Gilles Deleuze January 18, —November 4, was one of the most influential and prolific French philosophers of the second half of the twentieth century. Deleuze also produced studies in the history of philosophy on Hume, Nietzsche, Kant, Bergson, Spinoza, Foucault, and Leibniz , and on the arts a two- volume study of the cinema, books on Proust and Sacher-Masoch, a work on the painter Francis Bacon, and a collection of essays on literature. Deleuze considered these latter works as pure philosophy, and not criticism, since he sought to create the concepts that correspond to the artistic practices of painters, filmmakers, and writers. Their final collaboration was What is Philosophy? It is this metaphysics that interests me. Deleuze was born in Paris to conservative, middle-class parents, who sent him to public schools for his elementary education; except for one year of school in Normandy during the Occupation, he lived in the same section of Paris his entire life.
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Gilles Deleuze January 18, —November 4, was one of the most influential and prolific French philosophers of the second half of the twentieth century.
Deleuze also produced studies in the history of philosophy on Hume, Nietzsche, Kant, Bergson, Spinoza, Foucault, and Leibniz , and on the arts a two- volume study of the cinema, books on Proust and Sacher-Masoch, a work on the painter Francis Bacon, and a collection of essays on literature. Deleuze considered these latter works as pure philosophy, and not criticism, since he sought to create the concepts that correspond to the artistic practices of painters, filmmakers, and writers.
Their final collaboration was What is Philosophy? It is this metaphysics that interests me. Deleuze was born in Paris to conservative, middle-class parents, who sent him to public schools for his elementary education; except for one year of school in Normandy during the Occupation, he lived in the same section of Paris his entire life. His personal life was unremarkable; he remained married to the same woman he wed at age 31, Fanny Denise Paul Grandjouan, a French translator of D.
Lawrence, and raised two children with her. He rarely traveled abroad, although he did take a trip to the United States in ; for the most part he minimized his attendance at academic conferences and colloquia, insisting that the activity of thought took place primarily in writing, and not in dialogue and discussion. Deleuze traced his initiation into literature and philosophy to his encounter with a teacher at Deauville named Pierre Halbwachs son of the sociologist Maurice Halbwachs , who introduced him to writers such as Gide and Baudelaire.
Early on, he recalled, philosophical concepts struck him with the same force as literary characters, having their own autonomy and style. Like many of his peers he was as influenced by the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre as he was by the work of his academic mentors. It was also during this time that he contracted the recurring respiratory ailment that would plague him for the rest of his life.
The next year, , proved to be an important one for Deleuze. First, he found a permanent teaching position in Paris, at the experimental campus of the University of Paris VIII in Vincennes which later moved to its current location in St. Denis ; he gave weekly seminars at this institution until his retirement in Second, he published another major text in his own name, Logic of Sense. He then resumed his collaboration with Guattari for their final joint work, What is Philosophy?
In writing these works, Deleuze sought to unearth the presuppositions he absorbed in his education; chief among them, he felt, was a deep-seated privilege of identity over difference. Deleuze thus set about trying to accelerate however he could a departure from Hegel, whom he saw as emblematic of that privilege. Deleuze characterized his own work as a philosophy of immanence, arguing that Kant himself had failed to realize fully the ambitions of his critique, for at least two reasons: first, the failure to pursue a fully immanent critique, and second, the failure to propose a genetic account of real experience, resting content with the account of the conditions of possible experience.
First, Kant made the field of consciousness immanent to a transcendental subject, thereby reintroducing an element of identity that is transcendent that is, external to the field itself, and reserving all power of synthesis that is, identity-formation in the field to the activity of the always already unified and transcendent subject.
Together the passive syntheses at all these levels form a differential field within which subject formation takes place as an integration or resolution of that field; in other words, subjects are roughly speaking the patterns of these multiple and serial syntheses which fold in on themselves producing a site of self-awareness. Of course, Deleuze never simply proclaims this as a bald thesis, but develops a genetic account of subjectivity in many of his books.
In other words—and this is a pragmatic perspective from which Deleuze never deviated—philosophy aims not at stating the conditions of knowledge qua representation, but at finding and fostering the conditions of creative production. In other words, Maimon called for a genetic method that would be able to reach the conditions of real and not merely possible experience.
Maimon found a solution to this problem in a principle of difference: whereas identity is the condition of possibility of thought in general, it is difference that constitutes the genetic and productive principle of real thought. In Bergsonism , Deleuze develops the ideas of virtuality and multiplicity that will serve as the backbone of his later work.
The positive name for that genetic condition is the virtual, which Deleuze adopts from the following Bergsonian argument. We then reverse the procedure and think of the real as something more than possible, that is, as the possible with existence added to it. By contrast, Deleuze will reject the notion of the possible in favor of that of the virtual.
