said to contain the ontology of Deleuze. In this ontology, what there is is ungrounded for the sake of an open future where eternally only that returns which is yet to come. The condition of the new is the repetition, obviously not of the past – which would only mean that back again came just the Same (which is the nightmare keeping all children in their right minds wide awake) –, but of difference. Thus ontologically Openness is the return of the yet to come.

Held on November 7th and 8th, the conference will touch upon these aspects of the Open:

The conference aims to explore the concept of the open-ended becoming of the world. As we here are dealing with the highest or most basic determinations of reality, it is natural also that the conference touches upon the question of God and religiosity.

Does the metaphysical position of Deleuze represent a challenge to the sciences and/or vice versa?

In contradistinction to other directions in modern ethics, metaphysics has a role to play in the ethics – and politics – of Deleuze. Immanent ethics is likely to oppose both micro- and macroreductionism, and thus to break with the simpleminded focus on either actor or community.

Ethics raise the question of how to live. Art give us examples of answers to that question. In art the Open is put to action, thus leading the sensationist to metaphysics...

Deleuze2008: Registration

To register, please go here.

Deleuze2008: Keynote talks

Simon Duffy
‘The metaphysics of openness in Deleuze's approach to science and mathematics’

Throughout his work, Deleuze develops a number of mathematical problematics that he extracts from the history of mathematics, and which he then redeploys in relation to the discourse of philosophy as a part of his project of constructing a philosophy of difference. When assessing the openess of Deleuze's philosophy of difference or it's potential to be redeployed in relation to other discourses, an important characteristic that needs to be taken into consideration is whether the kinds of engagements that Deleuze undertakes between the discourse of philosophy and developments in the discipline of mathematics can be repeated. Are the engagements that Deleuze undertakes with the discipline of mathematics exhaustive? Or is the logic of these engagements able to be repeated in relation to other developments in the discipline of mathematics? I would argue that the logic of the generation of problematics, which orients Deleuze's deployment of mathematical problematics throughout his work, continues to effect the discipline of mathematics even after the subsequent reappropriation of particular problematics by it. Deleuze's work is therefore open to being redeployed in relation to the discipline of mathematics in order to generate new problematics, which can then be made available for redeployment within the discourse of philosophy, thus openning up the potential for the creation of new philosophical concepts, or within other disciplines to create like effects.

Roland Faber
‘…and the world, the universe, is itself the Open' — Contours of Deleuze’s Resistance to the Logic of the One

For Gilles Deleuze, the metaphysical quest for “reality” is led by his concern for a resistance to all regimes of oppression, be they ontological, aesthetical, ethical, or political. Gilles Deleuze associates himself with an underground tradition of untimely philosophies, such as Bergson, Hume, and Whitehead in their endeavor to deconstruct the world of closure into traces of indispensable multiplicity, creative unpredictability, and profound novelty; reinterprets some like Nietzsche and Bataille to fit a universe of irrevocable differentiation; and repudiates others, like Hegel, as expressions of closure, of a logic of the One, Deleuze must avoid at all costs. This paper will trace different appearances of this complicated multiplicity, creativity, and novelty in Deleuze’s work on the levels of ontology, epistemology, and politics as philosophical confessions of openness in the struggle against worlds of intricate networks of deceptive repetition, power inflicted necessities of hierarchical logic, and the seductive forces of the selfsame; and for a culture of Life.

Graham Harman
‘The Assemblage Theory of Society’

This lecture considers the interesting ‘assemblage theory’ of society found in Manuel DeLanda’s A New Philosophy of Society (2006), which links up with some of the key issues of classical and present-day metaphysics, not to mention some of the central themes of this conference.

DeLanda’s use of the assemblage has the great appeal that it allows him to avoid two typical exaggerated positions about the nature of individual things:

(a) for Leibniz, there is an absolute distinction between natural substances and artificial aggregates. By contrast, DeLanda holds that all genuine entities (whether machines, armies, or trees) are made up of swarming legions of tinier entities.

