Modulating Appetite

From Mary Wyman’s 1960 book on Whitehead is this example of creativity as part of a general process of concrescence (as becoming):

This actualization of potentiality as an ingredient in something real might be illustrated by the experience of Otto Lilienthal, pioneer inventor of the flying glider. Process here is obviously considered on a scale of some magnitude. The initial stage for him may be his preoccupation with winged creatures and their manner of flight—the inflow of the material world. The potentiality of the past probably includes for him also inherited mechanical and engineering ability. As process continues, we may imagine his concepts of gravity, equilibrium, and control intermingling with his observations on the flying of birds, possibly in part derived from them. The lure, which guides the how of feeling, would seem to be particularly associated with Lilienthal’s novel belief in the superiority of a curved rather than a flat surface for the flight of machines heavier than air. Here also the element of contrast is introduced. A driving urge or purpose, which we ascribe to the persuasive power of the lure is intensified by contrasts, and results in the satisfaction of producing a flying glider covering distances up to 1000 feet. The glider then as a novelty passes into objective immortality; but its value in a material world has been chiefly its lure to further progress in the evolving of the airplane. (23-24)

She later describes the general dimensions of this process using Whitehead’s philosophy terminology:

In expressing a subject’s concern for a selected portion of the universe, the term feeling is synonymous with positive prehension or the appriation of data to serve as components of a subject’s concresence, the growing together of its formative elements in the process of becoming. Important too is a negative prehension that eliminates incompatible elements from feeling. It should already be clear that feelings, in accordance with the idea of physical and mental poles in an occasion, may be physical; arising through the senses from the actual world, or conceptual, involving ideas derived from the actual world. Often a combination of the two types of prehension, and is called by Whitehead hybrid or impure. Examples of conceptual feeling are appetition and valuation: the first, awakening purpose and allied with God’s immanence in the world, he has described as “an urge toward the future based on an appetite in the present.” Valuation is the subjective form or how of feeling, which in its decisions, purposeful or otherwise may increase or diminish intensity. Consciousness comes with intensity of feeling, with a comparison of what may be with what is not, or with a yes or no judgment on a proposition. The union of physical and conceptual prehensions is seen comparative feelings, where the datum to be entertained as a lure for feeling may be a theory or a proposition. Feelings or prehensions of whatever type are subject to the persuasive power of the lure, and are causal links in the successive phases of concresence that should end in satisfaction. Feeling is thus a central factor in the process of becoming. (28)

The relation between Lilienthal’s earth-bound existance and that of flight is the relation between two milieus. Lilienthal’s apprehension of the technical function of the curved bird’s wing is derived through a creative process of discovery; what Michael Polanyi described in the context of  exploration practices as the “daring anticipation of reality”. For Whitehead the curvature of the bird’s wing and its translation into technical knowledge represents the process of concrescence whereby the ‘eternal object’ of the curved wing is potentialised in practice. In Deleuzian philosophy Whitehead’s ‘eternal objects’ are instead termed ‘singularities’. Milieus that are integral to the process of individuation, which in this case is the individuation of the technical object of a glider and the technical knowledge of gliding as a practice of flight, Gilbert Simondon calls “associated milieus”. An aesthetics of the composition of singularities that can be ‘immortalised’ as objective technical knowledge is premised on the intermingling in experience of ‘feelings’ from one milieu to another. I am interested in the way knowledge is developed through the creation of relations between milieus and the function in the contemporary era of media assemblages to facilitate (or constrain) such relations. Compositions of tacit and explicit knowledge commonly circulate in everyday life through various genres of media content.

Whitehead’s “lure of feeling” serves as what Deleuze calls “quasi-cause” for a current action implicated in a future event that is nevertheless already happening, such as the intermingling in experience of the future event of flight. The process of concrescence or individuation proceeds according to a complex virtual architecture of such ‘lures’. I am interested in the polical economy in the niche or subcultural media for the (re)presentation of material dimensions of such events. A great deal of enthusiast practice is mobilised through the presentation of ritualised (and therefore valorised) events that produce a relation between one milieu, for example belonging to the suburban garage, and the event(s) of an associated milieu, such as the event ‘to race’ of the milieu belonging to the racetrack.

