Grant Maxwell’s book Integration and Difference: Constructing a Mythical Dialectic looks at the problem of the opposites through the lens of 13 philosophers who mostly fit within a constructivist stream of pragmatist, speculative, or process thought. This Voices of VR podcast episode is a 2.5-hour, philosophical deep dive providing an overview of each of these thinkers and how their ideas fit into the broader context of experiential design, perception, embodied experience, consciousness, and the metaphysical assumptions about the nature of reality itself. The 13 philosophers included within Maxwell’s book and this discussion include:
- Jacques Derrida (1930-2004)
- Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677)
- Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716)
- G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831)
- F.W.J. Schelling (1775-1834)
- Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
- William James (1842-1910)
- Henri Bergson (1859-1941)
- Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)
- C.G. Jung (1875-1961)
- Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995)
- James Hillman (1926-2011)
- Isabelle Stengers (1949-)
I’ve previously had Whitehead scholar Matt Segall provide a primer for Process Philosophy on this podcast, which helped open a portal of understanding for myself that lead to a talk I gave to philosophers elaborating on “Process Philosophy & VR: The Foundations of Experiential Design.” Also check out my Storycon Keynote on “A Primer on Presence, Immersive Storytelling, & Experiential Design” for some more context for how some of these philosophical ideas in this episode tie back to the evolution of my thinking.
In my framework for experiential design and immersive storytelling, I talk about four aspects of the qualities of presence, context, character, and story, and I will often cite this Robert McKee quote:
“True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure – the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature.”McKee, R. (1997). Story: Substance, structure, style, and principles of screenwriting. (pp. 101) ReganBooks.
This passage was first pointed out to me by Baobab Studio’s Eric Darnell, and I think encompasses all four aspects of my framework. When you watch a film, you’re watching an actor be put under pressure (context) that unfolds over time (story) and they are making choices and taking action (qualities of presence of mental presence & active presence), and their actions are revealing essential parts of their character (character).
In film, you’re typically watching other characters be put under pressure as they make choices and take action. But in VR and interactive gaming, you become the protagonist who is being put into contexts under pressure where you have to make choices and take action. If done properly, then it has the potential to have aspects of your essential character be revealed. Either those character aspects are unique to that gaming context, or if the pressure is intense enough and you feel enough presence and immersion, then it is possible have a part of your essential character be revealed.
It’s in this revealing of essential character where some of the depth psychological ideas explored in this podcast episode start to connect back to virtual reality and immersive storytelling. Maxwell dives into the philosophical foundations of character from a depth psychological perspective connecting Jung’s ideas of the archetypes with Schelling’s early philosophical work on connecting myth to the polytheistic potencies, and Nietzsche’s exploration of the Apollonian versus Dionysian dialectic, the alchemical inspirations of Jung for his ideas of the reconciling third process of psychological integration, and then looking at Hillman’s more pluralistic archetypal psychology approaches that goes beyond the more monocentric orientation of Jung.
There are many other key philosophical ideas and concepts that go beyond the scope of this brief context-setting write-up, but other topics that we cover include the problem of the opposites, escaping the binary nature of the Hegelian dialectic through the mythical dialectic and Deleuze’s concept of differentiation, how the mathematical metaphor of the infinitesimal describes the metaphysics of Leibnitz and Deleuze, Spinoza’s univocity, James’s pragmatism, radical empiricism, and fact of feeling, the process-relational approaches to what’s possible versus what’s actual, the beauty of Whitehead’s process-relational metaphysical system, how affective complexes resonate with the polytheistic potencies in this mythical dialectic, how each of these philosophers are affirming some combination of formal causation and final causation, and moving beyond Derrida’s deconstruction and into a new novel epoch, and dealing with stubbornly incommensurable polar opposites via Whitehead’s positive contrasts which remain Nietzsche’s something higher than any reconciliation.
This is no doubt on of the more philosophically dense and theoretical episodes of the Voices of VR podcast, but hopefully it helps to provide a deeper context for some of these thinkers within a constructivist stream of pragmatist, speculative, process thought and helps to build a theoretical scaffolding for how to expand from existing literary theory into new modes of conceptual frameworks to help make sense of immersive storytelling within the context of virtual and augmented reality.
There’s a passage from Robert McKee’s book “Story: Substance, structure, style, and principles of screenwriting” that I often quote in thinking about James’s “radical empiricism,” which it emphasizes the primacy of direct, embodied experiences and the fact of feelings
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[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to The Voices of VR Podcast. It's a podcast that looks at the structures and forms of immersive storytelling, the philosophy of experiential design, and the future of spatial computing. You can support me on Patreon at patreon.com slash voicesofvr. So today's episode is by far the most theoretical and in-depth deep dive into philosophy that I've ever done on the Voices of VR podcast. I have done a previous conversation with Whitehead scholar Mike Siegel talking about process philosophy, and this is sort of a continuation of this constructivist dream of pragmatist and speculative process thought. with an interview that I did with Grant Maxwell, who wrote a book called Integration and Difference, Constructing a Mythical Dialectic, which features 13 different philosophical thinkers from Derrida, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hegel, Nietzsche, Schelling, James Bergson, Whitehead, Young, Deleuze, James Hillman, and Isabel Stingers. This is a deep dive into trying to get an overview of all these different thinkers and how they're all looking at this problem of the opposites. How do you deal with contrast and integrate differences of the contrast? Whether it's the Hegelian dialectic or Jung and his holding the tensions of the opposites until you have the reconciling third. But each of these different philosophical thinkers are coming up with different philosophical concepts that are feeding into this broader stream of thought that is creating a new novel epoch that Grant Maxwell is talking about here into this fusion of pragmatism and pluralism and process thought. Process thought from Whitehead has been a huge inspiration and I think in a lot of ways this is to flesh out this process realm of thinking beyond what Whitehead was doing into many other thinkers that are in this larger complex of speculative process thought. So I guess to set a bit of context for how this gets back to experiential design is that as I look at the process of experiential design, it's a lot about creating contrast. And so you have building and releasing intention that happens in narrative and story, as well as the consonants and descendant cycles within music. You have these different polar opposites that are put into contrast with each other, and you have to find a way to transcend the limitations of each of those perspectives and include the insights from each of them. And so it's like this integration process that's happening that I think is at the core of experiential design, but also perception and consciousness itself. So it's getting down to the deep metaphysical and philosophical cores of the nature of experience and the nature of reality itself. So I wanted to read this quote from Robert McKee. So as you're watching a movie, you see these different characters in the film put into a context. They're making choices and taking action that is somehow revealing a part of their essential character. Now, as we start to think about interactive media, you are the one who's being put into these different situations, and it's a part of your essential character that's being revealed. And so you can think about these interactive and participatory virtual reality experiences as these realms of potential that are trying to get at these essential core parts of your character. These realms of character can be thought of as these archetypal realms of potential that Jung talks about in his depth psychological approach, but are this larger stream of polytheistic potencies that goes back to Schelling and Nietzsche and Jung and into Hillman. And so in this realms of potential, you are being asked to make choices and take action. And by the end of it, you may walk out of the immersive experience knowing a little bit more about yourself. So Maxwell talks about this process as the mythical dialectic inspired by Deleuze, but to get beyond what is normally this kind of binary dialectic that is from Hegel, which is putting these two polar opposite things in contrast to each other. And for Hegel, he's seeing it as this totalizing unification into this undifferentiated wholeness. For me, I've taken a lot of inspiration into that idea of the dialectic. If you've listened to this podcast, you may have heard me mention that word a few times. But I think there's ways in which the Hegelian approach can be in this binary viewpoint. A lot of these different thinkers that are featured in this podcast are trying to find ways to escape out of that binary. If you're paying attention to what's happening in the culture right now, you see there's no lack of polarization, so how do you deal with those levels of polarization on all these different dimensions? That, in some ways, is getting to some of the philosophical core. But my intention, while recording this incredibly dense philosophical podcast, is that you can listen to it and at least get a bit of an overview of these different thinkers and how they're in relation to each other. From there, you can go in to read Maxwell's book of Integration and Difference, Constructing a Mythical Dialectic, that will help provide a little bit of a portal and context for you to see how some of these different concepts are applying back into experiential design. So that's what we're covering on today's episode of the voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Grant Maxwell happened on Wednesday, October 5th, 2022. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.
[00:04:58.522] Grant Maxwell: My name is Grant Maxwell and I write books. My most recent book is called integration and difference constructing a mythical dialectic. And as you know, I've written a couple of other books. one on the philosophy of music, philosophy of rock and roll, and another one called The Dynamics of Transformation, which is a short, more popularly oriented work. And I also edit the Archive Journal, which kind of depends on who you're talking to, but I describe it as a journal at the intersection of Whiteheadian philosophy or continental philosophy and Jungian psychology. I've taught for a few years at Baruch College and Lehman College in New York. And yeah, so I'm mostly writing and editing these days.
[00:05:41.560] Kent Bye: Okay. And maybe you could give me a bit more context as to your background and your journey into the types of philosophy that you're writing about.
[00:05:49.401] Grant Maxwell: Sure. I got my PhD in English. And so as you know, English departments are really focused on what they call literary theory, but it's really basically French philosophy. Mostly it's continental philosophy. So, you know, I took courses on Derrida and Foucault and Donna Haraway, who's American, but very influenced by these French theorists. And I also took courses on pragmatism with Joan Richardson, who's a great scholar of William James and Henry James, and I read Bergson. So these are all things that I probably wouldn't have read if I had been in a philosophy department, which is predominantly analytic. So it's more formal logic and things of that nature, as you know. But then honestly, for a long time, I was a little bit ambivalent about about these French theorists, about what's generally called post-mominism. Although the more I've read of these theorists, the more suspicious I am of that catch all phrase that lumps together Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze, Lacan, these various theorists who are all very different. Although I think they have certain commonalities. that probably have more to do with the specifically French tradition. And they're tending to think about the same theorists and be really influenced by Nietzsche, but be reacting to Hegel and very critical of Hegel, those sorts of things. Isabel Stengers, who's one of my favorite current living philosophers, she's Belgian. And she said that French onlookers to American humanities are often perplexed by this term postmodernism that lumps together these very disparate theorists. So that was my introduction. I mean, in college, I had taken introductory courses and done Plato and Nietzsche and things like that. And then as I went through grad school, I read a lot of Bergson and Whitehead. And then it was actually after the dynamics of transformation, right around then. And I was really thinking I needed to find something different, something that would take my thinking to the next level. And I'd been hearing a lot about this guy, Gilles Deleuze. He wrote some great books with Felix Guattari, who's a psychoanalyst, who was actually one of Lacan's primary students, who sort of betrayed Lacan. in a way very similar to the Jung and Freud or various other mentor-mentee relationships in the history of thought. They wrote Anti-Oedipus, which is probably Deleuze's most famous work in 1970. So anyway, I decided to start reading Deleuze and I read What is Philosophy first, which is his last book with Guattari in the 90s. And then I went back and read Difference in Repetition from 1968. which has since become probably my favorite work. Well, it's really hard to say you have one favorite work of philosophy, but it's up there for sure. And then I went on to read all of his work and he led me into a lot of other theorists that I hadn't read, including older theorists. I hadn't read much Spinoza or Leibniz. And I read some Schelling, quite a bit of Schelling, who I was at first a little skeptical about because I was reading his earlier work. And what I realized is that his later work in his 60s is very different from his earlier, you know, Schelling, who was Hegel's university roommate, basically, who was five years younger than Hegel. So anyway, these are sort of the realms that I'm working in.
[00:09:12.789] Kent Bye: Well, yeah, your latest book is called Integration and Difference, Constructing a Mythical Dialectic. And I was really excited to hear about this book because you're covering a lot of process relational thinkers and in a similar way that Deleuze in the first phase of his philosophical career, he goes back and is looking at various philosophical thinkers and trying to resurrect some of the thinkers, you know, as he later talks about the major and minor characters in the context of analytic tradition, there's major characters that if you are getting a degree in analytic philosophy, you will definitely read. And there's all these other minor characters that in the context of the humanities, you may read, like your case, but within the context of analytic tradition, they're almost a footnote or a side note from this way that they tell the history or introduce you to this, which is through this binary dialectic, which gets into the Hegelian process of creating the thesis, antithesis, and the synthesis. Which it's been very influential in my own thinking, you know as I think about experiential design I see a contrast and I see something that is against that contrast and you synthesize it and then it led me to whiteheads thinking and process relational thinking but generally it seems like that there's these fundamental processes of this contrast that you're seeing an experience and then you are somehow integrating them over time and it seems like in this book that you're taking this seed of an idea, whether it's Jung and his reconciling of the thirds and those opposites and seeing how you are integrating those together, but many different thinkers that influenced other thinkers and almost creating a, you know, Hegel was famous for his history of philosophy coming up with this dialectical way of framing philosophy, which is a lot of how the analytic tradition is created. Even the analytic versus continental framing starts to get into that. But there's a lot of, I guess, resistance to that dialectical way of framing. You have William James, who's a pragmatist, who gets outside of that, or you have the process relational philosophers that are outside of that. So I'd love to hear maybe a little bit of a context for as you have these 13 thinkers, how you chose who you were going to focus and what was it about this concept of integration and difference that you wanted to zero in on and tell a story of the history of this idea through these 13 different thinkers.
[00:11:23.104] Grant Maxwell: Right. Well, so, I mean, you're talking about this problem of opposites that I think that's a specifically Jungian term. And for me, you know, I know other people would give a different answer to this question. What is the central problem of philosophy to me is what to do about opposites, what to do about conflicting opposites, whether they're opposite beliefs, opinions, arguments, affects, feelings, historical movements, things like that. What do you do with these conflicting relations? So the original impetus for the book is that I was very interested in this concept of integration, which all of the 20th century theorists that I discussed in the book explicitly use this word, some more than others. So it's William James, Bergson, Whitehead uses the term integration a lot in process and reality. And then Jung uses the term integration a lot in terms of psychological integration. And then Deleuze, when I first conceived the book, I wasn't even really thinking that it would go there. I was thinking I would more be tracing the history of this concept from Heraclitus, Plato, Plotinus, looking at the whole history of philosophy. But then I started reading Deleuze and that just sent me off down this whole other path because in Difference and Repetition, he talks extensively about this concept of integration. And then James Hillman, who's of course really prominent, my favorite post-Jungian theorist. And Isabel Stengers, who I think of her as a primary heir to both Whitehead and Deleuze. And so, as I read more and more of these texts in preparation for my research, trying to think about this concept of integration, I realized that integration is inseparable from differentiation. And that even led into thinking about the calculus, which I've never been very good at mathematics, but I've always been fascinated by the history of mathematics and by the concepts in math. And so I was reading a fair amount of Leibniz, especially Deleuze and Stenger's work on Leibniz. There's actually a great book by Simon Duffy called Deleuze and the History of Mathematics, where he goes deeply into the difference between Leibniz's version of the calculus and Newton's version of the calculus, because they obviously independently invented the calculus. And they had this, of course, priority dispute through all these different intermediaries for several decades about who came up with the idea and whether Leibniz stole it from Newton or whether they created it independently. And it really seems to be the case that although Newton might have given Leibniz a very small seed of the calculus, things were heading in this direction anyway. And this often seems to be the case that there are these discoveries that are discovered by two people at the same time independently, two or three even. That led into looking at the difference between the Leibnizian version of the calculus, which is focused on the infinitesimal. It uses infinitesimals, whereas Newton initially used infinitesimals but then moved to limits later. We can get into that if you'd like, what the infinitesimal is.