(b) yet despite this vision of entities as assemblages formed from multiple subcomponents, DeLanda does not adopt the pseudo-radicalism of claiming that ‘there is no inherent reality; everything is only a relational effect.’ Quite the opposite: DeLanda’s remorseless realism leads him to assert that even those societies created by humans have an inherent reality apart from everything that humans know about them. More generally, an assemblage of any kind is not reducible to its relational effects on other things.

Hence, an assemblage is a strange sort of entity, lying midway between the traditional substance and aggregate. An assemblage is like a substance insofar as it marks a surplus beyond any of its outer effects (relations are external to their terms). But an assemblage is also like an aggregate, insofar as it is many. It is not some final atom of reality found in nature in the manner of Leibniz’s monads. Indeed, assemblages are constantly created or destroyed and can be found in a wide range of sizes, from subatomic beings on up to international spy conspiracies.

Criteria are still needed for distinguishing genuine assemblages from random lists of entities. And DeLanda does offer such criteria, drawing convincingly from the work of Roy Bhaskar. The main goal of this lecture is to streamline and to some extent criticize DeLanda’s criteria for what makes an assemblage a real assemblage. In this way, new light is shed on Deleuze’s vision of the Open, and new questions raised about the role of ‘the virtual’ in DeLanda and Deleuze.

Christian Kerslake
'The Opening of the World: Heidegger, Axelos and Deleuze'

Heidegger spoke of human experience as existing in a 'clearing' opened up by the consciousness of finitude. On the Heideggerian view, the notion of “world” presupposes an “opening”. In his later thought, Heidegger expanded upon the historical and epochal dimensions of human existence, arguing that the development of culture and technology entails a progressive 'forgetting' of the most fundamental relations to 'Being'. The later Heidegger’s epochal approach to ontology was further unfolded by Eugen Fink (1905-1975) and Kostas Axelos (1924-). The latter, attempting to synthesise Heidegger and Marx, developed the concept of a 'planetary thought' that would be capable of combating the 'worldwide scaffold of representation', and regenerating our understanding of the significance of world history. “The ‘history of the World’”, says Axelos, “is not simply a universal or world history”; rather it should denote “the epochs of our openings to the world and our transformational operations” upon it.
Deleuze wrote two articles on the work of Axelos (collected in Desert Islands), and in them he takes up the late Heidegger's and Axelos' visions of a new 'planetary thought'. Deleuze suggests, however, that a future planetary 'Openness' can only be constructed by (1) taking into account the 'virtuality' of the whole body of the human past (via Bergson's theory of time), and (2) and by exposing (via Leibniz's theory of contingency) the "play in the creation of the world" at each level of being – the physical, the biological, the psychic, and socio-historical. He denies that the opening or clearing in which human beings stand should be characterised in terms of a 'transcendence', arguing that it should instead be conceived as a 'plane of immanence'. Planetary thought, in Deleuze’s sense, is an occupation of the ‘plane of immanence’. In Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Deleuze and Guattari argue that human beings, having attained the plateau of ‘deterritorialisation’ relatively recently (less than 10,000 years ago), must now absolutely deterritorialise themselves to secure their de jure status as transcendental beings.
This paper argues that Deleuze's thought presents untapped resources for a re-thinking of our current place in world history. By developing a self-grounding philosophy of difference adequate to a truly planetary thought, and by stressing the ontological distinctiveness of biological and psychic life, Deleuze develops the means to renew the question of the point of human existence. What is it to have a world? What kind of world do we want to live in? Deleuze’s identification of the transcendental significance of human deterritorialization could be helpful for grounding the struggle against global capitalism. Deleuze’s thought could contribute to the construction of a progressive counterpower devoted to the dismantling the ‘worldwide scaffold’ of global capitalism, and the recovery of the real, intensive structure of global, and even cosmic, history.

