NOTES ON: Deleuze G and F Guattari (1994) What is Philosophy?, London: Verso Books

Dave Harris

I read this after reading Logic of Sense, but, above all, after reading DeLanda’s rational reconstruction of Deleuze, which is indispensable.


You only ask about philosophy at the end of a career when you’ve done some [they are thinking about their reputation?].  ‘Philosophy is the art of forming, inventing, and fabricating concepts’ (2).  It is something that emerges from discussion between friends [and against critics?].  Friends are persons ‘intrinsic to thought…  a conceptual persona’, which includes rivals (3).  There is no surprise that it emerged with the development of the city in Greece.

The philosopher is also the ‘potentiality of the concept’.  He creates concepts, especially ones that ‘are always new’.  Other disciplines are also creative, although they can manage without concepts.  Concepts are never just discovered.  Philosophy is therefore not contemplation, nor simple reflection or communication.  Lots of people reflect without philosophy, [and without inventing new concepts], communication can lead to consensus rather than concepts, and like reflection and communication, produce universals, including areas like objective and subjective idealism.  Instead, a philosophical concept is ‘always a singularity’ (7).  Universals need themselves to be explained.  Creating concepts involves intuition and also ‘a field, a plain, and a ground’ (7).

Concepts are signed, for example Leibniz’s monad, and can even be labelled with a special word, archaisms, neologisms.  Constructing these requires ‘a specifically philosophical taste...  A philosophical language within language’ (8).  Concepts also supply material that gives philosophy a consistency.

There are however other ways of thinking, ‘like scientific thought [which] do not have to pass through concepts’ (8).  What do philosophical concepts do?  There seems to be always a time and a place for creating concepts [so there’s some weak sociology of knowledge here?].  Plato needed to develop philosophy in order to judge the validity of different claims to wisdom [links back to the issue of distinguishing copies from simulacra]. [See als the ABCDaire on this -- I for Idea]  Philosophy has certainly had lots of rivals, especially sociology, but this arises from the false pursuit of universals, which clearly run the risk of being turned into the world views of different people.  Psychoanalysis was another rival.  Finally, among the other ‘insolent and calamitous rivals’ came computer science marketing and other ‘disciplines of communication’, all claiming to be able to invent concepts and have ideas (10), reducing the concepts to the product display.  The rise of the simulacrum has helped this displacement.  There is thus even more need to dispose of ‘shameless and inane rivals’ (11).

It is particularly necessary to insist on the concepts of philosophical reality rather than knowledge or representations.  Concepts are ‘self positing...  Autopoetic’ (11).  This self consistency means genuinely free creative activity is required to uncover it [to break with convention]: ‘the most subjective will be the most objective’ (11).  Hegel argued this, although he saw it as a matter of animating universals.  Kantians  saw creation as a matter of pure subjectivity.  Both tend to encourage the eventual triumph of commercial professional training [of philosophers, or is this a rebuke of professional communicators again?].

[Sounds very much like Barthes trying to defend himself against ‘the vulgate’ by going on to ‘new’ more scholastic  semiotics.  Professional and academic rivalry emerge as a factor in Deleuze’s philosophy:  philosophy is justified as having to service reality itself.  Note also the increasing importance of matters of taste—shameless and inane rivals!].

Part 1

 [To cut a long babbling story short, and to cut through the delirious ‘stream of consciousness‘ stuff where Deleuze—because I insist it must be him—seems to just sit in an armchair dreaming, and mentioning every thought that crops up instead, a concept is (a diagram or description of) a multiplicity.  Sometimes there is a reference, but mostly, it is allusions as usual.  At one stage, even the third line of the Internationale is reproduced but not quoted (must be Guattari)!  Eventually, it becomes recognisable, but only thanks to Delanda. 

Concepts are sometimes associated with named philosophers, but we should not be confused about their attachment to subjectivity.  These named philosophers are only ‘conceptual personae’, and mere cartographers of the plane of immanence.  Concepts do need ‘friends’, however. 

The three main ways of recognizing the origin of concepts—metaphysics, transcendentalism and subjectivity, are criticized as they are in Logic of Sense.  There is the same insistence on divergence and chance, which must be preserved, Deleuze tells us, because otherwise we might be led to consider general or even universal concepts: these are ruled out from the beginning in order to conform to Deleuze’s philosophical commitments. 

This chapter also introduces themes that run throughout the books about the relation between philosophy, the arts, and sciences. There is also the stubborn refusal to acknowledge any sociological issues, apart from an occasional reference like the ones to Simmel and a bit of Marxism. Instead, reality itself calls forth philosophers, and, in a particularly daft last chapter in this section, geography influences philosophy –the Greeks were able to deterritorialise because they had long coasts!! I reckon  I got them both on the issue of taste, again not traced to sociological origins or anything, which bears a strong resemblance to what Bourdieu calls the taste for the avant-garde shared among radical intellectuals and the petit bourgeoisie.]

Chapter one.  What is A Concept?

A concept is never simple but a combination, or ‘it is a multiplicity’ (15).  However, no single concept can express all the components of chaos, even universal ones, which reduce chaos by exercising contemplation reflection or communication.  Concepts articulate, cut and cross cut through the mental chaos which threaten to absorb them.  Concepts are always connected to problems [there is a strange acknowledgement of relationships with other individuals as well, or rather other subjects—an acknowledgement of the role of others in constructing realities?].  Concepts arising from badly understood problems yield a ‘pedagogy of the concept’ (16).

Another person indicates another possible world.  [There is some incomprehensible stuff about concepts also requiring an existing face and real language].  We detour into  Leibniz and the modal logic of possibilities.  Concepts have histories involving their relationship with the other concepts, which in turn relate to other problems and other planes.  Concepts also have a becoming, a relationship with concepts on the same plane, arising from junctions of problems.  Again other people seem to be crucial to extend our own world and raise other possibilities.  There is a perceptual space constructed with other possible concepts.  Concepts also relate components together, rather as sets overlap (20); concepts can also bridge to other concepts.  Concepts are animated by an intensive feature, a surveying, which traverses components; unlike the scientific notion of constant variables—these are simple variations.  Concepts are therefore heterogeneous, ordinal and intensive in organizing their components.

Concepts are incorporeal even though embodied, but there are no empirical coordinates or energies.  Concepts are haecceities.  The concept is  defined as ‘the inseparability  of a finite number of heterogeneous components traversed by a point of absolute survey at infinite speed’ (21) [the infinite speed bit presumably is some intensive alternative for an objective relation like causality].  This is why concepts require thoughts because thought operates at infinite speed [?].  Concepts condense an event as an absolute whole, even though a fragmentary one.  The fragments mean that it is also relative, and can be reshaped, as when philosophers correct their ideas.  Concepts are virtual, and have no reference outside.[contradicted below?]

Concepts are not simply discursive or propositional either.  If they were, there would be scientific concepts [what an odd argument], and clear expression of meaning.  However, philosophical concepts often appear as ‘the proposition deprived of sense’ (22) [a very good thing, of course since it grasps all the elements of work, including sense and nonsense].  This is why logic is not philosophy.  Propositions have references, to states of affairs, extensionality, which permits discursivity.  This limits our understanding of the operation of concepts which can include ‘non discursive resonance’, a matter of vibration within and between concepts (23).  There is no discursive whole.  This means philosophy is ‘in a perpetual state of digression or digressiveness’ (23) [his fucking philosophy certainly is!].  This is the source of the major difference between philosophy and science—roughly, that insisting on referring to outside states of affairs limits science which masks bits of reality.  The same point distinguishes named scientists who are ‘partial observers’, compared to ‘conceptual personae’ only in philosophy.  Whereas philosophy focuses on the concepts in propositions, science focuses on prospects [predictions?] and art ‘extracts percepts and affects (which must not be confused with perceptions or feelings)’ (24).  The disciplines are distinct although also interbred.

The first example is that of Descartes and the notion of self or I.  Luckily it includes a brilliant diagram as below.  The point seems to be that there are several versions of the I actually implied, which condense at a particular point I right at the top of the diagram.  The other Is refer to doubting and thinking, while the while at the bottom is the I that is being.  The areas between the lines are ‘zones of neighbourhood or indiscernibility that produce passages from one to the other constitutes their inseparability' (25)

The verbs represent variations, and there are various phases of  variation that include 'perceptual, scientific, obsessional doubt (every concept therefore has a phase space, although not in the same way as in science’ (25).



diagram of the cogito

This complete concept by Descartes includes elements which other philosophers have thought of, as well as prephilosophical understandings of thinking and being, but Descartes had formulated a specific problem or a specific plane.  This plane is unpopulated until the first concept—the cogito—which then has to be bridged to subsequent concepts.

Descartes might have been wrong to start with the subjective presuppositions, but the point is that his concept refers to particular problems and planes.  We can only judge concepts by their function, and new concepts only arise with new problems and planes.  'Nothing at all can be said' on whether one plane is better than any other, or one problem more important (27).  However, 'new concepts must relate to our problems, to our history, and, above all, to our becomings' (27) [we wouldn't want to seem irrelevant].  Better concepts are able to develop newer variations and insights, but so can old concepts if they are suitably reactivated.  However, we must do what those older philosophers did rather than just repeat them.  'For this reason philosophers have very little time for discussion' (28).  No-one ever talks about the same thing, and the point is to go on and create concepts—'when it comes to creating, conversation is always superfluous' (28).  Philosophy is not endless discussion.  'To criticize is only to establish that the concept vanishes when it is forced into a new milieu' (28)

Those who advocate debate and communication 'are inspired by ressentiment.  They speak only of themselves when they set empty generalisations against one another' (29).  Even Socrates actually made discussion impossible, via ‘a  pitiless monologue'(29). 

