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Proposition 15 is a revolution in Western thought concerning the nature of pleasure and desire. Throughout the philosophical tradition there has been a marked tendency to distinguish natural and unnatural forms of pleasure. Take, for example, this representative passage from Epicurus’ Letter to Menoeceus:
- why do we begin approaching the world in an “objectified” fashion in the 17th century, seeing things as objects of quantification and dispassionate scientific investigation?
- What accounts for this sudden shift in how things are perceived?
Here questions of individuation emerge that are necessarily bound up with questions of changes in production that took place with respect to the emergence of capitalism. The historical explanation, however, is not sufficient as we must presuppose a certain malleability of the body to determine how it is possible for perception to be transformed in this way, shifting from what Heidegger called the “ready-to-hand” of the Feudal world, to the “present-at-hand” of products under capitalistic production. In particular, we would have to focus on what Marx describes as “alienation” from the object of production in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, as a non-phenomenological condition for the possibility of the phenomenology of the scientific gaze or attitude. This separation from the object produced serves as a historical a priori condition of the scientific gaze by rendering us indifferent to the use-value of the object for us qua producer.
One need only think of the difference between our phenomenological attitude towards food that we produce in a restauraunt for customers (for those who have been “fortunate” to work in food service), compared to our attitude towards food we produce for ourselves. In the former case the food becomes an “inert” think, such that our interest in it is subtracted. The object comes to be experienced as “present-at-hand”, just as a doctor or nurse sees a human body as a machine, rather than another person with whom they share interpersonal bonds. This “indifference” towards the object was also reflected in an indifference to subjects, where heirarchical social identities began to disappear and we came to conceive ourselves as individuals pursuing self-interest. Perhaps more on that another time, I’m off to dinner at the anthropologists house. ~ by larvalsubjects on April 28, 2007. One Response to “Spinoza Today”