The relations between milieus are necessarily transversal in character. There is no direct correspondence between actions belonging to bodies of different events except through a conceptual or theoretical valuation of the ‘feelings’ that belong to each of the milieus. This is a complex ever-shifting exchange of causality between the present and the future (recently dramatised, for example, in Looper). Ultimately, what is at stake is not the recognition of value as per the practices of judgement associated with the sociology of taste developed by Pierre Bourdieu, but the actualisation of value as a creative practice through as aesthetics of technical practice. The condition of possibility for judgement, where judgement is still an essential element in this process of valuation, is appetite. By turning to Whitehead it is possible to finally do away with the notion of disinterested interest (inherited from Kant). Appetition for Whitehead is not a quality of the sensuous or necessarily affective character of bodies, but the joining of a physical state of affairs (hunger, thirst, restlessness of an earth-bound body) with a conceptual prehension (to eat, to drink, to fly). Spinoza is clear on this; from Ethics:

When this striving is related only to the mind, it is called will; but when it is related to the mind and body together, it is called appetite. This appetite, therefore, is nothing but the very essence of man, from whose nature there necessarily follow those things that promote his preservation. And so man is determined to do those things.

Between appetite and desire there is no difference, except desire is generally related to men insofar as they are conscious of the appetite. So desire can be defined as Appetite together with consciousness of the appetite.

From all this, then, it is clear that we neither strive for, nor will, neither want, nor desire anything because we judge it to be good; on the contrary, we judge something to be good because we strive for it, will it, want it, and desire it. (III P9 S)

Specialist media circulate cultural capital not for the pursposes of mobilising judgement, although this is certainly a consquence, but for the commercial advantages of modulating appetite. The shift from print-based media to online web-based and platform-based media has affected the composition of relations between milieus, the character of knowledge that can be circulated, and the capacity to modulate the aspirational ‘active’ affects of enthusiasts mobilised to engage with the purpose of events as they populate a given scene. The Code2012 paper I am currently woking on finishing discusses the impact of the democratisation of practices of valorisation in the mobilisation of enthusiasts.

Bogost’s Philosophical Carpentry of what?

During my trip last weekend back to Perth for an old school friend’s wedding, I woke up at about 3am in the midst of a jet lag and impending lecture writing anxiety, and couldn’t get back to sleep. I thought this was an appropriate time to read the ‘Carpentry’ chapter of Ian Bogost’s recent book Alien Phenomenology. The forthcoming ‘Nonhuman Turn’ conference is streaming its plenaries, and Bogost is delivering a talk about “The Aesthetics of Philosophical Carpentry”, so I am looking forward to seeing how Bogost develops his thinking about ‘carpentry’ into the aesthetic realm.

Bogost had tweeted that he’d received a 1-star negative review on so I had a look and noticed another reviewer (5-stars) suggested that the book was worth reading just for the Carpentry chapter. The OOOer’s world is full of (post)grad student fanbois who dis/like certain OOOing so I’d take any user-generated review, be it positive or negative, with a healthy dose of skepticism. Unless, of course, it is backed up with a thorough analysis that at least demonstrates that the reviewer has read the book. I was intrigued that this reviewer singled out a chapter as worth the ‘price of admission’ so I decided to return to Bogost’s book.

Yes, ‘return’. I read the first chapter and filed the Kindle ebook away under ‘when I have more time’. The first chapter largely rehearses the OOO ‘origin story’ without any substantial development (something Goldsmiths, something Meillassoux, etc.). I like the rhetorical move of announcing that ‘speculative realism’ is an event and discussing it as such; it is an example of the sort of thing I would do (what I would call ‘event mechanics’, OOO-as-event presents a very straight-forward analysis). Bogost does a bit of discourse analysis, historical analysis, media archaeology and so on.

