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Clinamen (gen.: clinaminis) is the name Lucretius gave to a minimal indeterminacy in the motions of atoms, an unpredictable ‘swerve... at no fixed place or time’[1]. This indeterminacy, according to Lucretius, prevents us from being 'automata'[2]. The clinamen designates the ‘smallest possible angle’ by which an atom deviates from the straight line of the fall of the atoms through a laminar void; an ‘infinitely small deviation' that marks the beginning of the world as atomic turbulence.[3]

According to Lucretius, there would be no contact between atoms without the clinamen; and so, "No collision would take place and no impact of atom upon atom would be created. Thus nature would never have created anything." (2.220-225). It must be observed that Lucretian clinamen concept was based in Epicurus' atomistic doctrine.

The clinamen has been taken up in discussions of determinism as a possible explanation for an incompatibilist free will.

The term has also been taken up by Harold Bloom to describe the inclinations of writers to "swerve" from the influence of their predecessors; it is the first of his "Ratios of Revision" as described in The Anxiety of Influence.

In Difference and Repetition, Gilles Deleuze employs the term in his description of multiplicities, pointing to the observation at the heart of the theory of clinamen that "it is indeed essential that atoms be related to other atoms."(184) Though atoms affected by clinamen engage each other in a relationship of reciprocal supposition, Deleuze rejects this version of multiplicity, both because the atoms are too independent, and because the multiplicity is "spatio-temporal" rather than internal.

In "Introduction to Civil War" [4], the French collective Tiqqun claims that "each body is affected by its form-of-life as if by a clinamen; a penchant; a leaning; an attraction; a taste. What a body leans towards also leans towards it; this goes for each and every situation: all inclinations are reciprocal."

Jacques Lacan[5], Harold Bloom[6], Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Nancy, as well as Michel Serres have made extensive use of the idea of the clinamen, albeit with very different readings.[7]

Is also referred to as the act of deliberately breaking a stylistic rule to enhance the beauty of an otherwise perfect whole. Painting with a "painterly" quality, deliberately dripping paint or obvious brushstrokes, is an example. French writer GeorgesPerec , who also wrote the first book in that language on the GameOfGo, was a master of the technique.

References Edit

  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. [3]
  4. http://www.softtargetsjournal.com/v21/tiqqun.php
  5. in "The four fundamental concepts of psycho-analysis" (1973), Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co. (April 17, 1998), ISBN 0393317757
  6. in "The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry" (1973), Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 2 edition (April 10, 1997), ISBN 0195112210
  7. Abbas Mapping Michel Serres. 2005. University of Michigan Press
  1. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Lucretius. 2008. [4]
  2. Hanjo Berressem in Abbas, N. Mapping Michel Serres. 2005. University of Michigan Press [5]
  3. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Lucretius. 2008. [6]
  4. Lucretius; trans R.E. Latham. On the Nature of the Universe. 1951. Toronto: Penguin Books. (Book 2)
  5. Hanjo Berressem in Abbas, N. Mapping Michel Serres. 2005. University of Michigan Press [7]

External links Edit


Template:Epicureanismde:Clinamen fr:Clinamen it:Clinamen pl:Teoria parenklizy pt:Clinâmen sk:Clinamen fi:Clinamen sv:Klinamen

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