A Politics of Intensity: Some Aspects of Acceleration in Simondon and Deleuze

Deleuze Studies, Volume 11 Issue 4, pp 498-517

Link to full text


This article aims to clarify the question of speed and intensity in the thoughts of Simondon and Deleuze, in order to shed light on the recent debates regarding accelerationism and its politics. Instead of starting with speed, we propose to look into the notion of intensity and how it serves as a new ontological ground in Simondon’s and Deleuze’s philosophy and politics. Simondon mobilises the concept of intensity to criticise hylomorphism and substantialism; Deleuze, taking up Simondon’s conceptual framework, repurposes it for his ontology of difference, elevating intensity to the rank of generic concept of being, thus bypassing notions of negativity and individuals as base, in favour of the productive and universal character of difference. In Deleuze, the correlation between intensity and speed is fraught with ambiguities, with each term threatening to subsume the other; this rampant tension becomes explicitly antagonistic when taken up by the diverse strands of contemporary accelerationism, resulting in two extreme cases in the posthuman discourse: either a pure becoming, achieved through destruction, or through abstraction that does away with intensity altogether; or an intensity without movement or speed, that remains a pure jouissance. Both cases appear to stumble over the problem of individuation, if not disindividuation. Hence, we wish to raise the following question: in what way can one think of an accelerationist politics with intensity, or an intensive politics without the fetishisation of speed? We consider this question central to the interrogation of the limits of acceleration and posthuman discourse, thus requiring a new philosophical thought on intensity and speed.

Latest from Blog

Chinese translation of ChatGPT, or the Eschatology of Machines (Voices of Photography, issue 35)

ChatGPT自2022年11月推出以來,便引發了狂熱與恐懼。它對不同語言的語義及語法的嫻熟掌握(但尚未精通內容),令只是期待普通聊天機器人的使用者感到驚訝。有些大學院校立即禁止學生使用ChatGPT來寫論文,因為它的表現優於多數人類學生。報紙上的專欄文章則宣布了教育的終結──不僅因為學生可以用它來做作業,還因為ChatGPT比很多老師能提供更多的資訊。人工智慧似乎已征服了另一個根據古典哲學來定義人性的領域:邏各斯(logos)。恐慌隨著存在領域(existential territory)1的進一步喪失而加劇。當氣候的崩壞和機器人的反叛召喚出了末世,人類歷史的世界末日想像變得更加強烈。 末日對於現代人來說從來都不陌生。事實上,哲學家卡爾.洛維特(Karl Löwith)在1949年出版的《歷史的意義》(Meaning in History)一書即指出,現代歷史哲學──從黑格爾(Hegel)到布克哈特(Burckhardt)──就是末世論的世俗化2。歷史的終極目標便是使超越的變成內在(makes the transcendent immanent),不論是耶穌基督的第二次降臨或只是成為神人(Homo deus)。更廣泛地說,這種對歷史時期的聖經式或亞伯拉罕式想像,為人類的存在提供了許多深刻反思,卻也阻礙了對於我們的未來之理解。 more