actualization, Adorno, Aristotle, contradiction, freedom, freud, identity, image of thought, Minima Moralia, minor ethics, Negative Dialectics, Negativity, Normativity, psychoanalysis

From a Melancholy Science to a Negative Diale(c)t(h)ics

Everyone will agree that it is of the highest importance to know whether we are not duped by morality. Emmanuel Levinas—Totality and Infinity


It is a question of attaining this will that the event creates in us…It is a question of becoming a citizen of the world—Gilles Deleuze, Logic of Sense [1]

From a Melancholy Science towards a Negative Diale(c)t(h)ics

Adorno’s ethics is a “melancholy science” because it has grown weary of the subject. In other words, Adorno’s ethics is both pessimistic and antagonistic because it aims to critique the processes of subjectification which the dominant society (re)produces. On the one hand, Adorno analyzes the principium individuationis of modern society, but on the other he does not subsume it to a dialectic which would lay claim to totality through a unifying principle of identity. Yet Adorno’s critique of modes of subjectification and individuation are always brought back to the society through which they are socially and economically determined. This is what allows his ethics the means to sharpen its critical edge. The main thrust of this ethics is to assert a radical critique of the substantiality of the subject and to fully do away with the absolute, constitutive nature of the self [2] founded upon a transcendent God [3]. In following this critique through its development in a negative dialectic, we will say that Adorno’s analyses constitute a minor ethics because they submit the major mode to a critique that attempts to dislodge the dominant image of thought [4] from its normative pretensions.
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apparatus of capture, culture, custom, decay, democracy, genealogy, image of thought, individual, instrumentality, Nietzsche, nomad, overman, Politics, power, religion, society, sovereignty, state, unground, universal, universal politics, utopia, war, war machine, warrior, Zarathustra

Nietzsche and the Capture and Domestication of Peoples



“You shall obey—someone and for a long time: else you will perish and lose the last respect for yourself”—this appears to me to be the moral imperative of nature which, to be sure, is neither “categorical” as the old Kant would have it (hence the “else”) nor addressed to the individual (what do individuals matter to her?), but to peoples, races, ages, classes—but above all to the whole human animal, to man (Beyond Good and Evil, §188).

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Bachelard, Deleuze, image of thought, philosophy of science, problematics, psychoanalysis, unconscious, value

Bachelard and the Psychoanalysis of Affective Stereotypes

A word will suddenly reverberate in us and find too lingering an echo in cherished, old ideas; an image will light up and persuade us outright, abruptly, and all at once. In reality, a serious, weighty word, a key word, only carries everyday conviction, conviction that stems more from the linguistic past or from the naivety of primary images than from objective truth…All description nucleates in this way and collects about centres that are too bright. Unconscious thought gathers around these centres–these nuclei–and thus the mind is introverted and immobilised. –Gaston Bachelard, Formation of the Scientific Mind

In this work Bachelard theorizes a pedagogical psychoanalysis that will attempt to reinstate the sense of the problem in science and remove any unconscious valorizations that occur through the development of scientific knowledge. The sense of the problem is at the forefront of Bachelard’s project because he believes that all knowledge must be an answer to a question (24-25). Moreover, the conservative instinct takes a stunting grip on science insofar as it becomes self-satisfied with the solutions it has already established. These solutions are the same platitudes that teachers and textbooks command us to memorize. A psychoanalysis of the scientific mind is called upon when epistemological obstacles encrust knowledge that is not questioned.

In fact, this is Bachleard’s main thesis: knowledge becomes overcoded with affective images that reduce the efficacy of thought by burdening it with so many coefficients of values. This instructs us on a difference between the historian of science and the epistemologist: the former considers the errors of a previous mode of thought to still constitute facts insofar as they entail real investments and beliefs. The latter, however, proceeds to link facts to a system of ideas that can show how these errors harbor a specific power of the problematic insofar as they represent counter-thoughts. Thus Bachelard believes that truly scientific knowledge always mobilizes its forces against previous knowledge.

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