For example, ‘correlationism’ could happily be defined is a Foucaultian style ‘statement’ configuring the field of OOO discourse. Yeah? Organising compositions of power relations and so on. How? Enter Bogost: “to proceed as a philosopher today demands the rejection of correlationism”. The scholarly field becomes happily organised for OOOers into those who reject ‘correlationism’ and therefore can be regarded as ‘doing philosophy’, versus those who do not, for whatever reason, perhaps because they think the ‘problem’ of correlationism isn’t one. Bogost references Alain Badiou’s ‘decisionist’ conception of the event. (‘Decisionist’ moniker comes from Badiou’s reading of Spinoza, see that Pli essay on it.) I’d argue it is far closer to what Foucault called a ‘discourse event’, a kind of ‘order of objects’. Philosophy itself is transformed through the articulation/enunciation (or denunciation) of ‘correlationism’. What does this incorporeal transformation of philosophy herald? Bogost is clear, “it names a moment when the epistemological tide ebbed, revealing the iridescent shells of realism they had so long occluded.”

That first egg was named “Thought”. Tathagata Buddha, the Father Buddha, said, “With our thoughts, we make the World”. Elemental forces caused the egg to hatch. From it then came a stone monkey. The nature of Monkey was irrepressible!

Anyway, it is a pity that no one (at least that I am aware of, even from the regular OOO blogs) has carried out an OOO analysis of the OOO ‘origin story’. I would find this fascinating. Mainly because it would force the OOOer fanbois to forego the cult of personality surrounding key OOO figures… unless these figures are ‘objects’ but that would be a waste of an analysis surely, why detour through ‘objects’ at all? Or maybe we’d end up with a kind of analysis of OOO following Alliez’s Signature of the World (following Deleuze and Guattari) where the concept of the ‘object’ has its own autonomy? Or maybe Bogost wasn’t doing philosophy yet, so early into the book. This would be a curious response, in the sense that an OOO analysis of OOO should be possible, considering that OOO is meant to celebrate “stuffs [as enjoying] equal being no matter their size, scale, or order” (Bogost). Maybe OOO needs a non-OOO introduction so as to be sensible to first timers? (A bit like the birth of Monkey born from an egg on a mountain top.) Hmmm. I don’t think my ‘off hand’ point regarding the non-OOO presentation of OOO is inconsequential, however. (As opposed to the ‘ready-to-hand’ critique of ‘correlationism’ bandied about by those who don’t seem to follow or even have read Meillassoux’s argument.) Does irony exist for objects? (Less ‘molar’, Deleuzian: What is machinic irony?) Regardless, this is clearly a case of ‘theory’ irony.

Oh, and the Carpentry chapter. Bogost launches into a critique of writing, in particular scholarly writing, and then develops what he names “carpentry” as the “practice of constructing artifacts as a philosophical practice” which “entails making things that explain how things make their world”. I am currently researching ‘know-how’ as an experience-based form of practical knowledge and in particular the ‘how to’ article as a key text in discourses of ‘know-how’, so Bogost’s invocation of carpentry was at least interesting.

Of course, my PhD was on enthusiasm, the creative industries and modified-car culure, plus having come out of an ‘aspirational’ working class context I actually built a few cars in my late teens and early twenties. That and I worked on a mine site to pay for the cars. I’ve always approached philosophy as a kind of ‘mechanics’, not in the classical physics sense, but an in-the-garage-under-the-hood sort of way. Hence, the title of this blog. I spend a week in my first year foundation unit discussing what these ‘tacit knowledges’ are required for the practice of research. I’ve discussed this a number of times on this blog drawing primarily on Michael Polanyi and then go from there. To be clear, I don’t think Bogost is advocating this kind of ‘tacit knowledge’ approach, even though this is the approach of Matthew B. Crawford in his book Shop Class as Soulcraft, who Bogost cites. Well, I didn’t think Bogost was advocating this kind of approach until I got to the concluding section of this chapter (see below). On the other hand, Crawford is clearly arguing this, i.e. “real knowledge arises through confrontation with real things”. For more on Crawford’s book, see my review from a number of years ago. My position is very similar except I’m interested in a more sophisticated appreciation of experience, and a better understanding of how ‘know-how’ is circulated through media, etc.