Rather than awaiting realization, the virtual is fully real; what happens in genesis is that the virtual is actualized. The fundamental characteristic of the virtual, that which means it must be actualized rather than realized, is its differential makeup.
For instance, Deleuze criticizes Kant for copying the transcendental field in the image of the empirical field. That is, empirical experience is personal, identitarian and centripetal; there is a central focus, the subject, in which all our experiences are tagged as belonging to us.
Deleuze still wants to work back from experience, but since the condition cannot resemble the conditioned, and since the empirical is personal and individuated, the transcendental must be impersonal and pre-individual.
The virtual is the condition for real experience, but it has no identity; identities of the subject and the object are products of processes that resolve, integrate, or actualize the three terms are synonymous for Deleuze a differential field. The Deleuzean virtual is thus not the condition of possibility of any rational experience, but the condition of genesis of real experience. As we have seen, the virtual, as genetic ground of the actual, cannot resemble that which it grounds; thus, if we are confronted with actual identities in experience, then the virtual ground of those identities must be purely differential.
A typological difference between substantive multiplicities, in short, is substituted for the dialectical opposition of the one and the multiple. To these he added a trio of pre-Kantians, Spinoza, Leibniz and Hume, but read through a post-Kantian lens. There are many Spinozist inheritances in Deleuze, but one of the most important is certainly the notion of univocity in ontology.
The result is a Spinozism minus substance, a purely modal or differential universe. In univocity, as Deleuze reads Spinoza, the single sense of Being frees a charge of difference throughout all that is. In univocal ontology being is said in a single sense of all of which it is said, but it is said of difference itself. What is that difference? In social terms, puissance is immanent power, power to act rather than power to dominate another; we could say that puissance is praxis in which equals clash or act together rather than poiesis in which others are matter to be formed by the command of a superior, a sense of transcendent power that matches what pouvoir indicates for Deleuze.
In the most general terms Deleuze develops throughout his career, puissance is the ability to affect and to be affected, to form assemblages or consistencies, that is, to form emergent unities that nonetheless respect the heterogeneity of their components. This is the point where one begins to consider the virtual domain on its own account, freed from its actualization in a world and its individuals.
First, God is no longer a Being who compares and chooses the richest compossible world; he has now become a pure Process that affirms incompossibilities and passes through them. Third, selves or individuals, rather than being closed upon the compossible and convergent world they express from within, are now torn open, and kept open through the divergent series and incompossible ensembles that continually pull them outside themselves. In other words, if Deleuze is Leibnizian, it is only by eliminating the idea of a God who chooses the best of all possible worlds, with its pre-established harmony and well-established selves; in Deleuze, incompossibilities and dissonances belong to one and the same world, the only world, our world.
First, rather than seeking the conditions for possible experience, Deleuze wants to provide an account of the genesis of real experience, that is, the experience of this concretely existing individual here and now. Second, to respect the demands of the philosophy of difference, the genetic principle must itself be a differential principle. However, despite these departures, Deleuze maintains a crucial alignment with Kant; Difference and Repetition is still a transcendental approach.
Transcendental philosophy in fact critiques the pretensions of other philosophies to transcend experience by providing strict criteria for the use of syntheses immanent to experience. Three further preliminary notes are in order here. First, as we will discuss in section 4 below, the Capitalism and Schizophrenia project of Deleuze and Guattari will bring to the fore naturalist tendencies that are only implicitly present in the still-Kantian framework of Difference and Repetition.
It is the experience by human subjects of this individual object in front of it, and it is the experience enjoyed by the concretely existing individual itself, even when that individual is non-human or even non-living. Second, then, in the demand for genetic principles to account for the real experience of concrete individuals, Deleuze is working in the tradition of the Principle of Sufficient Reason.
We are now ready to discuss the book itself. Deleuze inverts this priority: identity persists, but is now a something produced by a prior relation between differentials dx rather than not-x. Difference is no longer an empirical relation but becomes a transcendental principle that constitutes the sufficient reason of empirical diversity for example, it is the difference of electrical potential between cloud and ground that constitutes the sufficient reason of the phenomenon of lightning.
Let us take up the first four postulates. The first postulate concerns our supposed natural disposition to think; the denial of this is what necessitates our being forced to think. The second and third postulates concern subjective and objective unity.
Here difference is submitted to a fourfold structure that renders difference subordinate to identity: 1 identity in the concept; 2 opposition of predicates; 3 analogy in judgment; and 4 resemblance in perception. Finally, the relation of substance to the other categories is analogical, such that being is said in many ways, but with substance as the primary way in which it is said.
