Brainlet Corner 1: What is Philosophy: Intro & Ch. 1

Brainlet Corner is my attempt to actually read books in their entirety in an intensive way. Please don’t own me. Hopefully it will be a series.


There is already an incredible amount of work on D&G’s notion of the concept andalongside and in tandem, the conceptual persona or friend. The concept answers the question “what is philosophy?” quickly: philosophy is an act of creation—”forming, inventing, and fabricating concepts”. Only philosophy can create concepts, not science, art, and especially not design (which only produces simulacra), which have robbed the concept of its initial meaning and degraded it.

The answer was already known and had not changed, they say, but the conceptual poetics has been modified. Asking what is philosophy requires knowledge of the temporospatial and personal circumstances in which the question is being asked—which Hegel would identify as “the Figures of its creation and the Moments of its self-positing). This creation is dependent on the conceptual personae that are engaged with throughout the process of its fabrication, the spectre of the friend.

The friend, as far as I can tell, is rooted in a greek urbanity—the philosophy of the forum/agora. Creation of concepts is a social act, an amphisbetesis or striving/competition between the philosopher and the “friend, lover, claimant, and rival” which constantly must be worked through and inhabited. It is this relation that defines the philosopher in relation to the concept, which seems to me to be a stepping outside of oneself in order to fabricate and extirpate the concept from within (as an act of friendly creation that involutes into sodomy (or just masturbation)).

D&G follow Marx in making completely clear that philosophy is not a passive act, not performing examinations or contemplation. The identification of philosophy as motion, uncertainty, procedure seems to remove all useful distinction between theory and praxis as altogether irrelevant; theory or conceptual production is in fact practical production (of aerolites).

D&G quote Neitzsche in saying concepts are not gifts, but they must be made and created (or more accurately, self-created, allopoetic), which is to say, backed up and fortified (which I take to be gathering an accretive disk around the bright ordinal of the conceptual components, a cosmogenesis). In this sense, creation is “always a singularity”, albeit one that occurs along multiple valences and collects them into an internally objective and externally subjective epigenetic haeccetic unity, a “whole but a fragmentary whole”, a totalization of its components (which may themselves be concepts), constantly haunted by the “mental chaos” that’s hunting it. (Side note: how is this different from Hegel’s dialectics (as I understand them through Lenin, the contradictions of an object constantly lie benthic within the object and threaten to overwhelm it). Maybe the relation is that to D&G the chaos that forces the concept to embody a shattered unity is anterior to the concept itself?)

The concept does not stand alone. As I mentioned earlier, it is contingent on the Figure and the Moment; or, as D&G describe it, as a landscape they call the plane of immanence, the “field”. “Here concepts link up with each other, support one another, coordinate their contours…” A massively codependent landscape populated by ordinals that are “distinct, heterogeneous, and yet not separable”. They blur into each other and co-associate in what D&G call a “zone of neighborhood, or a threshold of indiscernability” where traffic occurs between adjacent (like) concepts, leaving the ordinals (“intensive features”, all of this is a question of intensities above all, a vast topos) as hard points, condensations (guess the disk of accretion image from earlier was kinda accurate). This landscape is traversed at infinite speed by the point of omniscient survol. The image that occurs to me is a song in the round: a layering of constantly returning complexity (or as the text says, a “refrain”) that allows the singular point of the listener to experience all the processes of the song at once as intensity goes negentropic). The concept is absolute internally and in relation to its problem but relative to the distributed plane-system in which it lies, freely associating with other concepts along thresholds and bridges. It is “real without being actual, actual without being abstract”—possessed of both its pedagogy in the former and ontology in the latter.

Language w/r/t a defined philosophical grammar is important here—best I can tell is D&G are trying to move away from the idea that concepts are their extension rather than their intension or that a concept is analogous to its friend/associated conceptual persona(e) and the language used to define it. When they address the Cartesian cogito it is in the interest of ripping it out of language and turning it into a diagram by identifying the components that compose the intensity.

D&G take care to mention that though the use the image of the landscape as a cartography of concepts (conceptopography I guess), there is nothing here to track space or time. The point of survol is the god eye, everywhere at once. Not even energy (which is just a corporealization of intensities) exists here. “The concept is defined by the inseperability of a finite number of heterogeneous components traversed by a point of absolute survey at infinite speedthe specific infinity of the concept.” So a concept, and the plane in which they appear, is modifiably infinite (w/r/t the concept) and probed by an equally infinite (or maybe transfinite) eye. To D&G, survey is speed. Thought is speed.