Isabelle Stengers “Beyond Conversation: The Risks of Peace”
by Adam Robbert
From Process and Difference (pp. 248 – 249):
I have called “cosmopolitics” the kind of experimental togetherness that makes peace a challenge and not the condition for a polite conversation. “Politics” recalls that this proposition stems from our Western tradition that linked what it abstracted as “reason” with what it invented as “politics,” which has meant, since Plato, the problem of who is entitled to speak and on what grounds when the question of our common destiny is at stake. The prefix “cosmo” takes into account that the word common should not be restricted to our fellow humans, as politics since Plato has implied, but should entertain the problematic togetherness of the many concrete, heterogeneous, enduring shapes of value (SMW, 94) that compose actuality, thus including beings as disparate as “neutrinos” (a part of the physicist’s reality) and ancestors (a part of reality for those whose traditions have taught them to communicate with the dead).
Cosmopolitics defines peace as an ecological production of actual togetherness, where “ecological” means that the aim is not toward a unity beyond differences, which would reduce those differences through a goodwill reference to abstract principles of togetherness, but toward a creation of concrete, interlocked, asymmetrical, and always partial graspings. To take the very example of what Deleuze calls a “double capture”—a concept Whitehead would have loved—the success of an ecological invention is not having the bee and the orchid bowing together in front of an abstract ideal, but having the bee and the orchid both presupposing the existence of the other in order to produce themselves.