November 2018


I desire, I believe, therefore I have


In raising the question of ‘what is society?’ Gabriel Tarde proposes a philosophy of ‘having’ in lieu of a philosophy of ‘being’:


All philosophy hitherto has been based on the verb Be, the definition of which was the philosopher’s stone, which all sought to discover. We may affirm that, if it had been based on the verb Have, many sterile debates and fruitless intellectual exertions would have been avoided. (Monadology and Sociology, 52)


What are then the implications of conceptualizing the subject as a taking, a grasping, a having? What if we could replace the figuration of being a nomad with the assemblage of having or capturing a passage? Society can be defined as a complex system of reciprocal possessions according to Tarde, to the point where the Cartesian cogito ergo sum should be replaced with ‘I desire, I believe, therefore I have’. (MS, 52) ‘Having’ thus creates assemblages of complex systems, types and degrees of entangled possessions, which have yet to be considered, classified and catalogued in the way science has done it: ‘The deep and accelerating divergence between the course of science strictly speaking and that of philosophy comes from the fact that the former, happily, has chosen for its guide the verb Have. For science, everything is explained by properties, not by entities.’ (MS, 53)

‘Having’, ‘not having’ and ‘the will to have’ emerge as recurring referents in the first story of travelling. It seems that the verb ‘to have’ keeps a young woman hoping even in her darkest moments and it is this ‘radical hope’ that constitutes her as a subject.

Please reference as : Maria Tamboukou (2018) ‘Diffractions,-November 2018,’