Secrets of Becoming: Negotiating Whitehead, Deleuze, and Butler

Secrets of Becoming: Negotiating Whitehead, Deleuze, and Butler

Secrets of Becoming: Negotiating Whitehead, Deleuze, and Butler

Secrets of Becoming: Negotiating Whitehead, Deleuze, and Butler


Secrets of Becoming brings into conversation modes of thought traditionally held apart: Whitehead's philosophy of the event, Deleuze's philosophy of multiplicity, and Judith Butler's philosophy of gender difference. Why should one try to connect these strains of thinking? What might make the work of these thinkers negotiable with one another?This volume finds that bridge in an emphasis on "becoming" that secretly defines the philosophies of Whitehead, Deleuze, and Butler. Its three sections investigate their surprising confluence in a "philosophy of becoming" in relation to the question of the event, bodies and societies, and immanence and divinity. A substantial Introduction gives an extended comparison of the three thinkers. Contributors: Jeff Bell, Roland Faber, Sigridur Gudmarsdottir, Michael Halewood, Luke Higgins, Catherine Keller, Isabella Palin, Keith Robinson, Steven Shaviro, Andrea Stephenson, Alan R. Van Wyk


Andrea M. Stephenson

Foreword—the word that comes before the word. There is always something that can be said before, something that comes before, something that might be said to be the beginning. However, there is also something that can be said before the before, something that comes before the before. A foreword really is one small part of the before; it is one interpretation of the before. Science can account for the beginning of Creation to a certain point. Then, even the scientists have to say that there is something that happened prior to the known beginning—a before that cannot be said, a before that cannot even be thought.

Every piece of art, every life, every thought, every article, every book is an adventure—an adventure that has no beginning and no end because everything that exists already is formed by other things and already is implicated in the formation of something else, something new, something novel. To chart the adventure of any single thing is a complicated, perhaps even impossible, task. We could start with “in the beginning,” but, as Deleuze and Guattari remind us in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, the beginning is never really the beginning but the middle (81). Recognizing the impossibility of this position, we must choose a starting point if we are to start.

While the conversation between process and post-structuralist thought began in individual philosophical and theological work, the Third International Whitehead Conference in 1998 in Claremont, California, gathered the very few voices at that time that were attempting to consider process and post-structuralist thought to begin a collective exploration of the convergences between these two modes of thought. The result was Process and Difference: Between Cosmological and Poststructuralist Postmodernisms, edited by Catherine Keller and Anne Daniell. Secrets of Becoming: Negotiating Whitehead, Deleuze, and Butler attempts to further this exciting and important conversation.

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