the empiricist & rationalist ego + apoptotic representation? further to earlier posts, 5 & 7 September 2007

without an intuition of the whole personality, the isolated state is meaningless. Empiricism, laments Bergson, is convinced that by putting together all its diagrammes of isolated psychical states, it can reconstitute the personality, which it then takes to be a hoplesslessly fragmented ego. Rationalism tries to unite these states in the unity of an ego but hopes to constitute this unity out of its analyses, whereas such a unity can be nothing but a form without a content. In the end, both approaches spatialise the ego: empiricism makes it a place constructed by the endless addition of psychical states, whereas rationalism makes it a place where those states are lodged, a space with no content of its own, filled to infinity with states.

… Bergson writes disdainfully, nothing is easier than to say that the ego is multiple, or that it is a unity, or that it is a synthesis of these; but these kinds of unity and multiplicity are nothing but representations chosen from a heap. …

“Our speculations have suggested that Eros operates from the beginning of life and operates as a ‘life instinct’ in opposition to the ‘death instinct,’ [however] the pleasure principle seems actually to serve the death instincts.” [Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle]

In place of Eros and Mnemosyne, we are left with “a narcissistic Ego without memory – a great amnesiac – and a loveless and desexualised death instinct.” [Deleuze, Difference and Repetition] In place of the erotic and reminiscent ego whose memory repeats and so creates the world anew in each moment, Freud leaves us with a “dead body.”

– Dorothea Olkowski, Gilles Deleuze and the Ruin of Representation, Uni. of California Press, London, 1999, pp. 175-6

a T-cell (orange) killing a cancer cell (mauve), courtesy Dr. Andrejs Liepins, Science Photo Library