Assemblages and Human History.
We no longer believe in a primordial totality that onceexisted, or in a final totality that awaits us at some future date. We nolonger believe in the dull gray outlines of a dreary, colorless dialectic of evolution, aimed at forming a harmonious whole out of heterogeneous bits by rounding off their rough edges. We believe only in totalities thatare peripheral. And if we discover such a totality alongside variousseparate parts, it is a whole of these particular parts but does not totalizethem; it is a unity of all those particular parts but does not unify them;rather it is added to them as a new part fabricated separately.Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. The Anti-Oedipus.
A crucial question confronting any serious attempt tothink about human history is the nature of the historical actorsthat are considered legitimate in a given philosophy. One can, of course, include only human beings as actors, either as rationaldecision-makers (as in micro-economics) or as phenomenological subjects (as in micro-sociology). But if wewish to go beyond this we need a proper conceptualization of social wholes. The very first step in this task is to devise a meansto block micro-reductionism, a step usually achieved by theconcept of
properties of a whole that arenot present in its parts: if a given social whole has properties thatemerge from the interactions between its parts, its reduction to amere aggregate of many rational decision makers or many phenomenological experiences is effectively blocked. But thisleaves open the possibility of macro-reductionism, as when onerejects the rational actors of micro-economics in favor of societyas a whole, a society that fully determines the nature of itsmembers. Blocking macro-reductionism demands a secondconcept, the concept of
relations of exteriority
between parts.Unlike wholes in which “being part of this whole” is a definingcharacteristic of the parts, that is, wholes in which the partscannot subsist independently of the relations they have with eachother (relations of interiority) we need to conceive of emergent
Deleuze: History and Science.