Semetsky, I.  (2009).  ‘Deleuze as a Philosopher of Education: Affective Knowledge/Effective Learning’, in The European Legacy, 14 (4): 443-56.

[This is much more knowledgeable and informed by wide reading of Deleuze and a number of other commentaries, but it is also about education in general, how people learn, rather than offering any actual advice for classroom practice.  In fact, cinema would be just as good a way of encouraging such a learning.  I must say I also learned a lot too, and discovered there is far more to read.  I have included my own comments as examples of the thoughts that struck me.

I do worry a bit that this might be read conventionally as a plea for more 'affect' in the usual sense -- lots of lovely subjective emotions. Conventional teachers would love that and would miss out the ones mentioned here -- shock, awe, a wish to explore etc. Mind you, this is also the fault of Deleuze and/or Semetsky, who never consider 'normal' affects, only the ones philsosopher admire]

Deleuze called for ‘an education of the senses by exploring the faculties of perception above and beyond the data of sense impressions…  [a]…  “pedagogy of the concept” that posited a triad of  relations encompassing percepts, affects, and concepts’ (443).  This will offer an explanation of how novel concepts can be created from experience.  Experience should be seen as an experiment with the world, and also as a resource of our power to act [which is what I think affect means, at least in the Cinema books -- especially vol 1.  The lectures on Spinoza offer a more formal 17th century definition as ‘any mode of thought which doesn't represent anything’, a residual category in Spinoza, something which accompanies ideas?].  Deleuze is a 'neorealist as regards both ontology and epistemology, that is, the objects of experience are real, but their reality exceeds what is actually given to senses in experience; it involves the virtual, the actualisation of which represents spatio - temporal dynamisms as subjective processes of individuation.  The process of becoming pertains to subjects and objects alike' (443 - 4).

Thought takes place as an activity, and not just a decision to think.  It operates at the unconscious level.  Experience can provoke new thoughts via a shock, which 'is embedded in the objective structure of an event per se’ (444).  It follows that this will be something beyond normal perception.  Experience therefore does not just test existing concepts, but is a source for developing new ones, in a process of difference and repetition.  Concept construction is therefore creative, 'irreducible to a static recognition, but demand[ing] an experiential and experimental encounter that would force us to think and learn, that is, to create a singular meaning for a particular experience (still un-thought-of and lacking sense)'(444).

However, there is a learning paradox here, first noted by Socrates, which will involve the discussion of dynamic emergence of concepts—the 'philosophical method of transcendental empiricism and the process of the nomadic inquiry into the as-yet-unknown' (444).  This will involve using percepts, affects and concepts [here, affects are described as 'bridging…  The dualistic gap in which the Cartesian subject is situated', and as ‘the necessary conditions for effective learning’—which seems to invoke the cinema books, 444].  Affect in this case energises actualizations of the virtual.

The learning paradox takes the form of suggesting that it is logically impossible to learn from experience, since one either knows what is being experienced already, or, if it is really novel, it cannot be grasped at all (discussed in more detail 445).  One way out, apparently, involves American pragmatism [references on 454.  I can see how this might work, since encountering others forces a kind of recognition that we have something in common with them.  At least we create a collective concept, or one at a greater level of abstraction].  There is also Kierkegaard, who proposed that an encounter with novelty leads to a kind of forced enlightenment, as a miracle, an act of God (446).  [I thought of similar analogies, but secular ones—Althusser on the'flash of lightning that illuminated the dark continent' when Marx discovered science, or all the metaphors of scales falling from the eyes, or sudden flashes of perception as when Galileo saw the swinging lights as pendula, according to Kuhn].