The second example is about Plato and his concept of the One.  However, he introduces an historical dimension, insisting that the One is always present as the Idea.  Things can only possess qualities by participating in the Idea, and the extent to which they do enables the judgement of them.  Participation involves neighbourhood proximity to the Idea.  Descartes had to ignore addition of time and priority, so that the concept became instantaneous.  Kant introduces a new component into the cogito—time or priority again, which produces a passive self.  Criticism in each case means the construction of a new plane to solve new problems, so the kantian time is different from platonic.  The paths between these philosophers do indicate the becoming of concepts, and this is therefore 'pedagogical' (32).  [I think this means that more and more elements are revealed until we arrive at a multiplicity].

This notion of the concept, pure knowledge, not tied to states of affairs, is the proper task of philosophy: 'always to extract an event from things and beings, to set up the new events from things and beings, always to give them a new event: space, time, matter, thought, the possible as events' (33).  This is different from what science does which does not create concepts as its main task.  There is a focus on reference to states of affairs and the conditions: 'science needs only propositions or functions, whereas philosophy…  does not need to invoke a lived that would give only a ghostly and extrinsic life to secondary, bloodless concepts' (33).  Philosophy examines the whole of the lived rather than specific states of affairs, and its proper task is to create concepts that do that.


Chapter two The Plane of Immanence

Concepts do not fit neatly together, but they do resonate to produce 'a powerful Whole' on a plane, 'a table, a plateau, or a slice…  A plane of consistency…  The plane of immanence of concepts’ (35).  There must be some discontinuity, or else they congeal to form a universal closed mega concept.  Philosophy has to lay out such a plane, a milieu.  Concepts are concrete assemblages, but the plane 'is the abstract machine of which these assemblages are the working parts' (36).  Planes provide an absolute horizon 'independent of any observer, which makes the event as concept independent of a visible state of affairs in which it is brought about'(36).  Planes and concepts are interdependent [in various annoyingly poetic ways, 36-37].  Planes of Immanence are best seen as 'the image of thought, the image thought gives itself of what it means to think, to make use of thought, to find one's bearings in thought' (37).  This presupposes methods.  It is not just a matter of opinions about thought, which must be distinguished as contingent features [and the same goes for contemplation reflection and communication again].  Thought is only interested in movements that lead to infinity [that is not in petty limited thoughts like you find in science—or politics, presumably].

Truth and thought are interwoven in these comings and goings: ‘movement is not the image of thought without being also the substance of being’.  Complexity of the relationships mean that as one returns, another is relaunched.  There are thus no splits in the ‘One – All of the plane of immanence…  [But a]…  Variable curvature…  concavities and convexities, its fractal nature’ (38).  All the elements  and movements are folded together infinitely.  What constitutes different planes at different times as in the philosophical examples discussed above?  They are specified infinitely as well.

The plane of immanence is not the same as the concepts that occupy it: ‘elements of the plane are diagrammatic features, whereas concepts are intensive features’ (39). Concepts are limited by their intensive ordinates, which provide dimensions instead of directions.  Philosophical intuition becomes a kind of envelopment of infinite movements.  Concepts do require specific constructions, however and are not just deduced from movements: they require ‘conceptual personae’ (40).

Planes of immanence involve prephilosophical non conceptual understanding, as when Descartes built upon implicit understandings of thinking, or Heidegger being.  However, the prephilosophical refers to something presupposed by philosophy rather than something which exists before it [which leads to a lot of vague familiar stuff about philosophy having to incorporate the nonphilosophical just as sense incorporates non sense—Deleuze says this helps it be grasped by non philosophers!] And concepts are created, the plane is presupposed, as a kind of ground, foundation or ‘deterritorialization’ [how can the ground be deterritorialized? --relative to philosophical assemblages?] (41).

Thinking mostly provokes indifference except when it becomes dangerous.  However, the prephilosophical nature of the plane allows a certain experimentation and even unreasonable activities such as drunkenness and excess, or dreams.  This can also lead to disapproval, which extends to the concepts created [then a weird bit: ‘This is because one does not think about becoming something else, something that does not think—an animal, a molecule, a particle—and that comes back to thought and revives it’ (42).  In other words, philosophers need to get pissed or laid  now and then?]. 

The plane of immanence is a section through chaos, or a sieve.  It is a matter of reducing the infinite speed of chaos.  Philosophers need to impose some consistency without reducing the infinite too much.  This contrasts with scientists who need to slow everything down and identify points.  Suitably open concepts are required for philosophy.

[Then a diversion about why philosophy appeared in Greece.  They first thought of the idea of a plane as a slice through chaos, apparently or rather as a sieve.  They fought off theological conceptions of order as transcendent and hierarchical.  This required a set of friends, including mythological ones like Love and Hatred.  They still have to pretend to be theologians, though, but generally ‘replace genealogy with a geology’ (43 – 4)].

[Then another example about how philosophers thought of the plane of immanence, from the Greeks, through Christians, who had to introduce infinite possibilities rather carefully.  This shows how dangerous is the notion of immanence.  Descartes, Kant and Husserl saw the immanent in terms of a consciousness, and in transcendental terms.  This necessarily involved a transcendence that referred to another self or another consciousness, and the eventual emergence of transcendence as a separate from immanence.  This step also stopped the infinite movement of immanence, which now appeared as ‘a prison (solipsism) from which the Transcendent will save us’ (47).  Sartre develops an impersonal transcendental field, and redefines the subject as nothing but a habit, ‘the habit of saying I’ (48).  Spinoza had the best conception of the immanent and is ‘therefore the prince of philosophers’ (48).  He argued that ‘freedom exists only within immanence’, and the plane which united being and thinking (48).

It is hard to think of what the plane is without illusions, some of which arise from the plane of immanence itself.  The illusion of transcendence is one of these, and another is ‘the illusion of universals when concepts are confused with the plane’ (49).  There is also the illusion of the eternal which forgets that concepts have to be created, and the illusion of discursiveness ‘when propositions are confused with concepts’ (50).

Chaos produces a multiplicity of planes, hence the distinct planes of philosophy produced by different selections of what constitutes thought.  Actual philosophies may imply several planes, and this raises the problem of how they might be grouped – historicism?  Relativism?  Great philosophers have always thought differently, unlike the ‘functionaries who, buying a ready made thought, are not even conscious of the problem and unaware even of the efforts of those they claim to take as their models’ (51).  So how to manage multiplicity without reconstituting chaos?  It is hard to think of Immanence without thinking of something it is immanent to, which would reintroduce the errors of transcendence and so on.

[Philosophy can derive concepts from states of affairs, and having done so, other determinations can be identified and resisted for example as an error, itself immanent in thought for the classics.  Ignorance and superstition eventually replace the idea of error, and later illusions or fogs.  Eventually, empiricism urged, although even that still presupposes philosophical or ‘diagrammatic features that make beliefs an infinite movement independent of religion’ (53).  In each case, ambiguity is common.  Lots of reference to philosophers I have never heard of follow, 54-55.  Then there is a lovely bit where philosophers are imagined as diagrams, and there is a diagram of 'machinic Kant', 56 – 57:

machinic Kant

'The components of the scheme are as follows: 1) the “I think” as an oxhead wired for sound, which constantly repeats Self = Self;  2) the categories as universal concepts (four great headings): shafts that are extensive and retractile according to the movement of 3); 3) the moving wheel of the schemata; 4) the shallow stream of Time as form of interiority, in and out of which the wheel of the schemata plunges; 5) space as form of exteriority: the stream’s banks and bed; 6) the passive self at the bottom of the stream and as junction of the two forms; 7) the principles of synthetic judgments that run across space-time; 8) the transcendental field of possible experience, immanent to the "I"" (plane of immanence); and 9) the three Ideas or illusions of transcendence (circles turning on the absolute horizon: Soul, World and God).'(57)

So sometimes planes of Immanence diverge and sometimes converge, and the creation of concepts is complex—sometimes the same plane is reworked or extended, sometimes another plane is constructed.  ‘Can we say that one plane is “better” than another, or, at least, that it does or does not answered to the requirements of the age?’ (58).  There is no simple progress through historical time, but rather a ‘stratigraphic time’, variable curvature, strata of the plane of immanence, mental landscapes (58).  ‘Philosophy is becoming not history; it is the coexistence of planes, not the succession of systems’ (59).  There is a constant struggle with transcendence and illusion and, so the best plane of immanence ‘is, at the same time, that which must be thought and that which cannot be thought.  It is the nonthought within thought’ (59) [Handy that!  They are not interested in evaluating specific philosophies, but rather holding to some notion of a general plane of immanence which underpins all of them.  Rather reminiscent of the (general and philosophical) politics that underpins (specific) politics in Derrida—a form of eternal evasion says Fraser].  This conception is ‘the supreme act of philosophy…  To show that it is there, unthought in every plane’ (59).  Spinoza is nearest, with his conception that ‘inspires the fewest illusions, bad feelings, and erroneous perceptions’ (60).

