CHAPTER 5

Farewell to freedom

5.1 – The Dissolution of the Notion of Freedom

In twelfth-century Thessalonica, the archbishop Eusthatius quotes the mocking sentence ἐλευθέρα Κέρκυρα· χέζ᾽ ὅπου θέλεις500 [eleuthera Kerkyra: khez’ hopou theleis], Kerkyra [Corfu] is free: shit wherever you want. Certainly, he cannot imagine that his words are to become the ferocious depiction of a construction of freedom yet to come: the reduction of liberty to the mere absence of obstacles to individual action.

Friedrich Hayek, who inspires and organises the 1947 Mont Pèlerin meeting, claims that ‘while the uses of liberty are many, liberty is one.’501 Hayek has no doubt: his univocal concept of liberty ‘describes the absence of a particular obstacle—coercion by other men [sic].’502

Hayek specifies: ‘The difference between liberty and liberties is that which exists between a condition in which all is permitted that is not prohibited by general rules and one in which all is prohibited that is not explicitly permitted.’503 Moreover, because Hayek embraces the teleological narrative of eighteenth-century revolutions, he constructs the relation between liberties and liberty as a historical progression.

I recalled that eighteenth-century revolutionary constitutions boast of replacing the acknowledgement of specific liberties with the horizon of individual freedom, which only finds its limits in legal norms. I will attempt to show how this teleological construction of the relation between liberties and liberty is the specific modern contribution to a rhetorical move, with which Aristotle at once challenges and confirms the position of his master Plato.

Aristotle confronts Plato’s affirmation of the univocality of the good with an ascertainment of fact: good is said in many ways. More precisely, Aristotle makes a comparison with another plurality: τἀγαθὸν ἰσαχῶς λέγεται τῷ ὄντι504 [tagathon isakhōs legetai tō onti], the good is said in as many ways as being, that is, the word ‘good’ is used in as many senses as the word ‘is.’

Yet, Aristotle hastens to submit this recovered plurality to a hierarchical order. In the triumphant incipit of the book Gamma of Metaphysics, Aristotle claims a specific being of which science is possible: τὸ ὂν ᾗ ὂν505 [to on hēi on], being insofar as being, or, with a Latin expression, being qua being.

At the very beginning of my narration, I recalled how Plato constructs his new notion of form with a likewise new language device, which works by nominalising epithets: for example, when Plato writes auto to agathon,506 the good itself, he produces the unheard-of idea of the good. Whilst Aristotle rejects the Platonic idea of the good,507 he accepts the presence of a common notion of good in all good things, each of which can be considered hēi agathon,508 insofar as good.

Arguably, the difference between the thought of Plato and Aristotle may be reduced to the distance between these two language mechanisms: however, regardless of the way we understand their difference, both these language constructions perform as apparatuses of capture509 of multiplicity.

All along Western history, this trap of words is made to perform again and again: it is this iron cage that Stirner denounces and Nietzsche indefatigably dismantles:

Let us be more careful than Descartes, who remained caught in the trap of words. Cogito is, of course, just one word: but it signifies many things: many things are a manifold, and we crudely grasp at it in the good-faith belief that it is one.510

Just a few decades later, Wittgenstein’s treatment of the word Spiel, game, echoes Nietzsche’s warning about the Cartesian cogito:

Consider for example the proceedings that we call ‘games.’ I mean board-games, card-games, ball-games, Olympic games, and so on. What is common to them all? — Don’t say: “There must be something common, or they would not be called ‘games’ ” — but look and see whether there is anything common to all. — For if you look at them you will not see something that is common to all, but similarities, relationships, and a whole series of them at that. (…) I can think of no better expression to characterize these similarities than ‘family resemblances’ [Familienähnlichkeit]; for the various resemblances between members of a family: build, features, colour of eyes, gait, temperament, etc. etc. overlap and criss-cross in the same way. — And I shall say: ‘games’ form a family. 511

The detection of more literal family resemblances prompts the first chance conversation of Wittgenstein with his relative Hayek, whilst the two young officers travel back from the war front in 1918.512 However, Hayek recalls a much later encounter too, and it is possible to imagine his older cousin Wittgenstein somewhat lecturing him:

Don’t say: “There must be something common to all the uses of the word ‘liberty,’ or they all would not be called ‘liberties’” but look and see whether there is anything common to all.—For if you look at them you will not see something that is common to all, but (…) a complicated network of similarities overlapping and criss-crossing: sometimes overall similarities, sometimes similarities of detail.513

In this case, it is also possible to imagine that Hayek would hardly be impressed by Wittgenstein’s apocryphal statements. This is not only because the univocality of freedom is a condition and not a result of Hayek’s discourse, and it is therefore impervious to argument: more generally, Hayek shares with a plethora of authors (some of whom we have previously encountered) a specific modernist bias that hails the emergence of contemporary features and categories as long overdue occurrences.

To say that ‘liberty is one’ means not only to erase the plurality of current uses of the word ‘liberty’ ‒ as Wittgenstein would notice ‒ but also to force the plurality of past trajectories of freedom-related words within the bottleneck of one of the modern definitions of freedom. The latter teleological construction is obviously unknown to Plato and Aristotle, as it transcends the cyclical understanding of time in Classical thought.

Hence, whilst Aristotle may well be supposed to write ‘freedom is said in many ways,’ he would not detect the emergence of freedom qua freedom as a historical occurrence. This alleged detection is a specific modern invention, which takes various shapes: we already saw that such variety roughly ranges from Constant’s qualified acknowledgement of historical differences, to the claim of an evolutionary path of freedom, in Hegel as well as in Hayek.

However, even within the narrow horizon of de-historicised notions, J. L. Austin contends that ‘“freedom” is not a name for a characteristic of actions, but the name of a dimension in which actions are assessed.’514 In turn, Austin does not spare freedom a ruthless assessment, which he runs in parallel with his consideration of the notion of truth:

We become obsessed with ‘truth’ when discussing statements, just as we become obsessed with ‘freedom’ when discussing conduct. So long as we think that what has always and alone to be decided is whether a certain action was done freely or was not, we get nowhere: but so soon as we turn instead to the numerous other adverbs used in the same connexion (‘accidentally’, ‘unwillingly’, ‘inadvertently’, &c.), things become easier, and we come to see that no concluding inference of the form ‘Ergo, it was done freely (or not freely)’ is required. Like freedom, truth is a bare minimum or an illusory ideal.515

Austin’s pitiless conclusion may easily apply to the contemporary recovery of the merely negative Hobbesian notion of freedom. At least, Isaiah Berlin’s recasting of the Kantian distinction between negative and positive freedom516 does not pretend to exhaust the whole panorama of liberties: yet, Berlin claims that, as compared with the other senses of the word, the negative freedom from interference and the positive freedom to be one’s own master are ‘central ones.’517 More than that, in order to delimit the notion of freedom, Berlin appeals to tautology: ‘Everything is what it is: liberty is liberty.’518

Similarly to Hayek’s assertion of liberty’s oneness, this tautological statement risks re-enacting, under the shape of semantic delimitation, the long-lasting rhetorical strategy which, at least from Plato on, works to reduce the plurality of words, and of the notions that these words construct, to single abstractions: in this case, whatever the expression, liberty is liberty. Moreover, despite Berlin raising no claim to completeness, his very description of the two alleged central senses of freedom with the opposite adjectives ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ tends to constrain a rich and complex history within a dichotomous frame.519

Berlin even suggests that whilst positive and negative notions of freedom developed in divergent, and eventually conflicting, directions, they are ‘no more than negative and positive ways of saying much the same thing.’520 Here Berlin actually revives the ancient Greek horizon of doing and suffering, in which the verb paskhein, suffering, is used as the passive form of poiein, doing: the negative freedom of paskhein, not being acted upon, is no more than the negative way of affirming the positive freedom to act (poiein).

If I am allowed to play with images, I am afraid that Berlin’s thin521 black-and-white conceptual varnish may end up coating, as it were, the thick strata of colourful overlaying frescoes, of which my narration sketched a sort of ἔκφρασις522 [ekphrasis], which is the Classical practice of describing in words a work of art. Following Nietzsche, who reinvented genealogical enquiries by shifting their object from human beings to human intellectual products, my writing effort reproduced with a twist the ekphrastic rendering of art by attempting to make visible constellations of words.523

At this point, it is worth noticing that neither Nietzsche’s nor my genealogical constructions are mere philological researches. As Austin suggests, we have to acknowledge that words do not only report something, but they also do something524: given the words’ performative ability to make things happen, my narration is also a path of the making-happen of a variety of freedoms.

In turn, these various understandings of freedom and freedoms variously shape their bearers both on paper and in practice. Of course, the mapping of this shaping effect far exceeds the limits of my brief excursus on freedom. However, the final steps of this path will need to take account of recent reconsiderations of Western subjects and their construction.

5.2 – The Dissolution of the Subject of Freedom

In his 1958 main doctoral thesis, Gilbert Simondon challenges Aristotle’s rendering of individuals: he attempts at ‘knowing the individual through the individuation rather than the individuation from the individual.’525 Simondon’s change of focus from the individual to individuation takes further a shift from entities to processes, which in modern times may be traced at least to Hegel.526

Moreover, Simondon not only dismisses the logical and chronological priority of the supposed principle of individuation over the actual process of individuation, but also claims that such a process cannot occur in a vacuum: ‘the compresence of some other being is necessary in order for individuation (…) to happen.’527

For Simondon, the presence of others can trigger further individuations because each individuated entity always carries a pre-individual, or natural portion, which is not yet determined,528 and which ‘directly communicates with the other pre-individual realities that are contained within the other individuals’529: Simondon calls transindividuelle,530 transindividual, the relation between these pre-individual portions, and he takes sexuality as an example of further individuation through this relation with the others.

We may recall that Hegel similarly resorts to love as an example of his definition of freedom as being with oneself in another. In particular, Hegel makes appeal to a relation of interpenetration (Durchdringen531), which also allows him to represent multiplicity (Menge532) in both humans and things. Simondon’s transindividual relation always already penetrates individuals, because it directly connects each of them through their non-determined components.

Simondon’s very understanding of individuation may help us to recover inner and outer multiplicities, which are instead erased by the construction of both individuals and collectives as self-contained and homogeneous entities. In modern times, the sharing of this alleged self-contained and homogeneous condition allows the transfer of attributes from individual to collective entities and vice versa: for example, the property of freedom can be shifted from small to big subjects, from the individual body to the body politic.