For Deleuze, the first step is to construct or lay out a plane of immanence [fancy way to say develop a philosophy of virtual reality?]  in order to find one's bearings initially, and then to operate topologically on this plane, stretching and folding it in order to generate new concepts.  Desire is needed to drive this process, not conscious will or miracles.  Desire is not just to be conceived as a lack between subjects and objects, but the positive construction of a plane of immanence [in the case of philosophers at least?].  'Desire cannot be considered internal to the subject', because the subject is not yet involved, 'nor does it belong to the object' which is still immanent (446).  The analogy is with composing music [the actual quote, from Dialogues, is pretty weird {surprise!}, referring to “a kind of design in the mind of man or in the mind of God, even when it is accorded a maximum of immanence by plunging it into the depths of Nature, or of the Unconscious"]. Subjects do not possess desire: it is a force that produces reality itself, including the human subject [the reference here is to Delanda on the diagrams in Deleuze].  Desire comes from outside (448).  Immanent desire of this kind creates the plane, or constructs it, but not in the usual 'currently popular social constructivist approach that aligns with essentialists in considering the objective world is inert, or amorphous matter, which is subjugated to the power of human categorisation', with a reference to Delanda again, (446).  It is virtual reality which actualises itself.  Unconscious desire is equivalent to the will to power, but Deleuze also uses other terms such as [God’s?] 'grace' [in Dialogues], as a connection between the spiritual and material.

[I am still not happy.  This dallies with both subjective and objective conceptions, as does the entire project.  I think Deleuze and Guattari do use desire to refer to human intentions, and they also refer to abstract machines to refer to the way in which virtual realities produce singularities.  Of course, desire is also seen as a machine.  The whole issue is confused with the notion of 'becoming' as well.  When discussing becoming other, it seems this is unique to human beings, since no animals apparently seek to become human.  However, becoming also has a much more general sense, to mean something dynamic rather than static, and also a more specific sense, at least for Delanda, in describing material processes that generate novelty, such as the emergence of complex molecules from relatively simple ones in the essay on metals.

Incidentally, the discussion of Little Hans in Thousand Plateaus offers an example of subjective becoming:

The language of children represents a fair expression [but not an understanding surely] of the relations in assemblages before they have been disciplined – and Little Hans’s inquiries are cited – do machines pee/why do some machines like train engines pee; what exactly are the differences between boys and girls and how they pee, the use of indefinite articles ‘a body’ etc. Things like horses are a ‘list of affects’[for him, connected to his own wishes to understand] rather than a clearly defined member of a species – its eyes are blinkered, it has a dark band round its mouth, it drums with its feet etc. So becoming horse means not playing at horse, not developing an analogy with a horse, not empathising with a horse but


whether Little Hans can endow his own elements with the relations of movement and rest, the affects, that would make it become horse, forms and subjects aside. Is there an as yet unknown assemblage that would be neither Hans’ nor the horse’s but that of the becoming–horse for Hans? An assemblage, for example, in which the horse would bare its teeth and Hans might show something else, his feet, his legs, his peepee maker, whatever? And in what way would that ameliorate Hans’ problem, to what extent would it open a way out that had been previously blocked?...[and when Hoffmanstahl contemplates a dying rat and ‘becomes a rat’ ]... This is not an analogy, or a product of the imagination, but a composition of speeds and affects on the plane of consistency; a plan(e), a program, or rather a diagram [I later learned this meant some representation of a mathematical relationship], a problem, a question-machine’ (284-5)

The plane of immanence is complex, a manifold, containing fold structures.  These become important since knowledge depends on the unfolding produced by experience.  It is this unfolding that might be Spinozan joy—'being filled with immanence means becoming fulfilled!' (448).  This contrasts with the notion that fulfilment involves exploring the spiritual or ideal.  This distinction is transcended in Deleuze, since 'everything is real, including that which is not yet actual but as-yet virtual' ( 448).  There is no need for a miracle to gain insight, a practice, or art of perceiving will do it.  Something awakens sense perception, leading to enhanced perception, or a becoming of experience, some actualisation of the virtual has been accomplished.

[Again, I think it is different for kids like Hans and professional philsosophers. Kids lack the conepts element of the triad. Their open questions might be informed by affect, but they cannot reterritorialize]

Deleuze describes a process of ‘different/ciation’ [compare with Derrida?] To describe what happens in actualization.  Virtual tendencies or potentials are not yet things, but need to become actualised or embodied as new events, including new experiences.  The virtual and the actual are linked through processes of ascent and descent [the reference is to Deleuze and Guattari in What is Philosophy.  Presumably, this means ascent and descent in the mathematical sense described by Delanda?].  Actualisation is a dynamic process, and philosophical exploration, or just learning, involves the use of intuition to address the potentials.