Daniel W. Smith
‘The Idea of the Open: On Deleuze’s Theory of Relations’

The paper will examine Deleuze’s treatment of the Bergsonian theme that the Idea of the Whole, or of Totality (le Tout) is equivalent to the Idea of the Open. For Bergson, any movement in space expresses something of another nature, namely, a qualitative change in a whole. When night falls, it is an assignable change that constitutes an affection of a Whole: the Whole of a village, the Whole of a day, the Whole of the country. In this sense, Deleuze will argue, the Whole is more than the sum of its parts; rather, it is duration itself, real time, and thus is equivalent to the Idea of the Open.

James Williams
‘Openness and its physical limits: framing Deleuzian responses to world events’

What are the horizons of world events? How far back in time and how far into the future should we seek their limits? Where are their inner and outer boundaries? How small-scale should we go when observing their effects? When is a grand scale too great to do justice to the sometimes minute events toppling individuals from harmony to chaos? When we say the future is open and spaces limitless are we committing a serious logical error, for if they are open then we should know why and how, but if we know such things then have not our horizons already closed in? The idea of the event and its attendant problems are central to Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy. His view of events is characterized by an inherent openness: events have no intrinsic limits in space or time, including the strange kinds of limits that we often take for granted such as the bygone nature of the past, the immediacy of the present and the relative predictability of the future. Events only have ephemeral, incomplete and contingent limits necessary for the representation and expression of the event as actual. This necessity is not only a property of actual events but rather also a constraint for the event as without limit, since we must have a way of determining this lack of limits, or extreme openness, in order to avoid falling into an unthinkable chaos. For Deleuze, events are therefore necessarily universal and eternal. They reach even beyond the global defined as a current state of world economy, extending into the limitless times and spaces of the virtual and of the ideal as defined in his revolutionary Difference and Repetition. Yet events are also necessarily singular and local. Each event has to be expressed in a here and now torn apart, or more happily, allowed to expand into eternal relations beyond its present moment and current location. Today, we perhaps overemphasize the here and now of global events, where everything is urgent, not only rightly through the deep demands events make on our singular thoughts and feelings (the way our events make us and make us into moral agents) but also wrongly through a severe lack of historical perspective and sense of the pragmatic openness of the future (the way our events obliterate our memories of earlier errors and successes yet also constrict our confidence in the power of novelty). In this talk I will reflect on the openness of Deleuze’s events, on his recommendation for us to recreate our singular actual features through an open experimentation, and on the deep problems implied by the idea that wherever and whenever we start to think and to act, there is no final legitimate boundary for those thoughts and actions.

Deleuze2008: Call for papers

Deleuze2008, November 7th and 8th, Stavanger, Norway – Open port

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the publication of Difference and Repetition, this conference aims to enquire into the concept of Openness with regard to the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze.

Keynote speakers are Simon Duffy, Roland Faber, Graham Harman, Christian Kerslake, Daniel W. Smith and James Williams

The theme of the Open is touched upon in many ways throughout the writings of Deleuze. For example, in the early book on Hume there is the externality of relations. In the book on Bergson there is duration understood as the change that is substance, the multiplicity that divides only by changing in kind. Then, in the book on Nietzsche there is the eternal return, determined as the universal being of becoming. Furthermore, in the book on Spinoza there is the claim that substance must be unlimited. In Difference and Repetition there is the issue of reciprocal determination. In that same book, Deleuze also goes out in search of a difference that is not second, a difference that is first, having its own concept. These are all expressions that testify to the vital importance of Openness in Deleuze’s thought.

Shortly then, the intent of this conference is to subordinate the philosophy of Deleuze to the question of the Open in such a way that it reveals something of its essence.

There are various aspects of the Open. Possible topics for papers are:
· Metaphysics – the open-ended becoming of the world; any room for religiosity?
· Science – is deleuzian metaphysics a challenge to the sciences and/or vice versa?
· Ethics and politics – the assemblage theory of society; what if anything is immanent ethics?
· Art and sensation – sensational encounters.

Especially welcome are papers on Difference and Repetition, as well as on the assemblage theory of society.

Abstracts of no less than 500 words should be sent to Please note that the deadline for submissions is extended to September 20th, 2008. Notification regarding acceptance will be made by the 3rd of October. A working paper should be submitted by October 24th. Please note that the delivery time for papers is thirty minutes.