[00:14:23.663] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, I just wanted to make a comment that a lot of these thinkers are mathematicians. They have a background in math, whether it's Whitehead or Bergson or Leibniz, where their orientation into some of these deeper philosophical thoughts is through a mathematical lens, which I think is worth pointing out. And that throughout the course of this book, you use this phrase of the ever-receding horizon or the always-receding horizon. which is this idea that you're trying to reach something, but you can't quite get there. And I guess that's sort of the idea of the infimitesimal is that it's such a small measurement. And it sounds like that Whitehead at the time, math wasn't really accepting that as a concept, but later with nonstandard analysis, the infimitesimal was included. But it sounds like that this idea of the infimitesimal is What I think about at least is like girdle and completeness, meaning that any set of logic you have is going to be either consistent or complete. And that you usually choose that you're going to have consistency, which means that it's going to have a fundamental incompleteness. So it seems like with that incompleteness, that there's always going to be something outside of that system that you're going to have to take into account, which for me led to a certain amount of pluralism, but. It feels like the infimitesimal as a metaphor is able to grasp this concept of it always receding and you're never actually, it's like an asymptomatic curve that you talk about as another math metaphor. So maybe talk about how this concept of the infimitesimal is used as a metaphor to describe some of these other ideas of these thinkers.
[00:15:49.523] Grant Maxwell: Right. Well, so just to be clear, the infinitesimal is the quantity that's greater than zero but smaller than any positive number. So it's this paradoxical quantity that always recedes as you approach it. Berkeley called infinitesimals ghosts of departed quantities. But he even affirmed later in his life that they were well-founded fictions, which is what Leibniz called them, that they're useful fictions. And it's interesting that you bring up Whitehead because you sort of expect Whitehead being this extremely prolific speculative philosopher would be on board with this concept of the infinitesimal rather than the finite limits, which is the more standard version of the calculus that's been used for the last several centuries. But I'm not sure when he started writing philosophy, but he started publishing philosophy in his fifties. And before that, I think it was in 1913, in the midst of the publication of Principia Mathematica with Bertrand Russell, he wrote this more popular introduction to mathematics where he makes fun of philosophers who talk about the infinitesimal and they get sort of this misty profundity. when they start going on about the infinitesimal. And so he even says in Process and Reality that there are no infinitesimals. So that's an interesting fold, but Leibniz affirmed the infinitesimal, as did Bergson and Deleuze especially. And so, as you said, it was actually confirmed in, I guess, a more sophisticated form by Abraham Robinson in the 60s. So it's those two concepts in mathematics, integration and differentiation. But I think one key point is that there seems to be a more than metaphorical resonance between mathematical integration and differentiation and the metaphysical versions of those concepts. So to step back, why this is interesting is because it's often in reaction to, at least the way it's been marshaled by Deleuze and his followers, it's in reaction to the Hegelian dialectic. So I think it would be interesting to go back and sort of trace what that is and why this more pluralist mode is interesting in relation to dialectic.
[00:17:57.925] Kent Bye: Yeah, maybe we should dig into the Hegelian dialectic because you mentioned in your book that Fichte's depiction of the Hegelian dialectic as the thesis, antithesis, and thesis as these two polar opposites, you know, I think of it as the Jungian reconciliation of the opposites where you have one perspective and a polar opposite perspective and you have to sit in the tension of the opposites, you know, you have What Jung says is the reconciling third, where you're bringing those together. And I also point to Ken Wilber, he talks about the transcend and include concept of integration, which you're transcending the limitations of your perspective, but you're including the valid aspects of the other person's perspective. And it is trying to resolve the tension of the opposites, which for Jung, he has the reconciling third, trying to take the truth of each of these different perspectives and combining them together. And another thinker that I think has been influencing me in terms of this concept of the dialectic is Agnes Callard, who talks about the Socratic method as this method of trying to believe truths and avoid falsehoods, and that those are actually mutually exclusive processes that you can't actually do them at the same time, which means that you have this communal process of having the community who is trying to do a bit of a checks and balances of peer review process, or within the context of the justice system, you have the prosecution and the defense. They're actually mutually exclusive, but you need to have each of those give the best prosecution, the best defense, And it's through the third of the judge and the jury who's able to listen to each of those perspectives and synthesize each of those polar opposites and have this reconciling third, which is the decision as to whether or not you're prosecuting the guilty or acquitting the innocent. In the context of science, it's more of the progress of scientific knowledge. So it seems like this concept of integration and difference is this dialectical process that's worked out either in the peer review process or justice process or in the alchemical process of Jung or with Hegel having this whole system of the dialectical thinking, which has in some ways created a binary way of framing things and that some people are trying to transcend that binary way of thinking. Maybe we could dig into what Hegel was trying to do with this integration of these opposites and how there's a lot of people who were on board with Hegel or actually reacting in opposition to Hegel creating a larger dialectic of the history of philosophy.
[00:20:16.702] Grant Maxwell: Right. Yeah, it's really interesting that you bring up the legal system, because that's what Deleuze says in an interview, is that his primary impulse was to do away with the system of judgment and philosophy, this either or binary decision that I think is still predominant in philosophical thought, in particular, in analytic philosophy. And I think there's a lot of good work in analytic philosophy as well. I'm just not as drawn to it. But I think it tends to be constructed in terms of a binary conflict between two opposing theories or schools of thought. And it's sort of this logical combat in which if one's arguments are strong enough, one can vanquish one's opponent and prove truth against their falsity by disqualifying their position as false. So going back to the, you know, you mentioned the Socratic-Platonic dialectic, dialectic is basically, it's dialogue to get to the truth, right? So there are different forms of dialectic. And so in Plato, for instance, in The Statesman, it's this method of division where he's saying, okay, We have this one thing and let's divide it into two other things and then let's divide one of those into two other things and keep dividing these. It's like this analytic dialectic where it just keeps dividing things into smaller and smaller parts in order to sort of differentiate and to create more nuance in understanding a concept, the division of concepts. And then Hegel comes along, you know, a couple thousand years later, and of course we're skipping over the whole history of philosophy here. But as you said, he took this concept of the original entity becoming other than itself and existing in tension with itself. And out of that emerges a novel third entity, which reconciles the opposites. And he actually says in The Science of Logic that this Hegelian dialectic is generally articulated in its introductory form as thesis, antithesis, and then synthesis. But Hegel actually says in The Science of Logic that this term that was used by Fichte has rightly gone out of use. And so he doesn't like the term synthesis. But it's this idea that two ideas or historical movements can exist in tension. And by existing and evolving intention, a third thing emerges out of that. And I think it's resonant with sexual reproduction of the male and female out of which emerges a child. So this is the mode of thought that was dominant in 19th century philosophy. And I think deservedly so, because it's a really powerful mode of thought that has a lot of explanatory efficacy for understanding that it isn't just To me, it's a very significant and definitive step beyond this still predominant mode of thought in analytic philosophy where it's just logical combat where one person is right and the other person is wrong. And we can prove this by whoever has the strongest argument. It's this idea that there's some truth in both sides and by existing intention and by critiquing and refining over generations, for instance, in philosophical schools like pragmatism and idealism or things of this nature, that some reconciling third can emerge out of that tension. But then, as with any great philosopher or great philosophical theory, that was so dominant in the 19th century that it became the project of a lot of 20th century philosophers to harshly critique Hegel and the Hegelian dialectic, because it constructs all of I mean, Hegel, I think, gets a little ahead of himself. And he says that it's an entity that becomes other than itself. So self-consciousness, for instance. It's the undivided consciousness of the child. It basically doesn't see itself. And then over the course of its development, it becomes other than itself and is able to witness its own consciousness as external and other to itself, and then goes through this process of reconciliation. So this has a lot of explanatory efficacy in terms of politics, in terms of even the division, not only between Republican and Democrat in the United States, but on the left, there's often this division between pragmatists and idealists. And I think a lot of people would be surprised to find out that those terms are philosophical concepts that contain a great deal of complexity. But let me see, I forgot where we were going with this.
[00:24:33.387] Kent Bye: Oh, we're talking about the dialectic and the limits of the dialectic. So I think that's a good start with describing the Hegelian dialectic. What I think about is the binary way of thinking. So you have the thesis and this is this. And if you only stay in that binary way of thinking and you're entrenched in that, let's say in the current political system where either the Democrats or Republicans refuse to budge, then you can't have real synthesis because then you have no transcendent include as Wilbur popularized. that you're transcending the limitations of your perspective, but you're including the valid aspects of the other person's perspective, and it creates this third entity of the reconciling of the third that Young talked about. But you have this binary to triadic, and so in order to get over that polarization binary, you have that triadic aspect of the third perspective, or you have the fourth perspective that is maybe the two axes of the quaternity that is trying to have two polarities like the elements which is a system that I use quite a bit to help explain different aspects and as I was reading your book I was seeing different aspects of the Jungian interpretation of that quaternity which is You know, the fire element being intuition, the air element be thinking, the water element being emotion, and the earth element being the sensory aspect, maybe the direct empirical senses. And so there seems to be a lot of dialectic between mind body. So what you're thinking, the concepts versus your direct embodied experience. And then you can come in and say, well, what about the affect? What about the emotions? Or Bergson saying, let's look at the aspects of intuition, which could be the instinct and the thinking, the concepts. And so when you add the concepts and the thinking with the instinct, It leads to what Bergstrom defines as the intuition as the combination of those two things. But you have ways of getting beyond a binary by looking at a third perspective, whether it's affect or whether it's intuition. And I feel like throughout the course of this book, there's these themes of how do you get beyond that binary? What are the limitations of that, whether it's through girdle and completeness? I'd look to like Michelle Friend, who is trying to put the foundations of mathematics into a pluralist foundations, meaning that it's a paradoxical foundations means that she doesn't think that there's going to be a single consistent foundation that's going to be complete. So you have to have this patchwork of things that are going to be relative to each other, inconsistent, but on the whole strive towards this completeness. And so that's the themes that I started to see in the course of this book, or each of these different thinkers that are trying to either be more complete as the incompleteness of a logical binary, or finding ways to escape that binary, or as a pluralist, find the utility of that binary, and to see that what you were able to achieve in this book was to tell the history of this idea through a dialectical process. And so you're through the way that you're even structuring this book to see how each of these thinkers were responding to each other to see this evolution of thought, which I find to be very helpful as the Hegelian way of framing history to tell a larger narrative through this dialectical framing. So, yeah, anything that came up from that reset?
[00:27:25.882] Grant Maxwell: Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, the primary thing I think that most of the 20th century theorists were reacting to in Hegel And this reaction began, you know, in the late 19th century with Schelling and Nietzsche, is that Hegel sees this reconciliation of opposites as a return to a complete and perfect identity, a new and complete and perfect identity mirroring the absolute, which it's a monocentric mode of consciousness. And so James was really critical of Hegel because he's a much more pluralist thinker. He thinks that you can't just figure all modes of becoming in terms of binary conflict, that there's so often many different voices and a chorus of voices, some of which are in conflict, but some of which are working at cross purposes or are confluent or engaging in all kinds of topologically figured relations. And I think that really paved the way for Deleuze's critique of Hegel. And I should say, first of all, that although I agree with Deleuze's critique of Hegel, I also think that he goes a little too far because that's basically his point, that Hegel shoves everything into this Procrustean bed of reconciling the opposites, but there are so many other modes of becoming that exceed that way of thinking. And so what Deleuze does in Difference in Repetition, which I think is really resonant with Jung actually. And I think Jung was very generative and he wasn't a systematic thinker. So I think he really sometimes engaged in that sort of Hegelian mode of thought, but also sometimes engaged in a more pluralist mode of thought that allows us to resituate Hegel as one kind of relation among others. So in Difference and Repetition, Deleuze talks about this moment in Plato where he integrates myth into the dialectic. And that's where I got the subtitle for the book, that it's a different kind of dialectic. It's a pluralist dialectic. And like Jung, Jung actually says this somewhere, that often these problematic differences, it's resituated in terms of difference rather than opposition, because opposition is only one kind of difference among others. And so it's often situated in relation to these personified potencies, especially in relation to mythology. I mean, this is what Nietzsche does in The Birth of Tragedy, which is his first book, which he later said that it smells offensively Hegelian. Although he said it's his first revaluation of all values and it's a remarkable book. But what he does is he actually enacts the Hegelian dialectic in terms of these two gods. Apollo and Dionysus, the Apollonian and the Dionysian, which is moderate, ordered consciousness of Apollo and the chaotic, transformative consciousness of Dionysus. And in a later text, he says that these are two of the gods that are in us. I think Jung really picked up on this, of course, but also Deleuze, who everyone knows Deleuze was really influenced by Nietzsche. Nietzsche, Bergson, and Spinoza are his trinity, as Todd May calls it, of influences. But it hasn't been acknowledged quite as much that I think Deleuze was also really influenced by Jung. And he does talk about him in a bunch of different texts, sometimes critically, quite often in a quite complimentary way. And so Deleuze says, and also in relation to Schelling, he says that Schelling's consideration of powers is the most important aspect of his philosophy. And so these powers are what Schelling calls potencies. Potency is potens, the Latin for its power, potency, potential. And so in one of his late Berlin lectures in his 60s, it's the series of lectures called the Historical Critical Introduction to the Philosophy of Mythology. He talks about the gods of Hellenic polytheism. and how their ontological status is ambiguous. That is, it can't be pinned down whether they're merely psychological constructs or poetic inventions or actually existing deities living in some transcendent realm. It's all of those things and all of these explanations contain some partial truth. And so Deleuze really picks up on that and integrates the Leibnizian infinitesimal calculus with the mythological potencies, which are essentially the gods, and looks at rather than having a dialectic in terms of more abstract conceptual dialectic in the mode of Hegel. And, you know, I think Deleuze is really too harsh with Hegel, I think, you know, Hegel was a primary precursor to Deleuze, and he made Deleuze's innovation possible. But Deleuze, I think, pushes the dialectic deeper into looking at something that will really come to fruition in not only Jung, but in Hillman. which is that our internal milieu, our psyches, are plural. That we are composed of a whole cast of characters that can be described as the mythical potencies. Archetypes and potencies to me are very similar words. I think they're slightly different inflections of this idea that there are these potentialities for becoming that are intricated in the nature of process. But that's another innovation that Deleuze proffered based on Spinoza, that there's this difference between transcendent and transcendental. right? Which is also based on Kant. It's this idea that the platonic forms, for instance, which like the gods of Hellenic polytheism reside in this transcendent other domain, you know, it's also true of the Christian heaven. It's also true of the laws of physics, the supposedly fixed and static laws of physics. And I think a lot of what these 20th century theorists were doing based on these earlier precursors, is problematizing this idea that there's another world outside of this world that we inhabit, that the world is in fact an open totality, and that our consciousness is a limited construction from a more expansive plurality of relations, of relational constraints and potentialities. You pointed out the always receding horizon, that these potencies for becoming, which are like the Jungian archetypes, I think they're quite close to the Jungian archetypes, they can be figured as residing at this horizon that always recedes as you approach it. And what we're doing is, you know, we're lured by these defined potencies toward our becoming. And our task is to express these potencies in more creative and active ways rather than in reactive and destructive ways, basically.
