Deleuze Signs Law

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<p>NATHAN MOORE*</p> <p>ICONS OF CONTROL: DELEUZE, SIGNS, LAW</p> <p>ABSTRACT. This paper is broadly concerned with Deleuzes distinction between la loi et les lois on the one hand, and jurisprudence on the other. Jurisprudence is the creative action of legal practice, the process by which it is forced to think constructively and anew. In such circumstances legal thought is akin to Deleuzes concept of the event. I explore the distinction between law and jurisprudence by way of Deleuzes comments on control societies, arguing that, under control, law ceases to be a juridical hierarchy conforming to disciplinary modes to become a regulatory practice of interminable modulation. In order to begin to explore the relations and connections between law/jurisprudence and control, the paper will look to the semiotics of C.S. Peirce (who inuenced Deleuzes work on cinema). In particular it will argue that control operates predominantly through icons. As a consequence I argue that the proper ground of the sign, the event, is co-opted and, following from this, that control functions through the confusing of sense and meaning.</p> <p>1. Introduction Is law structured like a language? To put this question in a different way, is law a matter of fate? If we consider the work of Deleuze and Guattari it becomes apparent that both questions must be answered in the negative. Deleuze and Guattari instead develop a concept of regimes of signs, so as to broaden an analysis otherwise restricted by language, linguistics, and the signier. What is at stake here is an entire ethic of thought: does the sign stand for the subject or the event? If the former, then one is confronted with a logic that is ultimately statistical, corresponding to Foucaults analysis of the management of the population (humanity). If the latter, one deals with a logic of sense and the creativity of a people. To translate this into law-orientated terminology, one deals either with the law and laws on one hand, or with jurisprudence1 on the other. However, it should not be thought that the stakes are distributed across a continuum contained</p> <p>* Thanks to Anne Bottomley, Ronnie Lippens and Jamie Murray. 1 Throughout this paper, jurisprudence is used in its continental sense to indicate the working through of cases, rather than legal philosophy. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law Revue Internationale de Semiotique Juridique (2007) 20: 3354 DOI 10.1007/s11196-006-9035-8</p> <p> Springer 2006</p> <p>34</p> <p>NATHAN MOORE</p> <p>between reactionary and progressive laws; to pose the issue in this way already falls under the statistical manipulation of the population (which laws would benet the greatest number of people?). Rather, jurisprudence is the mode of practising the law, where the law is engaged with anew in each and every situation. What Kelsen calls human behaviour2 is that which causes the law to be problematised, and for this reason allows it to be put into practise. The distinction is between law as an action3 and law as a power: in this latter sense the law is unthought, remains unproblematised (unless it is the false problem of how to more eciently apply it), and serves as a block to the creation of new modes of being it restricts human behaviour. This power of law has reached a new level of intensity within the current condition of globalisation. While in this paper I will not look to the processes of globalisation,4 this term indicates a denite epoch in which law is rapidly ceasing to be dominated by those characteristics described by Foucault as disciplinary, to become instead a problem of control. This paper is then concerned with two specic movements: a movement toward a legal semiotic derived from the work of Deleuze and Guattari, and a movement toward thinking law as control rather than discipline. It will come as no surprise if these two movements have much in common.</p> <p>2. The Sign If we begin with the signier and the signied we will not get very far. Instead, we will be condemned to a vicious circle where, once more, we must perpetually undertake the quest of the signier. The name of this circle is paranoia5 and against it Deleuze and Guattari pose schizophrenia an altogether less respectable condition. How are we to then understand the schizo sign? Arguably the two mostHans Kelsen (1945) General Theory of Law and State, A. Wedberg (trans.), (New York: Russell &amp; Russell, 1945) at 120. 3 I use this term in the sense developed by Bergson: see Henri Bergson Matter and Memory, N. M. Paul &amp; W. S. Palmer (trans.), (New York: Zone Books, 1991) at 179. 4 My understanding of the term globalisation is derived from the work of Zygmunt Bauman. See Globalization: The Human Consequences, (Cambridge: Polity, 2005) in particular. 