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Fr. 343

June 13, 2013

A common thread to the respective works of Deleuze, Stout and Gadamer lies in their attempts to refuse and refute systematic approaches to common phenomena (thought, political discourse, and language, respectively), the methods and framework of which have been priorly set out, distributed, organized and agreed upon. For Deleuze, representation replaces and conceals the true nature of thought. For Stout, contractarianism in political discourse displaces the loose framework already worked out by candid reason-giving. For Gadamer, logic and artificial language systems attempt to do away with natural language all together. What all of these various replacements fail to see is that that which they attempt to replace is precisely that which makes them possible in the first place, for each of the replaced terms stands in a relation of logical priority to that which comes to replace it.

In other words, the term to be replaced does much of the work that foregrounds the replacing term, that same work which the replacing term claims to do itself. For Deleuze, representation evolves in response to a difference that gives rise to it, is ever present beneath the surface of representation, yet is fundamentally something that representation cannot make sense of as such, although difference can and does make sense of representation. For Stout, contractarianism evokes a reasoning in common (a common reason or common, procedural framework for reasoning) that itself can only result from the fact of having previously given respect to one’s interlocutors as per an understanding of reasoning in common as “reasoning with”. In short, the framework for political discussion is already established by the time common reason appears on the scene to fix the terms and means of communication. Finally, for Gadamer, logic, understood as an artificial and formalist system of symbols, attempts to impose an order onto natural language and the logic that the latter naturally manifests, despite it being this same natural logic that gives rise to the sort of agreement from which artificial can only then emerge, a mere supplement to the natural. In each of these cases, that which attempts to fix the terms of the interaction is both too stable and comes too late in the process and, in the end, only serves to obscure the preliminary work done by the dynamic processes therein.

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