Chapter three Conceptual Personae

Descartes shows the concept draws upon implicit presuppositions, ‘an image of thought: everyone knows what thinking means’ (61).  There is something else, a someone, who has presuppositions, the private thinker, working with ‘innate forces that every one possesses on their own account by right’, an idiot, quite unlike the teacher who refers to taught concepts.  This is a conceptual persona, and various philosophies ‘enliven’ (62) them according to who they think is actually doing the thinking [and examples follow various traditions].  Readers must reconstitute these  personae.  Sometimes they have a proper name, as when Socrates thinks for Platonism. [So they are ideal types really?]

Conceptual personae can develop a plane of immanence and help to create concepts, sometimes by pointing out limits and dangers.  Philosophers are only ‘the envelope’ [that is a condensation] of their conceptual personae.  Thus ‘I am no longer myself but thought's aptitude for finding itself and  spreading across a plane that passes through me at several places’ (64).  This is unlike those ‘psychosocial types’ which refer to third persons [as in 'I speak in the name of the Republic'].  In philosophy, ‘conceptual personae are... the true agents of enunciation’ (65).  Philosophers come up their conceptual personae—Plato becomes Socrates.

Conceptual personae harness the power of concepts rather than affects or percepts as in art [with a reference to Melville and the figures in a novel, and other examples].  ‘Art thinks no less than philosophy, but it thinks through affects and percepts’ (66), although there can be crossovers, as when artistic figures become conceptual personae.  Philosophers can also populate their planes with artistic entities [lot of examples 66-67].  It is important not to reduce conceptual personae and aesthetic figures to psychosocial types, even if there are some overlaps, for example where ‘Simmel, and then Goffman, have probed far into the enclaves or margins of the society [to study]…  The stranger, the exile, the migrant, the transient, the native, the homecomer’ (67) [note five, 222, refers as to the work of Isaac Joseph who draws on Simmel and Goffman—French reference].  The problem seems to be that an analysis of structures and functions do not tell us much ‘about particular movements that affect the Socius.  We already know the importance in animals of those activities that consist in forming territories, in abandoning or leaving them, and even in recreating territory’ (67). Humans de and reterritorialize constantly: e.g. ‘a stick is… a deterritorialized branch’ (67) These themes are constant and ubiquitous, even in memories and dreams.  This means that ‘social fields are inextricable knots [rather than simple divisions between the insider and the stranger?].  We need to explain ‘real types or personae’ (68).

What this seems to involve is explaining the actions of people like merchants who operate in a territory, then deterritorialize products and reterritorialize them as commodities.  Thus Marx describes how labour becomes abstract labour, reterritorialized in wages, and goes on to develop ‘some true psychosocial types’ – the capitalist the proletarian (68).  [In other words, Simmel and Goffman operate too abstractly, with the stranger as some eternal type?]. We need to understand how people institute territory, deterritorialize then reterritorialize themselves.  This is the real function of developing psychosocial types.

What about spiritual territories?  These often appear in philosophy as something lost, making the thinker an exile.  Again, conceptual personae can reveal these territories and processes.  Thus the notion of a legislator as a conceptual persona helps us see ‘that which belongs by right [only] to thought’ (69).  Thought can also require thinkers to be friends who jointly philosophize.  There is an overlap with psychosocial types, ‘ a conjunction’, and  actual features can be turned into conceptual features or ‘thought events’ (70).  There may be some empathic elements, some mad ones, since ‘philosophy and schizophrenia have often been associated with each other’ (70), but conceptual schizophrenics force thought, while psychosocial ones prevent thought, even though the two are sometimes combined [so a real weasel around whether actual schizophrenics are cultural heroes]. 

Other relations include friendship, rivalry, love.  Even women have a place [an allusion to the figure of the fiancée—in Kierkegaard?]  (71).  There are dynamic features like leaping, dancing or diving, or [in order to be down with the kids] surfing.  There are juridical features involving judgment, as when a reason becomes a tribunal [and other delirious bits, 72].  There are existential features: ‘Nietzsche said that philosophy invents modes of existence or possibilities of life’ (72) [and a really obscure relation to Kant and his design of suspenders, an example of the power of  and a necessary component of the system of Reason, D and G insist].  These strange behaviours show the power of conceptual personae inhabiting the body of actual philosophers.

[An example pursues discussions of Kierkegaard and Pascal on the relation between the transcendent and the immanent—beats me].  Personae [not your conventional human subjects, of course] interact with planes of immanence, sometimes where personae establish relations and dimensions.  They also offer points of view to distinguish planes of immanence or unite them, as a kind of constructivism.  However, all the moves are reversible and folded, and ‘every concept is a combination that did not exist before’ (75), which is why you need some agent to create concepts.  Conceptual personae also proliferate, developing some sympathetic and some antipathetic versions.  There are some ‘repulsive concepts’ which create discordancies.  All these elements are folded together, and philosophy must work ‘blow by blow’ (76).[heroic!]

So philosophy must construct planes, personae and concepts (immanence, insistence, and consistency) [Must be Guattari getting fed up with the delirium and imposing a bit of order].  Concepts are grouped, they resonate and bridge; planes take up families, developing either variations or varieties; personae form different types and may be grouped or hostile to one another.  In all this complexity, ‘a whole “taste” is needed’ to sort them out (77).

Taste is ‘the philosophical faculty of coadaptation’ of these three components’ (77).  It combines reason (planes), imagination (personae) and understanding (concepts).  The three activities are simultaneous. The rules of correspondence are nothing to do with measuring: ‘no measure will be found in those infinite movements that make up the plane of immanence…  Antipathetic personae…  Concepts with irregular forms’ (77).  It is a matter of ‘love of the well made concept’, meaning a stimulation, a limitlessness  (77).  It is like the taste in painting for well formed objects or colours.  Similarly, philosophers approach concepts with ‘fear and respect’, and specify them through ‘a measureless creation whose only rule is a plane of immanence that he lays out and whose only compass are the strange personae to which it gives life’ (78).  Philosophers need ‘a taste for the undetermined concept…  It is certainly not for “rational or reasonable” reasons that a particular concept is created’ (78).  This ‘faculty of taste…  Is like an instinctive almost animal sapere’ (79). It shows how philosophers develop particular affinities

Science is different.  Philosophy is not propositional or extensional, and when it is forced to be it can only offer ‘more or less plausible opinions without scientific value’ (79).  The problem is that, as the Greeks found, free opinions are not themselves a knowledge, until we gauge their truth value.  This was once what dialectic did, and that ‘reduces philosophy to interminable discussion’ (79).  Hence Plato’s  attempt to separate good and bad opinions [as in the distinction between copies].  Hegel tried to turn rival opinions into examples of agreed historical propositions.  However, there was always a risk of falling into what ‘Nietzsche had diagnosed as the art of the pleb or bad taste in philosophy: a reduction of the concept or propositions like simple opinions; false perceptions and bad feelings…  The form of knowledge that constitutes only a supposedly higher opinion, Urdoxa; a replacement of conceptual personae by teachers or leaders of schools’ (80).  Dialectic can only link opinions together, even if it claims to have developed an Urdoxa. [In the usual histories of philosophy] we only get what people think, without knowing why they think it [as a matter of the gradual revelation of the pure event].

Philosophy looks paradoxical not because it is contrarian or contradictory, but because it uses the standard language to try to express something cannot be grasped by it, the concept,  not defined extensionally as in science, but rooted in the plane of immanence and conceptual personae, quite a different image of thought.  It is there that problems are to be found which determine solutions.  The three actions [above] constantly operate to create concepts, layout planes, construct personae, producing conditions of a problem, solutions and unknowns, not even in a consistent way.  Philosophers must construct the missing parts, but no one can say in advance if they are doing the best thing—we construct as we go and, on the basis of coadaptation.  We must avoid discussion, false universals, and other false problems arising from them.  Any solution may be undone by a fresh curve of the plane.  ‘Philosophy thus lives in a permanent crisis… [with constant] ... shocks…  bursts, and…  spasms’ (82).  [Classic combination of generational and academic politics here].

There is no way of knowing whether we’ve posed problems correctly , devised solutions or constructed viable personae, since all these are interlinked.  Rather than developing knowledge or truth, ‘it is categories like Interesting, Remarkable, or Important that determine success or failure’ (82) [borrowed from Leibniz?]  this cannot be known beforehand.  Similarly, few philosophy books are false, and may be important or interesting.  ‘Only teachers can write “false” in the margins, perhaps’ (82).

[Proper, tasteful] conceptual personae  must be remarkable, and concepts interesting, even if they are repulsive or disgusting.  [Good, tasteful] criticism also involves creation and new concepts.  Only ‘flimsy concepts’ are uninteresting, or those that are ‘too regular, petrified, and reduced to a framework’.  This is often the most universal or eternal concepts, which many are ‘content to brandish’, without realizing that they are the results of philosophical creation, by people who ‘were not happy just to clean and scrape bones like the critic and historian of our time’ (83).  [Take that simplistic  pedagogues everywhere!]

Chapter four Geophilosophy

Thinking requires a territory, or ground, not just a relation between subject and object.  There is constant deterritorialization, where one element is the agent.  There is also reterritorialization.  Both processes go on in the zones of indiscernibility between territory and earth [I have a feeling this is Leibniz too] .  Both processes can be seen in urbanization and commercialization, and movements between periphery and centre.  The processes can be top down hierarchical, or more immanent [less ordered? more open?] [Autochthonous, for the Greeks, with a weird flowery definition page 86].

