The following excerpts are from chapter two, “Any materialist philosophy must take as its point of departure the existence of a material world that is independent of our minds” - Interview with Manuel DeLanda:
Any materialist philosophy must take as its point of departure the existence of a material world that is independent of our minds. But then it confronts the problem of the origin of the enduring identity of the inhabitants of that world: if the mind is not what gives identity to mountains and rivers, plants and animals, then what does? An old answer is “essences,” the answer given by Aristotle. But if one rejects essentialism then there is no choice but to answer the question like this: all objective entities are products of a historical process, that is, their identity is synthesized or produced as part of cosmological, geological, biological, or social history. This need for a concept of “synthesis” or of “production” is what attracted Marx to Hegelian dialectics since it provided him with a model of synthesis: a conflict of opposites or the negation of the negation. Deleuze and Guattari, on the other hand, replace that model of synthesis with what they call a “double articulation”: first, the raw materials that will make up a new entity must be selected and pre-processed; second, they must be consolidated into a whole with properties of its own. A rock like limestone or sandstone, for example, is first articulated though a process of sedimentation (the slow gathering and sorting of the pebbles that are the component parts of the rock). Then it is articulated a second time as the accumulated sediment is glued together by a process of cementation. They use Hjemslev’s terms “content” and “expression” as the names for the two articulations, but this is not meant to suggest that the articulations are in any way linguistic in origin. On the contrary: the sounds, words, and grammatical patterns of a language are materials that accumulate or sediment historically, then they are consolidated by another process, like the standardization of a dialect by a Royal Academy and its official dictionaries, grammars, and rules of pronunciation.
The question of the “individuation of trajectories” is about mathematical models (which to me are the secret of the success of science) but you are correct that it goes beyond that. All entities synthesized historically are individual entities: individual plants and animals; individual species and ecosystems; individual mountains, planets, solar systems, et cetera. Here “individual” means simply “singular or unique,” that is, not a particular member of a general category, but a unique entity that may compose larger individual entities through a relation of part-to-whole, like individual pebbles composing a larger individual rock. A materialist ontology of individual entities is implicit in Deleuze & Guattari and Braudel, so we must give them credit for that, then move on and invent the rest.
I surely reject the idea that morphogenesis needs any “mind” to operate. I also reject the neo-Kantian thesis of the linguisticality of experience. To assume that human experience is structured conceptually is to dehistoricize the human species: we spent hundreds of thousands of years as a social species, with a division of labor (hunters, gatherers) and sophisticated stone tool technology. Language is a relatively recent acquisition. Are we to assume that those ancient hunter gatherers lived in an amorphous world waiting for language to give it form?
Read the rest of the interview here. h/t Adam RobbertA theory of the subject is absolutely necessary but it must be based on Hume, not on Kant: subjective experience not as organized conceptually by categories but as literally composed of intensities (of color, sound, aroma, flavor, texture) that are given structure by habitual action. Recent developments in artificial intelligence will help with this: while the old symbolic school is deeply Kantian, the new connectionist school (based on neural nets that are not programmed but trained) points to a way out. Current neural net designs are at the level of insect intelligence but they already suggest how an insect protosubjectivity can emerge from a dynamic of perceived intensities. We need to extend this to the subjectivity of mammals and birds, and work our way up to human subjectivity. The political implication of this can be phrased as follows: rejecting the linguisticality of experience (according to which every culture lives in its own world) leads to a conception of a shared human experience in which the variation comes not from differences in signification (which is a linguistic notion), but of significance (which is a pragmatic one). Different cultures do attribute different importance, relevance, or significance to different things because their practices (not their minds) are different.