May, Todd. Gilles Deleuze, An Introduction

May, Todd. Gilles Deleuze An Introduction. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. 1-17. Print.

To remember:

  • In a world that holds banality to be a virtue and originality a disease, Deleuze never stops asking the question of what other possibilities life holds open to us, or, more specifically, of how we might think about things in ways that would open up new regions for living, “We do not even know of what a body is capable, says Spinoza” (3).
  • The questions of how one should live involves a particular way of approaching life. It views life as having a shape: a life – a human life – is a whole that might be approached by way of asking how it should unfold (4)
  • How should one live? … How should one act? (4)
  • [In modern philosophy] Men and women stand alone before their acts and before the judge to whom these acts are submitted. There is no larger whole (or at least no whole larger than one’s society) that requires one’s participation (6).
  • democratic philosophy[:] heirarchy in ancient order. Not only does each creature have a place in cosmological order; it also has a status (6).
  • My actions are distinct from my life as a whole (7).
  • How might one live? (7)
    • [Nietzche:] (god is dead) if we are no longer judged … how might we or how ought we to make our way in the world? How should we think of ourselves? How should we articulate who we are and what we can become? (8)
    • [Jean-Paul Sartre:] There is no longer a question of how one should live or how one should act. There is only a question of how one might live. (8)
    • [Michel Foucault:] philosophical problem – we fail to recognize the historical character of these constraints, and so fail to recognize the freedom before us. We are unable to ask ourselves, in any but the most constricted fashion, how one might live (11).
    • [Jacques Derrida:] constraints lie in the structure of language. Our oppression is not merely in our historical legacy, but in our very words … [“economy” of complementary terms – each bleeding into the other without one being able to fix the borders of their meanings … we must allow the fluidity of terms to remain in play] (13)
  • Meanings of ontology
    • analytic tradition: “the study of what there is” (13); interested in the beings of which the universe is constituted; seek to account for the nature and existence of those beings and their relationship to one another (14)
    • Continental thought: “the study of being (or Being)” (13); often see a question of being that can not be addressed in terms of constituent beings (14)
    • convergence: both ask about the nature of what there is (14)
    • Derrida and Foucault reject ontology in the analytic sense (14)
    • Nietzsche: loss of any transcendence (16)
    • Sartre: existentialism involves a recognition that nothing makes us be who we are, that we are free to create ourselves without an essential ontological nature that dictates the inescapable course of our lives (16)
    • Foucault: identities offered to us by our history must be recognized as contingent rather than necessary, as passing phenomena rather than ontological requirements (16)
    • Derrida: the rigid ontologies of traditional philosophy veil the fluidity of their terms, a fluidity that undercuts the very project of saying what there is and what there is not. The fluidity must be unveiled if we are to are open the question of how one might live (16)
  • [Foucault and Derrida] diverge from Deleuze, who approaches the question of how one might live, not by abandoning it, but embracing it (15)
  • Deleuze’s work:
    • steeped in ontology (15); revels in ontological creation and analysis (15)
    • To read Deleuze is to be introduced into a world of proliferating beings and new forms of life … beings and forms … not part of our everyday experience … [but] they inhere in the fabric of our existence (15)
    • creates a series of ontologies, that challenge two assumptions underlying the rejection of an ontological approach to the question:
      • assumption that ontology involves discovery rather than creation (16)
      • assumption about relationship between identity and difference
      •  [the above assumptions are] a reduction of possibilities (17)
    • Suppose we were to see the study of what there is as a creation rather than a discovery, or, better, as a project where the distinction between creation and discovery is no longer relevant … invert the traditional relationship between creation and discovery … also invert the traditional relationship between identity and difference]

To consume: more todd may


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