[00:34:16.456] Kent Bye: Yeah, there's a lot of threads there that you brought up. I want to dig into both the potencies as well as the mythical dialectic and the archetypes. So this idea of the potency being an ever-seeding horizon, I wanted to just read this quote that Jung had about the archetypes and the psychology of the child archetype, where he says that clear-cut distinctions and strict formulations are quite impossible in this field. Seeing that a kind of fluid interpenetration belongs to the very nature of archetypes, they can only be roughly circumscribed at best. Their living meaning comes out of more from their presentation as a whole than from a single formulation. Every attempt to focus them more sharply is immediately punished by the intangible core of meaning losing its luminosity. No archetype can be reduced to a simple formula. It is a vessel which we can never empty and never fill. It has a potential existence only, and when it takes shape and matter, it is no longer what it was. It persists throughout the ages and requires interpreting ever anew. The archetypes are the imperishable elements of the unconscious, but they change shape continually. So when you talk about that ever-receding horizon, it feels like this Jungian description of the archetype that trying to pin down these archetypal complexes can be very difficult. You have to create a mosaic, but you can only define it by coming up with a matrix of all those possibilities and potentials. And so when you use that ever receding horizon and mention that infinitesimal idea, it speaks to the nature of the archetypes themselves. And when I think about the potentials, I think of the quantum mechanics metaphors of the wave particle duality, where there's sort of a non-spatial temporal realm of potential beyond space and time that has a non-binary logic that Tim Eastman talks about. And then when it collapses the wave function, then it becomes the law of excluded middle. It becomes either or, where you basically have truth that comes into the binary logic but there's a sense of this transition for what's possible versus what's actual and it seems like this process philosophers and these thinking there's a lot of discussion between how you describe those realms of potential whether it's the archetypes or from Jung, whether it's the eternal objects from Whitehead, whether it's the virtual, according to what Deleuze says, or many different ways of talking about those realms of potential versus how those realms of potential gets translated into what's actual in that transition from the non-binary logic of those archetypes and this sort of immanent tessel, always receding horizon, into the sort of actual of the more law of the excluded middle, either or binary logic.
[00:36:44.743] Grant Maxwell: Right. Yeah. I think Hegel was, of course, a really important step beyond mere oppositional incommensurability between this conflict with a victor and the person who's been defeated, basically. But I think the Hegelian dialectic is monocentric in that it circulates through this polarity. And what Deleuze offers, and he calls it the eternal return, the Nietzschean eternal return. And Nietzsche was very obscure and didn't really offer a clear definition of what the eternal return is. But I think Deleuze really picked up some of the clues from Nietzsche and created a more fully realized theory of the eternal return. And it's a de-centered dialectic. It's a dialectic that circulates through these differential relations, sort of picking up on like Stengersian language, which I'm actually really immersed in Isabel Stengers' work right now, because I'm working on a new book about her. But it's the circulation in which certain sorts of dramatic situations are repeated. over and over again, which of course is very reminiscent of Jung, that we tend to repeat these archetypal complexes in different ways throughout our lives. And so this is what difference in repetition is. It's repeating certain situations or certain relations. And each time there's a repetition, there's a difference in this repetition. There's a difference that's introduced as novelty into actuality. So it's like you can just repeat, for instance, like the edible complex. You can just repeat this complex over and over again as the son rebelling against the father and, you know, psychologically killing the father and being angry at the parents and rebelling in a very conventional way. Or you can express this complex at its highest register as philosophers like Deleuze and Guattari critiquing the dominance of the Oedipal complex, which that relation is an Oedipal relation, but it's also, it's sort of like the self-immolation of that Oedipal relation because it's an Oedipal relation that allows them to free themselves and their milieu from the dominance of the Freudian Oedipal complex. And they actually explicitly compare it to the Hegelian dialectic, that it's this one myth, you know, the mommy-daddy-me dialectic, that everything can be reduced to this triune structure, which actually sort of echoes the trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And so they explicitly relate the Hegelian dialectic and the Oedipal complex. And actually, Slavoj Žižek, the Slovenian philosopher, he asserts explicitly that Deleuze and Guattari took their critique of the Oedipal directly from Jung, because that was one of the primary disagreements that Jung had with Freud, that everything couldn't be reduced to this one mythological motif, that there are all these other mythological motifs that we enact, and that our purpose is to... So this goes back to Spinoza, what he calls freedom of mind. that basically the will is determined. So Spinoza thinks we don't have free will, but the way he defines the will is that it's the affects, it's the feelings, and it's these affective imaginal complexes that form sort of like the seed for our becoming and lure us toward our becoming. But we do have freedom of choice. So we don't have freedom for how we feel, but we have freedom for how we choose to relate to these feelings and impulses. And we can express them as a mere oedipal rebellion or as the creation of the great work that rebels against the oedipal complex itself. So it's our task to choose which register to express the complexes that compose us.
[00:40:31.807] Kent Bye: Yeah, in your book, you go through these 13 different thinkers, and the second chapter you have on Spinoza, which then leads into Leibniz, and you go through a progression of thought. You start with Derrida and deconstruction, and maybe we'll pick that up here in a little bit, but I want to focus on Spinoza because it seems like there's this concept or idea of the univocal or univocity, which is this, I think of it at least as this monism where all of reality is consisted of one substance, whether it's idealism, it's all consisted of the mind, or it's physicalism, which is all consisted of these physical realities. So maybe you could talk about the metaphysics of Spinoza because it seems like he's introducing this concept of this monism idea, all of reality being made up to one substance rather than a dualistic aspect of saying there's a separation between the mind and body that are these two different realms, especially when it comes to the philosophy of mind. And when you try to think about the nature of consciousness, how consciousness either emerges out of this physical reality, or if there's an idealism where it starts with mind and then the physical realities manifest out of that, or if you have this fusion through more of a pan-psychism or pan-experientialism, as David Ray Griffiths described what Whitehead's perspective was. But maybe we could go back to Spinoza and maybe some of the seeds of this discussion of the philosophy of mind, especially with this univocity and this underlying metaphysics of the reality that leads to his ethics that he has. Right.
[00:41:54.153] Grant Maxwell: Yeah, I mean, I think the reason people keep talking about Spinoza is because, like, when you read his writing, it seems pretty straightforward and pretty clear at first glance, but then the more you think about it, the more paradoxical and mysterious and strange it gets. And so there's not really a clear consensus on a lot of what Spinoza means, even though people feel really strongly about Spinoza. You know, obviously, just one of the most creative and generative philosophers, early successor to Descartes, who, as you said, sort of reintegrated mind and world through the affects. So my reading of Spinoza is really informed by Deleuze's reading of Spinoza. So he has this concept of univocity, which Deleuze will describe as a pure eminence. And so that's what we were talking about earlier, that there's one world and that this world is an open totality. So in this reading, this univocity, it's univocal, one voice, right? It's not incompatible with pluralism. because we're constantly negotiating the relations of affect. And actually in Spinoza, his construction of the affects of the bodily feelings and impulses is primarily dualistic, that you can either express joy, which composes or a sadness, which decomposes that sort of activity. And I think, you know, the successors to Spinoza have offered sort of a more topologically complex theory of the affects, but he made that affective theory possible. He was the first philosopher who really, I think, spoke about affects in any depth in modernity. I mean, you know, even Derrida didn't understand exactly what Deleuze meant by imminence. this concept of imminence, which Deleuze derived from Spinoza. I think it's paradoxical because the imminence is this idea that there's this world that we inhabit that's imminent to a transcendent domain. It goes back to the platonic forms. There's this world of the forms. that are eternal and static and more real than the world that we inhabit, the eminent world that we inhabit. And so I think asserting pure eminence is sort of this provocative reversal, because you can't even think the concept of eminence without a concept of transcendence to which this eminent world could be eminent. But I think what it's getting at is that it's not that transcendence doesn't occur. There are things that are transcendent to our current conceptions of reality. But there's no other transcendent domain that's ultimately inaccessible to us that creates this binary distinction between eminent and transcendent. Because I think I say in the book that transcendence is an activity and not a location. It's a pushing back of that horizon. And we push back that horizon, especially I think in philosophy, by constructing novel concepts and new language to express things that are only intimated or felt just at the edge of your vision. It's trying to elicit those domains of reality where the potencies reside right at that horizon. But it's not that there's nothing beyond the horizon, but it's that the thing that's beyond the horizon isn't a static pre-existing realm radically other than the realm that we inhabit. It's that in order to pursue that horizon, you have to take these It's like in mathematics, how in a mathematical theory, you change one variable and that makes you have to reorganize the whole equation, the whole formula. And so it's the virtual beyond this horizon, it's the potentiality that's beyond the horizon of discernibility, beyond what we can discern. It's this relational potentiality for actualization. And we bring that virtual potentiality into actuality by constructing the concepts and forms of language to work out its finer nuances.
[00:46:02.009] Kent Bye: Yeah, there's a lot of associative links that I have thinking about this concept of formal causation. Aristotle had the final causation, formal causation, efficient causation, and material causation. I think of the formal causation as the blueprints of reality. So what is the relationship between the mathematics of the world and how those mathematics interface or directly have an impact on reality? And I think those realms of potential, either those archetypal dynamics or eternal objects from Whitehead or those realms of potentia, how those actually move from what's possible into what's actual is this space where you can have this mechanism of a formal causation where do these math objects actually have some sort of interface with reality? And so each of these different thinkers are having a different take of how to either incorporate a certain amount of formal causation or even final causation, which is the teleology or these purpose or drive or impulse. And so there's this larger theological drive that's pushing evolution in a certain trajectory or vector that has a destination and has a purpose. I think of it as intention as to what you want to try to achieve. And so is there an intentional field that is creating this final causation? And so as I think about these realms of both the transcendent or the eminence, these aspects of teleology and final causation and formal causation come up. And you mentioned in your book a number of times how those concepts are subservient to either the material or efficient causes. And I'd love to hear a little bit elaboration on that and how maybe some of the different thinkers are trying to resurrect some of this aspects of either final causation or formal causation that has otherwise been ignored by most of the current analytic tradition that's pretty dominant at the moment.
[00:47:43.914] Grant Maxwell: Right. I mean, in the modern era, when we think of causation, we primarily think of efficient causation. And implicitly, I think material causation, which is material things bumping into other material things. So particles and Newtonian dynamics having collisions, basically. And so Whitehead says that this extreme overemphasis of efficient causation was in reaction to the dominance of final causation in the Middle Ages. And as you said, these are the four hands of causation from Aristotle. The platonic forms is one way to think of formal causes. There are potentialities for becoming, and those potentialities are lured by a final cause. So it's like the origin and the end of processes of becoming. And most people that you would speak to now, including the vast majority of scientists and philosophers, think that the only valid mode of causation is efficient causation. One really interesting thing that all of the theorists in this book do is they're variously recognizing the necessity of returning to perhaps more subtle and nuanced versions of these modes of causation. you know, Spinoza affirms formal causation, but he rejects final causation. But the final causation that he rejects is sort of the most naive form of teleology, which is, of course, the telos is the thing that's luring. It's the final end or purpose toward which process is being lured. And, you know, I do a whole section about how actually he seems to be affirming a more subtle form of final causation that's resonant with Leibnizian final causation, which is it's an inclination toward particular directions of becoming rather than a fixed static end. So that it's not that we live in this fixed static block universe and one is just playing out the predetermined moves and everything is determined down to its smallest particle, but rather that the archetypal potencies are are lured toward particular destinations, destiny. This is the ancient concept of destiny, which we're lured toward particular directions of becoming. And there are destinations that one can approach in many different ways, or one can fail to fulfill one's destiny, things of that nature. So it's not that we're just acting out this mechanistic fatalistic determinism for which, in that mode, this is like Bergson says, he has two kinds of final causation. There's the classic form of final causation, which is indistinguishable from mechanistic efficient causation, in which every particle in the universe is determined in advance to just play out its movements, basically. So these are just two interpretations, one pushed from behind and one pulled from the future for a world, a reality in which there's no real becoming. And so Berkson calls that radical finalism. And so what he's after is a more subtle form of finalism that's resonant with Leibniz. And then Jung, he affirms these more subtle kinds of formal and final causation. Whitehead, of course, with the eternal objects and the lures for feeling. James affirms especially final causation. I don't think he really talks much about formal causation. And then Deleuze comes along and basically just makes everything so much more complicated and difficult to understand. But I think it's good because what he does is shows that these are constructions from a deeper reality that exceeds these categories. So these are all useful tools for thinking about process and the way things become and the way the world moves and how things have a history and how the irreversibility of time and evolution and things emerging more complex and expansive domains of consciousness and activity emerging out of the less differentiated domains and things of that nature. But then you also have to be careful with that because this is something that really, I think, Bergson does particularly well, which he shows that this idea that there's just one teleological trajectory that gets you back into this radical finalism. that there's this one direction of becoming that we're just playing out. And what Bergson says is rather, you can think of it more in terms of a radiation outward in all directions, and that certain trajectories are blocked by the nature of process, the constraints of You can think of them almost as like these sort of mathematical structure, a process, but it's not this fixed mathematical world. It's this relationality. But then there are a few trajectories, and he's talking about biological evolution here. So there are a few trajectories that have continued unhindered, especially the trajectory of human consciousness. So, you know, we could go on and on about this.
