You are on page 1of 10

Neuropolitics by William Connolly

Politics not reducible to genetically wired brain responses.
Neuropolitics is politics through which cultural life mixes with into composition of body/brain
processes, and vice-versa.
Technique and discipline play critical role in thinking, ethics and politics.
Thinking has creative and compositional dimensions.
Creative: means by which new ideas and concepts come into being.
Compositional: ways thinking helps to shape brain connections, habits, sensibilities and corporeal
Cannot ignore affective dimensions and somatic entanglements.
Inventive and creative dimensions of thinking are essential to freedom of the self.
Neuroscience and film as forwarding cultural theory.
Issues engaged to advancing a form of political pluralism appropriate to acceleration of speed,
compression of distance and multidimensional diversity.
Compression of distance refers to the time required to mobilize people, ideas, newspapers, military, etc
across large spaces of territory.
Biology mixed into culture and thinking, and nature folded into both. Every theory of culture has
relation to biology.
Where is neuroscience in the body/brain/culture relations?
Three criticisms of neuroscience/culture intersection. 1. Neuroscience experiments individual, culture
collective 2. How denial, repression, etc can take place without traumatic brain injury 3. Neurological
processes cannot capture the quality or essence of phenomenological experiences, even though they
may correlate.

Updated mind-body fusion of Spinoza with neuroscience.
Affect front and central in contemporary neuroscience.
Brain can remap itself. Echoes Spinoza and Merleau-Ponty in reconstituting its body image. When this
is done, sensory stimuli are felt on different body parts.
Film mobilizes affect and demonstrates how it can take place outside of celluloid world.
According to Bergson, sensory material must be substracted to enable action-oriented perception.
Today many cultural and political theorists believe that politics and ethics should or do consist solely of
Critical theorists contest this but argue subliminal influences reducible to modes of manipulation or
behavioural management to be overcome in a rational or deliberative society.
Some criticize the enchantment of politics, others affirm it through constructed character of culture,
nature, or desire.
The latter often do not go deep enough and instead look at how layers become sedimented.
Culture constituted in part by the perceptions, beliefs, and concepts in it. Thought enters into it the
subjective and intersubjective dimensions. Tensions and dissonance can arrise.
Techniques of the self and of micropolitics are critical to an expansive ethos of pluralization, and also
closed regimes exposed to such an ethos. They intervene at various points in between.
[Contrast neurological understanding of affect with sublime?]
For Bergson, perception has two dimensions. The event you encounter and memory without

recollection/virtual memory combine to turn encounter into a perception.

Virtual memory is also motor memory. Exists below level of explicit awareness to create motor
movements and independent recollections.
Perception is quick as it must be in order to influence action.
Perception not pure and unmediated. Guided by concerns of possible action, and rapid conjunctions
between action and event creating connections to other virtual memories.
Organization of perception renders it too slow for the pace of life.
In emergency, explicit image gives way to rapid information processing without image. The image
comes after and you realize the action you took after the fact, i.e, realize you steered swiftly to avoid an
oncoming car. Caused by crude but lightning fast processing of amygdala. Infra-perception.
Perception oriented to action and does not call attention to itself.
Each virtual memory has a charge of affect within it. They are mobilized to mediate an encounter and
turn sensation into experience. They move thinking and judgement in one direction or aother, and thus
they are already underway before they enter consciousness.
Neuroscience moving towards enactive model of the mind where brain systems dependent on bodily
zones of perception.
Somatic markers are culturally mobilized, corporeal dispositions through which affect-imbued,
preliminary orientations to perception and judgement scale down the material factored into cost-benefit
analyses, principles judgements, and reflective experiments.
Operates below threshold of reflection and mixes in culture and nature into perception, thinking and
judgements' folds gut feelings into these mixtures.
Helps make decisions. Make it possible to perceive and decide in a timely manner. Also fold into the
subtractions and accentuation elements that can be dangerous, unwanted, or cruel like a racial bias or
jerking wheel into an oncoming car.
Somatic markers not equivalent to biologically wired predispositions. Have intersubjective and
linguistic elements mixed in to them.