On the contrary, Simondon conceives of the transindividual as a relation that cuts across individuals.533 This notion challenges the absolute separation between the inner and outer dimensions of individuals themselves: hence, it displaces the very locus of freedom, because the subject of any freedom whatsoever gets blurred.534

Similarly to Simondon’s change of focus from the individual as an entity to individuation as a process, Foucault replaces the subject with processes of subjectivation. He first explores subjectivation in the negative sense of subjugation, especially as the effect of total institutions such as asylums, hospitals and prisons535; he then reconstructs processes of subjectivation in the proactive meaning of the care of self, particularly in the Ancient world.536

According to Foucault, subjectivation processes are always part of a field of relations of power, that is, the strategies to determine the conduct of others: the ordinary condition of possibility of such relations of power is shared (albeit generally unequally) freedom, which makes possible both one’s attempt to control another and this other’s resistance. When the practices of freedom are extremely limited or absent, the immobilisation of the relations of power may be defined as a state of domination. In this case, liberation and liberation struggles are necessary to regain freedom: however, Foucault warns that ‘[l]iberation opens a space of new power relationships, which must be controlled by practices of freedom.’537

On the contrary, the care of self not only produces subjectivity without an external imposition, but it also transcends the reactive stage of resistance and liberation. However, in Foucault’s analyses, the care of self seems undistinguishable from self-mastery, or, at least, care (souci) seamlessly turns into mastery (maîtrise), and vice versa.538

This indistinction should not be surprising though, as the Platonic Socrates first directs to Alcibiades the very expression σαυτοῦ (…) ἐπιμεληθῆναι539 [sautou (…) epimelēthēnai], to take care of yourself, as an invitation to submit to his love not in the way of physical but spiritual subordination: in this case, Alcibiades will be able to take care of his own education with the help of his master (and lover) Socrates.

The care of the self, as invoked by the Platonic Socrates, does not exclude at all an external master, which will also soon take the more abstract shape of guiding principles. Moreover, we saw that, according to Aristotle, the mastery of the self is just the specific inner articulation of a wider system of power, in which the free male subject subjugates not only his wife, his sons, and his slaves, but first and foremost his own psykhē.

I also recalled that de Maistre suspects a sort of undeclared doubling of Rousseau’s self-determined people, because, as a matter of fact, the people who command are not the people who obey: in turn, de Maistre could be reminded that such a surreptitious duplication also affects the self-mastering practices of modern individual subjects, because the self that commands can hardly be the self that obeys.

As we saw, Plato pre-empts this conundrum with his inner partition of psykhē,540 whose calculative component by nature rules over the other ones: and also for Aristotle, there is no contradiction in the subjugation of one’s own psykhē, which is split into a ruling and a ruled part.

The problem of which controls which within the self resurfaces instead with the Lutheran recovery of the contraposition of inner and outer man [sic], which opens the way for the Cartesian expulsion from the mind of the lower constituents of the Classical psykhē: as the Cartesian ethic cleansing confines these lower parts within the body, the mind is left undivided.541 Three centuries later, this dichotomous settlement is radically challenged: Simondon’s change of priority from individuals to individuation, and Foucault’s construction of subjects as subjectivation processes shift and disseminate the holder of freedom and autonomy.

Whilst this processual construction overcomes the simplistic modern understanding of both individual and collective subjects, it also calls for the resemantization of freedom’s lexicon, if not a new vocabulary, which would strike a relational middle path between autonomous and heteronomous alternatives: such a third way could at last express our participation in the life of each other.

Unfortunately, it appears that Western thinkers typically depict this reciprocal participation, at best, with a language of physical compenetration, as shown by the previous Hegelian example.542 This poor and naïve substantialism is the legacy of the language of war543 in our theoretical abstractions, which likewise froze, as it were, in the shape of logical oppositions544 the existential experience of armed conflicts.

Friend and enemy545 are undoubtedly the dark precursors546 of our conceptual categories, well beyond the mere political space: it is up to us not only to further clarify this legacy, but also to recover and expand practices that exceed this rudimentary construction of our realities. And if these practices do not find expression in the language of the Western canon, we are to look for a lexicon that escapes the black and white logic of friend and enemy, master and slave, and ruler and ruled.

Moreover, it is not just an emerging theoretical framework that calls for a resemantization of freedom’s lexicon: contemporary political practices seem to anticipate theories in seeking for alternatives to the traditional horizon of freedom. For example, if we consider the political activities of the Occupy movement, we realise that neither the movement’s boundaries, nor its collective identity, nor the role of specific participants are clearly defined once-and-for-all. By merging the vocabularies of Simondon and Deleuze, we may say that this movement results from the interplay of sub-and trans-individual multiplicities.

As the lexicon of freedom only relates to individuated entities, it is blind to the processes of becoming of such multiplicities. In particular, the notions of autonomy and heteronomy, however intended, more or less explicitly presuppose an individuated, delimited and at least temporarily enduring identity to which either applies. Because Occupy deliberately produces itself as a plurality of processes, any attempt at theoretically framing this movement in terms of autonomy versus heteronomy simply erases its practices.

The issues here at stake are not simply definitions, but practices of political participation. People involved with the Occupy movement explicitly reject the traditional reductionist logic that shapes Western political entities. They do not conform to a single common identity, and they rather jointly construct their commonalities by engaging in similar activities. By doing so, they set a double challenge to the Western political canon, as they also take charge of their own subjectivation path. Their multiplicity may well be rendered with the recovered notion of multitude547: yet, a multitude cannot be constrained within the dichotomy between autonomy and heteronomy.

Of course, no political process actually demands a change of the political lexicon rather than a restatement, or a reassessment, of well-established values and notions: if we look back to the most significant – and traumatic – transformations of modernities, the anticipation of the future as novelty and the recovery of the past as restitution intertwine and play erratically their games of substitution.

Here are just a few examples: the catachrestic repetition of the past has seventeenth-century English revolutionaries staging themselves as Biblical characters, and eighteenth-century French regicides dressing in Roman togas; conversely, twentieth-century Bolshevik administrators pay tribute to novelty by getting caught in the modernist proliferation of their inscrutable acronyms. As to more recent times, the extraordinarily productive experimentations of the long sixties welcome a mishmash of languages, well before the notion of postmodernism captures differences within a style; these differences are then modulated by the ongoing neoliberal revolution within its recovery of seventeenth-century individual atomisation.548

5.3 – In-between Autonomy and Heteronomy: Dianomy

Language makes us feel its power not only on what it expresses, but also on what it ignores. New words are needed, if any, not to fill empty spaces, but to make new places, and not just on paper. By thinking and tinkering with Classical Greek words, we may craft a wedge to open a gap as wide as possible between autonomy as independence from others and heteronomy as dependence on others: as an alternative to both prefixes ‘auto-’ and ‘hetero-,’ the prefix ‘dia-,’ that is, ‘through’ or ‘between,’ may suggest a condition of constitutive sharing with others. This would provide us with a whole series of new terms, from the noun ‘dianomy’549 to the adjective ‘dianomous,’ and to the verb ‘dianomize.’550

In Classical Greek, the verb διανέμω [dianemō] expresses the sense of (fair) distribution, or spreading as a kind of participation: we may recall the similar notion of isomoiria. Aristotle uses the phrase διανέμειν ἑαυτόν551 [dianemein heauton] with the reflexive and figurative meaning of distributing oneself among friends. In turn, the word διάνομος [dianomos] defines an open-air water channel, as opposed to a subterranean one, and it may possibly suggest by analogy an unconcealed link.

Nevertheless, neither of the terms dianemō and dianomos is able to convey the sense of a relation that is not preceded by its terms. Maybe, this sense is still brewing, so to speak, and one may wonder whether, in the meantime, my suggested neologisms ‘dianomy,’ ‘dianomous,’ and ‘dianomize’ likewise risk evoking just the in-between metaphorical space defined by previously extant entities.

Here, the search for words that could replace dichotomous constructions of freedom reveals the more general absence of a language of relations.552 Western languages all construct the posteriority of relations in regard to the entities that they connect: in other terms, the very construction of sentences produces entities whose identity precedes the relations that they establish with each other. It is from Hegel and, more consequently, from Nietzsche on, that this language attitude emerges as both a horizon and a limitation.

Nietzsche is not afraid to challenge Western grammatical constructions and the universe of sense that they produce. In particular, he reverses the grammatical and logical priority of the subject over the action: ‘there is no “being” behind the deed, its effect and what becomes of it; “the doer” is invented as an after-thought – the doing is everything.’553

Heidegger seems to follow this logic when he peremptorily affirms that ‘[h]uman freedom no longer means freedom as a property of man [sic].’554 Yet, he immediately adds: ‘but vice versa: man [sic] as a possibility of freedom.’555 The latter statement echoes Heidegger’s contention that ‘man [sic] is just a manager of freedom,’556 which, in turn, seems to urbanise in advance, as it were, the later rural image of man [sic] as the shepherd of Being.557

Heidegger’s reversal of the traditional relation between humans and freedom is a good example of the chain of substitutions that characterizes Western thought inasmuch as it is metaphysical thought. At least, if compared with Kant’s transcendental relocation of time and space from the outer to the inner dimension, the Heideggerian recollection of the centrality of freedom and Being in regard to humans is as de-anthropomorphizing as the assertion of heliocentrism: hence, it could more rightly claim the definition of Copernican revolution than its Kantian predecessor.

However, we may wonder whether we really need another and more radical re-centring of freedom: on the contrary, we may well choose to take our start from Nietzsche’s intimation ‘the doing is everything.’ Actually, whilst addressing the specific action of thinking, Nietzsche himself comes to reconsider the relation between doer and doing:

‘Thinking,’ as posited by the theorists of knowledge, simply doesn’t occur: it is a quite arbitrary fiction (…) The ‘mind,’ something that thinks (…), this conception is a derivative, second consequence of the false self-observation that believes in ‘thinking’: here first an act is imagined that doesn’t occur, ‘thinking,’ and secondly, a subject-substratum is imagined in which every act of this thinking, and nothing else, originates: i.e., both doing and doer are fictions.558

Unfortunately, Nietzsche never finds the mental time to elaborate on these dazzling notes, as he stops writing just over a year later. However, we may well suppose that his deconstruction of the notions of doer and doing is somewhat integrated, after one century, by the reconstructive effort of Michel Serres:

Instead of creating an abstraction based on substantives – that is, on concepts or verbs (meaning on operations) – or even from adverbs or adjectives modifying the substantive or the verb, I abstract toward, by, for, from, and so on, down the list of prepositions. I follow them the way one follows a direction: one takes it and then abandons it. It’s as though the wise grammarian who named them ‘prepositions’ knew that they preceded any possible position.559

Serres not only follows prepositions in his explorations, but he also makes prepositions explicitly point out the direction of his route, by using them as material to conjoin new terms: for example, his neologism ‘syrrhesis’ (syrrhèse)560 combines the Greek words σύν [syn], with, and ῥεῦσις [rheusis], flowing, in order to convey the notion of the confluence of a multiplicity of turbulent fluid paths561 that constitute the living organism, in alternative to the notion of system.