It is unclear exactly what Bogost is arguing. Bogost: “The carpenter […] must contend with the material resistance of his or her chosen form, making the object itself become the philosophy.” Ok, kind of Polanyi-Crawford-ish here. And then when he introduces his first two examples of “philosophical software carpentry” he describes them as “ontographical tools meant to characterize the diversity of being”. When discussing the unintended (‘sexist’) consequences of one of these tools, he suggests changing it would lead to it losing its “ontographical power”. What is its philosophical accomplishment? Bogost:

[It’s] philosphical accomplishment comes from the question it poses about the challenge flat ontology and feminism pose to one another. On the one hand, being is unconcerned with issues of gender, performance, and its associated human politics; indeed, tiny ontology invites all beings to partake of the same ontological status, precisely the same fundamental position as many theorists would take ob matters of identity politics. But on the other hand, the baggage of wordly stuff still exerts a political challenge on human experience that cannot be satisfactorily dismissed with the simple mantra of tiny ontology. The [accidently sexist ontographic tool] hardly attempts to answer these questions, but it does pose them in a unique way thanks to carpentry.

Hmmm. The univocity of being is indeed irrelevant for most real world situations. I can’t help but feel Bogost is ignoring the bits of Crawford that don’t fit within the anti-correlationist party line. Take Crawford’s axiomatic statement that “real knowledge arises through confrontation with real things”. Ok, what are the ‘real things’ in the accidently sexist ontagraphic tool example? An image of a Playboy bunny randomly selected from Flickr? The OOO event website with sexist image as viewed by two female scholars? The code of the website? All of them? What is the ‘real knowledge’ produced then? Does a flat ontology privilege the reality of some things over others? No, of course not! That would be entirely against the point of the concept. Yet, there is a clear contradiction here. Crawford’s “real things” are only ‘real’ because of their relationality and implication in the production of “real knowledge” as part of the experience of being a mechanic/carpenter/whatever. This is precisely the kind of position disavowed by OOO as ‘correlationist’.

The experiences of things can be characterized only by tracing the exhaust of their effects on the surrounding world and speculating about the coupling between that black noise and the experiences internal to an object. […]
The phenomenologist who performs carpentry creates a machine that tries to replicate the unit operation of another’s experience. Like a space probe sent out to record, process, and report information, the alien phenomenologist’s carpentry seeks to capture and characterize an experience it can never fully understand, offering a rendering satisfactory enough to allow the artifact’s operator to gain some insight into an alien thing’s experience.

How did the accidently sexist ontagraphic tool gain any insight of an alien thing’s experience? Or is ‘woman’ not sufficiently ‘alien’ for ‘man’? Or is it a case of the ‘alien’ experience of those specific women and the haecceitty of an unfortunately sexist OOO event website? Has OOO somehow managed to overcome relations of alterity? These aren’t fair questions, perhaps, as it would be ridiculous to suggest an OOO version of the differend, as this would make Bogost’s entire project untenable. But what does this ‘carpentry’ do?

Bogost’s I am TIA project sounds pretty cool. Through a metaphorical lens it characterizes (Bogost prefers ‘characterizes’, it seems, as compared to ‘represents’) the experience of a ‘television interface adaptor’ of an Atari VCS. Cool! Now what?

The Tableau Machine example illustrates how a ‘machinic’ perspective of a home “helps deliver the home’s residents out of anthropocentricism” (Bogost, citing Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter 120). Good! So what? Can we infer that Bogost (or maybe Benett) is implying that the residents are transformed akin to Felix Guattari’s introduction of ‘transversal’ practices into the psychiatric institution of La Borde and his hopes for the reconstitution of subjectivity etc?

The concluding section of Bogost’s chapter is titled “A New Radicalism”. He says that “real radicals […] make things” and challenges OOO to “become craftsmanship, challenging us to learn a trade”. Maybe Bogost is not aware of the whole “philosophy as toolbox, concepts as tools” notion from an interview between Foucault and Deleuze, or the development of Serres’s work on the invention of physics into what Deleuze and Guattari called a ‘minor science’ in A Thousand Plateaus. The purpose of mentioning Polanyi above was that he goes to great lengths to indicate how all abstract (‘explicit’) knowledges are premised on ‘tacit knowledges’. Or even Harman has noted that Heidegger discussed the extraction of ‘theory’ as part of a scholastic disposition from experience (in one of Heidegger’s very early lectures).

