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The theoretical message of the word ensemblance is quite simple: the book shows that discourses of ultra-unity in human ensembles are often ideological fabulations connected to nationalism, manipulation, groupthink, power coalitions, social control, political neo-romanticism, etc. These can be effective historically and socially because modern individuals often have this understandable longing for belonging to a group of peers, like-minded fellows that become as one for the sake of a cause. Today, with the upcoming crisis of individualism, the confused revival of nationalisms, and with the capitalist ubiquity of ultra-competitive team-spirit, the exclusivist ideal of cohesive ensembles and esprit de corps seems more and more attractive for some (not to speak of the fantasy of esprit de corps between humans and robots or AI, although I do speak about it in the conclusion).
Hence the cautionary need to remind us, with this book and its rich evidence, of the critical views on esprit de corps since Montesquieu, d’Alembert and Diderot. I sympathise with the critique of the excesses of individualism that has been made in the name of esprit de corps, but the myth of close-knit togetherness, I’m afraid (and I regret it), seems equally illusionary. The idea of ensemblance is not completely negative, though. It’s fine to search for ensemblances that combine solidarity and a critical openness (cf. the pages on Deleuze and Guattari in chapter 6), provided we know pure unity is a dangerous fiction. Moreover, ensemblance – as also explained in the conclusion – is a critical modulation of popular concepts that are I believe too optimistic, such as Judith Butler’s assembly and the Deleuzian assemblage.
Anticipating Anthrobotic Minds: The Integration of Analytical, Dialectical and Crealectical Intelligences
Unesco Headquarters Paris 14h15 – 29 October
“An understanding of effectual anticipations regarding the present and the future cannot ignore our “anthrobotic” interplays, emerging from our sociotechnical assemblages of humans and algorithms (de Miranda et al., 2016). If we are to avoid a self-inflicted technological determinism, it won’t be by ignoring the anthrobotic becoming of our nature, but by integrating it within our concerns about freedom, self-determination and agency, in perpetual need of creative regeneration (de Miranda, 2017). In this talk, I will focus less on where we look for the future and more on how we look for it, by proposing a minimal epistemology that distinguishes three complementary modes of understanding: analytical (with a focus on operations), dialectical (with a focus on tensions), crealectical (with a focus on creations). Within this triple synthetic framework, I will distinguish between strategies of unification, dynamics of reconciliation, and practices of regeneration. More concretely, and to take Unesco’s slogan seriously (“Building Peace in the Minds of Men and Women”), I will explain how my epistemological work is motivated by my practice of care as philosophical therapist (at The Philosophical Parlour, Stockholm).”
Luis de Miranda, Ram Rammamorthy and Michael Rovatsos (2016). “We, Anthrobot: Learning from Human Forms of Interaction and Esprit de Corps to Develop More Diverse Social Robotics”, in What Social Robots Can and Should do. Amsterdam: IOS Press, pp. 48-56.
Luis de Miranda (2017) “On the Concept of Creal: The Politico-Ethical Horizon of a Creative Absolute”, in The Dark Precursor: Deleuze and Artistic Research, ed. Paulo de Assis & Paolo Giudici. Louvain: Leuven University Press, pp. 510-516.
Who Killed the Poet? The song:
Svea, my daughter, aged 7 tomorrow, thinks it is somewhat unlikely that Descartes died of a cold in Stockholm. He might have indeed been poisened.
Words are not just suitcases, they are also corsets. In many languages, the word joy has slowly been replaced in recent decades by three letters from the standard universal language: fun. When a word is inserted into the global communication network, it sometimes happens that it becomes distorted and expresses a generic and formatted version of more complex, more singular and local feelings. Words are tools of social control. While more and more humans have mimetic “fun” moments, less and less feel all the depth, richness and singularity of joy as experience. Besides, to play a little on words, in Latin, funus means death, funerals. Fun can be reactive, sectarian, mass-produced, like an egocentric exclusion of many parts of living reality, while joy affirms the world and anticipates it creatively and generously.
There are many forms of joy: childlike, religious or mystical, loving, intellectual, friendly. By the way (this time to mention an exact etymology), the Latin word source, gaudia, was a plural noun – meaning something like rejoicements – formed from the verb gaudeo, to rejoice, itself formed on an Indo-European root akin to the word admiration.
Joy is a physical and spiritual experience of laughing admiration: perhaps it is the human experience that expresses the fact that the spiritual and the physical are, from time to time, in symbiosis, the body expressing the vibrations of the mind, celebrating a triumphant presence at the mere fact of being or becoming, as one swims in the ocean of everything and nothing. To lose oneself in order to find oneself: the joy of the mystic, the joy of the lovers, the joy of the children who play, the joy of the thinker who plunges into the ocean of ideas. Joy is a pleasure that has given up on greed and which has an angelic element to it: it is the presentiment that in a dimension unknown to anxious realism, we develop wings.
