computational vitalism

30 Oct 2021 02:15 - 17 Jun 2023 08:29
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    • This phrase popped into my head after reading some sniping by Terry Eagleton at Deleuze and neovitalists. Very few google hits on this term; that's good I guess? I can own it!
      • I stupidly didn't record where this was, I think maybe Terry Eagleton on François Dosse’s Deleuze & Guattari - Artforum International
        • His work is also ridden with Romantic-vitalist error, the influence of which can be found in any off-the-peg piece of postmodern theory today. The dogmas are tediously familiar: All multiplicity, decentering, or dispersion is positive, while all unity or homogeneity is suspect; all marginality is creative, while all majorities and consensuses are oppressive; small-scale political action is to be commended, while large-scale, state-centered projects are to be treated with thorough-going skepticism.
    • What am I trying to get at? The dynamism of computation, its links with the dynamism of individuals, of capitalism, etc. Seems too boring a term for what it hopes to describe. See computational constitution.
    • To be clear: there are two different forms of vitalism. Dualist or metaphysical vitalism is the idea that there are two kind of stuff, the material and the vital (or mental or spiritual or whatever). Bodies are one thing, life and mind is another. This is obviously wrong and bad (and also baked into Western thought to the extent that getting away from it is hard). The thrust of modern science has been to show that this particular kind of vitalism is just wrong. There is no magic life-juice, living things are gloriously complicated machines, no magic outside ingredients necessary.
    • Monist vitalism is the opposite really. It denies the fundamental dualism of mind and body, and insists that there is only one kind of stuff.
      Calling it "stuff" is probably wrong, that is too static, the One Kind of Real Thing is more like a process than a thing or material.
      This may be what Jane Bennet calls vital materialism, the recognition that "vitality is shared by all things" (see Shaviro, The Universe of Things )