[00:52:35.896] Kent Bye: No, that's a good start. I wanted to highlight that because I feel like that's a theme that comes back to each of these different thinkers that are pushing back against the mainstream paradigm, at least the consensus that we have right now, that we have these other thinkers. And I think in your book, The Dynamics of Transformation, you try to break down each of these different component parts of this constructing of a new worldview. And I think that each of these thinkers that you're highlighting here in this book is a continuation of that popular philosophy book that tries to digest some of these big ideas down at these concepts. And I know that Deleuze was emphasizing how, you know, you should look at philosophers in terms of what new and novel concepts that they're providing. And so, as I'm reading through your book, I'm trying to also digest just like Deleuze was an introduction to all these different thinkers, for me, this is also an introduction to all these thinkers that I've heard about, but gave me an opportunity that I know that these are process relational thinkers, but to try to articulate what each of their unique contributions of their thoughts, and the way that you're constructing it as a long history of seeing how these ideas evolve over time because the philosophical process is like really trying to distill down an idea but sometimes you can only take it so far for based upon where the culture is at and then you have to drop it and then that idea gets picked up later but then has a new context that's to be able to be applied and have this evolution of thought over time and so you're really tracing the evolution of many different threads of thought throughout this book, but I wanted to maybe go to the very beginning of chapter one, which is Derrida, which in some ways is the end of the timeline. He's like one of the more contemporary philosophers, but you have this dialectic between deconstruction and construction. So people who are trying to build up and be constructivist versus the deconstructionist who are trying to maybe find the limitations of any sort of logical system, trying to break it down in some ways. And so That's where you begin, maybe we could start with Derrida and just sort of highlight how so much of the current thinking in terms of the humanities or let's say postmodernism of, you know, you kind of allude a number of times in this book to people like Jordan Peterson who are attacking different aspects of postmodernism and deconstruction. maybe some ways trying to resist this need to just tear things down without having an alternative way of building things up. But I'd love to hear some of your framing in terms of Derrida's process of deconstruction and why you decided to have that first and then have all the other thinkers be in reaction to that into maybe a constructivist thinking that's in contrast to the existing mode of thought that's really dominant in our thinking right now.
[00:55:07.352] Grant Maxwell: Yeah, it's really interesting that you bring up Jordan Peterson because I was starting to write this book when he was sort of at the peak of his influence, I think. And one of his big boogeyman, his enemy, is what he calls postmodern neo-Marxism or something like that. And so I had actually sort of moved away. I'd read a lot of Derrida and some Foucault in my earlier engagements with philosophy. And then I got really into James Birks and Whitehead, Hegel, a few others, but that constructivist stream of pragmatist, speculative process thought. But then when I was growing increasingly frustrated with Peterson, especially given the fact that he draws on Jung a lot, and I just really felt like he was misappropriating Jung and just not really getting Jung on a sort of fundamental level, like reducing Jung for his own purposes. Not to say that Peterson is a Nazi per se, but sort of in the way that the Nazis appropriated Nietzsche. and took the most facile version of his theory and ran with it. That the will to power is simply just the will to dominate, which that's the lowest version of the will to power. And so the thing that made me turn back to postmodernism was Peterson. Because I was just like, if he hates it, there must be something more to it than I ever I was really drawn to Derrida, but for a long time disavowed him because his tone is almost exclusively problematizing and negative. It's a negative operation. Schelling has negative and positive philosophy. And the negative philosophy is primarily analytic, critical, it breaks things down into their component elements. I wouldn't exactly call Derrida critical, but he destabilizes and problematizes the things that you think you know about a text. For a long time, I was looking for something more like... I think of Whitehead. It's almost the polar opposite of Derrida, even though I have come to love both of them. Whitehead is, someone says, the most audacious, speculative thinker of the 20th century. I think that was maybe Latour's thinkers. He creates so many metaphysical concepts, whereas Derrida is eschewing metaphysics. You know, one of the things that I always thought was so interesting in Of Grammatology, which is, you know, Derrida's 1967 book that I discuss in the text, it's sort of like the founding text of deconstruction, is he does talk about, a lot about how the modern epoch is coming to a close. There's this closure of an epoch, but he mostly says that we can't know what's coming after this epoch, or it's, he's dwelling with this closure and he's in many different ways, he problematizes the very idea that we could possibly have any clue what's coming next. And so that always bothered me because I was reading all of these other theorists who, to me, were just busy constructing a novel epoch from James Birks and Whitehead, Young, Hillman. And then when I was sort of getting very annoyed at Peterson, I decided to go back and read some postmodern thought. And so I had been hearing a lot about Deleuze. And so I decided to go back and read Deleuze. And what I realized as I read more and more of his work is that he's not like Derrida at all. I mean, they're very similar in some ways. I mean, they're extremely complex, sophisticated thinkers, leotard, called them the two geniuses of that generation in France, which I think is true. And in his eulogy for Deleuze, Derrida said that Deleuze was the closest thinker to him of all of the thinkers of that generation. But what I say in the book is that I think of them as sort of like the two faces of Janus. It's this Roman god who has one face looking back toward the past and one face looking toward the future. And I had just always assumed that Deleuze was similar to Derrida and Foucault in that he was primarily critiquing and problematizing and deconstructing the binary opposition's characteristic of modernity, whether it's male and female, left and right, gay and straight, Democrat, Republican, all these constitutive binary oppositions that are still so present with us. But as I read more and more Deleuze, I realized there is a lot of that. I mean, especially in Anti-Oedipus and his work with Guattari, his first work with Guattari especially, and also in Difference and Repetition in relation to Hegel. He's very negative in relation to Hegel, which I like to push against a little bit. But there's so many positive concepts that he creates in his work. It's almost profligate. It's just In every text, he creates new concepts and new language to sort of get at these same ideas. So what I realized is that this term postmodernism is sort of, it's almost like it stops thinking. It blocks thinking. I think it's good in the sense that it names an era or a condition, like Lyotard has this book, The Postmodern Condition. You know, it's sort of this liminal, marginal, transitional moment between the certainties of modernity and whatever, this ethical construction that's coming after modernity. It's sort of this, you know, Tarnas calls it an interregnum between worldviews. And what I really realized is that Deleuze actually had done as much as anyone to make this novel epoch thinkable. which I have a massive amount of respect for Rick Tarnas. You know, he's been extremely influential on my thought, but I think he had a tendency to associate postmodernism primarily with the deconstructive and negative face of the postmodern. And I think understandably so, because Derrida was the Derrida on Foucault, but especially Derrida kind of is like the flag bearer of quote unquote postmodernism. He was like a philosophical celebrity in the 80s and 90s. And he's the one who everyone sort of had to define themselves against, especially in the humanities and in continental philosophy, but strangely not in analytics philosophy where he was basically ignored and then they didn't even think he was a philosopher. I mean, I think, you know, anyway. But Deleuze didn't come to be as well known in the Anglophone world in the United States and England until after his death in 1995. I think because he didn't travel as much. Derrida and Foucault both taught a lot in the United States and Derrida lived in the United States. Deleuze had health issues and so he didn't travel and just lived in Paris his whole life. A lot of his books weren't even translated until the 90s. I think some were even in the 2000s. When I was in grad school, and I started grad school in 2004, Derrida was still pretty dominant in the literary theory world. I'd started to hear about Deleuze, but then when I went and looked at Google Scholar, it looks like the citations to Deleuze's work surpassed those of Derrida in 2010, right around there. which seems about right. So the last decade or so has seen, I think, Derrida, although Derrida is still widely cited and still very popular, I think Deleuze has eclipsed Derrida somewhat. So I think that might mark this transition between the dominance of deconstruction into a more constructivist mode of thought.
[01:02:35.012] Kent Bye: Yeah, you name the chapter, the final writing of an epoch, that's sort of a sign that maybe we're moving into new modes of these novel ways of thinking, of biding up against the limitations of current ways of thinking and open up the possibility for other ways of thinking in that a lot of what I think your book is doing is seeing an evolution of these different thoughts that may be a part of this new novel epoch as we move forward. And we talked about Derrida, we mentioned Spinoza, maybe we move on to Leibniz. This idea of the infamitessel and how that is feeding into this metaphysical idea of the monad and then how Leibniz is cited often as a process relational thinker. And so what was it about Leibniz in terms of his unique metaphysical idea of the monad? And how do you think about that? What are some metaphors to understand what this metaphysical system of the monad is and how that fed into more of a process relational way of thinking?
[01:03:29.255] Grant Maxwell: Right. You know, I feel like I just keep going back to Deleuze. And so that's just the way it's going to be. But, you know, he says that Whitehead is the primary heir to the project of Leibniz. And so I think he really carries forward this mode of thought. And, you know, So I'm actually still struggling with this to really understand Leibniz myself, because I'm working on this book on Isabel Stengers right now. She was also very influenced by Leibniz. And she wrote the great book, Thinking with Whitehead. It's this fat tome that thinks with all of Whitehead's work. And in her earlier work, specifically with Ilya Prigozhin, who's the Nobel Prize winning physicist who she wrote her first two books with, and then went off on her own. But Leibniz, I think, he has this idea of monads, which are sort of these windowless, they're the smallest units of nature, which are the metaphysical correlate of the infinitesimal of the calculus. And so I think the usual understanding of this, I mean, the monadology is, it's a very short, compact little work that wasn't meant really to be read. It was meant as a model for a poem by one, you know, was like the great letter writer of 18th century Europe. He wrote thousands of letters. So this was for one of his regular correspondents to write a poem about his system of philosophy late in his life. And so the monadology wasn't published until a few years after Leibniz's death. And it's just this very strange, very evocative work And, you know, I think there are a lot of elements in it that are sort of fractal, where he describes gardens within gardens and fishponds within fishponds down to these infinitesimal elements, which are always receding, I guess, through an infinite series of fishponds or something as you approach them. So, you know, he also describes them as entelechies, which are basically another word for teleology. They're entities that are drawn teleologically toward their becoming, toward their final cause. And so, you know, I, okay, so this is like an ongoing theme in my thinking. is that none of these philosophers had it all figured out. I mean, they're all absolutely brilliant, all created concepts that have lasted for hundreds or thousands of years that people are still wrestling with. And I think that's why they're so fascinating is because they were thinking at the limits of thought, at that horizon of conception, trying to find ways to work themselves into these interstices. You can also think of the horizon also as interstices, as these sort of gaps in our construction of reality, which I think is actually kind of resonant with how in string theory we have the three dimension spatial dimensions and the fourth dimension of time, but then there are these other, you know, in M-theory, they have 11 dimensions. So there are these other seven dimensions that they describe as compactified or curled up, and that each point in the universe also inhabits these other seven dimensions. And it's similar to what Whitehead says in Process and Reality, that our current epical construction may seem vast on the historical scale, but on a cosmological scale, it's pretty provincial and small, and there might as well be 333 dimensions as three dimensions of space. And so I think what we're trying to do is we're trying to work our way into these curled up compactified dimensions in perhaps a more than metaphorical way. The specific mode of doing that in philosophy is through language and concepts, but I think you can also do it through technology. And I think, you know, I know virtual reality is something you know a lot more about than I do. But, you know, I think a technology like virtual reality could be a way to sort of envisage these domains of reality that we haven't been able to yet bring into stable construction in our cultural and technical systems.
[01:07:32.221] Kent Bye: And that's a lot of the reason why I wanted to have you on is because you're doing a survey of process relational thinking, which maybe gets beyond the constraints of the analytic tradition. And I find more helpful stuff in this book that applies to the embodied experience, the affect, the emotion, how do you use the immersive technologies to provide direct experiences for people that go into a lot of these ideas that allow people a new level of embodied access to this level of thinking that goes beyond just the abstraction of the idea and the language and puts it into people's bodies in a way that I know that Whitehead talked a lot about how the direct experience is always going to be so much richer than the type of language that you can put on top of it. And that you have the risk of creating these fallacy of misplaced concreteness, which you create an abstraction and then you put a lot of concrete weight behind that abstraction as it being reality when reality, it's a linguistic construction on top of something that maybe has something that's much richer beyond that. And so I feel like these thinkers are providing these ways of going beyond the binary or a way of thinking about the direct embodied experience. I know Berksong explicitly is talking about different aspects of the duration. As we're going through, I want to just sort of hit the highlights of some of these different thinkers, but if there's any thoughts that came up as I was saying some of those reactions there.
[01:08:50.028] Grant Maxwell: Yeah, I mean, as you were talking, I was thinking that, for instance, what if, in order to be able to actually perceive what it would mean for there to be one additional dimension, right? So I think, you know, when I talk to my kids, I have a six year old and a 13 year old about dimensions, they tend to think in terms of more of like a parallel universe, like another world. But what we of course mean by dimensions is just a direction. There's forward, back, left to right, up and down. Einstein's great innovation, based on some precursors, was that time can also be considered a direction through which this whole manifold, this extracted three-dimensional manifold, is moving in another direction of becoming. And so what would it mean to have a fourth direction? I mean, you can't, it's an orthogonal dimension, which may, you know, at a right angle to the other three dimensions, it's almost impossible to visualize, but I have suspicion that virtual reality might be a way to help people to visualize that. Because for instance, there are these, you know, hypercubes, which, and tell me if someone's actually done this, but it would be really interesting to be able to be in a space with a hypercube, which It's a four-dimensional cube and you could rotate it and it transforms as it rotates. So in that way, you might be able to actually have more of a visceral bodily sense of this additional degree of dimensionality. I did want to say that you were saying that there's this sort of linguistic construction that's sort of on top of something that's behind it. I think of it more as that the reality that's behind it, it's only a potentiality. I can say virtuality, but then it might get confusing because it's The way that Bergson and Deleuze use virtual is different than the technology of virtual reality. They're kind of almost weirdly opposed.
[01:10:39.468] Kent Bye: They mean more of a potential, right? Something that's more of a formal causation of the realms of possibility rather than an antithesis to reality as being sort of less than reality, a meta reality as it were, but more of the realms of potential, right?
