Friday, January 06, 2006

Levi Bryant on Deleuze

To my great shame, I've allowed the works of Gilles Deleuze to escape my attention, never having bothered to even open some of his critical volumes, such as Difference and Repitition or Bergsonianism. (I may have leafed through The Logic of Sense years ago, but I was probably searching for some little detail because I certainly didn't linger enough to let it soak in.) Gary's philosophical conversations on Deleuze have piqued my interest, and now the essays of Levi Bryant have definitively shown me the error of my ways. Obviously I can't yet vouch for Bryant's quality as a secondary source for understanding Deleuze, but his concerns seem like the sort of thing I would want to take away from a reading of Deleuze, and I can surely say that his essays are lucid and compelling philosophical narratives in their own right.

In The Transcendental Empiricism of Gilles Deleuze (pdf), Bryant discusses how Deleuzean transcendental empiricism takes up the problem of actualization. It will not seem totally unfamiliar to anybody acquainted with Husserlian phenomenology or its offshoots, but the issue of creativity, I think, is conceived of rather differently than I had suggested previously--it should not be associated with either discovery or free variation in any but the broadest sense. Here is Bryant's summary paragraph:

To conclude, transcendental empiricism is an ontology that accounts for the conditions of the real by relating them back to the intensive differences that condition the actualization of the composite. Epistemologically, this amounts to tracing phenomena back to the real conditions out of which they emerge, rather than explaining them in terms of abstract concepts. However, knowledge here cannot be understood in representational terms that impartially come to know the phenomena, but are themselves processes of actualization insofar as knowing is one way of implicating intensive differences. Moreover, the process of individuation does not produce phenomena according to the model of the Same, but instead produces novelty and creativity in that each actualization occurs under very specific circumstances yielding different actualizations each time. Finally, transcendental empiricism is able to account for philosophies of identity insofar as extensive difference tends to equalize and cover over extensive difference, forming identity as a simulacrum or effect and providing a point of origin for reflective modes of thought.

Bryant's Immanence and the Fractured Cogito: Deleuze's Grounding of the Transcendental Field (pdf) deals with an issue I have grappled with under the guise of questioning whether the Husserlian transcendental ego must be thought of as grounded in the lifeworld, and, if so, what the implications of that are for the phenomenological project. I expect to return to Bryant's essay again. In the meantime, here is the abstract:

One of Deleuze's main projects consists in overturning philosophies of reflection based on the primacy of the Subject. To do this, Deleuze proposes the idea of a transcendental field which is more primordial than the subject and which functions as the ground out of which subjects and objects are actualized. If Deleuze's strategy is to be successful, he must show why he is entitled to assert the existence of a transcendental field. In this essay, I show how the manner in which time mediates the subject's self-relation entitles Deleuze to posit the transcendental field and overcome philosophies of reflection.

Right of the bat, there seems to be a problem in the way the "philosophies of reflection" are being argued against, as a distinction between the transcendental ego and the Subject is one that phenomenologists have insisted upon. However, Deleuze forcefully rejects this sort of argument, and, in doing so, comes to the heart of what makes phenomenology interesting--to me at least. Man, I am really chomping at the bit to get my hands on these books.

posted by Fido the Yak at 3:05 AM.


Blogger Joshua said...

all of the links referencing Levi Bryant's papers are dead links. Can you refresh these?

March 31, 2008 10:54 PM  

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