15 May 2015

Somers-Hall, (2.7), Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition, ‘2.7 The Third Synthesis 3: Hamlet and the Symbol of the Third Synthesis (88–92/111–16)’, summary


by
Corry Shores
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[The following is summary. All boldface, underlining, and bracketed commentary are my own. Proofreading is incomplete, so please forgive my typos and other distracting mistakes. Somers-Hall is abbreviated SH and Difference and Repetition as DR.]



Summary of


Henry Somers-Hall


Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition:
An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide


Part 1
A Guide to the Text

 

Chapter 2. Repetition for Itself

2.7 The Third Synthesis 3: Hamlet and the Symbol of the Third Synthesis (88–92/111–16)





Brief summary:

Another way that Deleuze elaborates his third synthesis of time, where ‘time is out of joint,’ is by discussing Hamlet and Zarathustra. Hamlet begins with the title character not deciding whether or not to take a serious action (avenging his father’s death by killing the murderer, Claudius). But without such actions, we are unable to organize Hamlet’s actions as being either conforming to the law or not. So the temporality of the first part of Hamlet is out of joint, because its events cannot be organized. Also, Hamlet in a way lives in a suspended present, since he cannot advance into his future drastic action, and this is also him being stuck in the past, back when he first was charged with the task of seeking vengeance. Furthermore, this lingering past and suspended present obtain their significance in relation to a future that they anticipate. We see something similar with Zarathustra. The title character at first is concerned with revenge and thus is stuck in the past. But when he comes to acknowledge the eternal return, he can live life unconditionally affirming the value of each moment and thus having no need to linger on the past and instead to see each present anticipatable eternally in the future.

 



Summary


We previously discussed how in a Kantian framework, concepts are different in kind from intuitions of time, since concepts are formal and are not given in the flow of time like intuitions are. This means that

time cannot be seen as the moving image of eternity, since it is no longer the expression of an underlying representational structure, whether the ‘number of movement’ or the true ‘order of things’. Time is no longer simply a confused intellectual determination.
(78)

[The following is a bit complicated. Let me quote it since I will misconstrue it with paraphrase. I think here an example or illustration would be helpful to grasp what it means.]

Kant reverses the order of determination that we found in the previous model. Rather than time being a mode of the appearing of an underlying succession, for Kant, succession is a way of synthesising a prior intuition of temporality. This opens the way to escaping from an understanding of the temporal as a derivative form of representation, and grounds representation instead on something fundamentally nonrepresentational. Succession is now a determination of an intuition of time which is not inherently successive.
(SH 78)

Deleuze will do something similar. He will say that the first two syntheses, which are passive, are “ultimately united in a pure form of time that pre-exists both of them”. (78) Now, since this pure form of time pre-exists the others, it would seem to come before them and not after them, chronologically. Thus, “This pre-existing notion of time is, paradoxically, the future, which is determined simultaneously as the present, and as the past that co-exists with the present” (78). To better grasp this structure of time, we will examine first Deleuze’s discussion of the Hamlet, Oedipus, and Zarathustra stories. In this section specifically, we will look just at the Hamlet and Zarathustra ones.


On these topics Deleuze turns to Harold Rosenberg’s writings on drama [Note: Somers-Hall also has an excellent treatment of Rosenberg in his article, “Time Out of Joint: Hamlet and the Pure Form of Time.” Keith Faulkner as well goes into depth on Rosenberg in his Deleuze and the Three Syntheses of Time (2006 Peter Lang).] Consider actions in drama like Antigone’s morally justifiable crime when burying her brother Polyneices, an act forbidden by King Creon. Rosenberg understands these situations as presenting a legal conception of the human individual. [I will quote the next part since I will probably misconstrue it (I still need to read the Rosenberg text). Perhaps we can first consider two similar situations. There is a murderer who indeed murdered someone, and prior to that murder, they drive to the crime scene and all the while obeyed  all the traffic laws. The other situation is you have a wrongly accused person who also drove to a murder crime scene, and as well  they obeyed the traffic laws on the way there, however, they did not actually commit the murder. Since in the eyes of the law both men at first seem guilty, their strict adherence to traffic law may perhaps seem sinister somehow, maybe because the person seems to obey these laws only to break other far worse ones. But when we learn that the innocent man indeed did not commit the murder, his obeying the traffic laws now seems like innocent civil behavior. I do not quite grasp the point, but it seems to be that one way to interpret behavior or to judge people is in this legal manner which cares only whether or not the behavior is somehow bound up with a criminal act. I do not quite get what the other way would be, but it has something to do with relating the behavior to the person as a whole. Let me quote.]


