Daniel smith essays on deleuze

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Essays on Deleuze - Edinburgh University Press

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While at the bar the night before presenting his paper, a good friend and colleague tells about the work of another philosopher that addresses many of the same themes he does, but in a much more interesting way. Our philosopher is caught off guard and a flood of questions is forced upon him: Who is it? How is this possible? How much has she written? Where and when did she write it? And with whom is she associated, and where does that leave our philosopher?

So there he sits, our woeful academic, finding himself adrift, like Proust's jealous lover, "living within a prob- lem, and constrained, involuntarily, to explore its conditions" Essays It is this problematic state, Deleuze argues, that forces one to think; it is the objectivity of what is not known, the "objective dimension of the problem" ibid.

Associated with thinking, however, and with the conditions of the problem that force it upon us, is delirium.

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Daniel W. Smith

Hume was well aware of this fact when in the Treatise he noted that "a lively imagination very often degenerates into madness or folly, and bears it a great resemblance," since for the mad person. For Deleuze univocity is the keystone of the entire philosophy of Spinoza even though, one may note, the word never appears in Spinoza's texts. In the essay on univocity Smith both explains Deleuze's fascination with Spinoza and the thesis on univocity, but also seeks to bring Deleuze's thinking on ontology into rapport with Heidegger and his questioning of the philosophical tradition as one of onto-theology.

Heidegger wrote virtually nothing on Spinoza the same is true of Derrida , an omission that is odd since, as Smith notes, the Ethics is a work of pure ontology and one that clearly stages the problem of the ontological difference in terms of a difference between Being infinite substance and beings finite modes. As Smith explains, although for Spinoza we know only two of the infinite attributes of God thought and extension , these attributes are common forms that can be predicated univocally of both God and his creatures:.

Though formally distinct, the attributes are ontologically univocal. To say that the attributes are univocal means, for example, that it is in the same form that bodies imply extension, and that extension is an attribute of the divine substance the position of immanence. If Spinoza radically rejects the notions of eminence, equivocity, and even analogy, it is because they imply that God possesses these perfections in a form different from that implied in his creatures, a "higher" form the position of transcendence p.

Smith does an equally helpful job in illuminating the univocity of cause for Deleuze, explaining clearly and concisely the difference between a transitive cause, an emanative cause, and an immanent cause. But the most important insight is that for Deleuze Being is equal in itself, being equally and immediately present in all beings and without mediation or an intermediary.

In illuminating such a core topic in Deleuze, Smith shows one of his great merits, namely his extensive and impressive grasp of the history of philosophy, including the ancients and the moderns. This grasp is in evidence in many of the essays collected in this volume and his range is impressive, with informed references to Plato, Duns Scotus, Leibniz, Spinoza, Kant, Heidegger, and so on.

Sometimes he is reliant on others for original insights, such as Graham Parkes on Nietzsche, and sometimes he fails to sufficiently probe a problem in an independent manner -- again, one of the examples I can think of is his usage of Nietzsche's Nachlass remark on overturning Platonism. Nietzsche refers to the goal as one of 'Living in Schein ' semblance or illusion , but precisely what this means, and what its connection might be with Deleuze's emphasis on the problem of simulacra, Smith does not adequately explore.

What it means to overturn Platonism is deeply embedded in Nietzsche's thinking about what philosophy is and about overturning the moment of Socrates as a moment in the history of philosophy. Socrates, or the moment of Platonism, represents for Nietzsche an extreme moment within philosophy's development, one motivated by a pure but dangerous knowledge-drive; it is a moment he contrasts unfavourably with what he sees as the more important moment of Empedocles.

Empedocles is a boundary-line figure for Nietzsche, hovering between poet and rhetorician, between god and man, between scientific man and artist, between statesman and priest, and between Pythagoras and Democritus. He is the motliest figure of ancient philosophy since he demarcates the age of myth, tragedy, and orgiastics and yet there appears in him at the same time a new Greek: democratic statesman, orator, figure of enlightenment, allegorist, and scientific human being.


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Smith does not bring out this aspect of 'overturning Platonism', and he does not attend to the extent to which Deleuze might be ignoring key facets of Nietzsche's project. Two essays in particular serve to highlight the political dimension of Deleuze's philosophy and indeed how Deleuzian conceptual practice can radically transform political philosophy.

These are the essay, 'Politics' 'Flow, Code, and Stock: A Note on Deleuze's Political Philosophy' , and one on Paul Patton's innovative work that seeks to effect a rapport between Deleuze and liberal political philosophy. As Smith points out, following Patton, Deleuze largely ignores the political concepts of the liberal tradition, such as the social contract and rights, because they take as ontologically given the existence of fully-formed or already constituted individuals as political subjects and thus ignore the importance of pre-subjective processes.

As Smith puts it:. The political philosophy developed in Capitalism and Schizophrenia attempts to analyse social formations primarily as physical systems defined in terms of their 'processes', or rather a generalized theory of 'flows', such as flows of matter, of population, of commodities, of knowledge, and so on, and Deleuze is a philosopher, then, not of the primacy of the subject but of pre-subjective processes and flows p.

In this respect Deleuze is similar to Foucault and part of the same French tradition of thought that profoundly breaks with a philosophy of the foundational subject.