Here we see the dynamic genesis from intensity in sensation to the thinking of virtual Ideas. Each step here has a distinct Kantian echo. Intensity is the characteristic of the encounter, and sets off the process of thinking, while virtuality is the characteristic of the Idea. With the notions of intensive and extensive we come upon a crucial distinction for Deleuze that is explored in Chapters 4 and 5 of Difference and Repetition. Extensive differences, such as length, area or volume, are intrinsically divisible.
A volume of matter divided into two equal halves produces two volumes, each having half the extent of the original one. Intensive differences, by contrast, refer to properties such as temperature or pressure that cannot be so divided. However, the important property of intensity is not that it is indivisible, but that it is a property that cannot be divided without involving a change in kind. Drawing on these kinds of analyses, Deleuze will assign a transcendental status to the intensive: intensity, he argues, constitutes the genetic condition of extensive space.
Intensive processes are themselves in turn structured by Ideas or multiplicities. An Idea or multiplicity is really a process of progressive determination of differential elements, differential relations, and singularities. Let us take these step-by-step.
Finally, these differential relations of an individual language determine singularities or remarkable points at which the pattern of that language can shift: the Great Vowel Shift of Middle English being an example, or more prosaically, dialect pronunciation shifts.
For another example—and here, in the applicability of his schema to widely divergent registers, is one of the aspects of Deleuze as metaphysician—let us try to construct the Idea of hurricanes. These flows qua differential elements enter into relations of reciprocal determination linking changes in any one element to changes in the others; thus temperature and pressure differences will link changes in air and water currents to each other: updrafts are related to downdrafts even if the exact relations the tightness of the links, the velocity of the flows are not yet determined.
Finally, at singular points in these relations singularities are determined that mark qualitative shifts in the system, such as the formation of thunderstorm cells, the eye wall, and so on. But this is still the virtual Idea of hurricanes; real existent hurricanes will have measurable values of these variables so that we can move from the philosophical realm of sufficient reason to that of scientific causation.
A hurricane is explained by its Idea, but it is caused by real wind currents driven by real temperature supplied by the sun to tropical waters. To see how Ideas are transcendental and immanent, we have to appreciate that an Idea is a concrete universal. The second case, on the contrary, defines a differential Idea in the Deleuzean sense: the different colors are no longer objects under a concept, but constitute an order of mixture in coexistence and succession within the Idea; the relation between the Idea and a given color is not one of subsumption, but one of actualization and differenciation; and the state of difference between the concept and the object is internalized in the Idea itself, so that the concept itself has become the object.
White light is still a universal, but it is a concrete universal, and not a genus or generality. Indeed, Deleuze adopts a number of neoplatonic notions to indicate the structure of Ideas, all of which are derived from the root word pli [fold]: perplication, complication, implication, explication, and replication. Similarly, the Idea of sound could be conceived of as a white noise, just as there is also a white society or a white language, which contains in its virtuality all the phonemes and relations destined to be actualized in the diverse languages and in the remarkable parts of a same language.
We can now move to discuss Chapter 5, on the individuation of concretely existing real entities as the actualization of a virtual Idea. In isolating the conditions of genesis, Deleuze sets up a tripartite ontological scheme, positing three interdependent registers: the virtual, intensive, and actual.
Simply put, the actualization of the virtual proceeds by way of intensive processes. Tying together the themes of difference, multiplicity, virtuality and intensity, at the heart of Difference and Repetition we find a theory of Ideas dialectics based neither on an essential model of identity Plato , nor a regulative model of unity Kant , nor a dialectical model of contradiction Hegel , but rather on a problematic and genetic model of difference.
From these examples we can see that Ideas structure the intensive processes that give rise to the behavior patterns of systems, and their singularities mark the thresholds at which systems change behavior patterns. In a word, the virtual Idea is the transformation matrix for material systems or bodies. For an example of such heterogeneity, let us return to hurricane formation, the Idea of which we sketched above.
Here it should be intuitively clear that there is no central command, but a self-organization of multiple processes of air and water movement propelled by temperature and pressure differences.
His metaphysical treatise Difference and Repetition is considered by many scholars to be his magnum opus. Moore , citing Bernard Williams 's criteria for a great thinker, ranks Deleuze among the "greatest philosophers". Deleuze was born into a middle-class family in Paris and lived there for most of his life. During the Nazi occupation of France , Deleuze's older brother, Georges, was arrested for his participation in the French Resistance , and died while in transit to a concentration camp.
Negotiations, Gilles Deleuze. Negotiations traces the intellectual journey of a man widely acclaimed as one of the most important French philosphers. A provocative guide to Deleuze by Deleuze, the collection clarifies the key critical concepts in the work of this vital figure in contemporary philosphy, who has had a lasting impact on a variety of disciplines, including aesthetics, film theory, psycho-analysis, and cultural studies. Gilles Deleuze.