nomos


nomos
  ---- by Jonathan Roffe
  'Nomos' is the name that Deleuze gives to the way of arranging elements whether they are people, thoughts or space itself - that does not rely upon an organisation or permanent structure. It indicates a free distribution, rather than structured organisation, of certain elements.
  The Greek word nomos (νομός) is normally translated as law. Deleuze notes, however, in one of the few instances of etymological consideration in his work, that it is derived from the root word nem, which means 'to distribute'. He gives the example of the related word némō, which in ancient Greek meant to 'pasture livestock' - in other words, to send out the animals to an unbounded pasture according to no particular pattern or structure. Deleuze opposes nomos as distribution to another Greek work, logos. While difficult to translate well, it means 'word' or 'reason'. However, for Deleuze, it can also be understood as 'law'. This is because the picture of the world indicated by logos is one in which everything has its right place: it is a structured and ordered conception of existence. Logos also implies, then, a conception of distribution, but one that is founded on a previous structure and is well-organised. To this well-organised legal distribution of the logos, Deleuze will oppose the anarchic distribution of the nomos.
  The sense of nomos as anarchic distribution can be understood in reference to the nomad. Rather than existing within a hierarchical structure like a city, nomadic life takes place in a non-structured environment where movement is primary. In this context, Deleuze makes a link between logos and polis, where the political ordering of states draws its main coordinates from a prior structured idea of existence (this is Plato's procedure in the Republic, for example). Fixed points like dwellings are subordinated to this fundamental and lawless movement. In other words, while there may be points of significance in nomadic life, they do not form fixed references which divide up the movement of life into discrete elements (inside/ outside, the city/the wilds). As Deleuze goes on to suggest with Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus, life itself is nomadic.
  Deleuze first employs the figure of nomos in Difference and Repetition. Here, it is a matter of considering the nature of Being itself in terms of nonordered distribution rather than the fixed coordinates of a logically and hierarchically structured universe, such as we find in Plato and Aristotle.
  The most elaborate developments of nomos, in contrast to logos, take place in A Thousand Plateaus. Here, Deleuze and Guattari use the distinction to discuss opposing models of science, mathematics and space. In terms of science, logos as the structured and 'good' distribution of elements leads to what they call 'royal' science, one based upon universal values. It is also a scientific method that naturally leads to truth, and is at once based on the values of the State and supposed to be unrelated to the concrete practices of life. Science undertaken in the name of nomos, on the other hand, is an ambulant or minor science. It does not proceed from universals, but rather keeps close to the movement of events themselves - it 'follows' rather than 'copies'. Only the practice of science as nomos can be said to have attained a true experimental method, since the logos presumes the results in advance in the form of global presuppositions. Ambulant science is thus profoundly engaged with life rather than examining it from a supposed neutral outside.
  The two conceptions of mathematics are closely related to this. On the one hand, there is the geometric conception that presumes universal structures: straight line, uniform field and parallel lines. This mathematics is underwritten by the ordered distribution of the logos. On the other hand, nomos supports mathematics in the form of arithmetics proceeding by local operations, without presupposing general structures. In this context, Deleuze also privileges differential calculus in so far as it takes the local operation of numerical values and determines their movement, one that is unbounded by any one point and cannot be understood in terms of the absolute fixity presumed by geometric mathematics.
  In keeping with the two poles of distribution indicated by nomos and logos, Deleuze and Guattari also distinguish two types of space. Logos, the ordered conception of existence, offers a picture of space that is primordially cut up in various ways, one that includes intrinsic boundaries. This space is termed 'striated'. On the contrary, not only does nomos indicate that space does not have any intrinsic organisation, and must be considered to be open, or what Deleuze and Guattari call 'smooth space', but this space itself is something that must be created. The political radicality of nomos, and of nomadic distribution, is that it proposes the dissolution of the imposed structures of logos as lawful structure, and a creation of smooth space in which encounters outside of the ordered conception of existence can become possible.
  Connectives
   § event
   § Plato
   § space

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Nomos — No|mos der; , Nomoi [ nɔmɔy] <aus gleichbed. gr. nómos, Plur. nómoi, eigtl. »das Zugeteilte« zu némein »austeilen, verwalten, lenken«>: 1. Gesetz, Sitte, Ordnung, Herkommen, Rechtsvorschrift (Philos.). 2. a) bestimmte Singweise in der… …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch


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