[01:10:53.132] Grant Maxwell: Right, yeah. It's a relational potentiality, so it's not this fixed potentiality that's out there in the transcendent world of forms waiting to be discovered. The reality is extracted from this relational grounding. It's an ungrounding relational grounding. But I think of language as one mode of concretizing and bringing into actuality. And Deleuze in Difference and Repetition actually renders actualize and integrate as synonymous. So by integrating disparate entities that can be figured as the gods of Hellenic polytheism, looking at in terms of say, Apollo and Dionysus or Hermes and Kronos, by looking at the relations of these archetypal potencies, you bring them more into actuality. You can integrate them by creating language to create concepts that allow them to speak through us because they are the persons that constitute our interior milieu. That ego is sort of like this calcified calcified growth. It's a construction of the fact that these divine potencies have been repressed into the unconscious. That the ego only exists when these potencies who were present, you know, for millennia of polytheism and then before that they were present in a more animistic sense, in animistic cultures in terms of the spirits of nature and that sort of thing, which were then extracted and sort of projected into these divine beings. But what we've done is created this central, unified, egoic consciousness by the repression of these other voices within our psyche, or that constitute our psyche. And so I think part of what we have to do is dissolve dissolve the ego. It's, I mean, this is, again, Deleuze. It's the dissolved self. It's the cogito for a dissolved self. And by dissolving that ego, which of course is what shamanic practices do, the techniques of ecstasy, including psychedelic substances or ecstatic dance and music and things of that nature, the things that dissolve those egoic boundaries, it allows these other cosmic forces these other potencies to speak through us, and then we can bring them into actuality through language. So I think that language is as constitutive of reality as anything else is. You know, this is sort of Hillman, you know, the imaginal is primary. The imaginal is primary and everything else, including this vision of reality as just material things interacting through impersonal, mathematical, eternal forces, physical forces, that's a fantasy. That's an imaginal fantasy. And I think the trick is to not privilege any one fantasy over the other fantasies. We don't need to overturn it and say that materialist science is completely useless, because it's obviously not. It's created the modern world that we cherish in so many ways, technology and all these things. But I think what we have to do is re-situate this monocentric consciousness in terms of a more pluralistic, constant negotiation between these different dynamic persons.
[01:14:14.697] Kent Bye: Yeah, there's the predictive coding theory of neuroscience, which says that there's these direct embodied experiences, and then you have the concepts and ideas and language around those. And so you have the mental models of the experience, and then you have your expectations. And so the predictive coding theory is that your brain's a prediction machine and it's constantly predicting about what it's expecting and then if there's a mismatch then it sends dopamine to be able to improve the models and so you have this continual learning process but that the basis it has i'd say the more earth element direct embodied experience and the more air element the concepts but even that can create a dialectic that doesn't necessarily include the the fire element of intuition or the water element of feeling and emotion. And so there's different ways throughout the course of this book of trying to go beyond the different binaries into more quaternionies that are trying to sort of add these other aspects. But as you were talking about the potentials and the myth, one of the threads that I wanted to connect was what started with Schelling and then Nietzsche and then Jung and then Hillman was this through line of using the more mythic aspects to add in maybe another dimension that gets beyond existing binaries. And so I'd love to hear how you see the through line from Schelling of how he's introducing myth into these larger discussions. And then Nietzsche seems to have almost similar to Freud in a way that everything becomes just about the Oedipal complex for Freud. But for Nietzsche, it was the Apollo and the Dionysian dialectic between those two, almost trying to see everything through that just one dialectic of the archetypes. And then you have Jung, who's trying to open it up into the pluralistic multitude of many different archetypes. I don't know if William James is adding any different mythical elements. And then it follows on with Hillman and how he's synthesizing that into his own version of archetypal psychology.
[01:16:02.231] Grant Maxwell: Yeah. I mean, so, you know, what's so interesting about Schelling, it's, you know, I think the editor of this series of lectures on mythology that he did, it was actually after Hegel's death and he took over Hegel's old professorship at the University of Berlin. It's like the most prestigious professorship in all of Germany at that time. And he was giving these lectures and it's one of the strangest and most audacious suggestions of the 19th century, which is that the gods are real, but we don't know exactly how they're real. And so they're ontologically ambiguous and their status can't be pinned down. And so they're essentially these archetypal potencies that we have to contend with. And it's really interesting. He goes through and he looks at all the different explanations that have been offered over several millennia for the gods, whether they're merely poetic invention or they're real human individuals who have been elevated to a divine status, or whether they're embodiments of forces of nature. So that carries on. I think Nietzsche was somewhat influenced by Schelling. So I thought that was really interesting that you saw a parallel between Nietzsche's focus on the dialectic of the Apollonian and the Dionysian as being similar to the Freudian focus on the edible. Because Freud was really influenced by Nietzsche in his later work, but I think in a way that started to dissolve that sort of monocentric way of thinking. Because even halfway through The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche complicates that binary distinction by moving away from Apollo and brings Dionysus into opposition with Socrates, with the man Socrates, who's the embodiment of a new force in the world of rational, logical thought. And he sort of looks at him as the turning point in world history that would eventually develop into science and rationalist philosophy, as we understand it. So Nietzsche actually doesn't like Socrates very much, which is a pretty transgressive thing. to say in the history of philosophy, but then at the end he talks about how Socrates became the music making Socrates and actually was instructed by a voice that's similar to his daemon to compose a hymn to Apollo. And then of course Nietzsche in his later work he moves completely away from any systematization. I mean, he creates these incredible concepts. I mean, the eternal return and the overman and Ariadne and all these different great concepts. But I think what's so generative and interesting about Nietzsche is that His books don't follow any kind of logical order. It's just they're in the form of aphorisms. It'll be a paragraph or a few pages about one thing. And then even Zarathustra, which I think is often considered his most important work. I mean, it's basically like a prose poem. It's like a mythical narrative. It's sort of like a reenactment, an inversion of the New Testament. So, I mean, I think that's one of the reasons why, like Spinoza, why Nietzsche is still so influential in that generation of French philosophers, or several generations of French philosophers, but also on Jung and Freud and on phenomenology and on existentialism, because he wrote so much and he wrote so many different and contradictory things, but he wrote so many brilliant things that you could extract these great concepts and just run with them and take them off in different directions. Yeah. I mean, another interesting thing is there are so many other theorists that I could have written about in this book. It's not like these are the privileged 13 theorists that one must think about. I mean, you know, people often ask me why I don't write more about Heidegger or about Husserl or something like that. And it's just like, well, in the case of Heidegger, I don't really want to give my attention to a Nazi, even though, you know, I think he's very brilliant. And I think there are a lot of resonances between his work and the work of these So I think there are many other theories that you could look at that could fill in gaps. And actually, I had to cut out a bunch of chapters from the book and didn't get to write chapters about other theories that I would have liked to have written about. But these are the ones that just spoke to me the most and that I've just been most interested in. And so, yeah, with James Bergson and Whitehead, the three of them don't really talk about the polytheistic potencies at all. Although I think their sort of constructivist, pluralist, speculative mode of thought is deeply resonant with Nietzsche and Schelling and Jung. And I also think there are a lot of resonances with Hegel, although That's sort of like going out on a limb, because he's just sort of the one monolithic figure that 20th century continental philosophers have just loved to bash and to critique. But, you know, I think there's this great essay by Catherine Malibu, who is a collaborator with Derrida. She critiques the loser's critique of Hegel, and it's called, Who's Afraid of a Galleon Wolves? And it's based on that dream that Jung had that he told Freud about, where he had this dream where he descends through successive subterranean strata. And he's going deeper and deeper into the unconscious. And at the bottom, he finds this ossuary of a multiplicity of bones down there. And Freud says, see, you have a death wish. It's a single death wish. It's this edible death wish. And this is what they're on an ocean liner over to do their tour of America, United States. And so that really struck Jung because he reduced Jung's dream of multiplicity to this single death wish. And Jung just thought, well, it's just more complicated than that. It's this plural, archaic level that he was having, like an oneric experience in terms of dreams. And so Katherine Malibu marshals this in relation to Deleuze and says that even though Deleuze is sort of the figure who is an advocate of pluralism and multiplicity, he's probably become the central reference of continental philosophy, at least in the humanities, if not in the discipline of philosophy itself, but in English and conflict and art history and things like that. He's sort of become the central reference, and that's what Zizek says, in a way that's strikingly echoes Hegel, even though he's kind of like the anti-Hegel. So he's kind of like a differential repetition of the conceptual persona of Hegel.
[01:22:24.211] Kent Bye: Yeah. You cover, for the first half of your chapter on Deleuze, a lot about his critiques of Hegel and how they fall down in different ways. But just to pick up the thread from the mythical things, because it started with Schelling and then Nietzsche, and then you have Jung and then Hillman. You mentioned in the book how there's a lot of Christian scholasticism that's happening in the time of Jung, but he's going off and digging into a lot of these alchemical, magical, astrological books and that at the time that actually kind of led to a lot of his breakaway from Freud because Freud wanted to have a certain legitimacy to a lot of what was happening with this psychoanalytical venture as well as the unconscious. And so with Jung dabbling in different aspects of the esoteric and the occult, we're actually making it non-palatable to be accepted by a broader society. And you also point out how Deleuze may have been also perhaps afraid of giving too much credit to Jung because there was still a lot of this taboo against what Jung was doing. And so Jung is situated in this very interesting place where you mention in the book where he's not accepted within the context of the larger academic discourse. A lot of the other thinkers that you have in your book, I can go to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and look up entries on different people, and there's no entry on Jung that is like a comprehensive recounting. There's probably a lot of scholarship that's happening right now that maybe is setting a broader context for Jung to be able to have maybe a stronger footing, but he was actually doing a lot of philosophical investigations. And even though he wasn't, I guess, writing in a purely philosophical way, I think he has a lot of philosophical concepts that he's bringing in into the larger discourse. But I feel like in some ways, your inclusion of Jung into a book like this is helping to show how he was actually in dialogue with some of these other thinkers like Deleuze and the impact on Deleuze And I should mention that your publisher, Rutelage, has been a big part of trying to do that rehabilitation of the scholarship around Jung. So I'd love to hear any other thoughts you have on Jung in this bringing these other mythical aspects of the archetypes into this broader context.
[01:24:19.278] Grant Maxwell: Yeah, just a lot of great thoughts there. It's true that this fairly new series that my book is a part of, it's the philosophy and psychoanalysis series at Rutledge. It's great. I mean, there are a lot of books looking at the relation between Jung and philosophy. So I think they're doing really important work over there. And that series editor is John Mills. I think he's doing an excellent job. But yeah, no, it's just so interesting. The whole scenario of how Jung was excluded from the academy, whereas Freud became really dominant in the academy. I mean, they worked really closely together. Freud was very excited about Jung. He called him his crown prince and successor. Jung was the editor of the primary journal of psychoanalysis, and they voted him the president for life of the Psychoanalytic Association. They came to visit each other. They were very close. It was a very, you know, almost like a father-son relationship. But then Jung became more and more interested in occult phenomena. He became interested in telepathy and precognition and things of this nature, and then alchemy and astrology. And Freud said, no, no, no, we have to create an unshakable bulwark against the black tide of mud of occultism. And so it became very clear how far Freud was willing to go into his exploration of the unconscious. He always maintained rationalist and materialist assumptions, even while he opened this whole vast domain of the unconscious for exploration. And I think that's how he was able to become so dominant in academia, because, you know, especially going back to the 20th century, there's just a bias inherited from the Enlightenment against anything that's deemed irrational. Because the Enlightenment rationality and science defined itself by the rejection and disqualification of any of these primarily non-modern modes of thought that had been dominant prior to the creation of modern rationality out of that enclosing womb of medieval scholasticism. And so, you know, I think Jung was just really interested in these other domains. And he spent a couple nights just talking with William James late in James's life. at a conference and they spent two nights alone together talking about parapsychology and all these sort of occult realms. And they both really admired one another. And you know, even Bergson says, this really isn't, you know, you have to dig deep to find this information because, you know, Bergson's really, really influential in the continental tradition, especially in relation to Deleuze. But he says in a letter to someone, he says it's in Jung that psychoanalysis has finally found its philosophy, that he really deeply admires Jung. And there are other great French philosophers like Gaston Bachelard and Gilbert Simondon, who were both really influential on Deleuze, who were very influenced by Jung. So, you know, I think there are just certain areas that you don't want to discuss for career reasons. And I think that if you want to become a professor, you just have to accept that there are people who are making these decisions in the hiring committees who just have unexamined biases against certain modes of thought. And I think that's changing. And, you know, I see a lot of academics who are becoming more and more interested in occult modes of thought and psychedelics and things of that nature. But I think most people who study these philosophers, maybe they sort of block it. It's like they repress the knowledge somehow that almost all of these philosophers were really interested in various occult practices. Spinoza was interested in precognition. Leibniz was interested in alchemy. You know, James was interested in parapsychology. Bergson, I think, was interested in telepathy. Whitehead talks about mysticism. You know, Jung, of course. And then it's really interesting to see the way that Deleuze is constructed in the American Academy, because people tend to focus on the more deconstructive aspects of his work, that he's against what he's against. He critiques Hegel. He's against the Oedipal. These are the things that they focus on, when there's so much more in his work. And Stengers really opens things up in a lot of ways, too. I mean, she started out writing exclusively about science, thermodynamics, with this Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Ilya Prigozhin. And over the decades of writing, she's become more and more open, probably about her interest in animism and witchcraft, astrology and alchemy, while still situating these non-modern practices in relation to really profound understanding of science. So I think there are a lot of openings to these areas and it's kind of an exciting time actually to be working right now.
[01:29:15.451] Kent Bye: So yeah, just to follow on with that as a point, because Jung is trying to bring in all these insights of this mythic and archetypal realm. And then I think Hillman is then expanding upon that with the archetypal psychology. And then, of course, Rick Tarnas's work and Passion of the Western Mind, as well as Cosmic Psyche is also bringing this other archetypal dimension and applying it to the evolution of history of how these archetypal complexes are trying to tell the story of history as it unfolds, but I'd love to have just a few thoughts on Jung and the role of the archetype and what you cover in this book, and then how that also feeds into what Hillman is doing with this revisioning psychology with this archetypal psychology.
