Quotes from The Incorporeal

“A body that acts causes something, though, as we will see, what it causes is conceived by the Stoics in an utterly idiosyncratic way: causes do not cause effects, as we have assumed since at least the seventeenth century; rather they create predicates. . . . Fate is understood by the Stoics as the concatenation of causes alone: fate does not include effects (the concept of “effect” is nowhere included in the Stoic definition of cause) but only the coming together and collective force of causes in their totality,
causes indifferent to effects, bound up only with each other.” (Elizabeth Grosz, The Incorporeal – Ontology, Ethics, and the Limits of Materialism, p.26)

“What language expresses (rather than refers to, denotes, or designates, which is itself material) is incorporeal, a process, an event, a change of state, a modification, something that adheres to or floats on the surface without penetrating the identity and continuity of the body, a “thin film at the limit of things and words” (LS 31).” (The Incorporeal, p.39)

“Stoic ethics aims to produce in oneself a knowledge of both oneself and all the bodies that occupy the world. It aims to be worthy of the events destined to be: to live, in the present, the eternity of the past which has always contained the event or advent of this present (and all presents) and the eternity of the future that comes from it.” (Elizabeth Grosz, The Incorporeal, p.52)

“For Spinoza, it is only if we can move away from superstitious or magical thinking, in which divine or human beings can break the causal order to insert “free causes,” that is, only if we come to a reasonable understanding of affects, the manner in which we are affected by other things and affect them, that we can understand the causal network within which we are embedded and in which we participate as actants as much as effects.” (Elizabeth Grosz, The Incorporeal, p.85)

“Freedom is not “free choice,” the choice between already existing objects or actions, nor is it the absence of causes, indetermination; it consists in understanding necessity, the necessity that causes my own existence and the whole of existence that I require, directly or indirectly, to persist in my being.” (Grosz, The Incorporeal, p.90)

“In spite of his resistances to the Darwin he inherits, Nietzsche places bodily impulses, instincts, the preservation of the species, and the excessive desires of living things above the operations of reason, not annihilating reason but inevitably orienting it to questions of life, even as thought may rebel against or be ignorant of these questions, ensuring that reason is always tinged with the aura of the “unreason or counterreason of passion” (GS #3), that even bad or evil intentions function to preserve the species.” (The Incorporeal, p.108)

“It is because of the sense that is mixed with events that thought is possible, that concepts can be created and conceptual means developed by which we can modify our behavior and environment, survive circumstances beyond our control, and create new orders by which to survive the chaos, the excess of forces, into which we are born.” (Elizabeth Grosz, The Incorporeal, p.151)


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