We may take further Nietzsche’s and Serres’ theoretical and linguistic strategies in our attempt to transcend the dichotomous language of freedom. In particular, whatever the definition of freedom, we may notice that, in general, its modern exercise seems located either in the inner individual recesses, or on the boundary that separates both individual and collective subjects from each other. In this area of friction seem likewise to take place coercion and resistance, command and insubordination, conflict and negotiation.

This geometry of subjects is a legacy of post-Homeric Greek thought: Greek writers make the gods vacate the human inner auditory space,562 and move them to the outer visible space of written texts.563 More precisely, Plato recovers the gods’ function of command within the inner space of each human as the highest level of her psykhē: at the same time, by hierarchically subordinating the other parts of the individual psykhē to the calculative element, Plato allows this very human to become ἕνα (…) ἐκ πολλῶν564 [hena (…) ek pollōn], out of many, one.

In this regard – at the risk of oversimplifying things – we may understand modernities as a double contrasting and overlapping movement: a first major wave that, from Hobbes and Descartes on, reiterates the Platonic subject’s enclosure, which is enhanced by the secession of the mind from the body; and a later minor wave (albeit powerfully affirmative), which, from Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche on,565 shows an inner plurality at work by resonating with other pluralities.566

It is to the first wave to claim with ambivalent success567 a condition of freedom; the second wave would rather invite each and every human to participate in negotiating our condition, which I tentatively rendered with the neologism ‘dianomy.’

As the term ‘dianomy’ is crafted on the model of the words ‘autonomy’ and ‘heteronomy,’ it shares with them the emphasis on the compound’s second element, which derives from the Greek expression nomos. Hence, the new coin may appear to confirm the traditional Western focus on abstract entities and properties.

I recalled in Chapter 1 the variety of uses of the word nomos, from custom to order and law. Plato plays on this ambiguity when his Socrates uses Hermogenes’ belief that words are the product of nomos as custom, in order to derive the twisted conclusion that the office of word-maker (ὀνοματουργός,568 onomatourgos) is to be entrusted to the νομοθέτης569 [nomothetēs], that is, the law-giver. However, Socrates wants this legislator supervised in his word-making activity by the actual expert in words, the dialectician (διαλεκτικός,570 dialektikos), namely, himself and his fellow philosophers.

The Platonic dialectician can claim the knowledge of names inasmuch as they pertain to their objects τῇ φύσει571 [tē physei], by nature. On the contrary, in my effort as onomatourgos I can only rely on the series of narrations of word-making activities that I have accumulated so far. However, I hope that by showing this very series, I have also made visible some of the external limits of our current vocabulary as a space of possibilities.

More specifically, if use defines words, then by selecting uses of the various notions of freedom in relevant Western texts I also amassed a repertory of delimitations of the very definitions of freedom. Of course, the various notions of freedom share these delimitations with their respective theoretical frameworks: in particular, I recalled that modern geometries of subjects generally locate freedom either within the individual or on her outer boundary, which is also the insurmountable limit between the singular and the plural.

From within this geometrical framework, also the claims of the absolute singularity of the subject, such as those put forth by Stirner and Levinas,572 end up confirming that the actual relation with the other only comes after individuation: even when Levinas bravely claims heteronomy as the vital constituent of psychic life,573 he does not go beyond a different ranking of the priorities of the individual subject, who is called to acknowledge ‘[l]’antériorité de la responsabilité par rapport a la liberté,’574 the anteriority of responsibility with respect to freedom.

However, Levinas also strives to articulate human reciprocal interaction beyond the Hobbesian model of negative freedom, as a participation through affection: ‘The one affected by the other – an-archic traumatism or inspiration of the one by the other and not by a causality that strikes, in a mechanical way, a matter subjected to its energy.’575 More than that, the participation with the other trespasses the boundary of delimiting surfaces, because it occurs as an incorporation576: Levinas dares to claim ‘l’autre en moi,’577 the other in me.

We may compose this remarkable attempt to force the Western language of entities from within, as it were, together with a theoretical construction from without: following Nietzsche’s attempt to open a way out of entity-based Western speculation, Deleuze and Guattari extend beyond the mental sphere Bergson’s notion of qualitative multiplicities.

We saw that, according to Bergson, qualitative multiplicities do not define a numerical plurality of entities, which only populate the physical world. However, Bergson himself opens the way to the overcoming of this dualism: he suggests a third approach, which is our repositioning in ‘[t]he duration wherein we act.’578 Such a duration is not a represented time, but the time in which our bodies perform as a centre of action: according to Bergson, ‘if the divisibility of matter is entirely relative to our action thereon,’579 the absolute opposition between a consciousness with inextensive sensations and an extended multiplicity turns into an infinite number of degrees between spirit and matter.

Deleuze and Guattari take further Bergson’s questioning of the radical heterogeneity of inner psychic and outer physical phenomena: their multiplicities no longer concern numerical unity ‘as subject or object, natural or spiritual reality, image and world.’580 They also shape this theoretical recasting as a practical invitation: ‘Don’t be one or multiple, be multiplicities!’581

Similarly to Hegel and Simondon, Deleuze and Guattari take love as an example of reciprocal participation:

What does it mean to love somebody? It is always to seize her in a mass, extract her from a group (…) and then look for her own packs, the multiplicities that she encloses within herself, and which are perhaps of a totally different nature. To join them to mine, to make them penetrate mine, and to penetrate hers. Heavenly nuptials, multiplicities of multiplicities.582

I underlined the shortcomings of the lexicon of penetration as an image of reciprocal participation: Deleuze and Guattari themselves attempt to obviate these shortcomings by referring to the concept of transduction,583 which for Simondon at once reveals and constitutes the individual. More important, they propose the notion of agencement,584 which we may translate as ‘composition.’585

The notions of transduction and composition are examples of relations that do not simply connect pre-existing terms, but which reconfigure these very terms, or, in philosophical jargon, their ontologies.586 In this perspective, participation with others would necessarily imply a reciprocal transformation, which we may also conceive of as a partial one, given the inner pluralisation of subjectivities.

Pushing further Levinas’ image of the incorporation of the other, we may visualise the transformative aspect of participation as the incorporation of partial others. In turn, we may rephrase Aristotle’s figurative distribution of oneself among friends as the latter’s incorporation of some of one’s partial selves. Yet, all these operations seem to imply a sort of impossible multiple identity: in particular, they may evoke a mental trait that Lucien Lévy-Bruhl confines within his notion of primitive [sic] mentality.587

Lévy-Bruhl asserts that primitive mentality implies a ‘mystical participation,’588 that is, the ability to be ‘at once themselves and something other than themselves.’589 Nevertheless, we might have to extend the grip of such a mental condition from primitive to current times,590 in order not to ignore the everyday occurrence of psychological identifications in the relation of children with peers and adults, of pupils with teachers, of readers and audiences with novel, theatre, movie, television, and internet characters, of followers with intellectual, artistic, political, and religious leaders, and of course, of lovers with each other.

For example, Freud pays particular attention to processes of identification, which, at first, he is inclined to consider as a disturbance to psychoanalytic therapy. He then gradually becomes aware that the relation between patient and psychoanalyst has to rely on the patient’s identification of the psychoanalyst with some significant other. Freud mentions this identification as Übertragung, a word whose German uses range from the transmission of a disease to broadcasting, and which in this case we render in English as ‘transference.’

Freud himself recalls: ‘A few days earlier I had explained to the patient that the earliest experiences of childhood were “not obtainable any longer as such,” but were replaced in analysis by “transferences” and dreams.’591 In turn, Freud also acknowledges a reverse identification (from the psychoanalyst to the patient), which he defines as Gegenübertragung,592 countertransference.

More generally, and pace Lévy-Bruhl, we may say that the notion of being at once oneself and something other than oneself593 does not necessarily describe a mystical state: it may also be a way of rendering in the language of identity the participative aspect of our relation with ourselves, with others, and with the world at large.

However, this very participation can be better expressed than in the language of identity. As previously recalled, we may construct our realities as processes rather than states: in particular, instead of defining participation ‒ with the words of Lévy-Bruhl ‒ as being at the same time oneself and another, we may think of participation as the process of incorporating another. In this case, we may consider the incorporations of partial others as operations of the process of individuation.

It is worth noticing that such a depiction of individuation processes is not a normative model, which prescribes an ideal world of undisturbed human compresence. On the contrary, this construction does not exclude at all manipulation, conflict and violence: it rather allows better following of human interactions through and beyond the alleged boundaries of individual identity.

The processes of psychological identification are clear examples of human interactions that move through, so to speak, these alleged personal boundaries.594 In particular, the moving-through of identification processes may be regarded as a movement and a transformation at once, and this indistinction is well rendered by the Classical Greek word κίνησις595 [kinēsis]: as unfortunately our derivative word ‘kinetic’ (and its use in modern physics) is instead limited to spatial motion,596 it would be worth recovering the original Greek expression. The incorporation597 of partial others could then be construed as the kinēsis, that is, the process of movement and change, of individuation.

We saw that, according to Simondon, individuation processes never stop because of the ongoing communication between pre-individual, that is, non-determined components within each human being: we may say that Deleuze and Guattari’s construction of multiplicities somewhat extends this communication beyond the pre-individual components.

We may likewise extend Simondon’s transindividual relation between pre-individual components to all kind of partial others, under the processual shape of a transindividual kinēsis, which we may render with the term ‘transindividuation,’ as suggested by Bernard Stiegler.598 We may also consider Stiegler’s construction of objects and techniques as human prostheses,599 so that the notion of human interactions and incorporations may also encompass the non-human sphere. We may then understand the incorporation of partial others, both as humans and non-human prostheses, as the kinēsis of transindividuation.

5.4 – Otherwise Than Freedom: Throughdom

I previously recalled that the claims of freedom rely on the postulate of identity boundaries: in turn, only if these boundaries are supposed to pre-exist the relations with others, can freedom be claimed as the possibility to act without interference by others.

Given this ontological priority of entities over relations,600 the various notions of freedom have been playing a major role in orienting, for good or bad, the actions of individual and collective subjects. If we instead refuse to ignore that others are always already participating in one’s actions, different notions are required to help orient our constitutive reciprocal participation.

