Reading notes: Deleuze’s Empiricism and Subjectivity, Chapter 2

The feeling prompting us approve/disapprove (pleasure/pain) are produced w/r/t character in general without reference to particular interests. How is this possible? Via sympathy.

A paradox: a space sans extension is opened; in order to me moral sympathy must extend into the future, aided by a present circumstance that strikes in a lively manner – a process that only occurs with the exclusion of cases that do not present such circumstances (fancy favors pleasure, while human nature favors contiguity, resemblance, and causality). Our natural generosity is limited and our affection is privileges some over others.

Not our nature that is moral, but instead: our morality is in our nature. H: we are less egoistic than we are partial.

Individuals always belong to assemblage (clan, family etc.) so sympathies are skewed, but still” “sympathy is not less opposed to society than egoism is” (38).

No one has the same sympathies (~multiplicity of wills in Nietzsche), hence contradiction and violence.

For society to exist this must be addressed. From a contrarian perspective, egoisms must be limited; but thinking in terms of positivities, sympathies must be integrated. For H, the former perspective gives an abstract and false image of human nature. We naturally find families (skewed, partial sympathies) but they can not just be added up to a society; they must be integrated so as to transcend the natural partiality (39-40).

Moral world, therefore, is not reduced moral instinct or natural determinations of sympathy; rather, it “affirms its reality when the contradiction is effectively dissipated.”

What is the factor that integrates sympathies and grounds justice? Esteem. The moral/social problem is moving from real sympathies, which exclude one another, to an inclusive whole…extending sympathy.

Moral world requires the construction of such a system – it is artificial (note how this relates to Hobbes’s account of human nature and the State…).

Sympathies are natural, but impotent to constitute a moral world on their own; they are mutually exclusive. “One can only invent a whole” (40). Justice, for example, is a rule/law, not a principle of nature – it is a means and its role is to organize the elements/principles of nature.

Schematism: “the act by means of which we refer the natural interests to the political category of the whole or to the totality which is not given in nature.”

Moral world is: the artificial totality where particular ends are integrated; system of means that allows diverse interests to be realized; a whole in relation to parts and a means in relation to ends. A political conscience.

H: a general rule (a rule or a norm) has two poles: form and content. In a society:

Form                                                    Content

Conversation (not violence)                property

Systems of customs (lack of rules)     stability of possessions

This occurs under the condition that particular sympathies are transcended. Rule’s function: “to determine a stable and common point of view, firm and calm, and independent of our present situation” (41).

These values affect us less than our own interests/kin/etc., but they have the practical advantage of being general/immutable criteria.

This artificial obligation (duty, hello Kant) differs essentially from natural obligation (applies to form and content). With the conversation-property dyad, Hume finds property to be the “political phenomenon par excellence” (42). Reason as conversation btwn proprietors.

General rule is thus extensive and corrective.

How is its invention possible? The gambit: sympathies must be extended through artifice or destroyed through contradiction. Bentham: no constant/enduring satisfaction w/out artifice, culture, industry. Extension operates through elimination of natural obstacles: “the significance of justice is exclusively topological” (43). Artifice does not create a new principle; it reshapes, extends. Justice doesn’t limit passions; rather it enlarges and extends. Extension here is correction and reflection.

Justice is a reflection of interest, reshaping passion itself; a movement of practical reason. “[R]eason is nothing but a determined moment of the affections of the mind – a calm or rather calmed affection, ‘grounded in a distinct view or in reflection’” (44).

The dualism in H’s work is between whole of nature (including artifice) and the mind that is affected/determined by it. Therefore, justice (artifice) is not reduced to instinct or natural obligation (humans are, by nature, creators – “an inventive species”). Yes, the function of justice is to constrain passions, but this does not mean it has ends other than satisfying passions, or an origin in the passions: “it satisfies them obliquely” (44).

Nature + culture = whole or composite; H does not reduce everything to instinct. Above all, he critiques egoism b/c it neglects natural sympathy. To say egoism means that all drives pursue their own interest is to define “an uncultivated and abstract humanity without history or difference” (how does this jibe with Nietzsche’s account of the soul in BG&E, and the will to power?) Egoism can designate some means we use to satisfy drives, but not all – demoted.

Hume’s political economy adds many other frequently contradictory motives to interest. “Indeed, noting is further from the homo oeconomicus than Hume’s analysis. History, the true science of human motivation, must denounce the double error of an abstract economy and a falsified nature” (45).