When we look at the law, Rosenberg notes [the following up to citation is Rosenberg quotation],

The concepts of morality or social law, applying exclusively to human beings and ignoring possible analogies with other living creatures, tend to define the individual not as an entity enduring in time but by what he has done in particular instances. A given sequence of acts provokes a judgement, and this judgement is an inseparable part of the recognition of the individual. (Rosenberg 1994: 136) |

Now when we look at the legal conception of the person, it isn’t the case that the unity of the individual can be given in terms of their acts themselves. Rather, when someone comes before a judge, what the judge sees is not a unity governed by personality, but rather a series of acts which are unified by the last act’s relationship to the law. So, as Rosenberg notes, the acts of a murderer are in large part no different from the acts of anyone else, and are only made criminal by the fact that they precede the murder itself: ‘entering an automobile, stepping on the gas, obeying the traffic lights’ (Rosenberg 1994: 138).

In this sense, when we look at a criminal act, it is the law that provides a framework for the analysis of action, and which imposes a structure of artifice that unifies the conduct of the perpetrator. In the case of the law, Rosenberg notes that if it is suddenly discovered that the alleged perpetrator did not commit the crime, his entire identity before the law disintegrates. The actions of ‘stepping on the gas’ and ‘obeying the traffic lights’ now take on an entirely innocent aspect.
(SH 78-79)

[Since the law is looking at different actions and uniting them all according to how they conform to laws, it in that way acts as an active synthesis of the individual. This is time in joint, perhaps because there is a unifying principle that structures the temporality of the actions (and thus certain determinations) of the individual’s life.]

We can therefore see Rosenberg’s conception of classical drama as being one of time in joint. Here, the phenomenal manifestations of characters in classical drama are merely manifestations of an underlying law, or an underlying judgement: the fate of the character. Hence, ‘psychology can establish the plausibility of Macbeth’s or Lear’s behaviour, but for the sufficiency of his motivation, we must not refer to a possible Macbeth or Lear “in real life” but to the laws of the Shakespearean universe’ (Rosenberg 1994: 140).
(SH 79)


SH now turns to how Hamlet presents time is out of joint. For in it “we can see in the structure of the play itself an intimation of the reversal of the roles of time and succession/action/ movement” (SH 79).


[The next point seems to be that we might normally expect in Hamlet’s situation that his actions would be given value or interpretation by seeing how they relate to laws. So perhaps for example, if he at the beginning chose to kill Claudius, then we would interpret his actions as criminal but justified in the sense of obtaining justice. Or if he decides to serve Claudius, then we might see his subsequent actions as Machiavellian maybe, or if he forgives Claudius… and so on. That also in a way might be constituting time as in joint. I am not sure how, but maybe it is in the sense that all the actions ensuing after Hamlet’s decision would have a sort of linear order and logic/organization to them. But since Hamlet at first is paralyzed, we are never able to constitute his actions as being a part of a linear sort of organized flow. I will quote.]

The first half of Hamlet sees Hamlet himself not as an identity in the legal sense. As Rosenberg points out, the drama prior to Hamlet’s return from England concerns his inability to act [up to citation, the following quotes Shakespeare]:

I do not know
Why yet I live to say ‘This thing’s to do;’
Sith I have cause and will and strength and means
To do’t. (Shakespeare 2003: IV.iv.43–6) |

Now, as this quote makes clear, Hamlet is very much aware of what he should do, but he is simply not able to do it. To this extent, we have an odd dramatic structure, since, if characters are understood in terms of the relations of acts to the judgement of the law, then Hamlet’s various speeches, and use of speech in the first half of the play, are simply irrelevant to the structure of his role. As Deleuze writes, ‘Hamlet is the first hero who truly needed time in order to act, whereas earlier heroes were subject to time as the consequence of an original movement (Aeschylus) or aberrant action (Sophocles)’ (ECC 28).
(SH 79-80)

[I will run through the points in the next part, then quote it so it can be better interpreted. In order for the story in Hamlet to be set in motion and in order for Hamlet himself to play a role in it, Hamlet will have to decide to avenge his father, which he does while on the sea voyage. We then relate parts of Hamlet to different conceptions of time, but I cannot paraphrase these ideas well. The first half of Hamlet, where he has not yet made a decision, is like the a prior past. Maybe because he never gets past the ghost’s visit at the beginning he is stuck in the past, but I am not yet sure this explains why it is an a priori past. Also, I am not entirely sure I know what an a priori past is anyway, but SH then relates it to Bergson, so maybe it is the same as the past in general, the past that coexists with the present. I will confuse you if I try to paraphrase the rest, so let me quote it all. Maybe one over-simplistic thing to get out of it is that Hamlet was stuck in the past (the ghost’s call for vengeance), and that past event and his enduring (present) paralysis both take their significance in relation to the future act when he decides to and indeed does kill Claudius. The coherence of the self’s past, present, and future, is “exhibited by the eternal return,” and SH elaborates on this new topic in the following paragraph.]

