Zizek 01

Organ without bodies by Zizek 紀傑克:沒有身體的器官

Translated by Springhero 雄伯譯



Science: cognitivism with Freud



“ Autopoiesis”



The central problem of Deleuze, that of the emergence of the New, is deeply Kantian-Hegelian. It is related to the question “ How is a free act possible within the causal network of material interdependences?”, because something really New can emerge only if the determinative power of the linear causal chain is not complete. Here is Mario Bunge’s concise critical formulation of a “ world running on a strictly causal pattern.::




    If the joint action of several causes is always an external juxtaposition, a superposition, and in no case a synthesis having traits of its own, and if the hypothetical patients on which the causal agents act are passive things incapable of spontaneity or self-activity—incapable, in short, of adding something of their own to the causal bond—then it follows that, in a sense, effects preexist in their causes. According to this extreme but consistent doctrine on the nature of causation, only old things come out of change; processes can give rise to objects new in number or new in some quantitative aspects, not however new in kind, or, again, no new qualities can emerge.





This bring us to Deleuze’s fundamental paradox: the implication of his absolute immanentism, of his rejection of any transcendence, is precisely that an effect can transcend its cause, or—another aspect of the same problematic—that relations are external to the objects that relate to each other ( recall Deleuze’s reading of Hitchcock!). This externality of relations is grounded in the fact, in a set of elements, the number of subsets we can form is larger than the number of the elements themselves. And the most succinct definition of the excessive element, the “ dark precursor,” is precisely that of a pseudo element that, within the multitude of elements, holds the place of relations: Say, according to Fredric Jameson’s reading of Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff is not one among the novel’s characters but a kind of zero-element, a purely structural function of the “ vanishing mediator,” a mechanism for mediating the two series, that of the old organic-patriarchal social relations and that of the modern capitalist relations, a point of passage between the two:





  Heathcliff can no longer be considered the hero or the protagonist in any sense of the word. He is rather, from the very beginning, …something like a mediator or a catalyst, designed to restore the fortunes and to rejuvenate the anemic temperament of the two families.




The Deleuzian excess of relations is thus the space of freedom as that of reflexive relations, of relating to relations—the excess over the linear network of causal relations, the way the subject relates to its conditions and causes ( assuming or rejecting them). Already in Kant I am determined by causes, but I retroactively determine which causes will determine me. In short, does not Deleuze implicitly rely here on what is usually referred to as the Kantian “ incorporation thesis”? We subjects are passively affected by pathological objects and motivations: but, in a reflexive way, we ourselves have the minimal power to accept ( or to reject) being affected in this way. Or, to risk a Deleuze-Hegelian formulation, the subject is a fold of reflexivity by means of which I retroactively determine the causes allowed to determine me, or, at least, the mode of this linear determination, “ Freedom” is thus inherently retroactive. At its mot elementary, it is not simply a free act that, out of nowhere, starts a new causal link, but rather a retroactive act of endorsing which link/sequence of necessities will determine me. Here, one should add a Helgelian twist to Spinoza: freedom is not simply “ recognized/known necessity” but recognized/ assumed necessity, the necessity constituted/ actualized through this recognition. This excess of the effect over its causes thus also means that the effect is retroactively the cause of its cause—this temporal loop is the minimal structure of life ( on this point, see the work of Francisco Varela). Recall as well Borges’s precise formation of the relationship between Kafka and the multitude of his precursors, from old Chinese authors to Robert Browning:




  Kafka’s idiosyncrasy; in greater or lesser degree, is present in each of these writings, but if Kafka had not written we would not perceive it; that is to say, it would not exist…Each writer creates his precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future.





The properly dialectical solution of the dilemma of “ Is it really there, in the source, or did we only read it into the source?” is thus that it is there, but we can only perceive and state this retroactively, from today’s perspective, and this retroactive causality, exerted by the effect itself upon its causes, is the minimal sine qua non of freedom. Is it not that, without this freedom, the effects would, in a way, not only preexist in their causes but also directly preexist their causes? That is to say, without the excess/gap between cause and effect, the effect would preexist its cause in the sense that it would already be given in advance of its cause, regulating the deployment of the causal link as its hidden telos—teleology is the truth of linear mechanical causality ( as Hegel put it). Going even a step further, one should paradoxically claim that this assertion of the excess of the effect over its cause, of the possibility of freedom is the fundamental assertion of Deleuze’s materialism. That is to say, the point is not jut that there is an immaterial excess over the material reality of multiple bodies but that this excess is immanent to the level of the bodies themselves. If we subtract this immaterial excess, we do not get “ pure reductionist materialism” but instead get a covert idealism. No wonder that Descartes, the first to formulate the tenets of modern scientific materialism, was also the first to formulate the basic modern idealist principle of subjectivity: “ There is a fully constituted material reality of bodies and nothing else” is effectively an idealist position.



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