Critique of social contract: the essence of society is not the law but the institution. The law limits, and contractual theories render a society based in law, which only guarantees natural rights and only originates in the contract. In this case, all positivity/productivity is taken away from the social; instead, it is “saddled with negativity, limitation, and alienation.” Law can’t be the source of obligation because they presuppose utility…one enters society not b/c one has pre-existing rights, but because they do not. “The institution, unlike the law, is not a limitation but rather a model of actions, a veritable enterprise, an invented system of positive means or a positive invention of indirect means” (46). Utility is on the side of institutions, not the law. The social is creative and outside it is lack, and social institutions rely on convention (not contract).

Society: “a set of conventions founded on utility, not a set of obligations founded on contract” (46). Law presupposes institutions that it limits. We move from a schema of rights/laws to needs/institutions. General rules are institutions; positive/functional systems with specific link to the principle of utility.

Some might interpret utilitarian as functionalist, where utility explains society and drives/needs explain institutions, but H does not. Drives are satisfied in social institutions: marriage (supposedly) satisfies sexuality and property (supposedly) satisfies greed; the institution is “the model of actions, [a] designed system of possible satisfactions” (47); a system of means that both satisfies obliquely and indirectly, and constrains. They exist “when the means by which a drive is satisfied are not determined by the drive itself or by specific characteristics” (47). Why this institution/form?

Drives are general, so they can’t explain the particular, even when specific institutions provide forms of their satisfaction.

Utility does not explain institution: institutions constrain private utility; public utility presupposes a world of institutions that cannot be its origin. Instead, it is reason, custom, imagination. The reflection of the drive in the imagination (principle of association), not the drive itself, explains the institution; products of the creative power of imagination. “The satisfaction of human drives is related not to the drive itself, but rather to the reflective drive” (49). Nature: Culture :: Drive: Institution – they are one to the extent that the former terms are satisfied by the latter, but are two in that the former does not explain the latter.

Rule established by interest & utility, and determined by imagination: “it is determined and modified in statements reflecting situations and possible circumstances” (49). At issue is the correction of the lack of equivalence btwn persons and possible situations (a circumstance). Three dimensions of the general rule: establishment, determination, correction.

A difficulty: general rules give sympathy constancy, distance, and uniformity of moral judgment, but has lost vividness (of our own natural symapthies).

The question becomes how to make up for this lost vividness; “how to reinforce and enliven justice” (50). The nearest (natural) sympathies must be distanced while the artificial sympathies must come close.

Thus we arrive at the main principle of political philosophy: not changing human nature “but the invention of artificial and objective conditions in order for the bad aspects of this nature not to triumph” (50; this seems like a crucial point, where neoliberal doomsday theorists are inserting themselves…is their contention that human nature is being changed? Is this a shift from disciplinary to biopower or societies of control? Does Wendy Brown ever utter the word sympathy in her newest book?)

Parallel relationship between Government/property and belief/abstraction:

Government – belief – conferring vivacity

Property – abstraction – giving rules

Another crit of social contract: gov is not founded on a promise, b/c the promise is an effect of the specification of justice and loyalty (as support). Put another way: justice and government are invented to solve the problem of uneven natural sympathy: justice provides extension and government provides vividness.

For Hume, the state’s main problem is not representation but belief; making general interest an object of belief by giving it a vivacity that we naturally only experience in our own uneven sympathies.

Three series of rules regarding general rule

  1. Establishment – gives an interest extension and generality (possession –> property, stability of possessions)
  2. Determination – reinforces the rule by giving it vividness (stability increases scarcity b/c it creates conditions allowing formation of large properties. Property engenders/develops inequality).
  3. Correction – political economy is intended to correct inequality and scarcity; the prosperity of commerce becomes a concern in addition to possession and loyalty to government.

H’s economic theory: D only addresses the main theme. As a rule it also must be specified/determined and corrected (series 2 and 3 above…it’s easy to see the chains proliferating from here). Specifications: monetary circulation, capital, interest, and export all relate to property. Corrections show relationship with state (external to the economy). “The meaning of commerce in general is to guarantee landed property (a political phenomenon) the economic equilibrium that it does not have on its own” (52).

State w/out method: acts violently through actions which are repeated accidents on subjects and against human nature.

Methodical state: “finds in commerce the possible affirmation of its power and the real conditions of its subjects’ prosperity” (53).

Property is an issue of quantity: goods are scarce and unstable, so first of all, property calls for a legislator and state. But, secondly and conversely:

“The quantity of money, its abundance or scarcity does not act on its own: money is the object of a mechanics. We could say that the essential, or perhaps the only theme of Hume’s economic essays is to show that the effects which we ordinarily attribute to the quantity of money depend in fact on other causes. What is concrete in this economy is the idea that economic activity involves a qualitative motivation.” (53 – read this against the discussion of cynicism and piety in AO).

Page 54 shows table of general rules/moral categories.

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