We have to first develop percepts—'a perception in becoming  Perceiving something that is not given' (448). Actual perceptions can generate innovative percepts , which increase our powers and help create new concepts.  This follows from unconscious desire, or the will to power, although Deleuze  is also is prepared to call it ‘grace’ in order to show the connections between the spiritual and the material which are folded together.  The plane of immanence therefore becomes a manifold.  Knowledge is always folded in nature for Deleuze, and it requires experience to provide the conditions for unfolding. 

Unfolding should not be seen as a matter of miracles but as events in reality.  Actualisation is compatible with Bergson’s intuition, and, ‘the pragmatic way of knowing’ (449).  [I have recently read a near contemporaneous account of Bergson by Le Roy, which renders intuition as some sort of basic empathic experience, prior to the concepts of common sense or of science, which are imposed on it once we wish to practically manipulate the world.  I am also intrigued by the pragmatic way of knowing and its links with Deleuze.  Apparently, an earlier Semetsky pursues this].  It is ‘the practical method of transcendental empiricism’, empirical because it looks at real objects in experience, transcendental, because it attempts to understand the foundations of empirical principles, and thus moves beyond experience. 

Existing objects are to be read as signs, and philosophers become semioticians.  They do this by deterritorialization, flattening multiplicities back into the plane of consistency.  Virtualities are real, although they are not always actualised.  'The virtual' originally meant something like the maximally real,[the hyperreal?].  Actualities emerge in real conditions.  Affects merge with percepts in order to produce deterritorialization, along a line of flight, ending in reterritorialization [or in easier words, we have to be motivated to develop new percepts?].  The outside for Deleuze ‘is an overcoded virtual space’, which produces existence as we know it (449).  The difference between the virtual and the actual must be created, either by ‘the blueprint of order’, or by ‘art’ (quoting Difference and Repetition, 449). [Again this seems to be two orders of creation here, one for nature and one for humans, unless we’re going to argue art is a version of the blueprint of order?].  Commonsense itself contains a number of indiscernible levels, including the ‘unconscious and aconceptual [sic] ideas/intensities’ (449).  This can enter a zone of proximity where they become indiscernible.  [There is also a reference to the molar and the molecular levels of Thousand Plateaus, 450].

The transcendental field is best seen as an ‘enfolded “abstract drawing”’, rather than a blueprint [a warrant for those strange diagrams in Deleuze?] (450).  Actualisation takes place through affective forces which somehow traverse the old knowledge to produce new knowledge.  These forces can be represented diagrammatically as vectors.  New knowledge is produced that is not just the reproduction of the same knowledge, even if that had been hidden before, but as something different.

Learning takes place in the unconscious, and this somehow leads to a claim that there is ‘a profound complicity between nature and mind’ (citing Difference and Repetition, 450) [so the unconscious is some natural substrate of the mind, or perhaps even a neurological region, or a machine?].  Nature is open and has its own potentials, so any experience of it must contain some of these potentials as implicit meanings.  Mind is also not just a rational mechanism, but is ‘excessive and includes the unconscious, affective dimension’ (450).  Affective knowledge is immanent  in the unconscious, and by necessity self-transcending, capable of becoming [I am still not sure why -- I can see it motivates becoming].

Percepts begin to organise experience, on the plane.  Concepts develop from intuitions and impulses and are never complete.  However, people are compelled to think (450), from the constraints of experience or from other impulses that exist at the virtual level of knowledge.  Experience can produce a shock to thought, as long as it is affective experience.  [‘Shock’ is already being defined here as something affective, something that produces an emotional response?].  Intuition organises these different points along lines.  These lines traverse the old and the new, and cross levels and thresholds.  They are lines of flight, and they enfold insides and outsides.  The old and the new must be enfolded in this way to generate a future-oriented becoming.

Nomadicity is important, drawing on a philosophy of place or a topology.  The concept implies a multiplicity of paths across smooth space.  Nomads involve both experiential and experimental forms of enquiry, a kind of philosophical work.  They follow lines of flight.  Their ideas are ‘intensive multiplicities distributed in smooth space.  [And] it is the space of the unconscious that is smooth’ (451).