5 It is no surprise that Slavoj Zizek has recently called for the proliferation of what he calls Lacanian paranoia. See Slavoj Zizek (ed.) Lacan: The Silent Partners, (London &amp; New York: Verso Books, 2006).2</p> <p>ICONS OF CONTROL</p> <p>35</p> <p>important reference points for Deleuze and Guattari on this question are Louis Hjelmslev and Charles S. Peirce. It is Peirce that I want to pay particular attention to in this paper. Peirce theorises the sign into three types, as symbol, as index, and as icon. In On a New List of Categories he describes them thus:1st. Those whose relation to their objects is a mere community in some quality [icons]... 2d. Those whose relation to their objects consists in a correspondence in fact [indices]... 3d. Those the ground of whose relation to their objects is an imputed character [symbols]... .6</p> <p>In her study of Peirce, The Machinery of Talk, Anne Freadman explains that what distinguishes these three dierent types of sign are the grounds of their claim to be representations, and to be representations of what they represent.7 In Peirces system a sign is a sign of something,8 but the whole problem (and what distinguishes the three types of sign) are the grounds by which a sign comes to represent what it is not. There is then, in any sign, a problem of legitimacy: on what grounds can it be legitimately said that a representation acts as an icon, index or symbol? Obviously, this problem involves the further issue of interpretation: what is the proper mode of interpreting the sign? However we should be careful not to equate the ground with the act of interpretation. The ground is the condition of interpretation, yet it is also more besides: if not, then we are confronted once more with a vicious circle in which a sign is legitimated by a further sign, itself</p> <p>Charles S Peirce, (1991) Peirce on Signs, (Chapel Hill &amp; London: University of North Carolina Press, 1991) at 30. 7 Anne Freadman The Machinery of Talk: Charles Peirce and the Sign Hypothesis, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004) at 12. Emphasis in original. 8 For a dierent account of the sign see Hjelmslev, who develops a sign function that is less concerned with representation (that which stands for something else) than it is with the distribution of the signs functives of content and expression: Louis Hjelmslev Prolegomena to a Theory of Language, F. J. Whiteld (trans.), (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969) at 4760.</p> <p>6</p> <p>36</p> <p>NATHAN MOORE</p> <p>legitimated by yet another sign, and so on in an innite regress of interpretation.9 What is it that then distinguishes the ground from mere interpretation? An answer to this question is given by another Peirce scholar, T. L. Short, but rst we must distinguish more clearly between two of the three types of sign. A symbol is an imputed sign, meaning that it requires interpretation: the relation between the sign and its object or referent must be thought. We can see here how interpretation becomes an innite regress, because each symbol, in order to signify, must be thought via another symbol: In short, since meaning cannot be located in any thought-sign, it must be found in the very process by which one thought interprets another.10 On the other hand, the index is a sign regardless of whether it is actually interpreted or not,11 because its relation to what it represents is a matter of circumstance. Peirce gave a number of examples of indices, including a weathercock and a pointing nger: the weathercock is a sign of the direction of the wind, while the nger indicates what it points to. With the index, the relation between sign and referent is not a matter of interpretation but rather a function of designation, an indication that there is without describing what is.12. For Short, the index acts as a brake on an otherwise innite process of interpretation, by designating a limited circumstance that constrains this process by relating it to a relevant matter-at-hand. As Short writes,The index picks out a particular of an otherwise signified type, which is then made the subject of a predicate ... . It follows that if the index is directly connected to its object, then so is the cognition, through the index it contains. Thus a cognition does not have to be the interpretant of a preceding cognition in order to have an object.13</p> <p>Following from this, Short makes another interesting point on this subject: that a symbol is not a matter of innite interpretation</p> <p>9 As Deleuze makes clear, the meaning of a proposition is not contained within it, but can only be stated by a further proposition: Gilles Deleuze The Logic of Sense, M. Lester &amp; C. Stivale (trans.), (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990) at 28. 10 T. L. Short The Development of Peirces Theory of Signs in C. Misak (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Peirce, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004) at 217. 11 Supra n 7 at 13. 12 ibid. at 29. 13 Supra n 10 at 221.