All roads lead to Ferdinand

This blog explores the radical insights of a Swiss linguist, Ferdinand Saussure, but first I will start with how linguistics changed from its early days as philology to a full-blown human science. By the 20th century, we (Americans) had become comfortable with the notion that man in general is to be defined by his language as opposed to the powers of the mind. Ideas can no longer exist in the mind without words, and nor can anyone reason without the aid of sentences. Man is the unique animal that employs a unique instrument to think with. However, such stipulations were taken further in the works of Saussure. Continue reading All roads lead to Ferdinand

A return to subjectivity

What is subjectivity other than a pattern of life? A pattern that answers the question posed by a dialectic of subjectivity. Among the candidates of this pattern: Locke’s selfhood, Husserl’s transcendental ego, personal identity. In this blog I will show how a different logic reveals this pattern of life: Gilles Deleuze’s “impersonal individuation,” (Difference and Repetition, p. 277) one that is distinct from personal individuation, a singularity instead of something particular.

If life is indefinite, then no pattern can ever completely graph life tout court; it is always just “a” life. The characterization of life as “impersonal, yet singular” distinguishes it from the self and obliges a more unbridled version of empiricism, that of transcendental empiricism. Continue reading A return to subjectivity