• StreetlightX
    3.1k
    The use of apparatuses in science is well known. Microscopes, particle accelerators and bubble chambers all being familiar examples. But I want to make an argument that concepts can also function as apparatus, and that philosophy - largely in the business of concept mongering - is thus also in the business of constructing what are essentially intellectual apparatuses.

    First question: what is an apparatus? A: An apparatus is a way of intervening into nature, a way of bringing about a change, which, in turn, will tell us about the thing we are manipulating. A crucial thing to understand here is than an apparatus is not a passive, 'observing' instrument: an apparatus actively impinges upon, and is productive of, the phenomena it interacts with. An apparatus in this sense is not unlike a dam across a river: a dam harnesses pre-existing forces and redirects them, or channels them in a different way to how they would usually flow, in order to produce something (in the dam's case, power).

    Apparatuses are also commonly associated with the notion of 'capture'. This association is probably made most clear when speaking of photographic apparatus - the camera, which captures an image, does so by harnessing the light in certain ways (even a picture thus is a product of an interaction, and not a passive reception). These two elements of an apparatus - its power to capture and its power to produce something - are not at odds. Indeed, an apparatus produces by means of capture: a photo produced by the capture of light, power produced by the capture of water.

    What I want to add to this is that philosophical concepts also function by means of this double operation: concepts both capture and produce - they are apparatus. Descartes' famous Cogito, to use a well worn example, both produces a way of understanding the self, and does so by capturing an articulation between being, thinking, and doubting, placing them into a certain relation with each other. The Platonic Idea (eidos) is similarly an apparatus for producing an understanding of how things get their 'form', capturing, within its orbit, a certain relation between the multiplicity of things, and the similarities between them.

    Philosophy in this sense is a matter of the construction of intellectual apparatus: to philosophize is, among other things, to build little machines of capture that articulate a variety of elements in a certain manner. Concepts, as productive apparatuses of capture, function like stars, their (intellectual) gravity coalescing loose ideas around them to form something like little solar systems of orbiting noospheres. A fun image, I think.
  • Galuchat
    480
    I want to make an argument that concepts can also function as apparatus, and that philosophy - largely in the business of concept mongering - is thus also in the business of constructing what are essentially intellectual apparatuses.StreetlightX

    Engineering design is an intellectual apparatus which captures a project brief and existing data, and produces a building, or infrastructure.

    Whereas, concept is an intellectual apparatus which captures objects having similar attributes and logical relations to other ideas, categories, and concepts, and produces a mental model, or theory.
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