“A Topological Style of Thought”

17 January 2006 at 9:23 pm Leave a comment

DeLanda explicates a phrase from Deleuze which speaks of an “anexact yet rigorous style of thought.”  This comes after a clear explanation of the key concepts from Darwinism and traces the “philosophical consequences” of such a new conception of species (see ch. 2 pp. 56-63).  It is intended to distinguish the exactitude of biologists from that of physicists: 

“A good example would be the way Edelman approaches  his cell collectives, where the exact number of members or their exact position is immaterial.  Thsi attitude towards quantitative exactitude is not a sign that biologists, unlike physicists, are less careful or disciplined.  It indicates, on the contrary, the presence of a more sophisticated topological style of thought” (63, emphasis mine).

This just struck me as appropriate after my entry of January 12th suggesting that new metaphorical concepts could be derived from higher order math and science.  In fact, this is what attracts me so much to Deleuze and Guattari:  they invoke the focus of contemporary physics on process and unfolding (nonlinearity, fractal geometry, complexity theory), with “plateaus” in geology, botany (rhizomes), set theory, music theory, non-Euclidean geometries, and so on.  As DeLanda writes, “This theme of the disguising of process under product is key to Deleuze’s philosophy since his philosophical method is, at least in part, designed to overcome the objective illusion fostered by this concealment” (68-69).


Entry filed under: metaphorical concepts, philosophy, science.

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