Greece seems to have been particularly suitable because of its fractal structure [long coasts], and its perfect distance from eastern empires.  A process of deterritorialization [the development of independent cities] help to develop philosophy.  In particular, three things are important: ‘a pure sociability…  The “intrinsic nature of association” [some pluralist counter to imperialism, 'dynamic societies of friends…  A taste for opinions…  A taste for the exchange of views’ (87-88) [finding premises from conclusions!].  There is not always harmony.  At  Salamis, the Greeks escaped colonization and ‘reterritorialized on the sea’ (88), a necessary element of contingency that had an additional consequence of permitting more exchanges through sea travel.

Physical deterritorialization is relative, but there is an absolute form as well, uncovering the pure plane of immanence through thinking.  The first one can escalate into the second one.  The connections between the two types still have to be thought out: they are ‘cosmic, but geographical, historical, and psychosocial’ (88) [I bet the psychosocial one gets short shrift!].

Much depends on whether all deterritorialization occurs through immanence or transcendence [what we have been calling hierarchical].  Transcendental deterritorialization projects itself on to the plane of immanence and produces hierarchical levels and privileged zones, as in religious thought.  Thinking takes place through figures, such as hexagrams or mandalas [described as depicting a kind of consistent interrelated collection of elements].  There need be no external resemblance, but the relation between figures and the plane is ‘paradigmatic, projective, hierarchical and referential’ (89).  Arts and sciences also have such figures, but the purpose is different – to isolate a level for future specialist thought.

Again the Greeks developed the relation between absolute and relative deterritorialization, as they pushed out into other territories and extended immanence.  This enables a transition to thinking with concepts [sounds a bit like Durkheim and how moral density leads to the decline of the old social bonds and solidarities].  Concepts emerge and are connected, after escaping reference and focusing on ‘conjugations and connections…  neighbourhood’ (90).  [There is a familiar definition of a well formed concept as well—it involves ‘saturation so that we can no longer add or withdraw a component without changing the nature of the concept’ (90).  Saturated concepts are forced to connect with the others—shades of Piaget now, with assimilation leading to accommodation]. 

The ‘plurivocity of the concept’ depends on its neighbourhoods, and this leads to important philosophical questions about what to put in a concept, or what to connect it with, the paradigmatic dimension, emerging after the syntagmatic one..  This leads to the separation of arts ,sciences and philosophy as well.

So what emerges for the link between figures and concepts?  Usually, there is a lot of ‘ill tempered judgments that are content to depreciate one or other of the terms’ (91).  Generally though, figures implies something vertical and transcendent, and concepts only imply neighbourhoods and connections [with some examples of Chinese thought].  Can Christianity create concepts?  Only when it concerns itself with this world: ‘perhaps Christianity does not produce concepts except through its atheism, through the atheism that it, more than any other religion, secretes’ (92).  [The death of God is not tragic, but represents ‘philosophy’s achievement’].  Inadequate philosophy goes the other way and produces figures, as in the three sins of contemplation, reflection and communication.

The religious plane of immanence is not properly philosophical but prephilosophical until it develops proper concepts.  Religion does show that the plane of immanence does not necessarily lead to concepts—‘we deny…  that there is any internal necessity to philosophy’ (93).  Nevertheless, Greece had something unusual, linking considerable relative deterritorialization with a philosophical absolute version.  These had to be aligned, if the necessary encounter leading to philosophy was to develop.  This is still a only a contingent development—‘there is no good reason but contingent reason; there is no universal history except of contingency’ (93). [If you leave out any social processes I suppose it must look contingent].

[The example refers to Hegel and Heidegger and their failed attempt to argue the necessity of the connection between philosophy and Greece.  It includes some quite remarkable generalisations about ‘the Orient’.  The claimed difference, apparently, was that the Greeks had the verb 'to be']

Hegel and Heidegger are historicists in that believe the concept just developed from the Greeks as a form of destiny or internal logic.  This denies geography at the expense of history.  Why did philosophy develop in the Greeks is a question like why did capitalism develop in some European countries and not others [but no Weber].  Geography adds a contingent element and helps us see lines of flight connecting Greece with the rest of the Mediterranean, and it adds non historical elements too.  In particular, it illustrates the role of becoming, which is not primarily historical, seen in the continual need to break with philosophical tradition: ‘how could something come from history?’  (96) [Assumes idealist history only? History is one of those constraining limiting circumstances?].

Capitalism took a particular route into deterritorialization as in Marx and the emergence of labour and capital.  It happened in the west, because of unregulated centres of immanence, an escape from external limits as in imperialism, and their replacement by technology alone.  Rivalries drive capitalism on, completing the Greek project of ‘democratic imperialism, colonising democracy’ (97). This led to Eurocentrism, where a particular psychosocial type stood for Man.  The conditions existed for the development of widespread philosophising, because, in the terms of D and G, the ‘absolute plane of immanence’ connected with ‘a relative social milieu’ that was itself immanent (98).  In other words, the same conditions reproduce themselves Europe as in Greece—the same contingent process re-emerges.

[Then there is an account of the state that looks rather like Delanda on assemblages at various levels.  A new man also appears—‘not Robinson but Ulysses, the cunning plebeian’ (98).{ see Adorno and Horkheimer on Ulysseian types}] 

The connections are not ideological, despite the temptation ‘to see philosophy as an agreeable commerce of the mind, which, with the concept, would have its own commodity’ (99).  This sort of philosophy is indeed easily turned into marketing.  [Proper] philosophy opposes capitalism, and pushes it beyond ideology into a consideration of the infinite, ‘turns it back against itself so as to summon forth a new earth, a new people’ (99). [Freedom means escaping from necessity, as ever with elite taste –and not incorrectly!].  Concepts become pure, and ‘communication, exchange, consensus, and opinion vanish entirely.  It is therefore closer to what Adorno called “negative dialectic” and what the Frankfurt school called  “utopian”’ ( 99)

[The hunt for the pure is what guarantees an escape from ideology.  Massumi has the same idea, and so does the Hodgson and Standish piece. But can you escape from ideology through thought? Assumes ideology operates at the level of thought not practices? Only after you have really investigated your own thought, including the unconscious bits  – maybe even reflected and communicated? Partial escape leads to recuperation by more modern forms of capitalism as in Zizek?]

Philosophy develops a utopia that fits its own epoch.  Utopia means absolute deterritorialization, but relative to the present milieu and its potentials.  However, there are authoritarian utopias, and also utopias that restore transcendence.  We must contrast these with ‘immanent, revolutionary, libertarian utopias’ (100).  Revolution becomes located on the plane of immanence, in infinite movement, and these can be connected with the present [as a kind of counter factual?].  The two major revolutions in the USA and USSR have turned out badly, but that’s because they were not very utopian [?], too dominated by actual historical factors rather than ‘self referential…  Absolute deterritorialization’ (101).

Absolute deterritorialization leads to a new territorialization of philosophy on the concept.  Hence ‘the concept is not object but territory’ (101).  Greece offered a model of the territory, although the Greeks could only contemplate developing concepts.  Modern philosophy is misled by Christian transcendence.  This has led us to see nature as strange compared to the mind, the reverse of the Greeks.

What of the modern democratic states?  This is still limited by conceptions of the nation [with a diversion about Nietzsche trying to find out national characteristics of French, English and German philosophy, and some sub-Weberian comments about Catholicism].  American pragmatism has clear ‘continuities with the democratic revolution and the new society of brothers’ (103), but not so France or England.  [Really poor speculative sociology of knowledge here, ending with terms like ‘the spirit of a people and its conception of rights’ (104)].

[The example continues this amateurish analysis comparing France, Germany and England, 104-6.  The English 'inhabit' {witty play on colonising and developing habits} to acquire concepts, mostly through contemplation.  This explains our interest in experience and conventions].

Only the market is universal, providing a series of decoded flows as an axiomatic [as in AntiOedipus].  There is no transcendence, but a series of reterritorializations.  These can be diverse as long as they are isomorphic.

[Then there is the bit referring to Primo Levi, much discussed by Smith as a test for Badiou.  Levi talks about the shame of being a man, the development of mistrust among the all important society of friends—‘friendship is no longer the same’ (107).  Human rights coexist with markets, but they are ineffective: ‘A great deal of innocence or cunning is needed by a philosophy of communication that claims to restore the society of friends’ (107). Shame does not only arise in extreme situations but in the ‘meanness and vulgarity of existence that haunts democracies’ (107).]

So philosophy does not always emerge in the present form of the democratic state, nor through communication.  We still need creation and ‘resistance to the present’, hope in a future form, in a new earth and people.  ‘It is not populist writers but the most aristocratic who can lay claim to this future.  This people and earth will not be found in our democracies.  Democracies are majorities,  but  becoming is by its nature that which always eludes the majority’ (108).  [Then an example of how Heidegger compromised with Nazism, how he aligned himself with what was claiming to be a pure race ‘rather than an oppressed, bastard, lower, anarchical, nomadic, and irremediably minor race’ (109).  The thinker should become a member of such a race.  We need to become a member in order that they can become something else {this point is made via a number of weirdo examples so I might not have it right}. ‘They <philosophers and nomads etc>  have resistance in common—the resistance to death, to servitude, to the intolerable, to shame, and to the present’ (110) {ludicrous romanticism}.  ‘Becoming stranger to one’s self, to one’s language and nation, is not this the peculiarity of the philosopher and philosophy, or their “style” or what is called a philosophical gobbledygook?’ (110).]

