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Monday, 30 January 2017

Is there a monadological interruption?

I started my talk to the Leibnizians in the ULB last November saying that I was after another coupling of phenomenology and monadology, not like the one Husserl did in the 5th Cartesian mediation which was somehow prompted by former student Mancke and his Leibnizian inclinations. My coupling is one that would bring together not Husserl and Leibniz but rather Levinas and Whitehead. I then proceeded to present the problem with monadology in general: it has no room for genuine interruption, the monad is satisfaction-centered, an aesthetic-driven entity, as Shaviro puts in the end of his "Self-enjoyment and concern", in The Universe of Things. The issue is, in my terms, is there a monadological way out? Or rather, in a somewhat longer format, is there a process philosophy that both keeps the tenets of a (neo-)monadology while making room a genuine hospitality that involves being able to be interrupted as an existent (as a monad, as an actual unit of agency that is separated in its solitude from the content of what is acted)? The issue is maybe whether there could be a real present time in monadology - or whether units of agency are tied once and for all to an agenda, to a sense of importance, to a set of beliefs and desires, to a will to imprint the world with its subjectivity. The question for me, at the time, was whether the transition from a monadology in a closure regime to a monadology in a capture regime (in the apt phrases used by Deleuze in Le Pli) can ever be completed.

I have recently felt a bit despaired of this idea. I have been wondering whether the idea of monadology is flexible enough to accommodate what I called a monadology of fragments (as a monadology of hospitality) in my Being Up For Grabs. In the framework of monadology, units of agency are archés that are crucially interdependent. Their individuation (hypostasis) is tied to societies and to networks (or to worlds). There is not enough independence in each existent to be able to be interrupted by another - there is no room for what I called the solitude of the agent. Plus, interdependence is already too much of an ontology - whatever interrupts a monad (a monadological or neo-monadological monad, to be clear) is already inside it, it's already in its web of interconnections and interdependence. In other words, I lost faith in the ability of monadologies to accommodate genuine external relations.
Having said that, there is still room for a new process philosophy approach. Maybe that could give rise to a post-monadology that would somehow accomplish the plan of a new coupling between the conception of interdependent individual existants on the one hand and that of a self hospitable enough to be open to interruptions.

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