The virtual is action-oriented memories below explicit recollection at the moment, and also intensive
traces and fragments that have effects on judgement and consciousness in new encounters without
themselves being susceptible to explicit recollection.
Three layers of memory: 1. Explicit memories called up by existing situation 2. Potential recollections
that operate implicitly in action-contexts because time too short to take form as reflections 3. Effect of
past on the present.
Cultural pluralists adopt racial images of culture, just as nativists and nationalists do. Cultural
pluralists inject biological concept of race into the base of culture.
Nativists seek racial purity while pluralists seek racial diversity. However, they are still succepitble to
causing pluralist racism.
Culture defined as concepts, beliefs and practices for Michaels (who puts forward this concept of
pluralism and nativism)
Difference multifaceted. On one level, is a minority differentiated from the majority [minoritarian in
Deleuze]. On another, it is a minority that differs from other constituencies where there is no majority.
On a third level, it is an identity that is obscured, suppressed, or remaindered by its own dominant
Culture involves practices in which there is more noise, unstated habit, and differential intensities of
affect than rationalists acknowledge.
Every conception of culture, identity, ethics, or thinking contains an image of nature.
Systems in equilibrium versus disequilibrium. A system in equilibrium is one in which its conditions
are maintained despite environmental changes.
Dissipative structures have internal unpredictability through self-determination and openness to outside

Matter an effect of becoming.

Bergson focuses on how self-regulating biological systems generate, through a series of interactions
between virtual capacities and the external forces to which the system is open, forks ushering new
forms of life into being.
Accordion model of language to explain nonhuman animals. While they do not have language, certain
animals like crocodiles and monkeys adopt some aspects of it.
Conception of culture required where biology mixed into every layer of culture.
thinking, for Nietzsche, involves a complex process of discord and coordination among multiple
theatres of activity. Consciousness is too small to perform thinking on its own. Philosophizing
restricted to conscious thinking, but that area s least vigorous and most prone to be led astray about
nature of knowledge.
Philosophers give too much self-sufficiency to consciousness and limit thinking too much to discovery
of knowledge. Limit themselves to part of thinking where logic takes place.
Consciousness itself pre-organized and moved by modes of thinking below its reach. Without them,
consciousness would be flat. This aspect has danger to it.
On lower levels, there is filtering of sensory material which some of enters into side perceptions that
might become available later. There are proto-thoughts which process already reduced perceptions
further so that consciousness can use them.
With this intralayered character of thinking, there is powerful pressure to assimilate new things to old
habits of perception and linguistic equalization.
[Too much emphasis on cognitive thinking instead of feeling?]
For Kant, creative aspects of thinking mean raising to a higher register; transcendence. [Connolly
instead it goes downwards]
Affect is biological, and Nietzsche folds it into thinking. [Affect counter to transcendence and
Without affect, thinking would lack creativity. But it also gives it the volatility of nature.

Nietzsche's texts encourage the movement of affect. The writing encourages an encounter between the
reading and where Nietzsche is going.
[Nietzsche as the affective thinker]
For Steven Shaviro, cinema affirms the power of the body and sees subordination of the flesh as
stimulus for thought and a necessary condition.
Importance of affect in mobility of thought does not discredit role of language. Linguistic distinctions
mixed into affective states. [No they are not. They are sensory]
Language makes affect less brutish. [Affect must be translated into language? Thinking is linguistic]
Affect involved in process by which what is outside of thought is rendered inside thought.
Process by which outside of thought enters into thought is magical
Thought not restricted to individual. Affect across bodies.
Thoughts invested with affects. This explains why we are so loyal to thoughts.
Recent neuroscience demonstrates the indispensable aspect of affect to thought.
Region in the breast that communicates with the brain to convey intense feelings of fear, anxiety, terror,
disgust. Thinking mixed in with these intensities. Some felt, some below level of feeling.
Aesthetic judgements falls under jurisdiction of supersensible realm. To judge something beautiful is to
attain a spontaneous accord of the faculties that expresses the dictates of the supersensible realm
without being able to conceptualize them.
Naturalism refers to idea that all human activities function without aid of divine or supernatural forces.