[01:29:55.546] Grant Maxwell: Yeah. I mean, I think that, you know, Jung, he even said that, I think it's in the preface to Eric Neumann's book, The History and Origin of Consciousness or something like that, that Jung himself is a pioneering thinker. He's not a systematizer. So he's the one who's always forging ahead into new conceptual domains. And he created so many incredible concepts that they're not just psychological concepts. They're also philosophical concepts. I think he became more and more philosophical over the six or however many decades of his writing. He wrote so much, his envisagement of the archetypes definitely changed over the course of his writing. This is something that Tarnas talks about. In his earlier conception of the archetypes, there were these intrinsic psychological categories that were biologically developed through the evolutionary process. And in his later work, especially through looking at the concept of synchronicity, I think he began to really affirm that they are, what we've been talking about from these last hours, is these potentialities that are intricated in the nature of process and that demand expression, and that can be correlated with the gods of polytheism. He was a little inconsistent, but he tended to focus a lot on Christianity. The reason why I chose to look at Mysterium Cuneon Dionysus, which is his last full-length monograph, which was published when he was in his 80s, is because it looks at alchemy, and that goes really deeply into this more polytheistic mode of thought. Monotheism has been deeply, fundamentally influential on the Western mind, and this focus on one transcendent God, absolute transcendent God, has been mirrored in the creation of the self, or in the creation of the egoic consciousness. It's this monocentric construction. I think there's a lot of efficacy in that construction. I don't think we need to do away with the monotheistic God any more than we need to completely do away with the ego. Jung says this a lot, we couldn't operate without an ego. We'd be basically non-human animals. I like non-human animals, but I don't want to be a non-human animal. I like having some consciousness of myself as an individuated self. and language and things of that nature. But I think what Hellman really does, picking up on a lot of threads from Jung's later work, and I think these threads run throughout Jung's work, but I think they become more and more present throughout his work, especially on alchemy, is looking at how our psyches are composed of a plurality of voices that can be traced through a series of enactments back to these polytheistic divine potencies at an always receding horizon. And, you know, that's why Hillman is, I mean, one reason why Hillman is so great is because he's like a postmodern Jungian, whereas Jung is still kind of ambivalently holding onto this central pillar of monotheistic and monocentric consciousness that Freud actually wanted to strengthen the ego. You know, that was his answer to neurosis was to strengthen the ego and to create this monocentric pole that everything else could circulate around. It's like a tent pole or something. And if that goes down, the whole thing goes down. But what Hillman is saying is that not just the psyche, but reality itself, there's no central proposition. And this is something that James talks about and that Stengers refers to James about, you know, it's a circle of dancers and there's no one at the center, but it's a circle of dancers holding each other's hands. And if anyone lets go, it all falls apart. It has to be this relational moving, constantly moving and becoming. and transforming coherence. It's like Derrida calls it, the logocentric God and mind and word is the central pillar of reality. And so I think that's what Hillman is so good about, showing that everything is a negotiation. It's not that reality is just purely a social construct and that there's nothing deeper and that it's just all a product of the mind. It's that reality is grounded in certain relational constraints, but they're much more malleable than we usually take them to be. And they can be constructed, you know, they can have different kinds of structures elicited from them in very different ways. And they have been constructed in very different ways over the course of history. So I think that's one way that Hellman's really, really great.
[01:34:33.099] Kent Bye: Yeah, I want to jump back to Jung and make a connection to Jung and Deleuze, but also to bring back in the Hegelian dialectic, because I feel like Jung, with his polarity, that's the shadow projection that you can put out into the world, but there's this depth psychological process of trying to dissolve the ego or go outside of the ego to be able to then sit in the tension of the opposites I guess is the phrase that I hear a lot in this Jungian thoughts of sitting in the tension of those polarities until the reconciling third comes in and is trying to sort of resolve these two and so there seems to be a number of different processes whether it's active imagination or using dreams or trying to get into this altered state of consciousness or this shamanic mode of consciousness that allows you to enter this mythic realm with this dreamlike realm, whether it's interpreting your dreams directly or to go through a psychedelic experience or through a dark night of the soul, but it's this trying to evolve your psyche in a way that is not trying to repress because Jung says whatever is repressed will be expressed. And so you're trying to actually like engage directly with this shadow through that unconscious and then, you know, sitting in the attention of the opposites, which it feels like this thesis antithesis until you have the synthesis of what Jung calls this reconciling third. And then how that process is then feeding into Deleuze, because Deleuze is collaborating with Guattari, who's a psychoanalyst. And so there's a ways in which, as a philosopher, Deleuze is working directly with someone who's engaged in a practical, pragmatic way with the psychoanalytical tradition, this philosopher and this psychoanalyst coming together to write all these different philosophical works. but they're also deconstructing Freud and have this whole book about the anti-edible complex. And so love to hear anything about the reconciling third and how that calls back to the Hegelian dialectic and then how this feeds into Deleuze's way of exploring some of these different ideas. Right.
[01:36:23.936] Grant Maxwell: Yeah. So yeah, that's a really good point that Jung, this tension of opposites, it's very Hegelian. Even though Jung's primary philosopher that he would always refer to is Kant, because I think that Kant was sort of dominant in his milieu growing up in his younger years. And so You know, he does refer to Hegel a bit, but he's usually critical of Hegel. But it really is interesting that this tension of opposites out of which emerges a reconciling third is quite resonant with the dialectic. But like Hegel, I see this tension of opposites as an opening to a more pluralist dialectic. And so, of course, Jung, like Nietzsche, was thinking in terms of this tension of opposites in relation to these personified potencies, mythical potencies. And I think that really allowed Hillman to open it up. I think that tension of opposites, they both wrote quite a fair amount about astrology and about the horoscope. And I think it's really helpful to envisage it in terms of the placement of the gods on the circular mandalic horoscope. And so you do have plenty of times where you'll have two planets in opposition, and these planets are sort of ambiguously correlated with the gods of polytheism. But there are also plenty of other times where they're in conjunction, or they're at a 90 degree square, or a shrine, so they're more confluent. And these are all valid ways of becoming. And I think this is a really interesting figure that both Jung and Hillman used astrology in their practices and both, I think, believed in its efficacy. And so that really opens up this sense of the tension of opposites into having a whole chorus of voices in various geometrically figured complexes in relation to each other that change and evolve over time. And I also just wanted to say about the thing about Guattari is what's interesting is that he was a student of Lacan. And so, you know, Lacan took psychoanalysis off in his own direction. But what's interesting about Guattari is that he was working with schizophrenic patients, whereas Freud's theory was, this is one of Jung's primary critiques of Freud, is that he was working mostly with moronics. So they weren't having these extreme certain visions and things like that, and multiple personalities. hearing voices and things of that nature, dissociation from reality, that kind of stuff. So that's what Guattari was dealing with. But I actually think that Guattari seems to have influenced Deleuze away from engaging as much with Jung, because he seemed to be more complimentary to Jung when he wasn't with Guattari. Even in the ABCs of Gilles Deleuze, that La Bissadere interview that he did in the 80s with his student Claire Parnet. I'm not sure how to pronounce it. But it was this series of television interviews that were planned to only air after his death. and he talks in glowing terms about Jung. My sense is that, you know, Guattari doesn't talk about Jung in any of his solo works. So my sense in this, I'm not sure if this is true, is that Guattari influenced Deleuze away from his Jungian inclinations, but that whenever he was away from Guattari, he would kind of go back to them a little bit. You know, I mean, even in The Logic of Sense, which is his book from 1969, you know, he uses the word synchronicity, And Proust in science, he uses the word archetype in a positive way from the, that's like 1964. Anyway. Yeah. I mean, there's just so many, I feel like this sort of complex of theorists and concepts, this is the place where I want to see work done, you know, in academic work. This is what I want to see, like people coming together, marshalling to lose or to think in terms of those areas of his work that are resonant with Jung and with Whitehead that haven't been examined as much as his work on Freud and Hegel and the more traditional canonical academic thinkers. Because he's established now, we've done it. Deleuze is established and he's maybe sort of almost like a Trojan horse into the academy. And now we can, through the intermediary of to lose, we can usher Jungian type thought. At least that's something that I think would be fun to try to do.
[01:40:40.208] Kent Bye: Yeah, I wanted to try to pull in three other things that we haven't really dug into much as William James and Bergson in Whitehead, where James is coming in in this chapter seven, an integrated affair. And so I see James as someone who is bringing this level of pragmatism in collaboration with Charles Sanders Pierce, who I guess coin the term, but I think you talk about how James really brought pragmatism into this prominence and people use pragmatic as a way of like something that's utilitarian or something that's useful or something that's actually going to work. And so as I was trying to get a sense of what pragmatism is and how to make sense of it relative to this line of thinking, you know, James being a pluralist of trying to have many different perspectives and then say whatever just works and then Pierce doesn't seem to be a pluralist himself but he's associated with pragmatism so it doesn't seem like pragmatism necessarily implies a leaning towards pluralism but maybe you could contextualize how James fits into this larger conversation and dialectic of what James is responding to and how as a psychologist and someone who's not really trained as a philosopher how he's able to create this third entity that's outside of the continental analytic divide that maybe goes beyond some of those different debates that are happening in that dialectic, but is able to create this other more pragmatic or utilitarian or pluralist perspective in this larger conversation. Yeah.
[01:42:03.414] Grant Maxwell: So, you know, Isabel Stengers says that Jamesian pragmatism is often reduced by lazy readers to the sad morality of the businessman. This just transactional, almost real politic approach. And that's just not what pragmatism is. You know, I think actually a similar thing happens to utilitarianism and John Stuart Mill, I haven't read a lot of John Stuart Mill, but I actually wrote a chapter on his essay on Coleridge that I had to cut from the book, which is great. It's really resonant with all these other thinkers, and people tend to think of him as this very dry and stuffy utilitarian Englishman. you know, he was deeply influential on James. And James actually dedicates pragmatism to Mill, who says, you know, he would still be our leader if he was still alive. So, you know, pragmatism is very resonant with all of these other things that we've been talking about, which is, it's not so much just do whatever works, whether or not it's true. Because I think the critiques of James have to do with people being attached to this idea that there's this objective truth And that James, you know, he's just advocating for ignoring the objective truth and just doing whatever works in the moment. And that's, his thinking is much deeper than that. It's that truth is constructed from these various potentialities and constraints. That truth is a process. It's made by the negotiation between different entities and actors and any particular process of verification. And this is something that Stengers is really good on. She really extends this pragmatist mode of thought that it's not only, for instance, you know, scientists and philosophers who are engaging in debates, but also they're in dialogue with these entities that they're in experimental relation with, with forces or with gravitation or the arrow of time. They're trying to get nature to speak by trying to construct particular conditions in which you can elicit a consistent answer from an experimental process. And that's one way of approaching reality that's kind of resonant with the cross-examination of a witness on the stand in a court of law, or even with an interrogation. It does violence to the processes. And that there are other ways of So I'm kind of getting into Stengersian pragmatism here, but to go back to James himself, he looks at pragmatism as a method for adjudicating between two different claims that appear incommensurable. So what he's doing is looking at how these claims can both have partial truth. I mean, one of the big things he talks about in pragmatism is that there are these two primary temperaments that really inform philosophical thought, which are, he calls it the hard-minded and tender-minded temperaments. And one is very focused on rational facts and materiality, and the other tends to want to look at reality and all its sort of glorious multifariousness. And what he's doing in pragmatism is trying to sort of lead the reader to see how he associates these with rationalism and empiricism, but it's a broader kind of empiricism than the usual empiricism that assumes materialism, that assumes that the only real things are material things. It's a radical empiricism, which takes all experience as real, you know, whether it's a psychological experience or an experience of some parapsychological phenomenon, or, you know, it doesn't prejudge what can be considered a valid experience and what has to be pushed out of the domain of relevance. And so he's showing how these two modes of thought can actually be brought into greater resonance and greater sympathy. So to me, and to Whitehead, he initiates this new stream of thought. Whitehead says this really cool thing that James initiates a new phase of psychological thought, similar to what Descartes did in the 17th century. and that the primary post-Cartesians are Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. But the most creative ones and the most interesting ones are Leibniz and Spinoza. And so, parallel to that development, you can see Whitehead implies this. You can see Bergson and Whitehead themselves as the primary post-Jamesians who take this pragmatic mode of thought into other areas and other domains.
[01:46:38.595] Kent Bye: this radical empiricism, what's the connection between feeling, because I know going back to Spinoza, this univocal aspect of univocity, and I don't know if Spinoza had the univocity of feeling, but I know that James has a lot of focus on Feeling is an important part because I know that Whitehead picks up this as Whitehead is talking about the underlying basis of reality. He's really focused on emotion, affect, and feeling as a primary part of how there's lures of feelings, so like a final causation for Whitehead in terms of what is really driving towards novelty. But what's the connection that James, as a psychologist, he's not trying to create a metaphysical framework that is going to have whatever someone's telling him to kind of gaslight someone and saying, no, that can't be possible because of this metaphysical reality. This radical empiricism seems to allow him to take in whatever direct experience that people have and really focus that embodied experience as primary. But how does that tie back to feeling for James?
[01:47:38.768] Grant Maxwell: Yeah. I mean, he has this phrase, the fact of feeling. And so there's this overwhelming bias in modern thought that feelings are only feelings. They're mere emotions, that they don't contain any valid information, that we have to set our feelings aside in order to achieve truth and to discern truth by thinking rationally and logically. And that feelings are only an impediment to that process. And what James does really well, yeah, bringing back in, you know, sort of echoing Spinoza, is he says that our felt experience is as real as verbally mediated conceptual thoughts that we have, rational thoughts that we have in our mind, and that those have to be taken account of in any coherent view of reality. So what he's getting at with this suggestion of these two temperaments is that, you know, so I think it was five years before that in the Varieties of Religious Experience, he's looking at all of these cases of people having these really affectively significant religious experiences and how they have these affective experiences, which, you know, it's not just emotions, it's intimations and sort of felt encounters with powers, things like that. So that's why I think they use the term affect, because it's a little broader than emotion. But these affective encounters and these affective events have real consequences on the lived experience and actually impel our conceptual thought. And so he has this really interesting thing in the Varieties of Religious Experience where he talks about Hegel. And he's usually pretty critical of Hegel, but he says, you know, what reader of Hegel can doubt that these lofty metaphysical abstractions aren't the product of some sort of metaphysical mystical mood? Hegel has often been accused of being this mere logical rationalist, especially by Schelling. I think he started this rumor about Hegel, but I think James is right about that, that there's this underlying mystical monism in Hegel. And so, as you know, that's kind of a theme of the book, that there are affective complexes that resonate with the polytheistic potencies. So that's why Mars is the god of anger and aggression, and Venus is the goddess of love and desire, and Kronos is the god of weighty judgment and the negative, and so forth. And so James doesn't specifically talk about the polytheistic potencies, but I think his understanding of the way that the affects inform our thinking is really resonant with the other thinkers who do talk about polytheistic potencies. Because, like we were talking about earlier, it's not that our every action is determined by our feelings. And we're just playing out. I think this is a common misinterpretation of Spinoza, pretty pervasive one actually, that we don't have free will because the will is our feelings, it's our emotions. And so we're just playing out our emotions. But then he spends most of the ethics which is Spinoza's great work, talking about how we can relate to these feelings and try to cultivate more active positive affects in relation to the encounters that we have. So it's like, well, this is like a paradox that I think a lot of people sort of interpret him as a complete determinist. But basically what I'm saying is that I think a deeper reading of Spinoza is that our affects are determined and they determine our will, they determine what we want and desire and how we feel, but we can choose through a freedom of mind how to express those feelings. And I think that's something very resonant with James and all of the other 20th century theorists.