Bogost then returns to Crawford (his colleague Hugh or Soulcraft’s Matthew B.? I think it is meant to be Matthew B.) in the concluding passage to this chapter:

When people or toothbrushes or siroccos make sense of encountered objects, they do so through metaphor. As Whitehead and Latour suggest, this process requires creative effort, challenging OOO to become craftsmanship, challenging us to learn a trade. We tend to think of creativity as construction, the assembly of something new out of known parts. A novel is made of words and ink and paper, a painting of pigments and canvas and medium, a philosophy of maxims and arguments and evidence, a house of studs and sheetrock and pipes. Perhaps in the future, following Crawford’s example, radical philosophers will raise not their fists but their hammers.

Now I am really confused. Bogost seems to be collapsing two kinds of experience. One that is developed in humans, following Crawford’s axiom “real knowledge arises through confrontation with real things”, and the experience that objects have of whatever (the other objects that constitute their ‘environment’ in the ecological/systems sense?). That is not the confusing thing however. Confusing is, firstly, the suggestion that any objects whatsoever “make sense of encountered objects” as Bogost has not discussed ‘sense’ at all, at least not in any way that correlates with philosophies of sense that I am familiar with (vaguely Frege or Deleuze), and secondly that this sense making is carried out through “metaphor”. Hmmm… Bogost has described how human philosophers have created artifacts that offer a metaphorical representation of machinic experience, not how those actual objects have used metaphor (or some kind of machinic equivalent…?) to “make sense”. I can understand a multiplicity of experiences (this experience is as singular as that experience), but the simple projection of anthropomorphic concepts like ‘sense’ or ‘metaphor’ from the OOO philosophical domain and using them to ‘characterise’ the existence of objects is contradictory (and that is putting it mildly) of what would seem to be the basic tenets of OOOism. What is all this gruff talk about ‘taking objects seriously’ if objects are reduced to being mere vehicles of philosophical metaphor?

Deleuze and Ryle: Ontogenetic Dimension of Knowledge?

In Peter Kügler‘s recent essay titled “Sense, Category, Questions” he compares Gilbert Ryle’s concept of ‘category’ to Gilles Deleuze’s concept of ‘sense’ in an analogical way. I am interested in Kügler’s essay because I am just about to finish an article on ‘know-how’ coming from a very different perspective, but which touches on Ryle’s book Concept of Mind and draws heavily on Deleuze’s empiricism. Using a Deleuzian terminology, Kügler compares the virtual dimensions of Ryle’s ‘category’ and its relation to language and Deleuze’s concept of ‘sense’ and its relation to language, although Kügler does not frame it as such. The closest Kügler comes to this is in his explanation of the relation between sense and the singular (virtual) problematic actualised through/as expression (sense):

the idea is a problem, and the problem is a set of questions. Strictly speaking, ‘The problem is a set of questions’ is a kind of slogan that we may use for the sake of convenience. It would be more precise to say that the problem is an entity in its own right whose various parts or aspects can be grasped by asking appropriate questions.

Kügler continues the explanation in related footnotes:

The term ‘event’ belongs to this list, too, as sense is said to be ‘an incorporeal, complex, and irreducible entity, at the surface of things, a pure event which inheres or subsists in the proposition’ (Deleuze 2004b: 22). Another ‘surface entity’ is the concept, which ‘speaks the event’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1994: 21). ‘All concepts are connected to problems without which they would have no meaning [sens]’ (16). Except that concepts are supposed to be solutions of problems, they have much in common with the latter. In particular, they are ‘not propositional’ (22). To keep the discussion simpler, however, I refrain from considering these notions of event and concept. I will reserve the word ‘concept’ for Ryle who uses it for a linguistic entity.

As indicated in the previous note, sense inheres or subsists, but does not exist. Furthermore, it is a dual entity on the border between world and language: ‘It is rather the coexistence of two sides without thickness, such that we pass from one to the other by following their length. Sense is both the expressible or the expressed of the proposition, and the attribute of the state of affairs. It turns one side toward things and one side toward propositions’ (Deleuze 2004b: 25). Thus, sense is something very peculiar, to say the least.