We saw that human actions may be rethought within a processual framework: rather than proceeding from individual and collective subjects, these actions may then be understood as shaping subjectivities by incorporating partial others, both as humans and non-human prostheses, in an ongoing transindividuation process.

In this case, a regulative property (such as freedom) that requires an enclosed and self-consistent entity (such as the individual or the collective) would no longer fit transindividual processes, which are based on the constitutive participation with others: transindividuation could only be oriented by a likewise dynamic and processual trend. We may then consider defining this trend with the word ‘liberation’: yet, Foucault rightly underlines the merely reactive character of the notion of liberation,601 which is also necessarily subordinated to its scope, that is, the attainment of a condition of freedom.

If we want to express the sense of a proactive trend, which may orient the ubiquitous processes of transindividuation towards a more balanced reciprocal participation, we may have to invent a new term: as transindividuation processes cut through the boundaries of identities, following Serres’ invitation to emancipate prepositions, I would suggest the neologism ‘throughdom.’602

The Oxford English Dictionary reminds us that the word ‘through’ derives with metathesis603 from the Old English forms ðurh and þurh – probably on the model of the noun þrúh, a channel for water604 or a hollow receptacle for a dead body – and it expresses ‘the relation of transition or direction within something from one limit of it to the other: primarily in reference to motion in space, hence in various derived senses.’605

In the compound term ‘throughdom,’ the reference of the preposition ‘through’606 to motion, which is also a hint to spatialised time, may appear to conflict with the state suffix ‘-dom,’ which is employed to form nonce-derivatives with the literal sense of ‘condition,’ but also with the figurative sense of ‘domain.’607 Yet, whilst the suffix ‘-dom’ is otherwise only added to nouns and adjectives, its combination with the preposition ‘through’ further shifts the sense of the resulting compound, from a domain defined by an identity or a property, to a space of relations.608

In the course of this narration, I showed how fundamental theoretical novelties resulted from the deliberate misapplication of that which we a posteriori categorise as language mechanisms. Here I would just recall the example of Plato’s momentous application of the epithet autos to another nominalised epithet,609 in order to give shape to ideal notions.

Whilst my neologism ‘throughdom’ may be similarly understood as the effect of the misapplication of a current rule of word formation, I certainly do not expect it to have the same brilliant future as Plato’s coinages: rather, I will be contented if it will prove itself useful just as a theoretical tool.610

As a word, throughdom would be defined by its uses in language acts. Moreover, according to the logic of participation as reciprocal affection, these uses would variously affect the very word ‘throughdom,’ which would then be better addressed in the plural form, as ‘throughdoms.’ Similarly to Wittgenstein’s games, throughdoms would form a family of words.

Of course, Wittgenstein’s word ‘game’ – just like any other current word – can escape the Platonic-Socratic defining apparatus of capture, because its different uses exceed a single definition: in other terms, we understand the word ‘game’ – just like any other current word – not because we rely on its definition,611 but because we are able to detect the similarities between its various uses. On the contrary, a new word cannot count on already existing language involvements: it has to be tested in possible contexts.

Rather than proposing a definition of the word ‘throughdom,’ I will show then the notion of throughdom at work, so to speak, in various possible scenarios. These examples will attempt to illustrate how throughdom may help to address the blind spots of the discourses of freedom, both in the public and the private sphere.612

I previously suggested constructing human and non-human interactions as an ongoing transindividual kinēsis, that is, a movement and a transformation at once, which incessantly trespasses the alleged boundaries of identities. Moreover, I underlined that I was not proposing a normative model, but rather a more flexible theoretical tool, which, for example, may help to address the current mass incorporation of images, behaviours, and techniques carried by social media.

From the various perspectives of freedom, such a mass phenomenon appears unquestionable, as it is the result of free individual choice. Yet, this very individual choice is exerted on a very limited set of opportunities, which are more and more previously selected according to the detected preferences of the choosing user. In turn, such progressive restriction of horizon is an expression of a more general rhetorical approach, which relies less on verbal and iconic techniques of persuasion than on the mere presence of the offer on the relevant stage. The discourses of freedom offer no argument for addressing these marketing strategies,613 which exploit the very preferences of the user. The transindividual construction of interactions may instead help to open at last a negotiation on the modalities of the ubiquitous kinēsis, and the notion of throughdom may be then deployed to orient this negotiation in a participatory direction.

I also previously claimed that the use of the opposing categories of autonomy and heteronomy erases recent political practices, such as those of the Occupy movement. More generally, the notions of autonomy and heteronomy are blind to the practices of commoning, that is, the joint construction of commons. Within the traditional entity-based Western theoretical framework, commons pre-exist their acknowledgement as shared features: moreover, modern economic theories generally describe commons as residues of previous economic arrangements. On the contrary, commons do not simply relate to their stakeholders as joint properties, but as ‘relational social frameworks’614 that reconfigure their very participants. This key relational aspect is overlooked by the dichotomy of autonomy versus heteronomy: it instead becomes visible on the horizon of transindividuation, where participation, following Levinas, is understood as reciprocal affection, and it means not only joining the game, as it were, but also reshaping both rules and players.615 Here the notion of throughdom may be used to negotiate a fair participation.

Moreover, a processual construction of human and non-human interactions would allow us also to reconsider the notion of entitlement. We saw that a specific freedom often defines an entitlement of the individual in the public sphere. For instance, we may or may not be free to vote, to cross a national boundary, or simply to stay where we are: each entitlement is the effect of a specific legal identity, to whose acquisition it is thus subordinated.616 Nevertheless, if we no longer think in terms of individuals but of processes of individuation, or better, transindividuation, an entitlement would no longer necessarily precede its own exercise.

As a matter of fact, the joint emergence of exercise and entitlement occurs whenever sudden transformations exceed procedures and force orders. For example, in the case of the Occupy movement, no ID card is required to join the occupation of Zuccotti Park: the entitlement to occupy takes shape as soon as the occupiers participate in placing their bodies and objects within the occupied place. In other words, the new collective entitlement to occupy the square takes shape right at the moment of its actual exercise: the occupiers’ participation in the occupation may be construed as the constituent617 exercise of their very entitlement to occupy.

Yet, when the New York occupiers are forcibly evicted, their appeal to the Supreme Court to be allowed to resume the occupation is rejected because, according to the appointed judge, ‘they have not demonstrated that they have a First Amendment right to remain in Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators, and other installations.’618

As rights are incessantly produced and reproduced, both as the effect of legislation and interpretation, it would be crucial to provide a theoretical ground for claiming de jure619 the transformative effect of the occupation of Zuccotti Park, which is already transformed de facto by its occupiers. This transformation goes well beyond the local circumstances (albeit relevant) of the sudden change of use of a central square in downtown Manhattan. Inasmuch as throughdom may be appealed to as a means of composing the occupation of the square with its worldwide extensions as an immediately constitutive process, which jointly transforms the occupiers and the occupied place, it can effectively support the demand to renegotiate previously acknowledged rights and titles. In other words, the notion of throughdom as participative transindividuation may help to construct the coupling of exercise and entitlement as a valid legal criterion: and of course, this coupling may uphold and justify not only ephemeral occupations, but also more lasting arrangements.

In other words, throughdom may be used to help translate transformation through participatory practices into legal entitlement. In this case, entitlement could also take shape together with participation itself: the participation in the process would entitle the participant to be a participant, as it were. Borrowing from Levinas’ language, we may say that making participation accompany entitlement means allowing the other to take responsibility for herself.

Whenever participatory practices emerge together with any new entitlement,620 they vindicate the present against past and future: the sudden emergence of new participatory practices may well express the openness of reality, before the fishing net of causal nexuses is cast on this very reality by the subsequent interpreters of time flown, to echo Bergson. Novel participation may not only remind us – with Heraclitus – that we cannot step twice into the same river,621 but also – with Wittgenstein – that the family resemblances between word uses constantly shift, thus also shifting the rules of each language-game (Sprachspiel)622 in which our words are at play.

Furthermore, I recalled that the processes of transindividuation transcend the separation between the supposedly natural bodily boundaries of the individual and her cultural prostheses (from hunting devices to writing and smartphones)623: inasmuch as the notion of throughdom may be invoked to negotiate a more balanced participation in these processes, it may also help humans and animals, plants and bodies of water, places and gods to join the negotiation about their reciprocal relations, and thus, about their very identities.624

Finally, by putting throughdom to work in the so-called private sphere, we may at last further restructure the Aristotelian architecture of domestic power. At the moment, as regards power exerted upon others, this radical renovation work is still under way: slavery is only abolished de jure; where gender equality is formally acknowledged, it is generally yet to be realised; and though children’s plain subjection to adults is challenged at least by the notion of the former’s best interest, the exercise of physical violence upon minors is not even legally limited all over the world, and it is forbidden altogether in just one third of nation states.625

But worst of all, the unrestrained exercise of power over one’s self remains unchallenged, and it is even universally praised by an approving commonwealth that goes from Nazis to anarchists: freedom as self-mastery is still happily exerted at the willing expenses of each of us. If it is still difficult to detect the frightening family resemblance between the mastery of the self and the mastery of a slave, a woman, or a child, then probably our current notions of the self are in dire need of some sort of emancipation.

For sure, if it weren’t for the endless restatements of the value of self-mastery from Plato on,626 it wouldn’t be difficult to acknowledge that individual self-determination is an autocratic affair, whether it follows authoritarian or libertarian rules. Otherwise, we could easily detect traditional authoritarian self-mastering’s side effects, which range from neuroses to dissociations; and the more recent emphasis on mastering oneself through impersonal rules and personal initiative would appear related to the rise of autisms, and to the pervading depressions.627

Without the series of Platonic avatars, in the first case, that is, the traditional authoritarian relations, we could observe the substitution of psychic centre for psychic centre as a sequence of indoctrinations, enlightenments and conversions; and in the second case, namely, the new regime of impersonal control, we would be able to notice that the double movement of the technicization of institutional power structures and the responsibilization of individuals empties the outer space of intentions, which, in turn, become a forced performance in the inner space. We could then realise that the neurotic and dissociated reactions to psychic invasion in the authoritarian world are being partially replaced in many contemporary contexts by the retreat from relations and psychic investments.

Unfortunately, whatever the context, the discourses of freedom are simply unable to question the absolute power of the self over itself628 ‒ a mastery that in fact is their paradoxical cornerstone. It is the power of self-determination that defines the Platonic-Aristotelian free male subject, to whom emancipated subjects are, at best, assimilated in time: this is why the request of self-mastery not only accompanies Classical oligarchic freedom, but it also appears as a conquest of modern emancipation.

