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Title: An ethics of the pre-individual
Author: O'Donnell, Aislinn
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2001
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Deleuze opposes ethics to Morality. He claims that an ethics develops immanent criteria to evaluate modes of existence, while a Morality imposes transcendent principles. This thesis explores the question of ethics, and I investigate the possibilities of an ethics of the pre-individual. Consequently this enterprise involves the development of an alternative ontology of becoming corresponding to a philosophy of difference. By taking this trajectory, I seek to show that an anti-human humanism is possible and demonstrate how this might work. Deleuze and Guattari always emphasise the practical and concrete nature of philosophy; therefore, in order to situate their concepts I begin the thesis with an examination of different theoretical approaches to the question of difference. However, I suggest that difference and heterogeneity cannot be simply affirmed in and of themselves since new forms of domination also affirm difference. My next chapter follows up on this idea by interrogating the allegation that philosophies of difference have made a political covenant with global capitalism. I draw on a distinction between power (potentia) and Power (Potestas) in order to explain how different modes of social organisation and domination can minimise the creative and transformational capacities of humans. By analysing a number of theoretical accounts of capitalism I demonstrate how and why it differs from other social formations. Nonetheless, I conclude that philosophy can indeed be distinguished from capitalism. Philosophy, as the art of inventing concepts, develops the conditions for real experimentation and new ways of thinking, being and existing. By turning to Spinoza's Ethics I propose that by thinking about the human differentially, as a part of nature, we can develop an immanent ethics. I explain how Spinoza's ontology operates especially in terms of its renovated conception of the human.In generating an ontology that is not centred on the individuated individual but grasps instead the individual as both relational and a degree of power, the pre-individual and transindividual dimensions of the human are emphasised and she is opened up to her non-human becomings. Simondon's account of metastable being explores this in greater detail. He argues that we have tended to extrapolate from the individuated individual in order to try to understand its conditions of existence. Alternatively, we have relied upon a principle of individuation that pre-exists the process of individuation. By intertwining his focus on the process of individuation with his idea that being is more than unity, more than identity and fundamentally incompatible with itself, I present Simondon's account of an ontology of becoming and his correlative conception of a pre-individual field. Residing at the core of his endeavour is a theory of difference and disparateness that understands identity to be emergent, partial, relative and derivative. Simondon's emphasis on disparateness recurs in Deleuze's work 'Difference and Repetition' mobilise this idea in order to distinguish between a created possible and a realisable possible, and to elucidate the ethico-political implications of this distinction. The concept of the 'image of thought' that rests on a series of non-philosophical pre-suppositions helps us to critique dominant modes of thinking and acting. In addition to critique, I seek to construct other ways of thinking and existing. Once again I focus upon the preindividual and transindividual dimensions of the human when in my concluding chapter I map the different conceptions of ethics and subjectivity, that emerge once we transform our understanding of ontology. An ethics of the pre-individual relies on immanent criteria for evaluating modes of existence, does not fetishise the human, and ultimately constructs the possibility, of things being otherwise.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick (UoW) ; Arts and Humanities Research Council (Great Britain) (AHRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BJ Ethics