Overview by Constantin Boundas

The conference will concentrate on the relation between pluralism and the philosophy of difference, as the latter is formulated in the writings of Deleuze and Guattari. “Refrains of Freedom” is a phrase that crystallizes that formulation. Pluralism is still today one of the demands of contemporary democracy. In question, though, is a pluralism capable of keeping at bay as much the fragmentation of political positions as the concomitant weakening of political resolve, perhaps by seeking a convergence of several conflicting political wills. The critics of postmodern pluralism rally around a certain scepticism that blatantly distorts whatever pluralism proposes with the aim of making it appear vulnerable. The philosophy of difference of Deleuze and Guattari, having repeatedly been regarded as a form of pluralism, perhaps even an extreme pluralism, has been the object of both praise and critique. By addressing anew the relation between pluralism and the philosophy of difference, the conference will explore issues originating in the thematics and problematics of Deleuze’s and Guattari’s writings while also incorporating conceptual tools and outcomes that have resulted from the ever increasing cutting- edge publications and research on the theory of difference. The framework of these explorations may be problems preoccupying the Greek imaginary, which in no way entails that these lack a geopolitical dimension.

Here are some of the topics that may be addressed in their generality:

  • What might “difference” signify in the case of Deleuze and Guattari, where at issue is not a difference between objects with a determinable and recognizable identity? In other words:
    • if, according to the two thinkers, the intended difference is not comparative (A differs from B) but absolute difference as such (A differs from itself), what are the implications for ontology, epistemology, ethics, politics, the theories of language and art? 
    • Which “difference” is in question when our symbol is not the unceasing flux of Heraclitus, or, more accurately, when the Heraclitean flux is indissociable from its eternal repetition? 
    • If the philosophy of difference constitutes a philosophy of becoming, if becoming is deterritorialization and reterritorialization, and if essence and being constitute precarious effects, is it still possible to speak of subjects and objects of change and transformation? 
    • In this light, does the alleged pluralism of the theory of difference not deviate from the multi-culturalist pursuits of recent memory, from the manifestos and objectives of identity politics, and, evidently, from the obssession with conventional stuctures aimed at combatting national nihilism? 
    • What does Deleuze’s formula “pluralism equals monism” presuppose? What seismic tranformations would our ontology (our political ontology too) have to sustain so that our working hypothesis may be that the pluralism of difference and the idea unity converge only if our ontology becomes a field rather of folds and forces than of extended and distinct bodies and objects, as the case has been thus far? 
  • What is the dynamics of Deleuze’s and Guattari’s deconstruction, when the latter term points not to destruction and annihilation but to a certain disassembling intended to reveal the way an entity functions and to release the energy currently incarcerated in it? 
  • Moreover, if the differentiating repetition is the key to that release (ritornellos of freedom), as the two French thinkers suggest, how can we distinguish the repetition that dulls and subdues from the one that energizes and vivifies? 
  • The conference will encourage discussions and interventions on the role of ritornellos of freedom in Deleuze’s work on cinema, theater and music, as well as in post-Deleuzian architectural theory and practice. Among the conference aims is to draw attention to the way in which he conceives not only the relation between philosophy, science and art, but also that among several competing methodologies. 
  • The dialectics of territory (territorialisation / deterritorialization), which will be at the center of the conference discussions, will provide the participants with the opportunity to reflect on the dynamic differentiation and modulation of cultural traditions, beyond the fallacy of their allegedly diachronic identity or their nihilist rejection.