We saw that de Maistre reproached Rousseau for collapsing together the roles of ruler and ruled in a new autocratic collective subject, and that his reproach likewise applies to the modern autocratic individual subject. However, we also saw that we may bypass this modern blind alley by re-socialising the self within transindividuation629 processes: we may then rethink our inner court as a heterogeneous assembly,630 whose composition varies incessantly, as it makes room for various constitutive prostheses631 and partial others. As this assembly thus extends itself, its rights, and its responsibilities beyond the mere individual sphere, the notion of throughdom may help to orient its negotiations towards a more balanced participation. In turn, this radical renovation of our inward architecture632 may afford us a way out of both the authoritarian subject’s paranoid hybris, and the desolated detachment of the depressed, who is exhausted by the weight of the world that she has to carry alone. If I may rephrase Foucault, it will be for practices of throughdom to produce a new balance, as soon as we unlock the last stronghold of unrestrained power and unfreedom: ourselves.

θαυμάζω καὶ αὐτὸς πάλαι τὴν ἐμαυτοῦ σοφίαν καὶ ἀπιστῶ.633

How to cite this book chapter:

Baldissone, R 2018 Farewell to Freedom: A Western Genealogy of Liberty. Pp. 119–165. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book15.e. License: CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

500 Eusthatius of Thessalonica, Eusthatii Commentarii (Commentary on Dionysius Periegetes), in Geographi Graeci minores, Karl Müller ed. (Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1861), vol. 2, 309.

501 Friedrich Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960), 19.

502 Ibid.

503 Ibid. Hayek specifies: ‘While every law restricts individual freedom to some extent by altering the means which people may use in the pursuit of their aims, under the Rule of Law the government is prevented from stultifying individual efforts by ad hoc action.’ In Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1944), 54.

504 Aristotle, Eth. Nic. 1096a.

505 Aristotle, Met. 1003a. Whilst we are familiar with the Aristotelian formula ‘A insofar as A,’ the use of the word [hēi], insofar as, in philosophical texts is reported by Simplicius since Empedocles (Physika 1, 243–44, fr. 31 B17.12 Diels-Kranz). In Charmides 171b, Plato gets as close as possible to the Aristotelian repetition to come: τὸν ἰατρόν, ᾗ ἰατρικός ἐστιν [ton iatron, hēi iatrikos estin] the physician, insofar as he is a physician (literally, the medical doctor, insofar as he is ‘doctoral’). To my knowledge, Aristotle first deploys the language apparatus that is to become the formulaic expression of essence in Eudemian Ethics 1228b: τοῖς παιδίοις ᾗ παιδία [tois paidiois hēi paidia], to children insofar as children.

506 See, for example, Plato, Parm. 134b–c.

507 See, for example, Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics 1217b.

508 See, for example, Aristotle, Prior Analytics 49a.

509 Deleuze and Guattari consider the State as an ‘[a]pparatus of capture — the semiological operation par excellence,’ which ‘constitutes a general space of comparison and a mobile center of appropriation.’ In Deleuze and Guattari, Mille Plateaux, 555; Eng. trans. id., A Thousand Plateaus, 444–445. Here, Plato’s and Aristotle’s language functions may be understood as constituting a general space of comparison among theoretical entities, which are appropriated within the discourse of identity through either their identification with themselves or with one of their attributes.

510 Seien wir vorsichtiger als Cartesius, welcher in dem Fallstrick der Worte hängen blieb. Cogito ist freilich nur Ein Wort: aber es bedeutet etwas Vielfaches: manches ist vielfach und wir greifen derb darauf los, im guten Glauben, daß es Eins sei.’ NF August-September 1885, N. 40[23]; http://www.nietzschesource.org/#eKGWB/NF-1885,40[23] (my translation). Though Nietzsche does not explicitly consider the concept of freedom under this light, he is convinced that ‘[z]unächst thut die absolute Scepsis gegen alle überlieferten Begriffe noth,’ [w]hat’s needed first is absolute scepticism towards all received concepts. And he adds: ‘(wie sie vielleicht schon einmal Ein Philosoph besessen hat Plato: natürlich <hat er> das Gegentheil gelehrt — —).’ (something perhaps possessed by one philosopher — Plato: of course, he taught the opposite — —).’ NF April-Juni 1885, N. 34[195]; http://www.nietzschesource.org/#eKGWB/NF-1885,34[195]; Eng. trans. Nietzsche, WLN, 13.

511 Betrachte z.B. einmal die Vorgänge, die wir ‘Spiele’ nennen. Ich meine Brettspiele, Kartenspiele, Ballspiele, Kampfspiele, usw … Was ist allen diesen gemeinsam? – Sag nicht: “Es muß ihnen etwas gemeinsam sein, sonst hießen sie nicht ‘Spiele’” – sondern schau, ob ihnen allen etwas gemeinsam ist. – Denn wenn du sie anschaust, wirst du zwar nicht etwas sehen, was allen gemeinsam wäre, aber du wirst Ähnlichkeiten, Verwandtschaften, sehen, und zwar eine ganze Reihe. (. . .) Ich kann diese Ähnlichkeiten nicht besser charakterisieren, als durch das Wort ‘Familienähnlichkeiten’; denn so übergreifen und kreuzen sich die verschiedenen Ähnlichkeiten, die zwischen den Gliedern einer Familie bestehen: Wuchs, Gesichtszüge, Augenfarbe, Gang, Temperament, etc. etc. – Und ich werde sagen: die ‘Spiele’ bilden eine Familie.’ In Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophische Untersuchungen/Philosophical Investigations, G. E. M. Anscombe and R. Rhees eds., G. E. M. Anscombe trans., 2nd ed. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1958), §§ 66–67, 31–32/31e–32e.

512 See Friedrich Hayek, ‘Remembering My Cousin, Ludwig Wittgenstein,’ in Encounter, August 1977, 20–22.

513 Wittgenstein, Philosophische Untersuchungen/Philosophical Investigations, §§ 66–67, 31e–32e, modified text.

514 John Langshaw Austin, ‘A Plea for Excuses,’ Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, New Series, vol. 57 (1956–1957): 1–30, reprinted in id., Philosophical Papers, J. O. Urmson and Geoffrey Warnock eds., 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970), 175–204, 180.

515 John Langshaw Austin, ‘Truth,’ Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume 24 (1950): 111–128, reprinted in id., Philosophical Papers, 117–133, 130.

516 See Berlin, Two Concepts of Liberty.

517 Ibid., 6.

518 Berlin goes on: ‘not equality or fairness or justice or culture, or human happiness or a quiet conscience.’ Ibid., 10.

519 Though Quentin Skinner transcends Berlin’s pairing of negative and positive freedom, I am afraid that even the addition of a third concept of liberty is not enough to do justice to the richness of his own historical enquiries. See Skinner, ‘A Third Concept of Liberty.’

520 Berlin, Two Concepts of Liberty, 16.

521 Gilbert Ryle famously applies the adjectives ‘thin’ and ‘thick’ to the notion of description: ‘thick description is a many-layered sandwich, of which only the bottom slice is catered for by th[e] thinnest description.’ In Gilbert Ryle, ‘The Thinking of Thoughts: What “Le Penseur” is doing,’ University Lectures, no. 18, 1968, the University of Saskatchewan. Borrowing Ryle’s term, we may say that a Nietzschean genealogy produces a thick narration about notions and concepts.

522 The word ekphrasis is first documented in Τέχνη ῥητορική [Tekhnē rhētorikē], The Art of Rhetoric, 10.17, which is attributed to Dionysius of Halicarnassus.

523 Classical ekphrasis knows only of figurative art, of which it accepts the representative conventions: Foucault’s more recent ekphrasis of Las Meninas in Les Mots et les Choses follows Velasquez in directing our attention out of the represented scene. Perhaps my ekphrastic rendering of abstract terms may rather be likened to a verbal transposition of abstract art, such as Malevic’s squares or Pollock’s drippings.

524 See John Langshaw Austin, How to Do Things with Words (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962).

525 ‘[C]onnaître l’individu à travers l’individuation plutôt que l’individuation à partir de l’individu.’ In Gilbert Simondon [1958], L’individu et sa genése physico-biologique (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1964), 4.

526 For example, in the preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit Hegel declares his intention ‘die festen Gedanken in Flüssigkeit zu bringen,’ to bring fixed thoughts into a fluid state. In Hegel, Phänomenologie des Geistes, Werke 3, 37. Eng. trans. id., Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, 20.

527 ‘[I]l faut qu’il se crée une présence avec quelqu’autre être que lui pour que l’individuation (. . .) puisse apparaitre.’ In Gilbert Simondon, L’individuation psychique et collective à la lumière des notions de forme, information, potentiel et métastabilité (Paris: Aubier, 1989), 197.

528 Simondon recovers Anaximander’s notion of apeiron, the boundless or non-determined, in order to describe the inexhaustible natural residual within each individuated entity.

529 ‘[E]lle communique directement avec les autre réalités préindividuelles contenues dans les autres individus.’ In Simondon, L’individu et sa genése physico-biologique, 249.

530 Ibid., 250.

531 Hegel describes this reciprocity as ‘Durchdringen des Durchdringens,’ penetration of the penetration, in the visionary section of the Logic Die Auflösung des Dings, the dissolving of the thing, where he develops the notion of reciprocal porosity as a sort of Leibnizian vertigo. In G. W. F. Hegel, Wissenschaft der Logik, Werke 6, 146. Eng. trans. id., The Science of Logic, G. Di Giovanni trans. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 435.

532 Ibid., 145. Eng. trans. ibid, modified translation (aggregate).

533 ‘[L]e transindividuel, n’étant pas structuré, traverse l’individu,’ the transindividual, as it is not structured, cuts across the individual. In Simondon, L’individuation psychique et collective, 195.

534 From this perspective, we may construct as predecessors to Simondon’s operation the inner pluralisation of Dostoevsky’s characters; Nietzsche’s multiplication of inner masters; Freud’s acknowledgement of psychological plurality, which is an extraordinarily productive move, though it is ultimately subordinated to the univocality of the reality principle; and Mikhail Bakhtin’s rendering of the psychology of each Dostoevskian character as a combination of я и другой [ya i drugoi], I and an other, and the claim of her незавершенность [nezavershennost], unfinalizability, which opens towards the reconsideration of both freedom and responsibility. In Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoyevsky’s Poetics, C. Emerson trans. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), 302.

