Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I are/we am

I remember an early school experience where i felt humiliated being made to stand and read aloud some of my writing while other children in the class were asked to point out the mistake made. I was about 6 and had written I are, and attempted to defend this grammatical error by saying but I am always more than one, my twin brother and I are always together... Didnt work, the plurality was not anticipated and got drummed out of me. It is a pleasure to be reading Latour on Tarde, and feel vindicated that while grammatically incorrect,
philosophocally i are very astute!

This article by Latour seems to be arguing that identity cant answer questions of behaviour because identity too is made in contexts

"...whenever you want to understand a network, go look for the actors, but when you want to understand an actor go look through the net the work it has traced. In both cases, the point is to avoid the passage through the vague notion of society....
So far, all of philosophy has been founded on the verb To be, whose definition seemed to have been the Rosetta's stone to be discovered. One may say that, if only philosophy had been founded on the verb To have, many sterile discussions, many slowdown of the mind, would have been avoided. From this principle 'I am', it is impossible to deduce any other existence than mine, in spite of all the subtleties of the world. But affirm first this postulate : 'I have' as the basic fact, and then the had as well as the having are given at the same time as inseparable" (Latour citing Tarde)

And Latour expands further, saying
"Here goes Hamlet, as well as Descartes with his cogito, Heidegger with his Being qua Being, together with thousand of homelies about the superiority of what 'we are' above what 'we have'. Quite the opposite, Tarde instructs us. Nothing is more sterile than identity philosophy —not to mention identity politics— but possession philosophy —and may be possession politics ?— create solidarity and attachments that cannot be matched. "For thousands of years, people have catalogued the many ways of beings, the many kinds of beings, and no one ever had the idea of cataloguing the various kinds, the various degrees of possession. Yet, possession is the universal fact, and there is no better term than that of 'acquisition' to express the formation and the growth of any being'' p. 89. If essence is the way to define an entity within the 'To be' philosophy, for the 'To have' philosophy an entity is defined by its properties and also by its avidity� No way to escape from Tarde's logic: take any monad [individual, atom, unit of measure], if you look at what are its properties and its proprietors, you will be led to define the whole cosmos, which would be impossible if you had only tried to define the essence of an isolated identity."

Brings back a Latourian tenet I had earlier had difficulty with 'existence precedes essence'.
Here I seean application for identity does not precede what makes it.
Identity is made, it is plural...the body is multiple in more ways than that described by Annemarie Mol.
And then to take this a step (or several steps) further, and here's a new thought (for me) in the making:
If "The whole outside universe is composed of souls different from mine, but, in effect, similar to mine'' p.44 (Latour citing Tarde again).
And if we/you/I concede that in knowing something, I only know it in as much as I can fathom, recognise and/or project my beliefs about its being anything at all, then part of me is in everything I meet...
"if you don't want to share avidity and belief with the things you have, then also stop to say what they are. The accusation is upturned and the burden of proof shifted to the accusators. Abstain from the ridiculous solution to say that things exist in themselves but that you cannot know them. Either you talk or you remain silent. But you cannot possibly speak and say that the things you speak about are not in some ways similar to you: they express through you a sort of difference that has you, the speaker, as one of their proprietors. What looks like an impossibility with the philosophy of identity, offers no difficulty with the philosophy of 'alteration'. Possession is another way of talking about translation.

To paraphrase Latour's discussion further: After this brief brief brief brief presentation of some of Tarde's and Latour's thinking on the metaphysics of social theory, you/we/i may now understand why so much of ANT appears difficult:
you/we/i don't want to be had.

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