Becoming describes concepts, with tangible historical beginnings but not limits.  This is what makes philosophy geographical rather than historical, and what limits psychosocial types compared to conceptual personae.  It enables radical experimentation, unlike history, although this should still be some reference to current milieu.

[In another example, the philosophy of Péguy is discussed, especially on the eternality, and unhistorical nature of the event when philosophised {may be.  This looks a bit like counteractualization in Logic of Sense}.  This preserves an infinite Now {in thought}.  It preserves potential, what might become, so that the present is seen as ‘the now of our becoming’ (112).  Philosophers should diagnose such becomings].


Part two

Chapter five Functives and Concepts

Science works with functions whose elements are functives.  Putting these in propositional form  enables scientists to reflect and communicate.  These are not the same as philosophical concepts though, although concepts can be derived from them, for philosophical purposes, regardless of scientific value.

Philosophy likes to work with chaos with its infinite speeds, and its concepts are consistent with this.  Science wants to stabilize the virtual, actualize it, supply it with a reference [on a plane of reference rather than a plane of immanence] which can then be described through functions.  Variable speeds get rendered as variables on [Cartesian] coordinates.  There is no project of achieving philosophical unity in science.  These differences survived attempts to unite concept and function [there is an incomprehensible example 120-1].

[As pearls in the mud…].  Science never completely domesticates chaos, but attempts to render it as a body [in the Stoic sense no doubt, as in Logic of Sense], to establish variables rather than variants, to work with states of affairs as ‘ordered mixtures’ (123).  Planes of reference have the same problems as planes of immanence—they are layered, possibly connected [and the example is types of geometry, as in DeLanda].  Overall, D and G are ‘saying with Kuhn that science is paradigmatic where is philosophy is syntagmatic’ (124).  Scientists' names can sometimes indicate splits and reconnections [with hints of the term epistemological break], and there is sometimes some implied progress.  Older work can be simply used [rather than reworked].

The real issue is the relation of science and religion rather than science and philosophy, since functives can act as figures ‘defined by a spiritual tension’ (125).  Science develops an ideography [some sort of challenge to ideology by attempting to explain it?] The importance of reference rather than transcendence is what divides the two.

Philosophical concepts feature ‘a set of inseparable variations subject to “a contingent reason”’ (126) [they are haecceities].  Science works instead with ‘a set of independent variables subject to “a necessary reason”’ [then an incomprehensible bit which I think points to the problem of separating out independent variables as opposed to considering them as elements of  the same variable, in the context of a discussion about tangents.  There is also a bit about Cartesian descriptions with two or three dimensions being represented instead as a single point in a phase space—DeLanda’s stuff on how geometries are stacked together by removing dimensions until you get to topology].

Philosophy aims at consistency, science at complex empirical descriptions.  The stoics do appear with their idea of mixtures of bodies.  These mixtures are multiplicities as well, but of a different type, [diverse mixtures rather than disjunctive syntheses?].

The third difference involves enunciation.  Science does have experiment and creation as much as philosophy does, its language is as different from natural languages as philosophy’s is, but the role of proper names is different in signalling ‘many catastrophes, ruptures, and reconnections’ (128).  This is ‘a juxtaposition of reference…  [Rather than]…  A superimposition of layer [as in philosophy]’ [that is, it follows empirical variations rather than philosophical arguments?].  Thus science does not have conceptual personae proper, but rather ‘partial observers in relation to functions within systems of reference’ ( 129).  Science's demons correspond to the idiots of philosophy. Demons give a partial account—for example, Heisenberg’s demon ‘measures exactly an objective state of affairs that leaves the respective position of two of its particles outside of the field of its actualization’ (129) [presumably, instead of trying to fill out the picture with a full philosophical concept?].  Partial observers perceive and experience, as monads.  They act as the ‘perceptions or sensory affections of functives themselves’ (131).  Science therefore does have sensory knowledge of a particular kind—even scientific instruments ‘presuppose the ideal partial observer’ (131).  This will be different from the experience of the philosophical persona, however, whose perceptions cannot grasp the infinite [?] although they can register an affect.  However, percepts and affects in philosophy still need to be clarified, although we know about them in the arts.

This similar role of sensory knowledge does enable some sort of relationship between science and philosophy ‘such that we can say that a function is beautiful’ (132).  However, there are serious differences—systems of reference rather than immanence; independent variables rather than ‘inseparable variations’ (133); conceptual personae rather than partial observers; two types of multiplicity.  However, problem solving is similar in both, including the need for ‘a higher “taste” as problematic faculty’ (133), guiding scientists to choose ‘the good independent variables ... constructing the best coordinates of a function’ (133).  There may therefore be future transitions between scientific and philosophical patterns.

Chapter six Prospects and Concepts

[This will be a rejection of the idea that philosophy is just logic, possibly along the lines of the Logic of Sense]

Some philosophers have tried to reduce concepts to functions of logic, put in a propositional form, and then to claim that logical functions underpin natural languages [with a reference to the work of Russell and Frege].  Propositions can then be expanded intentionally and extensionally [by specifying subsets or by providing external references].  Propositions must not contradict themselves, but they are never self evidently true or false.  This is where logical functions depart from concepts [more on pages 138-9].  In particular, acts of reference are finite or limited in science, and logic depends on these other acts [which involves prospects of being true, I think].

One way in which these connections or forms is through recognition, but this is ‘the one that goes least far and is the most impoverished and puerile’ (139).  It is common to use trivial illustrations of recognition.  To understand interesting recognitions, in practice, an ‘interior monologue’ is required, rather than any simple psychological reduction.  In particular, understanding creativity means grasping the consistency of every day thoughts, which in turn means, heading back up to the virtual, ‘back up the path that science descends and at the very end of which logic sets up its camp’ (140) [as in the Logic of Sense].  History also commonly locates itself at the bottom of this path, and would need to go beyond the immediate and actual in order to get creative.  However, logic can only show the effects of the virtual.  Ascending to science does not ascend to the status of concepts, a mere lead to other functions.

Logic has problems with philosophical concepts which often appear as ‘outside number…  No longer…  clearly demarcated and well defined sets’ (141).  Concepts are indeed ‘fuzzy sets...  Simple aggregates of perceptions and affections…  Qualitative or intensive multiplicities…  where we cannot decide whether certain elements do or do not belong to the set’ (141).  It is usual to express these sets in subjective opinions or evaluations or judgments of taste.  However, philosophers see such judgments as expressing variables.  [There seems to be an argument that operationalising philosophical concepts either involves translating them into scientific or logical functions, or inventing new philosophical functions as some third possibility supporting logic and science, as foundations, eg uniquely supporting subjectivity rather than no longer just one member of a set].

This would confuse the concept with ‘the merely lived’ [the actual], even if it is seen as some sort of immanence of subjective flow.  This is what transcendental or dialectical logic does, arguing that the empirical individual has some creative source that exceeds him.  Husserl thus argues for a subject to constitute a sensory world filled with objects, then an intersubjective world with others, then a ‘common ideal world...occupied by scientific, mathematical and logical formations’ (142).  This is the origin of various philosophical concepts, exceeding the actual subject.  There is immanence, but always that of a subject, even if the transcendental one.

There are other possibilities to reconcile logical and philosophical concepts [unfortunately, I don’t understand them].  There can be hybrid concepts with determined and undetermined aspects, although usually, logical elements dominate in actual schemes.

Concepts proper are vague and fuzzy, because they are ‘vagabond, and nondiscursive, moving about on a plane of immanence’ (143).  They have no reference to the lived or the actual, but only to ‘a consistency defined by its internal components…  The event as pure sense’ (144).  The concept is a form or force, never a function.  To insist that it is one means that philosophy can only be a proposition of opinion.

Opinions have ‘an external perception as state of the subject and an internal affection as passage from one state to another’, leading to perceived common qualities in objects and [assumed] common affections in human subjects who share our opinion.  Inevitably, this will produce a struggle or an exchange, as in the image of philosophy as agreeable dinner conversations ‘at Mr. Rorty’s’ (144).  Opinions feature recognition of qualities and affections, and recognition of rival groups.  It is easy to see how agreements can lead to orthodoxy, or doxa—‘an abstract quality from perception and a general power from affection’, with political undertones (145).  There is an advantage in agreeing with the majority, although private opinion can still be tolerated.  In some cases, opinions become central to the formation of groups.  Finally, marketing appears to commercialise this process.  This is why philosophers avoid discussion: philosophical discussions often end with ‘the search for a universal liberal opinion as consensus, in which we find the cynical perceptions and affections of the capitalist himself’ (146).

In an example, Greek separation between philosophy and opinion is examined.  Dialectical argument was to sort out weak from strong opinions on the selection of qualities and to lead to scientific propositions.  Sophists were seen as not playing this game sufficiently well.  Platonists judged opinions by a notion of beauty and the good.  Phenomenologists also relied on notions of artistic beauty.  Husserl’s transcendental subject still valorised European man, and there is always a danger of reintroducing common psychosocial types, including ‘the average capitalist’ (149).  It is hard to break out of clichés unless we also examine their origins and foundations, and we need to go beyond ‘the primordial lived’ and the role of the subject in immanence (150).  Even art will not break with these clichés sufficiently.[ I think D and G failed to break with the cliches of the elite intellectual when it comes to style]

Seeing concepts as functions means science is the most reliable form of knowledge, and reduces philosophy to opinion.  However, concepts are irreducible to states of affairs, objects, or bodies.

