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Gary Genosko

Subject Philosophy
Sociological and Social Theory » Postmodern Theory

Key-Topics postmodernism

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


In the mid-1970s the concept of the rhizome was borrowed from plant science by French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. It describes the open, horizontal growth of underground tuber systems like common weeds. In their hands, the rhizome became a kind of critical thought that was contrasted with arborescent thinking of the tree-root type that has dominated all the western tradition. The botanical origin was not respected. It quickly spilled over into animals, books, nervous systems, networks, and subcultures. The concept thus acquired flexibility. Tree thought is hierarchical and centered around a trunk and its roots, branches, stems, and leaves. The relations between these parts are preestablished, as in the trees used in both logic and linguistics that divide and subdivide branches and fix how and under which conditions, and even when, constants are related, largely by means of dichotomies. By contrast, rhizome thought does not have a center since connections may be established at any time between disparate parts. Rhizomes proliferate and their connections multiply, largely unconstrained by hierarchies and preexisting pathways. Rhizomes connect by conjunctions, whereas trees restrict and define by means of the copula. Tree thinking starts and finishes, whereas rhizomes form new open lines of alliance. Rhizomes are creatures of a non-arrestable moving middle. Around ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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