The
Philosophy Hammer
Philosophy, Economics, Politics & Psychology Tested with a Hammer

41: Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari part I:
New Categories

Summary by: Jeff McLaren

         Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari were two radical thinkers who looked at the world very differently from the rest of us. They saw repression in the most prominent models of twentieth century thought especially Freudian psychoanalysis. Their analysis takes the assumptions found in modern systems of thought and then ask what if we reverse, ignore or change these assumptions. One of the first assumptions to be challenged is the independent research projects of physics and psychology. What if they were actually one branch of knowledge: consider the idea of desiring machines.
        
         Desiring-Production
        
         Consider that there are no such things as people or nature; they are all actual the same things; they are machines: everything is a machine (Q1) (The authors claim that everything is in the strictest literal sense a machine – there is no metaphor here). There is no such thing as production, distribution or consumption; there are producing-machines, consuming-machines and strangely everywhere there are schizophrenic-machines – all machines have these three modes. Desiring-machines always come in twos: where one is a producer or source of some flow and the second a regulator or interrupter of that flow. The interrupter then becomes a producer for some other interrupter to which it is coupled. The flow itself on a different scale is a bunch of machines and what we see as machines are elements of a flow on a larger scale. This is true in all scales from the microscopic to the macroscopic. Schizophrenia (usually characterized by withdrawal from reality, illogical patterns of thinking, delusions, and hallucinations, and accompanied in varying degrees by other emotional, behavioral, or intellectual disturbances) in some measure is a characteristic of all machines due to their dual nature of producer and interrupter (Q2). The authors claim that the Oedipus Complex may be one rare case of schizophrenia.
        
         The Body without Organs
        
         The body without organs (BwO) is the unproductive, the sterile or the unconsumable. It is the third term of the desiring-machine: a break or a brake on the flow (Q3). Everywhere there is a BwO there are machines that try to fill it up and others who try to draw a flow out of it: machines that try to end the break or brake. In so far as a BwO remains unproductive it is the object upon which other machines try to write a code of conduct. This code if it is successfully engraved sets the BwO back into the flow(Q4).
        
         The Subject and enjoyment
        
         Consider that machines both desire (are attracted to) a source of flow and repel (or more precisely expel) the flow. Most philosophies see these as opposites but what if they are not. Consider measuring attraction and repulsion as cumulative degrees of intensity. We experience both as a sort of enjoyment. In such a case our schizophrenia comes from the codes of conduct that say we should enjoy one thing but not another (Q5)(Q6).
        
         A Materialist Psychiatry
        
         Given this model, schizophrenia is not really an ailment nor is any other “mental disease” rather they are the particular ways some machines operate (Q7).
        
         The Whole and Its Parts
        
         When we analyze things we often break it down into its constituent parts because if we know the parts then we can know the whole (Mechanism). Sometimes it is by looking at the big picture first that we can get a sense of how to start looking at the parts (Vitalism)(Q8). But what if both of these approaches are faulty? The authors believe that the microscopic and macroscopic scales are too small or too big and in both cases too simple to effect us (Q9). The flow of microscopic machines can form an infinite number of partial machines which can then come together in unique ways to form us and our actions (Q10).
        
         Questions
        
         Q1 Is there anything to be gained from thinking that all of nature and all people are really the same thing? Hindu philosophy treats us all as parts interconnected parts of nature – but western culture has traditionally tied to divide everything into categories with different essences and thereby creating an “Us verses Them” attitude. What do you see as some of the benefits and detriments to both systems?
        
         Q2 The authors claim that people are better understood as schizophrenics out for a stroll rather than the Freudian neurosis known as the Oedipus Complex (All psychological problems come from the civilizational need for boys to repress their sexual desire for their mothers and the homicidal desire directed at their fathers [a girl's Oedipus Complex just reverse the parents]). Are you a schizo? Or are you a Freudian neurotic?
        
         Q3 Saved capital is a BwO. It is sterile, unproductive, waiting to be used. A capitalist experiences great anxiety at the thought of just saving capital. Anxiety caused by the BwO and its indeterminacy are are symptom of schizophrenia
        
         Q4 We all know what most of the machines around us are for but when we use them for other reasons than the code that is engraved on them we display signs of schizophrenia. But the code is not absolute yet when we act as if it is life is stagnet when we switch between codes we are schizophrenic. Consider a burp: in western culture a burp is rude but in Arabic culture it is not.
        
         Q5 Utilitarians claim that we are under the dominion of two masters pleasure and pain. We flee from pain and are attracted to pleasure. The authors claim that this is a schizophrenic justification for society's codes of conduct. Pain and pleasure are the same: the amount of pain or pleasure you are willing to take is dependent only on the intensity. Can pain and pleasure really be the same thing?
        
         Q6 Sometimes people enter into abusive relationships (abusive only from the point of view of society's prejudices); people do drugs; people exercise; people endure pain as well as enjoy pleasure. The authors claim that we as machines have a need (or a drive or an instinct or an imperative)to experience intensities of attraction and repulsion from the flow of smaller scale machines but the idea of pleasure and pain is a social construct that induces schizophrenia. Is this a reasonable explanation for all the deepest darkest anti-social desires of people or is there a better one?
        
         Q7 The authors claim that there is no such thing as a mental disease in the traditional sense. (A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual, and which is not a part of normal development or culture.) mental diseases are justification for segregation based on behavior. Should we institutionalize people who act weird?
        
         Q8 A version of Vitalism is the idea that God is the source of all explanations. It was a common believe in western culture since the time of Plato. It was later challenged by René Descartes who claimed we can learn more about the whole from an analysis of the parts – this is the modern scientific view. Which do you prefer? Is there a third option?
        
         Q9 The authors reject excuses like hormone or chemical imbalances as explanations for abnormal human behavior. They are on the same level as astrology and phrenology: at best, pseudo-science; at worst, outright lies. Do you think people make too much of drugs and herbal medicines? Or are the authors out to lunch on this one?
        
         Q10 The authors claim that their model allows for a unique explanation of everything and is therefore unbounded and expandable. It also has the virtue of truly being value neutral since it does not create in groups and out groups. Do you agree or disagree? Why? Or Why not?


© 2008 - 2017, James Jeff McLaren