[In another example, Badiou is discussed, 151-3.  Again, this is largely beyond me, but the argument here is whether can move from functions to concepts by thinking of a series of multiplicities joining the two.  There is no simple hierarchy, since there are in fact four figures or truths—scientific, artistic, political and amorous or lived.  D and G think that Badiou reintroduces the transcendent with his notion of an event site, and weakens the notion of the event itself.  Meanwhile, the distinctiveness of philosophy is distributed among the four functions.  They do not believe that any multiplicities whatever are possible, but there are two types from the outset—function and concepts, the actual and the virtual].

So, states of affairs emerge from virtual chaos as actualities.  They are mixtures of variables, particles and signs.  Singularities emerge from the variables to constitute a set of relations [vectors and attractors I assume?].  The virtual is still indispensable in understanding these actualities, as providing potentials, and in producing movements such as projections, losing and gaining variables, extending singularities, passing through phase spaces, and ‘above all, individuating bodies’ (154).  None of this happens automatically.  Living beings can reproduce elements of their potential, through interaction.  Interactions can produce ‘a sensibility’.  Thus perception is ‘the state of the body as induced by another body, and affection is the passage of the state to another state as increase or decrease of potential power through the action of other bodies’ (154).  In this way interaction becomes communication, and even non living things have a lived experience ‘because they are perceptions and affections’ (154).

Science is not simply confined to empirical limits,  and can be interested in the formation of objects rather than objects, or sets of functions.  Functions are functions of states of affairs initially, then of bodies that constitute logical propositions [regularities?] Then they can become independent logical atoms or logical states of affairs. Finally, perceptions and affections are involved and thus opinions [perceptions and affections are used in the subjective sense here]. However ‘things themselves are generic opinions…  The most elementary organism forms a proto- opinion on water, carbon and salts on which its conditions and power depend’ (153). [This is defining words like 'opinion' in such an abstract way that they can be applied to non-organic beings. NB this broad definition only appears here, to make this point.More desperate wriggles to avoid the human subject].

Science descends from the virtual along a path involving functions, but if we ascend this path, the line is not the same.  Philosophy reconstructs the virtual not as chaos but as something consistent, formed on a plane of immanence.  This is the Event.  ‘The part that eludes its own actualization in everything that happens’ (156).  It is still real.  It is potential or immanence, reserve, the ‘immanent aternal’ for Péguy (157).  Virtuality ‘goes beyond any possible function’, including measure, and is thus understood just as well by arts and philosophy.

Elements of concepts are bound by their own [disjunctive] notions of time.  They communicate through zones of indiscernibility.  They are singularities.  Nothing happens [that is nothing follows normal time] but everything is becoming [so the virtual diverges from the actual over time].  We need concepts to grasp this, which is not the same as setting up a function [which can often be derived by seeing developments in normal time?].  Events are actualized when they condense into states of affairs, but also ‘counter effectuated’ when we abstract from states of affairs in order to isolate the concept (159).  [There is an echo of stoic ethics too in claiming a dignity in the event which requires us to be equal to it.  ‘There is no other ethic than the amor fati of philosophy’ (159), and ‘Philosophy’s sole aim is to become worthy of the event’ (160)].

So the alternative is not between science and chaos, since chaos is sliced by planes [produced by philosophy in the name of fate itself?].  Philosophy coexists with science, but they are not intertwined—there is no way of deriving concepts by reflection on functions, or applying functions to concepts.  [Lots of obscure examples follow, some of them scientific ones].  Concepts ‘necessarily involve allusions  to science that are neither examples nor applications, nor even reflections’ (162).  However, D and G believe that philosophers should attempt to develop the concepts that relate to scientific functions.

Chapter seven.  Percept, affect, and concept

[This chapter involves many examples from painting, writing and music, and this illustrates beautifully the main problem with reading Deleuze.  Deleuze writes as if we are fully familiar both with the examples of the paintings or novels, authors, composers and sculptors that he mentions, but also with the critics that he occasionally quotes, sometimes without references.  This is an example of the elite audience that he thinks he is addressing.  Non elite members are left pretty well excluded from the discussion.  There are still general arguments that can be drawn,  summaries of general positions, almost conclusions.  These will end back with what Badiou calls the monotony of being.  However, we cannot really test Deleuze’s method, which is to ‘read the signs’ of specific works and commentaries in order to derive the concept.  We are completely in his hands,  since we do not know the signs.  I suspect that many experts would also be powerless in the face of this breadth and erudition. It is impossible to intervene critically.

Things are slightly better for me with the books on cinema, although these still contain many obscure references, and far more examples than I can claim personal knowledge of.  However, it is possible to see critical possibility emerging with Deleuze’s readings in those fields.  His commentary on films is often extremely brief, and, naturally, highly selective.  Even I was able to see that alternative readings had been omitted, especially marxist and feminist ones (which came later, of course), and there is no consideration whatsoever of the active audience.  It would be asking a lot of Deleuze to have included those readings too, of course, but what we’re left with is a strongly centred reading of film.  At least with media examples, we can go back and look at some of the originals, and I suppose this is always possible with paintings, novels and music.  I suspect if we did so, we would find an equal insistence by Deleuze on particular readings, ones that may indeed be shared by some critics. They can’t be shared too much though because that woild be to admite the influence of ‘communication’ and ‘opinion’

This leads to the issue of what justifies Deleuze’s particular readings.  Badiou lurks in the background here, with his view that certain privileged concepts have informed these readings all along, and that the empirical discussions are not treated as tests of these concepts, but rather as endless confirmations of them.  It is possible to detect some technical criteria, but again these look rather familiar and normal—Deleuze thinks that you get greater consistency with his concepts, that they are capable of explaining more anomalous or contradictory or nonsensical examples and the connections with normal ones, that they conform to recent work in the various applied areas, that the most general arguments are likely to be the most productive,  especially if they can show that the more specific ones somehow depend on them—and so on.  Yet these technical matters can never be decisive—much depends on philosophical taste as Deleuze admits.

What is missing entirely is any social or political dimension.  Again we get hints that it is necessary to defend philosophical programmes against rivals, although Deleuze does not believe in doing anything vulgar like discussing them.  And the issue of taste lead straight to Bourdieu.  Deleuze seems capable only of dismissing sociological accounts by misunderstanding them—he sees them as pseudo science, meaning that they operate only with descriptive functions and the connections between them, and do not have concepts in the proper sense; he denies that he is a social being himself, influenced in any way by his upbringing or surroundings.  He does operate with some social concepts like ‘friends’, he allows for rivalry, and he talks approvingly of his relationship with Guattari, but nothing more. He thinks he can polevault out of social influence through thought alone, and simply argue against ‘opinion’ to avoid it  —this is the elite university intellectual‘s notion of society]

Art becomes independent of its ‘model’, and of artistic personae, and of the viewer or hearer.  Art is ‘independent of the creator through the self positing of the created, [anti humanist subject, but not sustained -- see below] which is preserved in itself.  What is preserved…  is a bloc of sensations, that is to say, a compound of percepts and affects’ (164).

Percepts and affects are independent of the perceptions of people who experience them.  ‘Sensations, percepts, and affects are beings whose validity lies in themselves and exceeds any lived.  They could be said to exist in the absence of man because man, as he is caught in stone, on the canvas, or by words, is himself a compound of percepts and affects’ (164).

Affects include harmonies of tonal colour, consonances and dissonances.  They form a block with percepts, which must seem to stand on their own.  This need not involve realism.  The arts may be composed of improbabilities or minimal depictions.  Works under the influence of drugs, madness, or work by children tends to be interesting but ‘extraordinarily flaky , unable to preserve themselves’ (165).  Empty spaces and voids are often as important as solid materials.

The key is to depict sensations.  Percepts are not the same as perceptions referring to objects as in reference.  They don’t resemble anything outside art.  Artistic materials themselves have percepts and affects, and preserve sensations: the materials are important elements of the plane of composition of sensations.  At the same time, it is ‘percept or affect that is preserved in itself’ (166) even if immaterial product only lasts for a few seconds.  Materials are thus expressive [compare with the linguistic sense of ‘expressive’ as in Logic of Sense].  Painting, for example does not show resemblance but sensation, or an’ optical mixture’ (167) of sensations, that should never be mistaken for the mixed materials that science studies.

Art uses its material to liberate the percept from perceptions, including those of the subject, and the same with the affect, ‘to extract a bloc of sensations, a pure being of sensations’ (167).  Methods vary.  Relying on memory is not enough to get away from perceptions: ‘memory plays a small part in art’ (167).  Arts preserves blocks of sensation, such as ‘blocs of childhood that are the becoming child of the present’ (168).