535 See Michel Foucault, Folie et déraison: histoire de la folie à l’âge classique (Paris: Plon, 1961), Eng. trans. History of Madness, Jean Khalfa ed., Jonathan Murphy and Jean Khalfa trans. (London: Routledge, 2006); Naissance de la clinique: une archéologie du regard médical (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1963), Eng. trans. id., The Birth of the Clinic, Alan Sheridan trans. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1973); Surveiller et punir: naissance de la prison (Paris: Gallimard, 1975), Eng. trans. id., Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, Alan Sheridan trans. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1977).

536 See Michel Foucault, Histoire de la sexualité, 3 vols. (Paris: Gallimard, 1976–1984). Eng. trans. id., The History of Sexuality, 3 vols., Robert Hurley trans. (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978–1986).

537 La libération ouvre un champ pour de nouveaux rapports de pouvoir, qu’il s’agit de controlêr par des pratiques de liberté.’ In Michel Foucault, ‘L’éthique du souci de soi comme pratique de la liberté’ [1984], in id., Dits et Écrits IV (Paris: Gallimard, 1994), 708–729, 711. Eng. trans. in id., ‘The ethics of the concern of the self as a practice of freedom,’ in id., Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth: The Essential Works of Foucault, 1954–1984, vol. 1, P. Rabinow ed. (New York: The New Press, 2006), 281–301, 283–284, modified translation.

538 Foucault underlines that in ancient Greece ‘être libre signifie ne pas être esclave de soi-même et de ses appétits, ce qui implique qu’on établisse à soi-même un certain rapport de domination, de maitrise, qu’on appelait archê – pouvoir, commandement,’ to be free means not being a slave to oneself and one’s appetites, which means that with respect to oneself one establishes a certain relationship of domination, of mastery, which was called arkhē, or power, command.’ Ibid., 714. Eng. trans. ibid., 286–287.

539 Plato, Alcibiades I 120c.

540 Whilst in the Phaedrus and in the Republic irreducible inner differences are accounted for by a hierarchy of metaphorical characters and functions respectively, in the Theaetetus (189e) the Platonic Socrates depicts the act of thinking as the dialogue of psykhē with itself. This diachronic pluralisation makes room for inner reflection without questioning the unity of the inner hierarchical command.

541 ‘[M]ens autem plane indiuisibilis,’ while the mind (is) utterly indivisible, in René Descartes, Meditationes de Prima Philosophia (Paris: Michel Soly, 1641), 109 (5.19). Eng. trans. id., Meditations on First Philosophy, John Cottingham ed. and trans. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 119.

542 The absence of a language of participation is powerfully underlined by the unobstructed parataxis of Jean-Luc Nancy’s beautiful formula être singulier pluriel, being singular plural. See Jean-Luc Nancy, Être singulier pluriel (Paris: Galilée, 1996). Eng. trans. id., Being Singular Plural, Robert D. Richardson and Anne E. O’Byrne trans. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000).

543 We may also observe that the language of penetration not only harks back to warfare (and hunting practices), but it also shapes a traditional male construction of sexuality.

544 As previously recalled, Hegel remarkably attempts to mobilise the Western language of identity by making each entity internalise the relation of opposition, which, nonetheless, by doing so he restates and generalises.

545 Schmitt even appeals to this crude dichotomy as ‘seinsmäßige Wirklichkeit,’ reality according to its being. In Carl Schmitt, Der Begriff des Politischen (München: Duncker & Humblot, 1932), 16. Eng. trans. id., The Concept of the Political, George Schwab trans. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 28, modified translation.

546 Deleuze defines as précurseur sombre (dark precursor) the operator that links heterogeneous series. In Gilles Deleuze, Différence et répétition (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1968), 156. Eng. trans. id., Difference and Repetition, Paul Patton trans. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 119. Here I am rather considering that the link between the dichotomies of friend versus enemy and master versus slave is already partially obscured by Aristotle, who justifies slavery as the effect of a natural condition of inferiority. See Aristotle, Pol. 1260a.

547 The term ‘multitude’ enters the lexicon of modernities in the seventeenth century with its Latin version multitudo, which Hobbes depicts as the disordered – and thus blameful – counterpart to the notion of people. On the contrary, Spinoza’s positive resemantization of multitudo is later confirmed by its recent reclaiming (especially in the writings of Toni Negri) as a non-totalising alternative to ‘people.’

548 In 1990, after a decade of neoliberal hegemony, Deleuze detects behind the affirmation of individual freedom the emergence of the societies of control: borrowing from the Simondonian lexicon, Deleuze maintains that such a novel regime operates through an ongoing modulation, as opposed to the disciplinarian stable casting of both individuals and collectives. See Gilles Deleuze, ‘Postscript sur les sociétés de contrôle,’ L’Autre Journal, n.1, Mai 1990, 111–114. Eng. trans. id., ‘Postscript on the societies of control,’ October, vol. 59 (Winter, 1992), 3–7.

549 Dianomy, inasmuch as in-between of the self and the other, may well be the place where we all are always already staying, since our primal maternal entanglement. This glorious participation goes well beyond our nine-month inhabitation of the maternal body, as shown, for example, by Melanie Klein’s notion of part objects (which unfortunately she herself recaptures within the teleological narration of the individual).

550 The prefix ‘dia-’ may likewise help to strike a middle path between other dichotomous compound words, and the notions that they express. For example, the composition of this preposition with the Greek term ποίησις [poiēsis] in the neologism ‘diapoiesis’ may help to extricate us from the binary logic of autopoiesis and allopoiesis, as construed by Maturana and Varela, following George Spencer-Brown’s operation of drawing a distinction. See George Spencer-Brown, Laws of Form (London: Allen and Unwin, 1969); Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, De Máquinas y Seres Vivos (Santiago de Chile: Editorial Universitaria, 1972).

551 Aristotle, Nic. Eth. 1171a3.

552 Simondon proposes the notion of transduction as an attempt to face the lack of a language of relations. Transduction allows the co-emergence of terms and relation: ‘Les termes extrêmes atteints par l’opération transductive ne préexistent pas à cette opération.’ The ultimate terms that are obtained through the transductive operation do not preexist this operation. In Simondon, L’individu et sa genése physico-biologique, 19.

553 ‘[E]s giebt kein “Sein” hinter dem Thun, Wirken, Werden; “der Thäter” ist zum Thun bloss hinzugedichtet, — das Thun ist Alles.’ Zur Genealogie der Moral I § 13; http://www.nietzschesource.org/#eKGWB/GM-I-13; Eng. trans. Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality, Keith Ansell-Pearson ed., Carol Diethe trans. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 26.

554 Menschliche Freiheit heißt jetzt nicht mehr: Freiheit als Eigenschaft des Menschen,’ in Martin Heidegger, Vom Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit. Einleitung in die Philosophie (Freiburger Vorlesungen Sommersemester 1930), Gesamtausgabe (hereinafter GA), Band 31 (Frankfurt: Verlag Vittorio Klostermann, 1982), 135. Eng. trans. id., The Essence of Human Freedom: An Introduction to Philosophy, Ted Sadler trans. (London: Continuum, 2002), 93.

555 ‘[S]ondern umgekehrt: der Mensch als eine Möglichkeit der Freiheit.’ Ibid. Eng. trans. ibid, modified translation. The form of Heidegger’s statements, which are part of his lectures on Schelling’s theodicy of freedom, may be compared to that of a Schellingian reversal: ‘Das Leben ist nicht Eigenschaft oder Produkt der thierischen Materie, sondern umgekehrt die Materie ist Produkt des Lebens,’ life is neither a product nor a property of living matter, but vice versa: living matter is a product of life. In Friedrich Schelling, Von der Weltseele, in id., Werke, vol. 1 (München: Beck und Oldenbourg, 1927), 568.

556 Der Mensch ist nur ein verwalter von Freiheit.’ Ibid., 134. Eng. trans. ibid, modified translation.

557 Der Mensch ist der Hirt des Seins.’ In Martin Heidegger, ‘Brief über den “Humanismus”’ [1946], GA 9, 313–364, 342. Eng. trans. id., ‘Letter on “Humanism”,’ Frank A. Capuzzi trans., in id., Pathmarks, William McNeill ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 239–276, 252, modified translation.

558 ‘“Denken,” wie es die Erkenntnißtheoretiker ansetzen, kommt gar nicht vor: das ist eine ganz willkürliche Fiktion (. . .) “Der Geist,” etwas, das denkt, (. . .) diese Conception ist eine abgeleitete zweite Folge der falschen Selbstbeobachtung, welche an ‘“Denken” glaubt: hier ist erst ein Akt imaginirt, der gar nicht vorkommt, “das Denken” und zweitens ein Subjekt-Substrat imaginirt in dem jeder Akt dieses Denkens und sonst nichts Anderes seinen Ursprung hat: d.h. sowohl das Thun, als der Thäter sind fingirt.’ NF November 1887-März 1888, N. 11[113]; http://www.nietzschesource.org/#eKGWB/NF-1887,11[113]; Eng. trans. Nietzsche, WLN, 222.

559 Au lieu d’abstraire à partir des substantifs, c’est à dire de concepts, ou des verbes, c’est à dire des opérations, et même des adverbes ou des adjectifs qui sont à côté du substantif ou du verbe, j’abstrais “vers,” “par,” “pour,” “de,” etc. le long des prépositions. Je les suis comme on emprunte une direction: on la prend puis on la laisse. On dirait que le sage grammairien qui les a baptisées ainsi devinait qu’elles précédaient toute position possible.’ In Michel Serres, Éclaircissements: Cinq entretiens avec Bruno Latour (Paris: Éditions François Bourin, 1992), 157. Eng. trans. id., Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time, R. Lapidus trans. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995), 106. The focus on prepositions is not just an issue of expression for Serres, who adds: ‘Once I have worked out the maritime map of these spaces and times that precede any thesis (meaning position), I can die. I will have done my work.’ Ibid.

560 Michel Serres, ‘Le point de vue de la bio-physique,’ Critique, Mars 1976, 32(346), 265–277, 268.

561 Serres takes turbulence as a model: ‘Turbulence isn’t a system, because its constituents fluctuate, fluid and mobile. Rather, it is a sort of confluence, a form in which fluxes and fluctuation enter, dance, crisscross, making together the sum and the difference, the product and the bifurcation, traversing scales of dimension. It recruits at the very heart of chaos by ceaselessly inventing different relations; it returns to it as well.’ In Serres, Conversations, 107.

