On Nihilism

Deleuze, Entropy and Thermodynamics

One-Day Workshop, May 19th 2016

L316 (Flaxman Building, College Road, Stoke-on-Trent)

The scientific concept of entropy, or the tendency of physical systems to evolve toward equilibrium and inactivity, has a well-established central place in the history of the natural sciences. It figures prominently in accounts of the nature of time and its direction from past to future, of order and disorder, of the fundamental processes on which life depends, and of the eventual fate of the cosmos itself. Thermodynamics, the discipline which addresses this concept, has undergone dramatic shifts in perspective over the last few decades, with the arrival of the new fields of Chaos and Complexity Theory, revising the terms in which we are to understand this universal march to equilibrium. In his natural philosophy, Gilles Deleuze engages in depth with the questions bearing on entropy, and indeed has been widely acknowledged as a philosophical influence on the redrafting of its associated conceptual apparatus. Nevertheless, his standpoint is profoundly ambivalent; while readily adopting the key tenets of thermodynamics, which contribute decisively to his account of events in the physical world, he resists the apparently inevitable corollary that the cosmos is fated as a long-term rule to descend into disorder and stasis. Entropy, he claims, is a ‘transcendental illusion’, applicable in principle only to those processes we may observe in the Actual, but an illegitimate notion with respect to the realm of potential events he calls the Virtual.

This one-day workshop will address the contributions and connections of Deleuze’s work to scientific paradigms of physical action, and investigate both the tensions arising between his philosophy of difference and scientific theory, and those installed within his own philosophy as a result of this singular viewpoint.

All welcome. There is no registration charge.

Contact: Bill Ross, billjross@outlook.com

10.00 – 10.30      Welcome & coffee

Bill Ross (Staffordshire University), Entropy, Retardation and Delay in the Work of Deleuze

Ashley Woodward (Dundee University), Entropy as Philosophical Problematic

Henry Somers-Hall (Royal Holloway), Entropy, Intensity, and Transcendental Illusion

James Williams (Deakin University), Entropy and the Problem of the New in Deleuze’s   Metaphysics

You can download the programme with abstracts here: Deleuze, Entropy, and Thermodynamics Programme.

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