</p> <p>ICONS OF CONTROL</p> <p>37</p> <p>because such interpretation need only be a possibility, rather than actualised. Within a particular circumstance, a sign need not be actually interpreted so long as potential interpretations exist as a consequence of the particular circumstance in question (i.e. what is designated): something is indicated but this is not at all the same thing as asking what does it mean?.14 Because the propensity-to-be-interpreted is a potential, it is orientated toward the future. Stating it in this way brings us to a fork in the road: the ground of the sign is either the event or teleology. Short argues for the latter: I shall argue that the end-directedness of semeiosis accounts for signicances essential features.15 In doing so, Short is careful to distinguish between what is merely mechanical on the one hand, and what is a matter of variation and selection on the other.16 A sign is signicant because of selecting the most appropriate meaning from the potential meanings available, these latter being statistically determined variations of meaning.17 As Short sums it up, To act purposefully is to interpret something as a sign which, if it obtains, will make that action appropriate to its goal.18 The argument for telos as the grounds of representation makes perfect sense given Shorts analysis of the index and potentiality: a circumstance is identied as the sum of its possible meanings, the selection of meaning being dependent upon the purpose to be achieved. We can immediately point out that the problem with this analysis is that it fails to account for how the variations themselves are generated. In other words, how is it that a potential meaning already signies a possible outcome for selection? The answer must be, to use Saussures terminology, that langue is already posited as such and thereby determines the possible variable meanings for selection. This is supported by Shorts statement that Peirces mature semeiotic, because it is teleological, accounts for the intentionality of semeiosis sans consciousness; and thus it is able to explain thoughts intentionality as due to thoughts being a special form of semeiosis.19 It is of little account whether intentionality is contained within the mind or vice versa; in either case, Deleuze and</p> <p>14 15 16 17 18 19</p> <p>ibid. ibid. ibid. ibid. ibid. ibid.</p> <p>at at at at at</p> <p>225. 230. 231. 230. 233.</p> <p>38</p> <p>NATHAN MOORE</p> <p>Guattaris criticism of Peirce holds good: ...his distinctions are based on signier-signied relations...20</p> <p>3. The Event Nevertheless, Peirces system is to be favoured over Saussures because it does attempt to integrate the problem of the ground into the structure of the sign. With the signier-signied relation the ground remains non-problematic because it is assumed to have been always already integrated into the sign structure, thereby preserving the entire system against the particular circumstances to which it pertains (parole).21 Where it becomes necessary to depart from Peirce (although we will return to him below) is with the resolution of the problem of the ground, as constructed by Short, as telos. Rather, it is now necessary to turn to Deleuze in order to consider the true ground of the sign: the event. In The Logic of Sense Deleuze equates the event with the sense of a proposition,22 so the ground of a sign or proposition is also its sense. We saw above the diculty described by Short when trying to locate the sense of Peirces symbol: not being in the symbol itself, its sense becomes distributed across an innite semiotic process. Deleuze picks up this problem in his own way by identifying three relations in the proposition: denotation, manifestation, and signication.23 While these relations serve to connect the proposition to the world24 none of them are the locus of sense.25</p> <p>Gilles Deleuze &amp; Felix Guattari 1992) A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, B. Massumi (trans.), (London: The Athlone Press, 1992) at 531, fn. 41. 21 That the problem of the ground is already excluded from Saussures system is evident from Roy Harris explication: ... what xes the individual signs is their reciprocal interdependence in a system, which in turn is xed simply by the totality of internal relations between its constituent signs. That explains simultaneously why altering just one set of relations disturbs the whole system, and also why, in spite of the arbitrary connexion between any one signiant and any one signie, it is not easy to break that connexion. Altering just one sign encounters the passive resistance of the entire structure. Roy Harris Reading Saussure, (London: Duckworth, 1987) at 220. 22 Supra n 9 at 22. 23 ibid. 1222. 24 Denotation relates the proposition to a state of aairs; manifestation relates it to the person who speaks or expresses it; and signication relates it to universal or general concepts, for which it then serves as a premise or conclusion. 25 Supra n 9 at 1719.</p> <p>20</p> <p>ICONS OF CONTROL</p> <p>39</p> <p>Denotation cannot condition sense, because it would then make sense dependent upon the truth of what the proposition denotes. Similarly, manifestation cannot condition sense without making it dependent upon the expressive subject; however, this subject is itself dependent upon la langue26 for its very ability t...</p>