This naturalism goes against lawlike model of nature in classical natural science. Emphasizes how
culture gets differentially mixed into natural processes.
Eliminative naturalism is a philosophy that reduces the experience of consciousness to non-conscious
Mechanical naturalism denies any role to a supersensible field while finding both human nature and
structure of human brain to be in principle to precicse representation and complete explanation.
These two types of naturalism not prominent today.
Immanent naturalism does not refute the transcendental but places it in a field where nature and culture
are mixed.
Consciousness emerges as a layer of thinking, feelings, and judgement bound to complex operations
that enable and exceed it.
Immanent field not immaterial. It is infrasensual.
Deleuze an immanent naturalist.
Thinking is defined as the activities through which conclusions and judgements are reached and new
connections among ideas are generated.
Amygdala enters intensities into thinking.
Conceptual connections formed in conscious thinking are notoriously irreducible to casual explanation,
and the rapid, parallel systems that both affect judgement directly and project thought-imbued
intensities into consciousness may be too fast and variable in intensity to submit to close, situational
computation as well.
Know-how over propositional knowledge. Moving away from calculative, information processing
model of the mind.
Deleuze projects a virtual register of proto-thoughts that are too fast for either conscious self-inspection
or close third-person retrieval. Meshes with consideration how affective tendencies in thought propel in

one direction or another.

Deleuze reads Kant's governance of thought as saying thought inspired, terrorized, or nudged into
action by strange encounters.
Affect imbued thinking already underway, for Deleuze, by time consciousness emerges to pull it in one
direction or another.
Thinking involves synthesis in the present between a constructed past and a yet to be consolidated
An ethical sensibility is composed through cultural layeing of affect into the materiality of thought.
Thought imbued intensities below level of feeling, and thought imbued feelings below level of
linguistic sophistication. [Literal reading of feeling?] Images trigger responses at both levels, and create
linguistic narratives, arguments, and judgements.
[Connolly attempts to maintain rationalist model of deliberation, and also the individual.]
Micropolitics in Deleuzian sense refers to a cultural collectivization and politicization of arts of the
self. [or does it go below the self?]
Applies tactics to layers of intersubjective being. Often mobilized in competitive situations thus giving
it an agonistic aspect.
Arts of the self. We can mediate our ontological state to some regard. [Counter to the event?]
You can choreograph yourself for particular affective or non-affective outcomes.
Freud's interpretation of Moses as a counter-story to the official one filtered through the Old Testament.
Collective memory derived from sacred text.
Memory traces are fragments that does not take form of an explicit recollection. They are enough like a

thought to affect linguistically sophisticated thoughts and judgements.

It is too fast to be recollected, but can be interpretted in psychoanalysis.
Trauma can cause traces. Sight or smell triggers the trace back to a painful memory.
Memory traces are virtual, meaning real without being actual. They exert effects without being refined
enough to be direct objects of inspection.
Religious experience below level of intellectual consciousness, but radiates. [Biological?]
Biological rooting of mystical states. Are some people more biologically able to have mystical
experiences than others?
Amygdala not of concern when it comes to emotions like disgust and happiness.
Mystical states have absolute authority over the individual in which they exist. They break down
authority of non-mystical or rationalistic consciousness based on understanding and the senses.
Contemporary culture characterized by a fast pace of innovation, change and replacement through
obsolution. Fast pace of fashion and war threaten democratic politics.
Thinking, culture, and ethics are stratified processes.
Ethical judgement underway before you tend to it consciously.
Time contains rifts where the future forks into new and unexpected directions. It is in this rift where
becoming takes place where new flows surge into being. Politics is rendered both possible and
dangerous in the rift
Aliens not only those within a country without citizens rights, but also those beings coded as strange
whose presence is threatening to natives.

Artistry is when people act upon themselves to become what they are. Derived from Nietzsche.
Nietzsche equates difference between conscious and nonconscious thinking with that between general
cultural orientations and thought-imbued intensities unique to each individual.
Cultural insubjectivities becomes mixed into corporeal habits through affectional ties.
Projection into future or established judgement of conduct can be thrown into crisis by unexpected
events or new movements in the politics of becoming.
Question of speed indebted to Paul Virilio, who enters speed into considerations of global politics.
Virilio says when speed accelerates, space is compressed.
Kant's era was characterized by slow pace.
Human agency insufficient to realize Kant's cosmopolitan ideal. Slow pace of history allows Kant to
supersede human agency.
Unlike Kant who believes western civilization has a universalizing property, Huttington believes
Western Civilization transcends a particular state and must be protected from migration.
For Kant and Huntington, culture emerges in the individual and radiates to the nation through the
In fast paced world, The West cannot be self-sustaining.
You may associate with people more on a global level further away from you then those in your own