[D-G] Concepts seen as functions

malgosia askanas ma at panix.com
Tue May 3 15:45:43 PDT 2011

Rutger, it seems to me that you couldn't have chosen a worse example - i.e. one less favorable to yoursel!  First of all, if by "the concept of the letter A" you mean simply that categorization of objects whereby we decide whether a particular object is, or is not, an instance of the letter A, then this is precisely the kind of "concept" (I am putting it in quotation marks so as not to offend D&G) that Frege directly identified with a (propositional) function - in this case, the function "... is (an instance of) the letter A".  So, when D&G say "a concept is never a function" they mean, first and foremost, that this kind of "concept", the kind that Frege addressed himself to, is not what they mean by "concept".

But if what you are talking about is the concept of the letter A in D&G's sense, then there is no such thing as "the letter A" without it being part of an alphabet, a particular structured system of graphic signs designed to encode, for a variety of purposes and in a variety of media, a specific range of structured systems of human sounds, and endowed with a specific intellectual, social and political history.  So the concept "the letter A" has a vast number of components, having to do with the ability to create, and differentiate between, graphic signs, the ability to conflate various variations of shape into versions of the same "ideal image"; the concept of a language as a consistent system of sound-elements; the categorization of these sounds into repeating patterns so that they can be encoded by a finite alphabet; the specific system of symbols which evolved as the Latin alphabet; its application and adaptation to a number of very diverse languages, and so on.  And each of these components involves many functions, in every sense of the word: social functions, the way something functions (i.e. operates), energy functions, and even the most trivial of all, mathematical functions (after all, the letter A is part of a mapping, in the mathematical sense, of classes of sound-clusters into classes of graphical clusters).  And yes, of course I use the letter "A" very much like an egg, whenever the recipe (via the spelling conventions) calls for it...


At 10:41 PM +0200 5/3/11, Rutger H. Cornets de Groot wrote:
>Yes, Malgosia, all those processes are energetic, but does that mean that "A"--not the letter that you see displayed on your screen or in a book, but the virtual, i.e. not actualized state of that letter--is a function? Do you "use" the letter "A" like you use an egg in a recipe? Does it produce or sprout actualizations of itself? Or is it indeed a concept to which we refer in our minds when we see an actual "A"?
>Rutger H. Cornets de Groot
>Joan Maetsuyckerstraat 80A
>2593 ZM Den Haag
>RHCdG <http://www.cornetsdegroot.com/rhcdg>
>On 3-5-2011 22:04, deleuze-guattari-request at lists.driftline.org wrote:
>>But Rutger, if the virtual form of the letter A is, as you are proposing, its encoding as a series of 0s and 1s, and its actualization is its specific appearance on the computer screen, this does not happen without: (1) a standard of digital encoding of the Latin alphabet having been proposed, discussed, adopted and anounced; (2) somebody writing and compiling the particular program running in your computer; (3) electricity being supplied to your computer; (4) your computer executing code; (5) your screen holding together as a material object; etc., etc., etc. - all of which are energetic processes!   No?
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