562 Whilst the Homeric characters directly listen to the commanding voice of the gods, Plato (Cra. 391d–392b) and Aristotle (Nic. Eth. 1178b), at best, use the gods and their reported statements as a rhetorical reference. See also Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1976).

563 At the time of Plato this transformation is under way, and the characters of his dialogues still know Homer by heart. In the meantime, the Platonic Socrates (Cra. 425d) rhetorically suggests making an instrumental use of gods, similar to their deployment ex machina on stage, where they appear to solve playwrights’ intractable dilemmas.

564 Plato, Rep. 443e.

565 The Nietzschean text is tinged with the nostalgia for a resonance that is yet to come, and whose objective correlatives are collective subjects such as immoralists and Hyperboreans.

566 As previously recalled, it may be argued that Hegel opens the way to the philosophical acknowledgement of our inner irreducible plurality, albeit captured within the rhetorical trope of opposition.

567 The current disasters of economic and political freedom are only surpassed by the effects of their past and present absence: is up to us to construct a way out of this pincer.

568 Plato, Cra. 389a. In the text, ὀνοματουργοῦ, onomatourgou, singular masculine genitive form.

569 Ibid.

570 Ibid., 390c. In the text, διαλεκτικόν, dialektikon, singular masculine accusative form.

571 Ibid., 390e.

572 Levinas claims that the subject at stake is ‘moi et non pas le Moi,’ which in English may be rendered as ‘myself and not my Self.’ In Emmanuel Levinas, Autrement qu’être ou au-delà de l’essence (La Haye: Martinus Nijhoff, 1974), 163. Eng. trans. id., Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence, Alphonso Lingis trans. (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1994), 127, modified translation.

573 Inspiration, hétéronomie le pneuma même du psychisme.’ Inspiration, heteronomy – the very pneuma [vital breathing] of the psyche. Ibid., 160. Eng. trans. ibid., 124, modified translation.

574 Ibid., 157. Eng. trans. ibid., 122, modified translation.

575 L’un affecté par l’autre – traumatisme an-archique ou inspiration de l’un par l’autre et non pas causalité frappant, sur le mode mécanique, una matiére soumise à son énergie.’ Ibid., 158. Eng. trans. ibid., 123, modified translation.

576 Levinas uses the term incarnation, incarnation or incorporation, in order to express both conditions of etre-dans-sa-peau, being-in-one’s-skin, and avoir-l’autre-dans-sa-peau, having-the-other-in-one’s-skin. Ibid., 146. Eng. trans. ibid., 115.

577 Ibid., 160, original italics. Eng. trans. ibid., 125.

578 ‘[L]a durée où nous agissons,’ in Henri Bergson, Matiére et Memoire (Paris: Alcan, 1903), 205. Eng. trans. id., Matter and Memory, N. M. Paul and W. Scott Palmer trans. (New York: Zone Books, 1991), 186.

579 Mais si la divisibilité de la matière est tout entière relative à notre action sur elle,’ ibid., 245. Eng. trans. ibid., 219.

580 ‘[L]’Un comme sujet ou comme objet, comme réalité naturelle ou spirituelle, comme image et monde.’ In Deleuze and Guattari, Mille Plateaux, 14. Eng. trans. id., A Thousand Plateaus, 8.

581 Ne soyez pas un ni multiple, soyez des multiplicités! Ibid., 36. Eng. trans. ibid., 24. Deleuze himself contextualises his work in relation to the thinkers of his generation: ‘In all of us you find themes like multiplicity, difference, repetition. But I put forward almost raw concepts of these, while others work with more mediations.’ In Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations, M. Joughin trans. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 88.

582 Que veut dire aimer quelqu’un? Toujours le saisir dans une masse, l’extraire d’un groupe (. . .) et puis chercher ses propres meutes, les multiplicités qu’il enferme en lui, et qui sont peut-être d’une tout autre nature. Les joindre aux miennes, les faire pénétrer dans les miennes, et pénétrer les siennes. Célestes épousailles, multiplicités de multiplicités.’ In Deleuze and Guattari, Mille Plateaux, 49, my italics. Eng. trans. id., A Thousand Plateaus, 35, modified translation.

583 See, for example: ‘Une transduction d’états intensifs remplace la topologie.’ Transduction of intensive states replaces topology. Ibid., 26. Eng. trans. ibid., 17. See also supra, note 552.

584 Deleuze and Guattari’s more detailed expression is ‘agencements collectifs d’énonciation,’ collective compositions of enunciation. Ibid., 13. Eng. trans. ibid., 7, modified translation.

585 Following Brian Massumi’s translation, the French term agencement is generally rendered in English as ‘assemblage’: yet, the English word ‘composition’ better conveys the sense of the verb agencer as not merely bringing together, but also as the way in which various elements are combined and arranged together.

586 Ontology a word that since Jacob Lorhard’s Ogdoas scholastica (St. Gallen: Georg Straub, 1606) defines the discourse about the answers to the Platonic question ‘what is it?’ may well be performative just like any other discourse: if this is the case, ontology itself is always already an ethics, which sets the configurations of the world as veritable injunctions. Of course, for example, Galileo and Newton do not prescribe bodies to fall, but they rather surreptitiously enjoin people to construct their relations with bodies, and with themselves inasmuch as bodies, according to a hierarchy of primary and secondary qualities. As we saw, Hobbes is quick to follow this injunction, and to take it further.

587 See Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, Les Fonctions Mentales dans les Sociétés Inférieures (Paris: Alcan, 1910). Eng. trans. id., How Natives Think, Lilian Ada Clare trans. (London: Allen and Unwin, 1926).

588 ‘[P]artecipation mystique,’ ibid., 81. Eng. trans. ibid., 80 (modified translation).

589 ‘[Ê]tre (. . .) à la fois eux-mêmes et autre chose qu’eux-mêmes.’ Ibid., 77. Eng. trans. ibid., 76 (modified translation). Lévy-Bruhl, who is trained as a philosopher, may be seen as unwittingly mapping the boundaries of Western ontology through the description of its supposed other, namely the so-called primitive.

590 Already in 1921, though Jung appropriates Lévy-Bruhl’s notion of participation mystique, he observes that ‘it occurs not at all infrequently among civilized men [sic].’ In Carl Gustav Jung [1921], Psychological Types, Godwin Baynes trans. (London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1946), 572–73.

591 ‘[I]ch hatte ihr einige Tage vorher erklärt, “daß die ältesten Kindererlebnisse nicht mehr als solche zu haben sind, sondern durch ‘Übertragungen’ und Träume in der Analyse ersetzt werden”.’ In Sigmund Freud, Die Traumdeutung, in id., Gesammelte Werke, vol 2–3 (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Verlag, 1961), 1–642, 190. Eng. trans. id., The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, James Strachey ed., vol. 4, The Interpretation of Dreams, first part (London: Hogarth Press, 1953), 184.

592 Freud, 7 June 1909 letter to Jung, in Sigmund Freud and C. G. Jung, Briefwechsel, W. McGuire and W. Sauerländer eds. (Zurich: Buchclub Ex Libris, 1976), 254–256, 255. Eng. trans. id., The Freud/Jung Letters: The Correspondence between Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung, W. McGuire ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974), 230–232, 231.

593 This state is commonly addressed as one’s imitation of another: yet, since Plato the mimetic relation produces both the split between models and copies and the a priori severance of good copies from bad ones. We may instead recover the Platonic notion of μέθεξις [methexis], participation (for example, in Parm. 132d), provided that in a relation of participation with another, this second term, unlike the Platonic form, would be affected too.

594 On the contrary, it is the absolutization of individual boundaries that justifies the selective segregation of prisons and asylums, whose inmates are generally a scandalously disproportionate sample of the total population. As Wittgenstein reminds us: ‘Kannst du die Grenzen angeben? Nein. Du kannst welche ziehen.’ Can you give the boundary? No. You can draw one. In Wittgenstein, Philosophische Untersuchungen/Philosophical Investigations § 68, 33/33e.

595 ὥστε κινήσεως καὶ μεταβολῆς ἔστιν εἴδη τοσαῦτα ὅσα τοῦ ὄντος [hōste kinēseōs kai metabolēs estin eidē tosauta hosa tou ontos], there are as many kinds of kinēsis and metabolē (change) as uses of ‘is.’ In Aristotle, Physics 201a. According to Aristotle, the difference between kinēsis and metabolē is that the latter also includes the changes from non-subject to subject (generation), and from subject to non-subject (death). Ibid., 225a–b.

596 The modern term ‘locomotion,’ that defines the action or power to change position in space, literally expresses one of the three aspects of Aristotelian kinēsis, that one κατὰ τόπον [kata topon], that is, according to place. Ibid., 225b.

597 I use here the word ‘incorporation’ because it is etymologically and semantically linked to the body, just like the word ‘incarnation,’ but without the latter’s strong theological association with the becoming flesh of the Christian god, and unlike the word ‘introjection,’ which Ferenczi devises in 1909 as a more general notion than transference. The sharp distinction between the notions of incorporation and introjection, which is theorised by Maria Torok and Nicolas Abraham, and somewhat acknowledged by Derrida as a clinical necessity, is not useful to my purpose of naming the operation of constitutive participation in general. See Sándor Ferenczi, Introjektion und Übertragung (Leipzig und Wien: Franz Deuticke, 1910), Eng. trans. Introjection and Transference in id., Contributions to Psycho-Analysis, Ernest Jones trans. (Boston: Richard G. Badger, 1916); Maria Torok and Nicolas Abraham, Cryptonymie: Le verbier de L’Homme aux loups (Paris: Aubier Flammarion, 1976). Eng. trans. id., The Wolf Man’s Magic Word: A Cryptonymy, Nicholas Rand trans. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005).

598 Bernard Stiegler, La technique et le temps 2. La désorientation (Paris: Galileé, 1996), 278. Eng. trans. id., Technics and Time 2: Disorientation, Stephen Barker trans. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009), 243.

599 See Bernard Stiegler, La technique et le temps 1. La faute d’Épiméthée (Paris: Galileé, 1994). Eng. trans. id., Technics and Time 1: The Fault of Epimetheus, Richard Beardsworth and George Collins trans. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998).

600 It may be objected that the exercise of collective freedoms requires not only the absence of interference with the collective subject, but also relations between individuals that allow their collective action: however, at least since Plato, these relations are subordinated to the very identity of the collective body, which is generally construed as an individual on a wider scale.

601 Of course, liberation too is said in many ways, as Aristotle would put it: yet, other uses of the word, such as, for example, in its chemical or physical sense of ‘emission,’ would hardly fit our semantic context.

