Slime Dynamics and Dark Vitalism (Ravaisson, Negarestani)

12Apr12

The proofs for Slime Dynamics have been approved and I’m quite happy to see this project complete. Looking over the draft and working on my talk for the Nonhuman turn conference has gotten me thinking again about Dark Vitalism. Previously I lamented the fact that I once thought Dark Vitalism could be a name for an inconclusive philosophical system (from the point of view of life) and I stand by that. But given the amount of Deleuze I have been reading over the past few months his use of vitalism has shown why I still think the term is important and why the way in which he utilizes it still bothers me.

This is largely due to the fact that I take vitalism to be a philosophy that is non-metaphysical – that is a lived philosophy (in the same realm as phenomenology, existentialism, affect theories etc) that is about ethics, politics, and the way we experience life as reflective creatures. Vitalism gets into trouble when it asserts metaphysical structures or powers that justify or make sense of its existence in a way which costs other entities or forces, powers, etc.This is why metaphysical theories should be coded clearly as metaphysical.

In this sense I have found Felix Ravaisson’s Of Habit particularly interesting. Whereas Schelling often seems to error to much in the direct of the ideal in some of his texts on nature, Ravaisson (who intended to translate Schelling’s later work and attended his Berlin lectures) puts the influence of nature into the philosophy of experience.

Furthermore, Ravaisson’s reading of Aristotle and the importance of incorporating a seemingly alien nature has wonderful resonances with Negarestani’s use of Aristotle in the “Corpse Bride.” Take the following quotes:

“In reflection and will, the end of movement is an idea, an ideal to be accomplished: something that should be, that can be and which is not yet. It is a possibility to be realized. But as the end becomes fused with movement, and the movement with the tendency, possibility, the ideal, is realized in it. (55)

And from “Corpse Bride”

“the solution [...] radically betrays¬† the Ideal because, firstly, it submits to the priority and the primacy of nothing; and secondly, it internalizes the disjunctive exteriority of nothing in order to authenticate and realize itself (153).

Through the relation of the soul to the body there is an interesting look at the troubled absorption of the outside into the body and into thought. Furthermore, this functions (potentially) as a way of taking more seriously the actual – the actual being, even from an overly human centered point of view, nature as affect and cause in the organism and in the ideal.

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