It is possible to generalize and to notice that compounds of sensations can include vibrations, ‘the embrace or the clinch’, withdrawal, division distension.  These types are displayed clearly in sculpture.  Novels often depict percepts including ‘oceanic percepts in Melville’ (169).  The characters with these percepts are not simply human subjects, but are themselves ‘part of the compound of sensations’.  ‘Ahab really does have perceptions of the sea, but only because he has entered into a relationship with Moby Dick that makes him a becoming – whale and forms a compound of sensations that no longer needs any one: ocean’ (169) [ the bits where Ahab ceases to belong to human society and gets to see that he and the whale have been linked since before the ocean began to roll? Or when he realizes he can plot the conjunction of lines that will bring him, the ocean currents and the whale together?].  ‘Affects are precisely these nonhuman becomings of man, just as percepts…  are nonhuman landscapes of nature ‘ (169).  We ‘become with the world, by contemplating it ‘ (169).

It is thus a mistake to think that novels are created with subjective perceptions, affections, memories, fantasies and opinions.  Some authors seem to have done nothing but recount their lives.  However, something else emerges—from a combination of the opinions of different characters, which can allow the novelist to move ‘beyond the perceptual states and affective transitions of the lived’ (171).  Thus emerges ‘the percepts of that life’ (171).  No lived perception can depict these percepts of life.

Virginia  Woolf shows how this is done, by discarding anything too specific ‘everything that adheres to our current and lived perceptions, everything that nourishes the mediocre novelist’ while keeping the percept as some kind of depiction saturated with “nonsense, fact, sordicity [?]: but made transparent”’ (172).  This involves a kind of becoming, revealing forces that are not one’s own: ‘in this respect artists are like philosophers…  Because they have seen something in life that is too much for any one’ (172).

Similarly, affect goes beyond affections, to depict ‘man’s nonhuman becoming.  Ahab does not imitate Moby Dick’ (173), nor attempt to resemble him.  Becoming emerges by coupling ‘two sensations without resemblance or, on the contrary, they are in the distance of a light that captures both of them in a single reflection’ (173).  Sensation passes from one to the other through a zone of indetermination or indiscernibility—‘things, beasts and persons…  endlessly reach that point that immediately precedes their natural differentiation.  This is what is called an affect’ (173) [What? The point? The process?].  Life creates these zones, but ‘only art can reach and penetrate them in its enterprise of cocreation’ (173).  Art must establish the ground that dissolves forms and imposes zones of indiscernibility.  This requires ‘syntactical or plastic methods and materials’ (174).  There is no return to origins: ‘it is a question only of ourselves here and now’ and our current indistinct areas.

Opinions group affective states in a limited way.  Even psychoanalysis cannot adequately grasp the zones of indetermination.  A great novelist invents characters that represent unknown affects that emerge as the characters become.  Thus Emily Bronte invents a violent affect, like kinship between animals, certainly not love, when she describes the relationships between Heathcliff and Catherine.  Proust revalues jealousy as a necessary consequence of love.  Writers can even link [sometimes couple or split apart] affects with the work of others.

So artists present affects that they have sometimes created, by illustrating becomings [Van Gogh’s sunflowers are the only examples I recognize, although other artists have used the flowers in the same way, to depict sensations].  Art deconstructs the normal compounds of opinions, perceptions and affections to produce a new block of percepts, affects and sensations, that can make ordinary language problematic.  This is the purpose of art, to ‘wrest the percept from perceptions, the affects from affections, the sensation from opinion’ (176).  This can produce a revolutionary moment, even if such revolutions end in betrayal.

Art is not the same as philosophy, although sometimes aesthetic figures become conceptual personae  as in Zarathustra [the other example is Igitur, a character in Mallarme, apparently].  Sensory becoming is not the same as conceptual becoming, however.  In the first case, ‘something or someone is ceaselessly becoming-other’, while in the latter, common events are [transcended] to arrive at absolute heterogeneity rather than ‘otherness caught in a matter of expression’ (177).  Art embodies the possible, which is not yet the virtual.

[Then a long, technical and strange discussion about whether sensation arises from some original opinion, as a kind of a priori material that informs art.  This is found in transcendent philosophies such as phenomenology.  D and G want to go back on the notion that sensation is embodied, since flesh itself can be composed by a composition of complementary ‘broken tones’ – ‘made up of several different colours or tones’ (179).  There is also important role played by ‘autonomous frames…  The sides of the block of sensation’, often depicted by blocks of colour or with a reference to Cezanne or Giacometti {the human subject slips in here?}.  Then there is a long discussion of the relations between paintings and the universe, often appearing as ‘the area of plain uniform colour…  the single great plane, the colored void, the monochrome infinite’ (180). This suggests deterritorialization.  The use of colour can indicate a cosmic sensibility, ‘colour in the absence of man, a man who has passed into colour’ (181).  Thus we get to much modern painting which offer variations of sections of different colours, offering different intensities, highlighting problems of junction, alluding to ‘glimpsed forces’ (181), making the imperceptible forces perceptible, the ones that ‘populate the world, affect us, and make us become’ (182).  Then long discussion of houses and bodies, how forces can be depicted in animal motifs.  ‘Like all painting, abstract painting is sensation, nothing but sensation’ (183), and all painting is haunted by the question of ‘its relation to the concept and the function’ (183).

Maybe art can be seen as beginning with the basic animal activity of turning a territory into a habitat with sensory and expressive qualities.  This becomes arts once it opens itself an becomes ‘a line of the universe or  of deterritorialization’ (185).  Territories join together qualitatively as well as physically, as when birdsong relates to the songs of other species.  There is thus a ‘melodic’ conception of the relation between art and nature, melodic compounds which require ‘an infinite symphonic plane of composition’ (185).  Forces can blend with each other, and both be selected by and select territories. 

Architecture literally shows the junction of planes and sections, and the original importance of the home and habitat.  Thus buildings can be seen as ‘compounds of sensations’ (187).  Such compounds also need ‘a vast plane of composition that carries out a kind of deframing following lines of flight that pass through the territory only in order to open it on to the universe’ (187)[migrate from the actual to the virtual machine?].  The same lines of flight are found in paintings, for example where deframing can literally mean using irregular frames, painted or stippled frames. 

Literature also has compounds of sensations emerging from the characters and their becomings.  This also entails a vast plane of composition, often constructed as the work progresses, ‘opening, mixing, dismantling, and reassembling increasingly unlimited compounds in accordance with the penetration of cosmic forces’ (188). [War and Peace?Proust again?]  This can involve counterpoint and other refrains.

The same terms can be used to understand the compounds of sensation in music, ‘sonerous blocs’ (189) with their junctions and relations such as motifs or themes.  These can also point to a limitless plane of composition, for example when canonical forms open out as a form of deframing.  Music also has its uniform areas and broken tones, closures and openings.

Composition [ie not representation]  is therefore ‘the sole definition of art’ (191), which is to do with sensations rather than technique.  In particular, it is not a matter of representational technique , ‘since no art and no sensation have ever been representational’ (193).  There are certain initial requirements such as ‘mechanisms of perspective’, where art expresses itself in ‘the paradigmatic character of projection and in the “symbolic” character of perspective’ (193).  However, the material then passes into sensation, becomes a matter of the aesthetic plane of composition, regardless of paradigmatic models.  There are also transitions between the stages, although modern painting tends to head towards the second pole, becoming independent of perspective, conventions of depth or colour.  Experiments can emerge such as the use of plaiting (195) and other kinds of ‘material thickness’ that replaces depth and perspective.  The same trends emerge with music.  The aesthetic plane totally dominates the technical plane, and technical problems remain only as a function of aesthetic problems of composition. [Less domination in the work on cinema -- more of a reciprocal matter of discovery etc? Because cinema is more technological? Why no examples of cinema here, anyway?]]

The aesthetic plane of composition emerges gradually in the awareness of the artist.  It is ‘neither intentional nor preconceived’ (196).  It coexists with compound sensations: the latter territorialize on the former, but deframing and deterritorialization is also a possibility on the plane. In this way ‘Perhaps the peculiarity of art is to pass through the finite in order to rediscover, to restore the infinite’ (197)]

So there are three great forms of thought, arts, science and philosophy.  All of them confront chaos and layout planes, but only philosophy wants to save the infinity of chaos by making it consistent.  Science attempts to domesticate the infinite laying out the referential plane of specific coordinates that defines states of affairs.  Arts wants to restore the infinite through their finite on its plane of composition.  Art is not simply a synthesis of science and philosophy.  All the three routes are specific and distinguishable.  Thought can take the form of concepts, functions or sensations ‘and no one of these thoughts is better than another’ (198).  Abstract and conceptual art attempt to bring art and philosophy together, abstract art seeks  to redefine sensation, conceptual art attempts to generalise so that everything becomes reproducible.  Not all of these paths will lead to the sensation or to the concept, especially if they depend on the opinions of spectators.

Correspondences can appear between the planes of art,  science and philosophy, but there are also misleading unities, for example ‘where sensation itself become sensation of concept of function’ (199).  Each element on the plane calls on other heterogeneous elements—‘thought is heterogenesis’ (199).  In each case, two dangers have to be avoided—lapsing back into opinion, or heading back into chaos.


Chapter eight Conclusion: from chaos to the brain

[Largely a rerun of the last chapter about the distinctions between philosophy art and science, this time even more awash with literary, mythical and philosophical allusions.  What I would have given for a good editor!  Then some curious stuff to indicate the relation between mind, thoughts, and brains, a bit more critical than Deleuze’s stuff on cinema and brains but still very weird. Se also the interview with Deleuze on cinema as somehow relating directly to brains -- here].