Joy connects us to the world by opening us to hidden and sublime dimensions, it makes us talk, it pushes us to forgive, to understand. As it is not just greedy or fun enjoyment, it also makes us more responsible and ready to fight for the harmony it makes us hear.
“There are joys that are an inexhaustible source of strength for the soul,” said the writer Laure Conan. While fun can make us blind to all, even perhaps cruel to those who are not in our little circle of enjoyment, joy questions us: how is it that our earth is not a kingdom of common harmony? In this sense, joy carries with it seeds of politics and inclusion. Who knows ? Perhaps we should build a new global political proposal based on joy. Communism was too obsessed with work, which no doubt implies its magic and its pleasures, but also its heaviness and the sadness of Sisyphus. Capitalism is too obsessed, as its name indicates, by capitalization, accumulation, while joy, conversely, is an abundance that is dispersed and not measured in quantity but in quality.
Joy is a direct connection to the richness of the Creal, the Real as it creates incessantly: it is the love story and the atomic glass bead game between the Multiple and the One. Any multiplicity supposes ontologically a unity, as the philosopher Plotinus would say. Deep joy is at once the apprehension of our disparate wealth and our personal, non egotistic, singularity. Someone who is in joy is both out of herself and in herself.
Joy reveals to us the soul of the world, and our participation in its destiny. But she also knows how to say no. No, I am nothing of that, I am only the consoling and healing pressure of the trunk against your body when you seat by the tree and cry, this tree which is the link between the earth and the sky and which has just merged with your spine so that you welcome the sap of Being and Becoming. This is the joy of sharing.
A human body occupies a location in time and space. It occupies a location in human history and geography. It is reasonable to believe that no human body has ever spent much time upside down. Rather, we tend to stand on our feet, subject to the effects of gravity.
We tend to feel in a certain mood. This mood might or might not be relative to human history and geography. In the recent history of philosophy, the notion of mood activates a reference to Heidegger’s book Being and Time. It is fair to believe that most people would claim that they do not have the time or are generally not in the mood to read Being and Time to find out what Heidegger wrote about mood and time (Stimmung und Zeit in German).
What does it mean to not have the time to do something? It means that we need or want to do something else. This something else is considered more important or more necessary. Is something necessary important? Well, if you spend most of your time doing things that you consider necessary matters-of-fact but ultimately not important, you are probably often in a bad or sad mood. In the book Modes of Thought, Alfred North Whitehead wrote a chapter on the importance of the notion of importance and how it contrasts with the notion of matter of fact. For him, matter of fact is an abstraction.
Now something that is an abstraction for philosophers might be a painful reality for a human body that is enmeshed in a specific society. A common abstraction is money, which we tend to treat as the matter-of-fact par excellence. We could probably here list a few other abstractions that have become extremely important for us, to the point that we consider them concrete.
Now let’s consider our initial human body located in time and space. Is time and space an abstraction in the same sense that money is? Kant believed we have a non-empirical (a priori) intuition of time and space. Is this philosophical idea important or necessary? Some people would say that philosophy may start with the right questions but ends in infinite erudition. So let’s remain with the questions for a while.
Are you where you ought to be?
How can you be certain that you are were you ought to be, in a space-time that is exactly the optimal one for you, compared to all possible states?
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are now crossing the border between Sweden and Norway” claims a voice as I wrote the previous sentence. The train then whistles and I laugh: how useful can the whistling of the train be as a border is crossed? The voice of the train manager (or is it the driver?) sounds bouncy. He seems to be in a decent mood, as the old carriages continue their unhurried journey between Stockholm and Oslo.
Human-Computer Co-Creativity in Improvised Music
Bio – Örebro University 13h-14h – 31 October 2019
Dr. René Mogensen
Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham City University, UK.
“Is it possible for a computer to be creative? Is creativity computable? We may judge artefacts and concepts made by humans as creative products without having a clear view of what human creativity is or how it works; but if it is possible to make a ‘computer creativity’ then it must also be possible to make a specification of what it does computationally, even if creativity might be an emergent property. I approach ‘creativity’ as a family of categories and this allows the defining of a formal specification for computational creativity which can diverge from human creativity in terms of functionalities and products. The specification is based on ‘creativity’ being evident in products, in other words artefacts or concepts, and these products are arrived at through learning processes. To ground these investigations I look at computational creativity implementations that improvise with human soloists in music performances: in these music works humans and the computational creativity systems are partners in musical ‘dialogues’ and can be understood as engaging in human-computer co-creativity, where the computational partner is in a symbiotic musical relationship with humans, all within a ‘human activity system’.”