Sunday, March 21, 2010


Paolo Virno's Multitude configures the Target register of the CATTt.  Our Target is a public policy issue, as it is manifested in the debates circulating in the public sphere, relative to our roles as consultants (egents) for the EmerAgency (a virtual consultancy).  The first step in seeking instructions from Virno is to situate his argument in the context of the history of philosophy (the discourse of our  Theory).  Virno himself identifies his work as addressing the problem of good judgment, prudence or phronesis, the virtue of practical reason.  Routine is constructed within a situation of our concern for a specific policy dilemma, requiring collective decision (deliberative rhetoric).  What should we do?

Virno explains the difficulty of this question, given that humans are open to the world, dis-oriented, indeterminate.  We will recognize in this description the terms of Aristotle's Ethics and Greek metaphysics (literacy) in general.  Literate metaphysics opened a plane of immanence to ontologize, identifying the reality of what exists in the substance of what is, the essence of entities, which is their nature, purpose, or end.  Aristotle named this essence with an invented portmanteau term, entelechy.  This concept (an operating principle of philsophy and hence also a concept in D&G's terms) is Aristotle's answer to Plato's question, asking about the relationship between being and becoming.  Plato proposed chora (space, a receptacle of mediation) as a solution, but Aristotle introduced time:  a thing becomes what it already is.  Reality has two dimensions:  the potential and the actual (dunamis and energeia). An acorn is a potential oak, and its actualization or becoming over time is guided by this inner nature.

In his Ethics Aristotle asked after the inner nature of humans.  What is our end (telos) or purpose?  Humans are unique in nature in that our own choices (proairesis) are included in our becoming.  There is nonetheless a guiding principle.  Human purpose is well-being, our goal or end is to thrive.  A measure of our well-being is in the experience of happiness.   Here is the immediate connection of Virno with our CATTt so far.  Theory and Contrast (D&G and Marchand), philosophy and commerce, are in a dialogical struggle to define the terms and construct the concepts most relevant for practical reason in electracy.  Virno now adds a philosophical approach to the arguments organizing the policy debates themselves, with a proposal for how to innovate within practical reason.

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