The distinction between smooth and striated refers to musical forms, the latter being seen as dynamic and fluid, open and heterogeneous.  Smooth spaces feature a number of directions and voices.  They represent the ‘affective logic of the included middle’ that is the basis of Deleuze and Guattari’s semiotics.  [I am not so sure what this means.  I gather it is a critique of formal logic and its ban on excluded middles, and I suppose it describes another way in which affect drives things across logical gaps.  It is clear that Semetsky wants to demonstrate a crucial role for affect of course].  Affect in this way solves the learning paradox through ‘triadic semiotics encompassing affects, percepts and concepts’ (451).  Apparently, triadic semiotics also help explain why the paradox appears to common sense in the first place – presumably, because it misses out the middle term, the affect which helps bridge the old and the new?

It looks like the deliberate philosophical reading of signs is a way of developing intuition.  In any event, Deleuze says that ‘”Something in the world forces us to think…  a fundamental encounter...  grasped in a range of affective tones: wonder, love, hatred, suffering”’ (a quotation from Difference and Repetition, 451).

Affective thinking looks paradoxical, but is fundamental to philosophy. Philosophers must actually striate smooth space and do the flattening of the multiplicities [so they must engage their own affect to do that? Probably the closest we are ever going to get to a recognition that philosophers need more than just disembodied thought, but way off an actual examination of motives and interests in the usual sense]. They can at least show what they mean by drawing weird diagrams [in terms that mathematicians will like?].

Semetsky’s own diagrams appear on 447 [and are not terribly helpful].  They consist of two figures, graphs with an X and Y axis, and points located on each.  The vertical axis has imaginary numbers, and the horizontal axis as real numbers [apparently, imaginary numbers were important to Leibniz, who saw them as at a level of becoming between being and non being, 452].  She claims that these diagrams literally show how percepts based in the physical world are complemented by intuition along the imaginary axis to produce a new term or new knowledge.  The second diagram in particular shows a vector running from the conjunction of the X and Y axis to the points that represents knowledge.  This shows not just a combination of the imagination and the real, but a convergence.  Apparently, such a process is inseparable from affects, and the actual point can be read as a sign indicating this convergence.

Vectors have both magnitudes and directions, or when shown in diagrams, they represent the dynamics of an abstract structure.  The point that results in her case is the product of triadic factors, permitting a reverse reading, showing how signs undergo transformations, as the ‘resonance of two series’ [which probably makes some sense to mathematicians?  Apparently, it is in agreement with the laws of projective geometry and vector addition] (452).

In conclusion, the model of the psyche as containing depths can be transformed into one of widths, providing a single surface upon which multiplicities are constructed.  Affects, percepts and concepts show how the power of thought can be increased, in order to generate a genuine moment of self referential or reflective thinking.  The concept created ‘posits itself and its object simultaneously’, and is more than just a logical proposition generated by a discourse.  Reflexive knowledge in this sense refers to the ancient Greek notion that things are mere reflections of some underlying universals. 

A premise has to be generated by affective becoming, along a line of flight.  This line is in the world, real, even if it is difficult to perceive it, but there is no need to enter some realm of abstract ideas.  The point is to access virtual ideas to understand singular experiences.  [The cinema seems to be an excellent way to demonstrate this tangibly for Deleuze.  It is very difficult to think of the way in which this might be done in conventional formal education – how do we generate a shock to thought through experience? In Peircian-type encounters with strangers?  The normal conception of experience seems unlikely to do this].

Knowledge is no longer conceived of as a real and an idealistic two-level model.  Actualisation is creative, a task in reality, or a real problem.  As a result, ‘the sensible world becomes intelligible, while affording a degree of sensibility to the intelligible world’ (453).

We need to deploy the logic of the included middle as in Deleuzian semiotics [described here as an a-signifying semiotics, 454.  Certainly, Deleuze has little time for structuralist semiotics in the usual sense, although he quite likes Peirce].  Mathematical understanding can also help trace connections between ‘universal ideas and sensible particulars’ (454).  There is no need to rely on miracles.  The task is to pursue the different transcendental levels through apprehending signs.  Deleuze’s ‘”foundation” for knowledge’ provides a grounding for this (454).

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