This makes me laugh… but I think hits on something important: language sensitivity. I also admit to feeling a little queasy when I hear the word ‘vitalism’, where ‘life force’ can simultaneously mean new age-y and what I want to understand as a fundamental idea of energy and its transference: energy is not destroyed, it is merely transferred. It also makes me think about Spinoza, and some of his sticky language that makes me nervous. It makes me ‘celebrate’ the post-structuralist stance of the unfixed nature of language: the definition of a concept can be re-dressed in new language that better matches the socio-cultural milieu.
A throw-away thought: Despite being profoundly influenced by a variety of vitalistic philosophers– Deleuze, Bergson, Nietzsche, Whitehead, and so on –I confess that my skin literally crawls whenever I hear thinkers defend vitalism. What profound disappointment I experience when I hear a thinker I admire– Deleuze, Massumi, Braidotti, Bennett (?), Whitehead, Bergson, etc –defend either vitalism or something that is basically equivalent to vitalism. I realize part of my reaction here is purely linguistic. For example, when Braidotti defends vitalism, she’s not– I think/I hope –defending some “life force” that animates matter and differs fundamentally from matter. No, Braidotti, inasmuch as I understand her, is referring to the capacity of matter to self-organize such as we find in the case of chemical clocks.
But if that’s true, why use a term as obnoxious as “vitalistism”. We don’t need some special vitalistic forces to account for chemical clocks. Chemistry…
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