[01:51:29.478] Kent Bye: I feel like that this empiricist line of thinking is very connected to the embodied experience of virtual reality, because it's all about your embodied experiences as you go into these virtually mediated experiences. In your book, Deleuze identifies himself as a transcendental empiricist, which for me feels like a little bit of an oxymoron, but that's very much like in the Deleuzian mode of trying to combine the aesthetic, imaginal, and intuitive modes of thinking, but you trace this line of thinking from Spinoza's intuition to Schelling's metaphysical empiricism to James's radical empiricism and Birkson's intuitive method, which we haven't talked about yet, but we can talk about here in a bit. And then Whitehead's speculative empiricism, so Whitehead's speculative philosophy and then Young and Hillman's archetypal empiricism. So there's different types of empirical modes, whether it's the more air element of the speculative thinking, or the archetypal formal causation, or the metaphysical experiences, or the more fire element of the intuitive method, or the radical empiricism, which is I think the earth element of the sensory experiences. There's some taxonomy of those different types of empiricism, but for me, I always go back to the elements. Jung said the fire element was intuition, the air element of the concepts, and the water element of the emotions, and then the earth element of the sensory experiences, and how each of these thinkers are finding different modes of combining each of these different elemental aspects into each of the different flavors and types of empiricism. That's really cool.
[01:52:56.899] Grant Maxwell: I like that a lot. I hadn't thought about that. Can you recommend a place to look for looking at those elements?
[01:53:03.449] Kent Bye: Yeah. One of the talks that I gave at StoryCon, I start to delineate many different manifestations of how that plays out within the context of virtual reality. I think about it in terms of those qualities of presence. So the earth element being the embodied and environmental presence, the water element being the emotional presence, the fire element being the active presence and agency and will and taking action. There's also intuition for what Jung called it And then the air element being mental and social presence. So the concepts, ideas, the imagination, the expectations, the mental presence and the plausibility, each of these different dimensions. And so there's a way in which that VR is pulling in these different qualities of presence, but I feel like there's a center of gravity that you can use the more archetypal interpretation. But I feel like as I read a book like this, I start to see like these different dialectics between like empiricism would be like the embodied experience for me. Like that's much more grounded into the earth element or The idealism or the concepts or the formal causations, that's much more of the air element. The final causation is much more of the fire element for me, but that's also the action, the agency. And so I look at the qualities of presence, but there's also the context and the character and the story and these other dimensions. And so there's always, from a pluralistic perspective, something that's outside of even that as a framing. You can't systematize everything into that. But for me, at least, it's a good way of getting access And I'd apply it to Bergson because Bergson is talking about how you have to combine the instinct with the intellect. So for me, the intellect, the air element, and the instinct of the earth element, you combine those. And for him, that's sort of a combination of intuition. For Jung, Jung just purely said the fire element was intuition. But also his concept of duration, I think, is very relevant to this discussion in terms of you know, for Bergson as a mathematician, he's trying to come up with both the continuous and discontinuous aspects. And so the more qualitative and quantitative aspects of duration and time and how there can be a tendency to try to spatialize time as Einstein did, which is a lot of what Bergson was critiquing Einstein around how he's translating all of the dimensions of time into this quantitative aspects, which for Bergson in the debate, he was trying to go back to this more qualitative aspects of time and duration. So, yeah, Bergson in this concept of both intuition as well as time and duration seem to be the big concepts that I got from this chapter and how that kind of plays in the larger dialectic.
[01:55:28.842] Grant Maxwell: Yeah. It's interesting that you bring up the debate that Bergson had with Einstein, because I've been reading about that in relation to Stengers and Frigosian talked about it. And basically they say that Bergson actually got some things wrong, some technical things wrong in relativity that he didn't really understand relativity, which is why Einstein has been generally considered to have won that debate. and possibly also why Berkson went out of favor for a few decades. But they also think that he had a point, a very profound point, which is that there's this lived reality of time, which is duration, that is complementary to the mathematical discontinuous construction of temporality. That actually goes back to Spinoza a little bit, not to jump around, but Einstein's favorite philosopher was Spinoza. And part of it is that he thought that Spinoza was a pure determinist. And Einstein talks about the unreality of time and how everything is reversible. He says to Michel Bessot's wife after his friend died in a letter that time is a stubbornly persistent illusion. But I think that's actually a misinterpretation of Spinoza, which I hate to go up against Einstein, but Because, I mean, he's obviously like extremely brilliant. He's like the archetype of the brilliant scientist. But, you know, I think that Spinoza was more open to becoming than Einstein gave him credit for. And I think that was Bergson's contribution in that particular encounter was saying, okay, in order to explain these phenomena, you're constructing dynamics as irreversible. It's all irreversible processes. But we all know that there are plenty of reversible processes, but they have to just define those out of the scope of relevance. So I think a big part of what Bergson did is to show that by holding up Newtonian physics as the archetype of truth in modern culture, that's been enacted through the rejection and disqualification of lived time, which is, you know, the thing that not only Bergson, but also phenomenologists and existentialists we're really aiming toward, that there's this whole domain of the experience of time that isn't reducible to a static, quantitative, mathematical, just counting out of moments, like divided into a timeline for scientific repeatability. And that sort of brings us back to, I think there are a lot of resonances between Bergson and Young because it's the constantly shifting affective experience of time that he brings attention to. And that's what intuition is. Instinct is the bodily feelings that are just completely in sync with these complex waves of affect that are constantly flowing through us and that are in relation to not just to our interior milieu, but the world around us and to other people. You know, I think most of these theorists would agree that there are non-local affective phenomena occurring in any situation in relation to nature, in relation to other beings, that you can have some affective resonances going on there. But that brings it in relation to, you know, Jungian concept of synchronicity, that duration is qualitative. So time is constantly changing and constantly expressing different relational complexes of these archetypal potencies. And Bergson actually critiques, it's very similar to Spinoza actually, but inverted because he critiques the notion of formal causes in a similarly reductive way to how Spinoza critiques the sort of most facile, naive version of final causes. And so I think they're kind of complimentary in that way because Bergson affirms final causation, but rejects formal causation and Spinoza affirms formal causation and rejects final causation. But I think they're both really complimentary and they're both, you know, two of the primary influences on Deleuze and that's continental philosophy in general. So that's interesting complementarity.
[01:59:36.314] Kent Bye: It reminds me of how the Greeks had two words for time of the Kronos time and the Kairos time. And the Kronos time was more of the quantitative unfolding of time of the fatedness of Kronos eating its children. And then you have the Kairos, which is the qualitative aspect of time. I know that Jung has talked about the quality of the moment and the sort of archetypal potentials, even though in the philosophy of time you have the phenomenology of time, of the direct human experience of time, which is often considered to be separate than what time actually is independent of that observation. But I think that in some ways that may be another false bifurcation where the nature of time could be this both binary and non-binary combination of the the binary aspect being the quantitative aspect and non-binary and the qualitative archetypal potentials is this kairo, so the quality of the moment. I don't know if Bergson explicitly was trying to bring back that phenomenological or experience of time, this concept of duration that adds as more qualitative aspects to time and not just focusing on the quantitative aspects. And I think that was part of the catalyst for the debate that he had around Einstein around all this. And like you said, he had some stuff wrong, but that there could still be dimensions of that qualitative aspect of time that is still worth going back to. But maybe as we start to wrap up, I just wanted to hit on Whitehead briefly. I know I've done an interview with Mikey Siegel. I thought your chapter on Whitehead was able to really tied together a lot of the neologisms of Whitehead because it can be difficult but this just this concept of both the process relational aspect but think about these different layers of prehensions and emotions and maybe a good way of framing this is through how Whitehead is bringing back different aspects of final causation through these lures, as well as the formal causation through the eternal objects, but also trying to escape the limitations of language, the ways that language puts us into a subject predicate binary logic that fixes us into a certain mode of thinking, but trying to see this deeper process relational way, and this escaping out of the substance metaphysics into this more process relational metaphysics, and how his metaphysical system is grounding for new modes of thought or novel ways of thinking, and how that is creating these new paradigms, but also, you know, how that is feeding into folks like Deleuze and being inspired for what Deleuze is doing.
[02:01:53.985] Grant Maxwell: Yeah. I mean, you know, one of the things I love so much about Whitehead is, is that he's thinking some of the wildest and most speculative thoughts with this sort of dry, humorous, mathematical detachment. And he's just, you know, To me, he has the most coherent metaphysical system of any of these philosophers we're talking about. I mean, it's characteristic of a mathematician. He has this concept of the ingression of these eternal objects, the formal potentialities, into actuality. Just so many of his words have come to permeate my thinking. It's almost like Whitehead's too close to me to even talk about him in a way, because he was sort of my first favorite philosopher, and his vocabulary just so permeates my thinking. But it's like, if any one of these thinkers is the thinker of integration, it's probably Whitehead, because he has this concept of concrescence. It's the progressive coming together of prehensive relationality. It's these prehensions, which are the felt relations that constitute reality down to the smallest scale. And so, you know, you're talking about this word pan-experientialism, that down to that smallest scale, there's at least the potentiality for comprehension, which is prehensions together. It's feeling together. But, you know, I think one thing that's so interesting is that even though his style is very detached and humorous, he really focuses on that Jamesian fact of feeling, that concepts are deeply intertwined with affective experience, and that all of these affective complexes that we keep coming back to are luring us toward integration, but it's not an integration that's a return to undivided, undifferentiated wholeness. And I think that's a mistake that a lot of, you know, especially like a lot of Jungians make. And I don't really think that Jung made that mistake as much himself. I mean, I think he sometimes went over into this idea that, oh, we're just trying to return to this sort of undifferentiated boom-like wholeness and finding perfect solutions to these problematic differences. But what's so great about Whitehead, well, I mean, there are a lot of great things about Whitehead, but in this particular instance, his idea of contrast, that integration is bringing these problematic differences into relation. And there are positive contrasts, which sometimes there is reconciliation, but there's also positive contrast, which is things that remain stubbornly incommensurable and that can't be merely reconciled. Nietzsche called it something higher than any reconciliation, and thus spoke Zarathustra. He said he's after not just reconciliation, a return to undifferentiated wholeness and oneness, which there's a French tendency to really be wary of this, and I think a lot of that has to do with having been invaded by the Nazis. in World War II, and that it's this suspicion of any totalizing mode of thought that wants to collect all the phenomena and all the different voices and points of view under one authoritarian, totalitarian, unified mode. And so I think what's so great about Whitehead is he, and you know, I think that Hegel did fall into that trap a bit, but you know, I mean, he created the precondition for all these other theories. to surpass him and to deepen his mode of thought. But, you know, I think this concept of Whiteheadian contrast, you know, Deleuze really takes it up nicely in relation to the polytheistic potencies, which Whitehead doesn't really talk about polytheism at all. He's thinking it's very monotheistic, even though he's very pluralist. So there's that tension there where he's thinking is very pluralist, but whenever he talks about religion, it's in terms of this sort of monocentric monotheism. But Deleuze brings this into what he calls the method of dramatization. And it's very closely related to his concept of schizoanalysis with Guattari. But in the method of dramatization specifically, they're bringing in not just the polytheistic potencies, it's potencies in general, which can be described in one valence as the gods. He's bringing them into the staging. It's a dramatization that the psyche and the world is a relationality of masks and disguises. And you follow these masks and disguises infinitely back in the manner of the infinitesimal toward what he calls the dark or obscure precursor, which is this idea that these are always receding potencies that are in constant relation. And sometimes the function of the relation between those forces or powers is to maintain their contrasting conflict and differentiation. So there are some conflicts that at least in the foreseeable future can never be merely reconciled. Like I don't really see Democrats and Republicans at any time in the near future becoming just an undifferentiated wholeness where these two modes of thought are just two fundamentally different. And if anything, I think if we're talking about politics, there's contrast between like a more totalitarian mode of thought and a more pluralist mode of thought. But the challenge for the pluralist democratic mode of thought is that you also have to take account of the fact that those totalitarian authoritarian people are part of this union. So it has to be a union of contrast, you know?
[02:07:17.939] Kent Bye: I think, yeah, there has to be at least a willingness to recognize the limitation of any perspective. And then once you recognize the limitation just from the girdle on completeness, you get this insight that any ideological view that's very fixed into what they think the nature of their perspective is absolutely correct, there's always going to be things outside of that, that they're missing, whether it's the perspective of the individual versus the perspective of the collective, there's going to be different considerations there from a political context. But to take it back to the philosophical aspect, because, you know, we could talk about how to solve the political situation. And I'm not, I think it sort of requires sort of like being comfortable in the tension of the opposites and sitting in the paradox of the not knowing and realizing the limitations of your perspective. And until that happens, of that open mindedness, then you're not going to get past that sort of entrenched polarizations that happen. But to go to Deleuze, because I want to sort of just highlight Deleuze's difference in repetition and what I got out of that chapter. And I got this sense that Deleuze really didn't want to have this level of negation that felt like a semantic liar's paradox trick where he was going to overcome the Hegelian dialectic by denying the Hegelian dialectic. but there's a paradoxical element that when you're denying that dialectic that then you're actually becoming the antithesis of the dialectic and you're actually embodying the dialectic in a way that maybe that doesn't quite exactly work for how he's trying to do that for Hegel but that for him he's trying to avoid the opposition and say well there's this larger class of difference that the opposition is a subsection of that larger class. And you use this as an analogy of just like Einstein was able to come up with general relativity, which there can still be an Newtonian physics of the subset of this larger Einsteinian physics that just the same, that what Deleuze is trying to do is create this broader definition of difference where there's a subsection of opposition that maybe has Hegel or different aspects of Whitehead of that negation. But there seemed to be this wanting to avoid the negation but yet not really able to actually succeed in doing that but that you said by doing that he was able to open up new modes of thought but expanding this from affirming and negating into this broader aspect of the difference And so the title of the book is this integration and difference. And so you're giving some nod to Deleuze in his book of the difference in repetition, but your book is the integration and difference. But I'd love to hear a little unpacking of Deleuze and how he's trying to avoid the negation.
