Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Immediate Concerns

I have so many substantive things I want to write at the moment – particularly in response to some fantastic ideas raised over at Larval Subjects, as Sinthome continues to reflect on how we can make normative judgments about particular forms of thought, within an immanent and self-reflexive theoretical framework that does not allow us to point those judgments back to notions of cognitive failure or “mere” errors of thinking. Sinthome reflects particularly on the issue of mediation and abstraction – where abstraction is understood as the collapse of mediation through a kind of reductive identification of a part with the whole. Sinthome counterposes a vision of dialectical thought as a process of revealing mediations – and the ways in which those mediations can come to be hidden inside the various forms of immediateness within which they appear. Sinthome concludes with a reminder of why it is not simply an “academic” matter, whether we should perceive objects abstractly or in their network of mediations, but instead an issue integral to political practice:

I’ve always had a certain fondness for Bergson’s theory of the perception-image. For Bergson, perception is possible action. Put more forcefully, I perceive that which is within my power to act upon. Bergson refers to it as “virtual action”. Consequently, Bergson speaks of increasing and decreasing powers of my body. My perception is a coordination between the action of the body and the world that gives itself to that body, as if in a reflected mirror. Here, of course, Bergson discovers in his own way the thesis of the identity of subject and object developed by Hegel in the Phenomenology.

In this connection it could be said that the question of the relation between the immediate and the mediate takes on a special urgency. For the question of what is given as immediate is a question of that upon which one can act or that which one can affect and be affected by. As such, the question of overcoming stupidity is also, not surprisingly, a question of acting well… Which has little or nothing to do with being well behaved.

va then follows Sinthome’s post with the question of who, within the sort of theoretical framework Sinthome outlines, is understood to educate sensibilities, perceptions or desires – or, in words more often used around these parts, how we should understand the standpoint of critique within this kind of immanent approach. Sinthome’s response points back to the long-standing cross-blog discussion of critical sensibilities, and picks up particularly on themes relating to the different types of theorisation that may be required, to make sense of different aspects of the emergence of critical subjectivities. I then pick up on this constellation of issues briefly and programmatically, in a comment I’d very much like to develop in greater detail here in the near future.

But first I have a toddler to take to the aquarium, and lectures to write, and a host of other… more immediate… concerns…


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