It is fascinating to read Kügler’s analysis as he is clearly far more familiar with Ryle’s work and the tradition of linguistics to which it now (in part) belongs. I’ve also been reading some contemporary engagements from logical epistemologists re-engaging with Ryle’s arguments.

My interest is that I am trying to think through a given situation where ‘know how’ is developed through experience; it is a form of knowledge that actualises a problematic (and in a sense provides a ‘solution’) without becoming explicit as such. In other words, it is knowledge that cannot be expressed in language as a proposition in any normative sense. ‘Know how’ inheres or subsists through bodies-in-action (or as Massumi might argue bodies-in-motion), and can be ‘read’ by others who can appreciate the ‘know how’ in terms of an embodied/material/machinic regime of signification (or what Deleuze and Guattari, and in particular Guattari, call a-signifying semiotics). Theorists of organisational studies have grappled with this problem in terms of ‘tacit knowledge’ (following Michael Polanyi).

What is interesting in terms of Ryle’s account, and what most contemporary readers of Ryle’s argue is incorrect, is that every form of ‘knowing that’ requires ‘knowing how’ too. From my Deleuzian perspective, this is uncontroversial. It basically means that there is a situationally specific emergent dimension to all knowledge. Kügler explains he does not want to engage with the ontological dimensions of Deleuze’s argument, which means this ontogenetic part of Deleuze’s concept of sense (or as I am extrapolating it into knowledge) is not engaged with. I argue that ‘knowing that’ requires the production of ‘know how’ (however miniscule) as an apprehension of any given situation and this is developed in experience. From apprehension to application and the ‘possibilization’ (cf Massumi) of a field of virtual singularities. From application to the expression of what most people would recognise as ‘know how’ and the reconfiguring of the habitus belonging to the subject of ‘know-how’. ‘Know-how’ inheres or subsists in bodies(-in-action) in the same way ‘sense’ inheres or subsists in propositions.

To a certain extent, all this seems a little bit obvious. Except when it comes to the question of signification, as the transmission of ‘know-how’ is a special problem if it necessarily belongs to ‘tacit knowledge’ and cannot be codified in conventional ways. Then the rather laborious path through a complex appreciation of experience described above becoms very useful. My article directly tackles this problem as the first step in a genealogy of ‘know-how’.

Heuristic of Passion: Michael Polanyi and Enthusiasm

I’ve been reading Michael Polanyi‘s book Personal Knowledge (1958). Some aspects of Polanyi’s work have been popular in organisational studies primarily due to his conceptualisation of ‘tacit knowledge’. I have been reading Polanyi’s work for the purposes of the article I am currently writing on an ‘economy of know-how’. Maybe I’ll write another post engaging with how organisational studies have used Polanyi’s ‘tacit knowledge’, at the moment I need to finish this article I am writing.

The subtitle of the book Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy indicates Polanyi’s general program of locating affirmation as a central element of the discovery and development of scientific knowledge. Indeed, instead of a heuristic of doubt or a suspension of belief, Polanyi argues for a heuristic of passion premised on belief. Although deployed in any number of occasions in his argument the character of passion is a given and is nearly always described in terms of its function. In those occasions where Polanyi does discuss the character of this passion it is largely through analogy with what he calls the inarticulate intellect of animals and also in the context of instinctual drives. Silvan Tomkins’s work on the ‘analog’ ontology of affect as compared to the ‘digital’ ontology of drives enables contemporary readers of Polanyi’s to explicate what Tomkins calls a “co-assembly of affects” as characterizing the motivational drive of the ‘passion’ he describes.

