Deleuze Appreciating the Intelligence of Insects

This article will be a brief examination of the some of the concepts found in the philosophy of the French writer Gilles Deleuze, with the ant colony as an example of how its insights can be applied. The philosophy of Gilles Deleuze can help contemporary humans to appreciate the genius of insects. His philosophy can perhaps be most succinctly summed up as a rejection of the privileging of any magnitude of causal or mereological granularity, and of an openness to the inexhaustible complexity and sheer variety of interactions which are actualized in between different causal and mereological levels of granularity.

In light of the sheer helplessness and uselessness of individual social insects when alienated from their colonies, perhaps our reluctance to consider ant colonies as organisms in their own right reflects a prejudice towards the molar and against the molecular, unsurprising in a Western metaphysical tradition that is more predisposed to find molar unity and universality rather than molecular plurality and diversity. Perhaps it is a reflection of a kind of Neoplatonic or Cartesian “homunculosis,” which only sees highly molar levels of granularity as constitutive of an organism, rather than the more decentered “organism” of the ant colony. Indeed, one of Deleuze’s central points is to dispute the notion that there is a metaphysically objective critical threshold which separates levels of granularity from one another.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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