Chaos is threatening to us, and the normal way is to stick to fixed opinions, joined by  flimsy ‘protective rules—resemblance, contiguity, causality’ (201).  As sample text, these ‘enable us to put some order into ideas, preventing our “fantasy” (delirium, madness) from crossing the universe in an instant, producing winged horses and dragons breathing fire’ [twats!].  However, ordered ideas must presuppose some order in things or state of affairs, ‘like an objective antichaos’ (202), constantly maintained whenever we connect thoughts with things consistently.

However, art, science and philosophy construct planes to manage chaos, while opinion tends to act like religions invoking  gods, or foundational orthodoxies (urdoxa).  [An example that occurs once or twice is that opinion offers a protective umbrella, on the underside of which a firmament is painted.  Science art and philosophy want to tear that firmament a bit.  They also repeat the idea a few times that planes are in fact secants—lines that cut circles in two places.  Why?  Just to lend a bit of mathematical credibility?] So there is a constant struggle between chaos and opinions, and heroic philosophers and artists constantly negotiate the tension between them, referring to chaotic possibilities to [dereify] opinion, and opinions to stabilize chaos.  There are lots of examples of novelists and artists who can be understood in this way—for example, the struggle of artists against clichés, the need to erase these first in order to get to sensation directly.  What results is not chaos, ‘the composition of chaos that yields the vision or sensation, so that it constitutes, as Joyce says, a chaosmos, a composed chaos—neither foreseen nor preconceived’ (204). [A much quoted term!]

Art produces ‘chaoid variety’ (204) in order to release sensations.  Science [operationalises] chaos, slows it down, reduces the number of variables at work.  But there are still hints of, or ‘a profound attraction for’ (205) chaos.  [And we have this continued admiration for differential calculus, which suggests some sort of pure relationship even when variables are reduced to zero].  Leibniz is said to have operated with the notion of a pure multiplicity, covered by various ‘combinatory schemas’, a series of filters for chaos, or  ‘phase spaces’ [condensing out of chaos as DeLanda puts it ].  The same possibilities are raised by the notion of ‘”strange” or chaotic attractors’ (206): equilibrium attractors represent normal science, while these other attractors reveal ‘profound attraction to chaos’.  [There is a hint of increased explanatory power in this conception, in that the chaosmos so depicted helps to explain earlier puzzles such as turbulence—206].  These flirtations with chaos are crucial since ‘the misfortune of people comes from opinion’ (206), which in this case includes scientific orthodoxy.  In this way science is creative, compared to the ‘pseudo sciences that claim to study the phenomena of opinion’ (207), which operate with stable attractors  and standard logic, although even they have to acknowledge the chaos of thought that degenerates into opinion. [Nice simple categories again -- nothing on ideologies, for example,or on any mechanisms that might guide the path form chaotic thought to opinion]

Philosophy struggles with chaos as ‘undifferentiated abyss or ocean of dissemblance’ (207), but it also has to struggle with opinion.  Concepts are not assembled in the same way as opinions, through associations of ideas (as images) and ordered reasons (as abstractions).  Instead, concepts must be created.  They are ‘mental objects determinable as real beings’, located on a plane (207).  It is a matter of noting that ‘variations become inseparable according to zones of neighbourhood’ (207) and can be reordered ‘according to the exigencies of reason’ to form ‘genuine conceptual blocs’ (208). Concepts are chaoid states, referring to a chaos ‘rendered consistent, become Thought, mental chaosmos’ (208).  Thinking must confront chaos [and this is where the line from the Internationale appears—reason thunders in its crater].  The example of the cogito [above] shows how we can move beyond opinion to fill in the inseparable variations.

[Then we get on to the weird stuff about the brain.  Does the brain pre-establish cerebral maps or gestalten which form thought?  Certainly these conceptions help us break from the idea of conditioned reflexes.  Ready made paths imply a plane and a survey of the entire field—which can look like a physical variant of philosophy?  However the brain can only form and communicate opinions, because it can still only do recognition and simple logic.  Philosophy art and science are more than mental objects produced by clusters of neurones.  They seem to come from a ‘non objectifiable brain’ (209).  Such a notion is a concept that needs to be created.  However, phenomenology’s notion of a transcendental subject is inadequate, since it is still a matter of opinion or urdoxa.

What about the formation of subjectivity?  The formation of philosophy art and science shows that ‘the brain become subject, Thought–brain’ (210).  This is a primary form in itself beyond any external reference—‘a state of survey without distance’ (210) that surveys itself, and deals with inseparable variations.  ‘This was the status of the concept as pure event or reality of the virtual’ (210), so every concept can be seen to act like a brain {weirdos!}.  More conventionally, the brain is ‘the faculty of concepts’ (211), and they are also responsible for conceptual personae.  The brain can conceive the I as an other, an I that conceives, and feels {so we have forgotten science at this point?}.  Sensations are as much an aspect of brains as our concepts, and arise with excitation itself, with vibrations from stimulants.  Sensations preserve these vibrations and can resonate.  When contracted, these vibrations ‘become quality, variety’ (211). {There is a hint of the biological determinism of the stuff on cinema then, where cinema communicates directly by stimulating brains and all that}

Contraction itself involves ‘contemplation that preserves the before in the after’ (212) {a reference to Hume, apparently}.  Sensations therefore compose by contracting, through contemplation, where ‘one contemplates the elements from which one originates…  Passive creation’.  This is enjoyment.  We contemplate elements of matter, and even non human life can do this—‘it is as if flowers smell themselves by smelling what composes them, first attempts and vision or of sense of smell, before being perceived or even smelled by an agent with a nervous system and a brain’ (212).  There could even be collective brains in species or in vegetal tissues, with a contraction that takes place through chemical affinities and physical causalities rather than nervous systems—‘forces that constitute micro brains’ (213) {these unfortunate ventures into the non human presumably help in the struggle against the humanist subject, but they just depend on the ridiculous stretching of language relating to humans}.  These forces constitute ‘a single plane of composition bearing all the varieties of the universe’ (213), a version of vitalism that refers to ‘a pure internal Awareness’, detachment from immediate action or movement, ‘pure contemplation without knowledge’ (213).  This process can be seen an apprenticeship or the formation of habit, which must involve an underlying and contracted imagination {so says Hume apparently}. {This 'contraction' seems to be a combination of remembering and projecting forwards, learning we might call it]

Both concepts and sensations are threatened by weariness, a difficulty in contraction, leading to a reversion to opinion or cliché.  Philosophical weariness can often in a scientific interest in a more operationalized notion of the virtual, or to mere opinion exercised in discussion.  Some of these opinions are useful as in predictions about the material world in Hume.  Science attempts to raise them to knowledge through a process of extracting elements, distinguishing them, discriminating them, establishing limits and functions [which apparently has the effect of reducing the subject to ‘an “eject”’ (215).  These operations replace an act of contemplation and contraction with a description of the relation between factors.  This gives science its characteristic interest in a plane of reference and so on.  [Then back to the brain!  Scientific knowledge does not arise from functions of the brain directly, but ‘the functions are themselves the folds of a brain that lay out the variable coordinates of a plane of knowledge (reference) and that dispatch partial observers everywhere’ (215)].

The operations of branching and individuation reveal the persistence of chaos, and the potentials it provides.  Apparently, science must investigate how the brain deals with these processes, by constituting limits that determine the functions of variables and the relations between them.  Apparently, these can display ‘an uncertain and hazardous characteristic’ (216) in electrical and chemical synapses [and one of the references here is none other than Steven Rose!].  There is no linear model, but gaps and intermediaries.  Not arborescent but rhizomatic.  Opinion or habit might manage the chaos, but creativity reveals it.  Similarly, individuation is not a matter of the operations of cells as variables, since cells constantly die, but the matter of potentials being actualised, especially in ‘the free effect that varies according to the creation of concepts, sensations, or functions themselves’ (216).

The three planes of philosophy art and science are irreducible, although they may have analogous  problems, such as whether planes are multiple or single.  They can also experienced interference in the brain, as ‘than a philosopher attempts to create the concept of a sensation’ (217).  Usually, this is dealt with by ignoring  the methods and criteria of the interfering discipline.  Usually, disciplines remain on their own planes.  However, philosophy can slip into the other planes, as with figures like  Zarathustra, as can the partial observers of science when they introduce aesthetic figures.

However, a kind of interference arises externally, from relations with non disciplines.  This is sometimes seen in pedagogic efforts by artists to teach us how to feel, philosophers to conceive, and scientists to know.  In such activities we encounter ‘an essential relationship with the No’ (218) [fits my pedagogic experiences pretty well I must say!].  Nonphilosophy is found where ‘ the plane confronts chaos’, but philosophy needs non philosophy to comprehend it, at every stage [this is one of these ambiguous phrases as in Logic of Sense, where non philosophy means not just something that isn’t philosophy, but something that is bundled up with philosophy, some non philosophical form of judgment or taste?].  The same threat of chaos, ‘into which the brain plunges’ (218) affects each of the planes of art philosophy and science [then a very weird piece to finish, in which this threat apparently calls forth different sorts of people ‘mass- people, world-people, brains-people, chaos -people—non thinking thought that lodges in the three’ (218), which render philosophy art and science indiscernible ‘as if they shared the same shadow that extends itself across their different nature and constantly accompanies them’ (218) [what pseudy rubbish to end with!].

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