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Simulation, Contraction, Contemplation, Abstraction

by on April 18, 2013

Thought this article would work well with the reading for this week:

 http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/12/12/physicists-universe-simulation-test-university-of-washington-matrix_n_2282745.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

And though seemingly thoughtful professionals at a prestigious university are carrying out this research, I think it highlights some of my own reservations about their and DeLanda’s approach. After all if the greatest conclusion simulation can draw is that we ourselves exist merely in mere simulation, then I’m afraid it would be difficult for it escape just accusations of ideology and tautology. Indeed, if the results of such experiments are such it would seem to prove little more than simulation can simulate things. Draw whatever conclusion you like. The poverty of critical ontology and phenomenology in thought here is evident, and precisely that which Whitehead critiques. For no matter the extent to which one might be convinced that in the end human existence and our universe is mere simulation, what answers or deeper questions would be provided from this resignation? Not to mention that the experiment’s own results would at best tell us “it’s possible” that existence is simulation, which doesn’t really move beyond post-Matrix pop philosophy.

Anyway, the early chapters of the second half interested me in distinguishing animal non-symbolic representation from human language. Animals and humans his simulation claims are capable of conditioning. The emergence of associations between coupled objects or qualities, say a green light and a nut fits within DeLanda’s simulation, but what he fails to account for is exactly how. Yes animals are capable of habituation, but how exactly? The question is not how complex syntheses emerge from the successive recombinations of less complex material, the question is how does an animal or human understand delay? How for that matter does a simulation understand delay? This is where I think DeLanda fundamentally departs from Deleuze. For Deleuze repetition is capable of synthesis, of contraction., and contraction might be understood already as a sort of contemplation. It is ontological in a way and yet precedes human being, and human being especially the human present relies already upon another contraction that is abstraction. DeLanda emphasis on scientific or mechanistic simulation diverges widely from this contemplation and abstraction. His understanding of repetition and simulation proceed only in probabilistic recombination, which seems to run contrary to Deleuze.

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