602 Whilst the claims of freedom endorse the possibility of being and acting as oneself, the notion of transindividuation makes clear the impossibility of being and acting as just oneself. As throughdom turns this impossibility into the possibility of a fair participation, it may be thought as taking further Simondon’s reconsideration of the moral act in the light of his novel processual approach: ‘un acte qui n’est que lui même n’est pas un acte moral,’ an act which is nothing else than itself is not a moral act. In Simondon, L’individu et sa genése physico-biologique, 298.

603 The metathesis of þruh for þurh occurs already circa 1300: ‘Bote þu þruh þin milde mod bringe me out of sunne.’ In Prayer to Virgin 8, Old Eng. Misc. (1872), 195. In OED, ‘through prep. and adv.

604 This use of the word þrúh is similar to one of the uses of the Greek term dianomos.

605 OED, ‘through prep. and adv.

606 Whilst the word ‘through’ evokes the language of penetration and its subordination to pre-existing entities, its use as a generative tool is meant to challenge this subordination.

607 The OED lists ‘alderdom, Anglo-Saxondom, boredom, Christendom, cuckoldom, dukedom, earldom, freedom, kingdom, martyrdom, popedom, sheriffdom, thraldom, wisdom, etc.’ In OED, ‘-dom, suffix.’

608 In this sentence, ‘of relations’ is meant to be a subjective genitive: relations generate the space.

609 More precisely, we may say that the word autos in its neuter form auto is applied by Plato with the function of predicate to another predicate, which is turned into a subject.

610 In a 1972 conversation with Foucault, Deleuze remarks: ‘une théorie, c’est exactement comme une boîte à outils. Rien à voir avec le signifiant. . . Il faut que ça serve, il faut que ça fonctionne. Et pas pour soi-même.’ A theory is exactly like a box of tools. It has nothing to do with the signifier. It must be useful. It must function. And not for itself. In ‘Les intellectuels et le pouvoir,’ entretien de Michel Foucault avec Gilles Deleuze, in Michel Foucault, Dits et Écrits II, 309. Eng. trans. ‘Intellectuals and power: a conversation between Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze,’ in Michel Foucault, Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews, Donald F. Bouchard ed. (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1977), 208.

611 Augustine famously notices the disconcerting distance between the definition and the uses of a word: ‘quid est ergo tempus? si nemo ex me quaerat, scio; si quaerenti explicare velim, nescio.’ What is time then? If no one asks of me, I know; if I wish to explain to him who asks, I know not.’ In Augustine, Confessiones 11.14, PL 32, 816.

612 The feminist slogan ‘the personal is political,’ which in the long sixties is also widely endorsed within radical movements, bravely challenges the dichotomy of private and public spheres. Whilst the identification of the two dimensions exposes the practical limits to theoretical freedom, it also carries the same ambiguity as the eighteenth-century declarations of rights, in which a prescription – man ought to be free – appears as a description of a state of fact – man is free. It is the very distinction between description and prescription in the modern constitution, to echo Latour, that, pace Hume, forces the ‘ought’ to appear as an ‘is.’ The explicit performativity of the discourse of throughdom may help challenge the divide between private and public without the pitfalls of modern surreptitious prescriptions in form of descriptions.

613 For example, considering the current compenetration of advertising and social communication, it is remarkable that international human rights laws do not even mention the notion of freedom from information.

614 David Bollier and Silke Helfrich, ‘Overture,’ in id. eds., Patterns of Commoning (Amherst, MA: Commons Strategy Group, 2015), 3.

615 The notion of freedom may still be used productively, inasmuch as it overlaps with the notion of participation as reciprocal affection.

616 It may be argued that human rights, by realising the legal condition (albeit non-binding) of a universal entitlement, overcome this limitation: nevertheless, also in this case, universalisation means assimilation to a perspective that is surreptitiously elevated to the condition of standard.

617 This constituent exercise of entitlement may be understood as an extension beyond the sphere of Constitutional law of Sieyés’ notion of pouvoir constituant, constituent power. See Sieyès, What is the Third Estate?

618 Supreme Court of the State of New York, Waller versus City of New York, Index No. 112957/2011, 4.

619 The legal (de jure) acknowledgement of the mutual belonging of participation and entitlement would play a performative role in the reconstruction of both participation and entitlement.

620 From this point of view, there is no difference between the storming of the Bastille and the occupation of Zuccotti Park.

621 See Heraclitus, fr. 22 B91 Diels-Kranz.

622 Wittgenstein, Philosophische Untersuchungen/Philosophical Investigations § 7, 5/5e.

623 Cultural prostheses include Zuccotti Park occupiers’ ‘tents, structures, generators, and other installations’ that I previously recalled, and also their ‘becoming-microphone.’

624 Obviously, non-human participation always needs human mediation: for example, scientific experts represent objects in Latour’s expanded Parlement des Choses, The Parliament of Things. See Bruno Latour, Nous n’avons jamais été modernes. Essai d’anthropologie symétrique (Paris: La Découverte, 1991), 194. Eng. trans. id., We Have Never Been Modern, C. Porter trans. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), 142. It is up to us to expand the range of human mediators beyond the traditional lot of the Vestals of metaphysics: philosophers, theologians, and scientists. For example, I suggested elsewhere including as parliamentary mediators also historians/genealogists, by acknowledging their traditional role of qualified representatives of the dead.

625 According to the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, only one tenth of the world’s children have full legal protection from corporal punishment. See www.endcorporalpunishment.org/progress/countdown.html

626 Following Deleuze’s suggestion to reverse Platonism with Plato’s own words, I am to turn Plato’s very argument about the subject against Western thought as Platonism: οὐκοῦν τούτων πάντων αἴτιον ὅτι αὐτοῦ τῶν ἐν αὐτῷ ἕκαστον τὰ αὑτοῦ πράττει ἀρχῆς τε πέρι καὶ τοῦ ἄρχεσθαι; [oukoun toutōn pantōn aition hoti autou tōn en autō hekaston ta hautou prattei arkhēs te peri kai tou arkhesthai?] And is not the cause of this to be found in the fact that each of the principles within him [being the Western traditional subject obviously male] does its own work in the matter of ruling and being ruled? In Plato, Rep. 443b.

627 See Alain Ehrenberg, La Fatigue d’être soi: Dépression et société (Paris: Odile Jacob, 1998). Eng. trans. id., The Weariness of the Self, David Homel trans. (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2010). Perhaps, we may now be able to make sense of Hegel’s cryptical hint to depression (see supra, 95), and even to see that the owl of Minerva may fly either after dark or before dawn, according to our chosen perspective.

628 Plato captures differences by setting different entities in a hierarchical order: we saw that, in so doing, he turns the many into one, as it were, both in the polis and in the individual psykhē. Whilst we are generally able to recognise the Platonic operation of reductio ad unum and its effects in the outer sphere of social and political relations, we are yet to clearly detect this operation and its effects in the inner sphere. The power of the self over itself often does not even appear as a power: it has first to become visible as a power, so that the negotiation on the conditions of its exercise could be opened.

629 The vocabulary of subjectivation is in no less need of renovation than that of freedom: the term ‘transindividuation’ is ultimately built upon Cicero’s translation of the Greek term ἄτομος [atomos], that is, non-divided, which he literally renders in Latin as in-dividuum (De Finibus 1.17). We saw that Simondon chooses to challenge this indivisibility with the word ‘transindividual,’ in which the Latin preposition ‘trans,’ that is, beyond, bridges the gap between individuals. Deleuze and Guattari later somewhat trace back this path, which they make bifurcate before the Ciceronian negative addition, and their dividuals express subjectivities that are less and more than the individual (Mille Plateaux 421). Yet, Deleuze soon detects that neoliberal apparatuses of capture exploit the dividual condition to extract information and exert control (‘Les sociétés de contrôle’): in particular, as Antoinette Rouvroy and Thomas Berns point out (‘Gouvernementalité algorithmique et perspectives d’émancipation. Le disparate comme condition d’individuation par la relation?’ Réseaux 1/177 (2013), 163–196), the process of dividual fragmentation is being intercepted by new digital strategies, each of which divide et impera, that is, divides and rules by statistically assembling infra-individual data into supra-individual models of behaviour. However, whilst dividuals are being taken hostage by neoliberal apparatuses, a different route may be opened by claiming at once our sub-individual components and their supra-individual connections. If, as Serres puts it, prepositions precede (and predefine) any possible position, it may be time to replace the Latin negative preposition ‘in’ in the word ‘individual,’ which at the same time constructs each of us as a fictitious unity, and obscures from view any kind of operation that happens on our partial selves. The Latin preposition ‘per,’ that is, through, together with the word ‘dividual’ may instead help to remind us that we are, so to speak, an inside which is always already traversed from the outside, and that we can choose some but not all that enters us and that we enter. Moreover, insofar as we are perdividuals, we could build paths of perdividuation, so as to bypass both traps of the old individuation bottleneck and the new neoliberal induced dispersion: but this is matter for another book.

630 Here I am not pleading for a domestication of unconscious components via Habermasian dialogue: on the contrary, the felicitous example of Mary Barnes’ travel through and beyond her psychotic symptoms (even by taking Eusthatius’ invitation at face value) within the community of Kingsley Hall shows how transindividual (or better, perdividual) negotiations transcend the limits of languages and procedures. See Mary Barnes and Joseph Berke, Two Accounts of a Journey Through Madness (London: MacGibbon and Kee, 1971).

631 The Greek word πρόσθεσις [prosthesis] combines the preposition πρός [pros], expressing direction, with the verb τίθημι [tithēmi], to put, in order to describe an application (for example, of a ladder against the wall in Thuc. 4.135; of uterine irrigation in Hipp., Nat. Mul. 11): perhaps, another compound with the same verb, namely ἔνθεσις [enthesis], which describes the action of grafting and its result (see Geoponica 10.37.1), would better render the constitutive role of tools in the processes of transindividual subjectivation (or, even better, perdividuation). For example, just like the human deployment of the Palaeolithic flint, the use of writing is a process of becoming-internal, an enthesis, in which the boundary between writer and writing gets blurred, as the Platonic Thamus well understands (Phaedrus 275a–b). This blurring also affects the various boundaries between human and non-human, living and non-living, and, more generally, inner and outer: but this is matter for another book too.

632 This renovation is to be understood as the deconstruction of both inward and outward architectures through the claim of that middle place in which we all already stand.

633 [T]haumazō kai autos palai tēn emautou sofian kai apistō, I myself have long been marvelling at my own wisdom, and I cannot believe it. In Plato, Cra. 428d.

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2018-11-19
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