Monday, June 9, 2008

An Either/Or Question?

I was watching a Manuel DeLanda lecture online and he put forward a question which he argues sets you on a philosophical path that you cannot come back from . In the terminology of Badiou we can describe the question as a truth event from which we then produce knowledge from a fidelity to that event.


the question is:

'Do you think that Eskimos has 27 different words for snow because

a) they label snow differently 27 times

b) they interact with snow differently

I am still to decide if DeLanda is putting forward a Zizekian 'forced choice' or a question that one should answer and stay committed to that position for producing knowledge.

I would be interested to know what side of the fence you are sitting on?

51 comments:

errunus said...

I'm unfamiliar with any philosophy taking place in the last thirty years, but as a heideggerian i'd say that the multiplicity of interactions makes a multiplicity of names more meaningful and allowable as operative in discourses on snow.

to be honest, i don't at all understand how (a) could originate, unconditioned by (b).

we exist linguistically, but not exclusively so. Language at it's limits can only recoil back upon itself, but Being at it's limits, and ecstatic rapture beyond Being, extend beyond linguistic ferris-wheels.

Mark202 said...

thanks for the comment errunus,

I think DeLanda is trying to avoid the assumption that language constructs reality, and is arguing for a return to materialism. Albeit, a different tyes of materialism from dialectic materialism, and one based on the 'recent' discoveries of chaos and complexity science. This tends to put him against a lot of recent philosophy, which argues more for (a) than (b). This has been a result of the linguistic turn, which is probably a result of the work of Ferdinand Saussure.

I suppose it comes down to if you think the snow exists independent of thought, or if the snow's existance is dependent on thought (i.e. the snow exists because we have catergories for snow).

errunus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Clement said...

My question for De Landa is what about those 27 different words makes him think they mean our "snow"? I would tend towards (b), but not because their difference interactions are based around something we are calling "snow."

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