I was reading through Miguel de Beistegui’s ‘Truth and Genesis’ today and noticed this argument, at the beginning of the third section on Deleuze;
Metaphysics is characterised by its emphasis on substance. Modern science, essentially from the development of Quantum theory, has implicitly dumped this Aristotelian ontology in favour of one that is an ‘energetics’. Mathematics is the access route to this ontology. Implicitly, therefore, the ‘new ontology’, of which Deleuze is an instance according to de Beistegui, derives from mathematical insight.
As those who were at the Badiou / Clamour of being reading group will no doubt recognise, this is quite close to the thesis in ‘Being and Event’ that mathematics is ontology.
Now, first of all this is a reconstruction of an argument, not a reading of a text and so I’m not putting this forward as an account of de Beistegui, merely locating the line of argument. I wanted to do so because it struck me today that this emphasis on substance and embrace of mathematics is still highly susceptible to the Heideggerian critique of metaphysics.
For Heidegger, it is not substance ontology istelf that is the problem. Rather, the distortion in substance ontology derives from the emphasis placed on presence (ousia) and this in turn derives from the rise to dominance of a certain attitude of logos, in effect the ‘scientific’ attitude, whereby logos becomes the archetypal ‘…logy’ of Being. Originarily, Heidegger argues (in ITM), logos and phusis are entwined intimately as an unconcealment of Being. Language and the physical are both ways in which we come across Being and are, as it were, co-dependent, neither having any priority. With the end of the originary moment of thought it is logos that rises to the surface and through the concept of ‘idea’ begins to establish itself as the court of determination, claiming the capacity to know Being and determine what has and what hasn’t got a claim to Being.
If, then, the argument is that mathematics is the route of access to Being, in effect this claim would need to respond to Heidegger’s critique of metaphysics since it appears initially that it falls inside that which Heidegger critiqued (whether it be Badiou or de Beistegui’s Deleuze). A ‘scientific’ or mathematical Deleuze (or Badiou) will still be susceptible to a straight-forward Heideggerian rebuttal. In fact, any philosophy still claiming to be doing onto-logy would be susceptible to this Heideggerian critique on the basis of the fact that this critque aims precisely at the …logy aspect of the argument, its sense of possessing ‘right knowledge’ or being a ‘science of Being’.
Anyway, just a thought…
(If you want to comment, please do so over at the Volcanic Lines discussion blog where this was posted)