[02:09:37.831] Grant Maxwell: Yeah, you're right. It's a paradox. And Deleuze loved paradoxes. He said paradoxes are the passion or the pathos of philosophy. Yeah, I mean, it's like, I mean, he almost says this explicitly somewhere that he's using Hegel as an enemy to push against and to forge his philosophy of difference, differential ontology. Most Deleuzians and Hegelians sort of reify this opposition between Deleuze and Hegel. It's almost like reducing their philosophies back to analytic philosophy or something like that, where it's like one has to win and the other loses. And I think both Deleuze and Hegel played into that tendency. You know, Hegel in basically saying, you know, he says in The Science of Logic that the dialectic is the one and only true method. And so he was very totalizing in his expression of the dialectic. But I think they're both susceptible to critique, and I think they're both partially aware of those critiques. So I think, you know, what we can have is de-centered Hegel, Hegelian dialectic, I think de-emphasize this concept of the absolute. And then with Deleuze, I think he copiously in other places recognized that this rejection of an other is the thing that he's trying to get past. I mean, he says his primary goal in philosophy is to overcome this system of judgment and denouncement. But he was a pretty young guy when he wrote Difference in Repetition. He was probably right about our age. I'm 43. So I think he was in his early 40s when he wrote Difference in Repetition. And he was using Hegel kind of as a wedge to create this novel mode of thought that has been just so deeply influential on the continental tradition. What I argue is that this negation of the Hegelian negative, it's like the denouncement of the Hegelian negative, it confirms the negative by negating it. It's like you can't escape negation through its own operation, because as soon as you negate the negative, you're still operating in terms of negation. It's very similar to what Nietzsche does in terms of, Heidegger says this about Nietzsche, that he's anti-Christian, he's anti-Christ, but he's still thinking anything that's anti-something is still thinking in relation to the thing it's against. And so there's that whole concept of the beautiful soul that I do this long section on, but it's basically what it comes down to is, it's sort of like the terror in the French revolution, where it's the revolutionaries denouncing each other. And, you know, now he has to go off to the guillotine and now the guy who sent him off to the guillotine, it's the counter revolutions to the counter revolutions. Everyone has to go to the guillotine. And I think you just kind of have to wait for that conflictual oppositional mode of thought to subside. And so if you read Difference and Repetition, paradoxically, it's almost like that central pillar of monocentric, monotheistic, egoic pillar that Deleuze constructs his system around and then removes the pillar from the middle. It's there in the book because he was using the Hegelian figure as the primary figure against whom he was constructing his philosophy. So what I try and do is show how they're actually more compatible in a lot of ways than Deleuze thought. And Jean Ball, one of Deleuze's very respected teachers, said this. And Catherine Malibu said this. And there are a lot of resonances between Hegel and between all of these other theorists. James was similarly really critical of Hegel. But you might recall that I argue that pragmatism is basically a pluralist inflection of the Hegelian dialectic. They're both modes of trying to go beyond the mode of thought where oppositions result in one side winning and the other side losing, basically.
[02:13:34.819] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, as I was looking in and listening to different things about Deleuze, he was really trying to get to the concepts and ideas. And I feel like, you know, in this conversation, we're getting into a lot of those concepts and ideas. But also, you mentioned that unlike Derrida, who has deconstruction, there isn't sort of a a system or a process that is as identifiable with Deleuze and his process of thinking, other than to call it Deleuzian. And so this chapter that you have gives a flavor, but also part of what Deleuze was doing in the first part of his career was to look at other thinkers and to analyze and provide a portal into those thinkers. And I feel like in the same way, this book is providing a portal into these thinkers And maybe just to finish with Stengers, because she did the book of thinking with Whitehead, which, you know, you mentioned how it wasn't just that she was doing scholarship around Whitehead, that she was actually thinking in collaboration with Whitehead and actually pushing the thought forward. And I don't know if that was an inspiration for you in this book to try to not only have you think with these thinkers, but have how each of these thinkers were thinking with each other and have this big conversation amongst all of these different theorists. That was the experience as I got to the end of reading this book was that how you were not only thinking with each of these thinkers in a similar way that Stingers was thinking with Whitehead, but that you were also having them think with each other in this conversation. So I'd love to have any thoughts on why is Stingers your current favorite living philosopher and some ways that she fits into this larger conversation of all these other thinkers that we've been talking about.
[02:15:04.445] Grant Maxwell: Yeah. Well, you know, to be honest, the way I initially got into Stengers was I was like, I'm writing about all white men here, and I really need to find some other voices. And so I'd heard about Stengers, and I just started reading her work, and it's really complex and difficult. And she's written a lot of books. And just as I got deeper and deeper into it, I just saw there were so many resonances between her work. Her biggest influences are, well, she talks a lot about Spinoza and Nietzsche, but her biggest influences are Leibniz. James, Bergson, Whitehead, and Deleuze. So it's like, she was writing about the same figures that I was thinking about, and with such depth. And reading her writing, it's a pleasure. This is really difficult. I don't know if you've read it in any of her work, but it's a really difficult pleasure. It's similar to Deleuze because it makes you push your attention to such an intense degree. But with Deleuze, there's sort of these violent, transgressive flashes and sudden movements. And with Stengers, it's this slow, subtle dissolving where you're like, this is kind of boring. And then by the end of the paragraph, you're like, it's this revelation. And you're not quite sure how you got from this is boring to I'm having a revelation right now. And there's not really one place in the paragraph where you can point out, oh, that's the moment where the revelation happened. It works on you on this almost subliminal level. And, you know, you're talking about how it's bringing all these figures into relation with each other. And one thing she returns to a lot is this idea that philosophy is a narrative. It's a narrative construction and it's fictional, but that doesn't mean it can be dismissed as merely fictional. That means that reality in general is a narrative construction within certain constraints. but they're much more looser and much more malleable than we usually think they are. Definitely, I was deeply influenced by Stengers. I didn't actually realize I was doing this until about halfway through the book, but I realized that what I was doing was putting it on a play with these different figures and trying to allow them to speak through my writing. Each of the chapters, I think, bends a little bit toward inevitably writing in the style of that thinker, although I hope I was able to offer a coherent voice to kind of tie it together. I think that's what philosophy is. Philosophy is the deepest register of the narrative through which we construct our relation to experience. And so, you know, we have all kinds of, you know, culture as a narrative that we tell ourselves. And philosophy is the slowest, most subtle version of that narrative. And it can take centuries for philosophical concepts, really obscure philosophical concepts to begin to permeate collective awareness and actually transform culture on a wide scale. So that, for instance, the terms pragmatism and idealism or deconstruction have come to permeate our collective awareness. Yeah, so I mean, I think that's the task of philosophers is to lay a deeper foundation by dissolving the foundations into more nuanced expressions in the interstices of the current modes of thought.
[02:18:26.669] Kent Bye: Yeah, well, this book, Integration and Difference, Constructing a Mythical Dialectic, it is bringing in a lot of thinkers that have been on my radar in terms of being process relational thinkers. And so I tend to do better with reading secondary literature. And so this was a great portal for me to be able to get a broader overview of the concepts and how they're in relationship to each other and how they're evolving. And for me, as I think about how this ties back to VR and why I'm putting this on my VR podcast is because I feel like You know, even I just did an interview with Pedro Jares, who got the second place prize at Venice. He got his degree in animation, and then he went to get a master's degree in philosophy because he said that some of the most interesting work that he's seen as a fan of film is bringing these different philosophical concepts into the media. And so I feel like virtual reality is going to be at the frontier of bringing in all these different process relational types of thoughts, because so many of these thinkers that you're talking about here are so focused on the direct embodied experiences. We have someone like Merleau-Ponty, which you don't cover here, but is trying to really bring back the body into the philosophical discourse. Like Brooks, I'm trying to bring in intuition and the radical empiricism of James and Whitehead. And I feel like there's a way in which that these thinkers are helping to form the theoretical foundations as we move forward into the media theory for helping to understand how to tell stories, how to engage experience. Perhaps, is there an immersive experience and you walk out of it understanding the fundamental concept that someone's talking about? And that's something that I would love to see. You have an embodied direct experience of some of these different thinkers and how they're in relationship to each other. We're still at the very early beginnings of virtual reality, but I'd love to hear any other thoughts you have in terms of the ways in which that technology and media could be a new form of, you know, because you started with English literature and studying these theorists of how literary theory and how that applies to the future of immersive experiences and virtual reality as you start to bring in some of these deep thinkers that you're bringing in conversation with in your book.
[02:20:25.084] Grant Maxwell: Yeah, I mean, you know, I've always been really fascinated by virtual reality, and I'm not an expert in it by any means, but I think I actually sent you a copy of, I wrote a little sort of young adult novel. It was actually the summer after I published Dynamics of Transformation, and I just got inspired to write this. I was reading Harry Potter and things like that to my older son and I was like, I'd like to write a novel about philosophy and virtual reality, but aimed towards children. So it's called Beyond Plato's Cave and it's mostly fun and to get kids interested in philosophy and to start thinking about issues relating to what is reality and how do we relate to reality? What happens to reality when you can create other more immersive ways of relating to reality? So what's so interesting about it is that it's an extension and a complexification of virtual reality of, you know, I think Terrence McKenna says this, that language and culture are already virtual realities. You know, this is the constructivist view that reality is constructed on its most basic level in terms of the structures that we create, just the physical structures, the buildings and the roads and the clothes that we wear and the way we groom ourselves and the way our bodily gestures and the kind of noises we make with our mouths and just so many of the things we take for granted as given are constructed. And I think virtual reality just opens up such a deeper domain that we could explore in terms of, you know, having other potentialities and constraints where we could go even farther than we do within our current potentialities and constraints. I'd be interested to hear more about what you and your other people you're having on the show and people you're talking to are thinking about this, because this is something I'm just sort of like an amateur fan of. So I'd love to engage with that more at some point. I've barely even done virtual reality. I mean, I've had a few virtual reality experiences and I thought they were really cool and I'd love to do more of it at some point.
[02:22:27.256] Kent Bye: I'll have to send you my episode 1000, which is a three hour retrospective featuring 120 different perspectives on the potentials in the future. And I guess final question to wrap things up here is that I think a lot about the ultimate potential of VR, which is a lot about the potential futures of what's possible in the future and this dialectic of what's possible and what's actual, these future potential archetypal forms as we move forward. As you think about philosophy as this potential, what do you think the ultimate potential of philosophy is and what it might be able to enable? Right.
[02:23:00.533] Grant Maxwell: Yeah. I mean, you know, it's like, I'm just completely in an imaginative way. I'm envisioning what if you enter into a virtual domain where you actually have these different philosophers embodied by people or by artificial intelligences, and you're acting out these figures, or you have the gods, you know, embodied by these different figures. And you could use that in a therapeutic context or in a recreational context. But how would you use it in a philosophical context? That would be so interesting to think of what a philosophy conference would be like in virtual reality, if you have Hegel in a symposium with Lao Tzu or something like that. It just seems like the possibilities are endless, and I'm just enthusiastic about where it's going to go.
[02:23:45.465] Kent Bye: Anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the broader immersive or philosophical community?
[02:23:50.646] Grant Maxwell: Well, I want to say to you, thank you so much for having me. This has been really fun, and I hope everyone who listens to it enjoyed it.
[02:23:58.499] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, Grant, thanks so much for writing this book. I'm really excited to have a portal to each of these different thinkers. And I hope folks within the immersive community, this will provide an on-ramp for them to be able to go and dig in more into the secondary literature and the primary literature. It's a process that you are continually taking each of those different layers. And I think that in a similar way that I think Tarnas was able to tell the history of Western philosophy and the passion of the Western mind as a book, you're able to tell different threads of this story of integration and difference through these 13 different thinkers in a way that takes you through time and allows you a portal into the limits of what they were thinking at the time and how their thoughts were picked up by other thinkers later and how they're all in dialogue with each other and influencing their thoughts. And yeah, so I really enjoyed reading through it and thanks for taking the time to help unpack it all. Yep. Thanks so much, Ken. So that was Grant Maxwell. He wrote a book called Integration and Difference, Constructing a Mythical Dialectic, focusing on philosophers including Derrida, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hegel, Nietzsche, Schelling, James, Bergson, Whitehead, Young, Deleuze, James Hellman, and Isabel Stingers. I'm going to keep my takeaways a little brief here, because that was probably one of the most dense and intense conversations I've ever put on to the Voices of VR podcast. I feel like it's conversations like this that I, myself, will be referring back to, because this is the type of conversation that I feel like is like an onion, where there's many different layers that, as you get a broader understanding, then you start to go back into the secondary literature and into the primary literature and start to peel back more and more of the different layers. But in essence, this kind of constructivist stream of pragmatist, speculative process thought, more leaning towards this pluralism and trying to integrate all these different aspects of radical empiricism and focusing on the direct embodied experience, but also the affect and intuition, you know, all these different aspects where a lot of philosophical debates that I see often gets reduced down into the mind-body and really focusing on the more rational parts versus the more empirical parts. And so, there's this mind-body dialectic, but lots of different dialectics between the analytic vs. the continental, the constructivist vs. deconstructionist, the quantitative vs. qualitative. It goes on and on and on. I think the way that we make sense of the world are, in some of these, what Maxwell is referring to, both Whitehead talking about these positive contrasts, which remain stubbornly incommensurable or Nietzsche talking about there's something higher than any reconciliation after not just reconciliation or return to this undifferentiated wholeness. And I think there's a lot of these different debates that we talk about that are in these realms of polarization or these mutually exclusive dialectics. And I think this turn towards trying to focus it on the mythical dialectic and that there's these multitude of pluralism of many different archetypal potentialities that are in conversation with each other, and that they have various different trade-offs between them, and that they are both adding together and being synthesized in different ways, but also they have their own unique qualities that are both in this process of differentiating, but also this process of integrating. There's this discernment and coming up with the differences, but then trying to come up with the synthesis and integration of those differences as a countervailing force, as well. When I think about the process of experiential design and VR in general, it's in these realms of potential. these virtual experiences are in contrast to the physical experiences that we have. Because of that, we're able to open up these new realms of potentiality and maybe explore things that we could not explore within other forms of media. Lots of different ways that I'll be referring back to this conversation again and again. I highly recommend folks to go check out Maxwell's book, Integration and Difference, Constructing a Mythical Dialectic, or his previous book, The Dynamics of Transformation, which may be providing a broader context for some of these deep dives into these different thinkers. Hopefully, after listening to this, you'll have enough context to be able to start to dig in. Looking forward to potentially expanding this out into other talks. There's some talks that I've given that flesh this out a little bit, specifically the keynote that I gave at StoryCon back on May 5th, 2022, that's called A Primer of Presence, Immersive Storytelling and Experiential Design, but also this talk that I gave to philosophers. on process philosophy that's digging into more of the foundations of experiential design that are two other references. And also, I recommend going back and listening to my interview with Matt Siegel, who's a Whitehead scholar, to give a little bit more context as well. So that's all I have for today. and I just wanted to thank you for listening to this epic Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a supported podcast and I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.