April 09, 2008

No other discipline is comparable in terms of aiding in the development of critical thinking, linguistic skills and practical application of concepts

New York Times highlights growing interest in philosophy
from Vox Nova by Policraticus The New York Times published an article last Sunday on the increasing interest in philosophy at colleges and universities around the United States. I always advise my college students to pick up a second major in philosophy in addition to what they are already studying, as I have found no other discipline comparable in terms [...]

Molar Machines and the Psychology of Bureaucrats– An Incoherent Rant
from Larval Subjects by larvalsubjects What we have in United States educational philosophies today is a shift towards a sort of “pedagogical Taylorism”, where it is assumed that education can be codified, instrumentalized, and quantified, such that assignments necessarily take on a generic and simplified structure– for this is what can easily be replicated –and where gradually these reforms have a morphogenetic effect on the classroom that feeds back on the classroom, giving form to what is taught, how it is taught, and how assignments are structured. In short, these reforms are molarizing machines, designed to create regularities in the Brownian motion of students and faculty, insuring that there is little change or deviation from a pre-delineated form. All the while it is assumed that every discipline can be taught in the manner of the various sciences and branches of mathematics, or that students compose a “smooth space” that can be manipulated and moulded freely, without any singularities... Yet teaching, especially in the humanities, is an art, and as we all know arts are labor intensive due to the singularities of the material dealt with, and cannot easily be instrumentally streamlined.

Believing in this World: Towards a Philosophy of Religion after Deleuze II
from An und für sich by Anthony Paul Smith From what has been said above it would seem that any semblance of a philosophy of religion in Deleuze’s thought will be not unlike the criticisms of religion found in the history of philosophy, specifically materialist philosophy. That is to say, he shares in the hostility towards religion expressed by Spinoza, Hume, and Nietzsche. Some go so far as to say that Deleuze’s philosophy, insofar as it speaks to the question of religion at all, is united in its antipathy towards religion with Anglo-American naturalism. This, some commentators try to convince us, is the consequence of his thesis of pure immanence. But this all assumes too much in that it ignores the place both Spinoza and Nietzsche hold for the possibility of a true religious practice (obviously in very different registers). It also ignores that Deleuze himself wrote on other figures, like Leibniz and Bergson, who wrote more obviously constructive and positive philosophies of religion. It passes over in silence Deleuze’s own intimations towards the end of his life on the question of belief and faith.

But if Deleuze’s thesis of immanence holds within it a positive as well as a negative philosophy of religion how then do we deal with his own stark opposition of religion to immanence in What is Philosophy? First, note the irony of Deleuze and Guattari’s presentation of the plane of immanence, as it can only be described as aggressively evangelical – they have preached the good news of the plane of immanence. Like all evangelists this preaching proceeds via the hostility of polemic when they equate religion with transcendence and as the other of philosophy: “Whenever there is transcendence, vertical Being, imperial State in the sky or on earth, there is religion; and there is Philosophy whenever there is immanence, even if it functions as arena for the agon and rivalry.” Yet such an ethic of exclusion contradicts immanence itself, as Deleuze and Guattari contradict themselves not 30 pages later when they write about Pascal and Kierkegaard saying that if the plane of immanence has learnt anything from “Christian philosophy” it is that there are infinite immanent possibilities...

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