what can a child do?

Be a Spinozist: ‘Children are Spinozists,” Deleuze and Guattari tell us in A Thousand Plateaus. This means, in part, that they tend to apprehend objects as assemblages, rather than as beings whose functions are specifically determined by nature (organic) or craftsmanship (inorganic). Objects are what their relations enable them to be; they are whatever they can link up with. This does not mean that objects are merely their relations. It implies that objects are imbued with more power than their substantial form contains. Is this power really possessed by the object or does its relations determine its power? Analytic metaphysicians debate this question, I have found out recently. This is a great question, a Spinozist question. In any case, the child more readily discerns possible connections, aggregates, and therefore thinks of the world of objects in terms of machines instead of organs. They don’t ask, What is the chair? They ask: What is a chair? The difference here is the difference between asking for the genus and specific difference of a chair or asking after the Form of chair, and asking what a chair can do. Not what is it made to do, but what can it do? For Spinoza this is understood as affective capacity–the capacity to affect and be affected by other objects/bodies. Children are especially adept at cataloguing the affective capacity of objects, and in virture of this their method of organization (their taxonomy) is more concrete, keyed into the imperceptible forces that join bodies into composites or tear bodies apart from one another. Children are neither Aristotelian nor phenomenologist.


About plasticbodies

Contemporary philosopher.
This entry was posted in Affect, Bodies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to what can a child do?

  1. we are actively trying to pursue research into precisely these questions at http://www.thebaandekmontessori.org – thanks for the excellent post!

  2. plasticbodies says:

    what you’re doing there at the baan dek school is wonderful, bobby. thanks for linking up your engagement there to my post, and therefore transplanting some otherwise abstract musings into the tangible earth of south dakota. we will have to communicate more about your venture and how you ended up there.

  3. Pingback: oh, grow up « plastic bodies

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