For Polayni, ‘intellectual passion’ is an integral element in the process of scientific discovery and development of scientific knowledge. He argues that “into every act of knowing there enters into a tacit and passionate contribution of the person knowing what is being known, and that this coefficient is no mere imperfection, but a necessary component of all knowledge” (329). The passion coefficient of knowledge is necessary for the process of discovery. In his discussion of explorers , Polanyi describes commitment to belief as an integral element of intellectual passion that is satisfied by discovery. The explorer enjoys a “daring anticipation of reality” (327). He isolates this as the creative dimension of scientific progress, and this creative dimension relies on ‘heuristic passion’:

“We have to cross the logical gap between a problem and its solution by relying on the unspecifiable impulse of our heuristic passion, and must undergo as we do so a change of our intellectual personality. Like all ventures in which we comprehensively dispose of ourselves, such an intentional change of our personality requires a passionate motive to accomplish it. Originality must be passionate.” (151)

Polanyi argues that the gratification of instinctual appetites (hunger, sex and fear) is a manner of verification. There is a parallel to intellectual passions in that “all passions animating and shaping discovery imply a belief in the possibility of a knowledge of which these passions declare the value” (183). That is, Polanyi suggests, a (not infallible) ‘competence’ of intellectual passions is to recognise truth. The satisfaction of intellectual passions is a kind of verification of discovery, as discovery “terminates the problem from which it started” and “leaves behind knowledge” (183). The knowledge is expressed as part of the ongoing development of an “articulate framework” (183).

He argues that the interpretative framework built upon previous discoveries is changed by future discoveries; hence it is “logically impossible to arrive [at future discoveries] by the continued application of our previous interpretative framework” (151). This insight is troubled, however, by his use of ‘recognition’ in the process by which problems are identified:

“To see a problem is a definite addition to knowledge, as much as it is to see a tree, or to see a mathematical proof—or a joke. It is a surmise which can be true or false, depending on whether the hidden possibilities of which it assumes the existence do actually exist or not. To recognize a problem which can be solved and is worth solving is in fact a discovery in its own right.” (127)

There is a contradiction of discovery based on ‘recognition’. This is not a question of mere semantics, but relates to the functioning of ‘intellectual passion’ itself. Useful here is Deleuze’s development of a post-Kantian philosophy of the Idea as essentially ‘problematic’ instead of ‘regulatory’. That is, without regulatory universality ideas become problematic, and ‘recognition’ in the way Polanyi discusses it here is no longer straightforward. Polanyi himself argues that radical manifestations of this process of breaking with conceptual frameworks dissolves a “screen” between us and things and in doing so dissolves the subjective into experience itself as a form of radical contemplation distinct to our normative experience of experience: “as observers or manipulators of experience we are guided by experience and pass through experience without experiencing it in itself” (209). Perception itself is co-assembled though experience…

Polanyi is primarily concerned with the freedom of intellectual passion necessary for scientific discovery. There is an “essential restlessness” of the human mind expressed through the scientist in terms of pondering new problems and discovering solutions to them (209), but it is not only the scientist that enjoys that satisfaction of discovery. The scientist, in Polanyi’s analysis, is concerned with the “natural order,” while another, for example, the technician or technologist, although working within a similar framework of discovery, has a far more focused heuristic passion.

“He follows the intimations, not of a natural order, but of a possibility for making things work in a new way for an acceptable purpose, and cheaply enough to show a profit. In feeling his way towards new problems, in collecting clues and pondering perspectives, the technologist must keep in mind a whole panorama of advantages and disadvantages which the scientist ignores. He must be keenly susceptible to people’s wants and able to assess the price at which they would be prepared to satisfy them. A passionate interest in such momentary constellations is foreign to the scientist, whose eye is fixed on the inner law of nature.” (188)

The constellation of interests organized around the focused heuristic passion of the technician is in part determined by the set of material advantages afforded by a technology; what Polanyi calls a technology’s “operational principle”: the rules by which a technology “teaches us actions undertaken for material advantages” if we “imputed [in the technologist] the purpose of achieving the consequence of this action” (186). My interest is in ‘know how’ which describes a form of knowledge that engages with such ‘operational principles’ and their material instantiation in a particular technological state of affairs. Unlike the knowledge of qualified technicians however, ‘know-how’ is the accumulation of partial understandings, but full appreciations of such “operational principles”. I call ‘enthusiasm’ the heuristic passion that is in-acted as a constituent element of the experience of discovering the operative principles of technology.