Rosenberg’s interpretation is precisely this, that Hamlet exists as a person, rather than an identity, and hence exists outside of the role that the play assigns him. The task of taking on the role of avenging his father is simply too big for him. The sea voyage is therefore necessary to the structure of Hamlet, as it represents the break whereby Hamlet becomes equal to the task allotted to him. What does this involve? Deleuze talks about the first half of Hamlet in terms of the ‘a priori past’. In this sense, Hamlet exists in the past in relation to the event (he is yet to become equal to his action). Now, here the two notions of the past and of inaction should remind us of Bergson’s theory of the pure past. Hamlet, in the first half of the play, exists in a state of relation to a past that is disconnected from the present. In this sense, there is a failure to relate the past to action, which is mirrored by Hamlet’s failure to identify himself with the actual structure of the law. As Deleuze puts it in his discussion of Hamlet and Oedipus, ‘they are in the past and live themselves as such so long as they experience the image of the act as too big for them’ (DR 89/112). The second time, the action, is the moment of the present, where the self becomes capable of acting. This is where the emergence of our representation of the self emerges as a parallel to the self of habit (‘the projection of an ideal self in the image of the act’ [DR 89/112]); but it is only against the future that these two moments can be related. It is only the future that allows the self of the past and the present to be brought into a ‘secret coherence’. This secret coherence is the coherence exhibited by the eternal return.
(SH 80)


SH then notes the parallels between Hamlet and Zarathustra. 1) Both main characters begin by being unequal to their action (that is, they are unable to take on a great action). Through much of Zarathustra, he is unable to think the eternal return. 2) The first parts of both texts are “bound up with the question of the past,” as for example in the parts about revenge. [The idea here seems to be that we are not inherently determined by our past, perhaps because we are always in a state of becoming or something like that. (Maybe it has something to do with the innocence of becoming, but I am not sure.) But when we hold on too much to the past, like when we resent some past insult or crime and want vengeance, then we are letting a temporal structure, the past, condition our lives and our mentality when normally it would have no influence. Now recall a basic idea we discussed regarding the eternal return. We could live our lives affirming the unconditional value of each moment, no matter how seemingly bad it might be. If we lived that way, we would never be structured by the past, since we would regret nothing.]

This first part of Zarathustra is bound up with the question of the past. ‘Of Redemption’ is central in this respect, in that it explores | two different relationships to the past. As Zarathustra says, ‘this alone is revenge itself: the will’s unwillingness towards time and time’s “it was” ’ (Nietzsche 2006b: 111). Now this conception of time, with its ‘dreadful chance’, is the past of representation. In this framework, temporality itself is seen as the ground for resentment, man is not the ground for his own actions (he cannot will backwards), and so he is in this sense alienated from what he is by the structure of temporality. In this, we can perhaps see the structure of the paralogisms – the inability of man to find the ground of his own activity through recourse to a determinable identity. The spirit of revenge is therefore engendered by the passing of time, and its incommensurability with the will. The eternal return is thus that which offers us the possibility of a more appropriate relation to temporality (‘the redemption of time’). It functions on the one level as an ethical principle, which Deleuze formulates in a way which parallels that of Kant (‘what ever you will, will it in such a way that you also will its eternal return’ [NP 68/63]).
(SH 80-81)


But in the second part of Zarathustra, he “becomes adequate to the thought of the eternal return,” since he finally stops pitying the higher man and instead “truly embraces the form of temporality explicit in the eternal return” (SH 81). [I am not sure I understand the final point of this section, so let me quote it.]

we can read the eternal return in this formulation purely in terms of the first two syntheses. We act by incorporating the pure past into the present (we repeat), but this generates something truly novel, the future as new. In other words, it is on the basis of the return of the past (through memory) that the future is constituted as being in excess of the present. It is thus the future that allows us to relate the past to the present.
(81)

 





Citations from:

Somers-Hall, Henry. Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition. An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University, 2013.



Or if otherwise noted:


DR:
Deleuze, Gilles. Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994/London: Continuum, 2004.


NP
Deleuze, Gilles. Nietzsche and Philosophy, trans. Hugh Tomlinson, London: Athlone Press, 1983/London: Continuum, 2006.

Rosenberg, Harold (1994), The Tradition of the New, New York: De Capo Press.


Nietzsche, Friedrich (2006b), Thus Spoke Zarathustra, ed. and trans. Adrian Del Caro and Robert Pippin, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.




 

Somers-Hall, (2.6), Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition, ‘2.6 The Third Synthesis 2: Two Different Paralogisms (85–7/107–10)’, summary


by
Corry Shores
[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

[Central Entry Directory]
[Deleuze Entry Directory]
[Henry Somers-Hall, Entry Directory]
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[The following is summary. All boldface, underlining, and bracketed commentary are my own. Proofreading is incomplete, so please forgive my typos and other distracting mistakes. Somers-Hall is abbreviated SH and Difference and Repetition as DR.]



Summary of


Henry Somers-Hall


Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition:
An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide


Part 1
A Guide to the Text

 

Chapter 2. Repetition for Itself 

2.6 The Third Synthesis 2: Two Different Paralogisms (85–7/107–10)



 

 

Very brief summary:

To elaborate on his third synthesis of time, Deleuze turns to Kant’s cogito argument. We can only know that we exist if we have some experience of ourselves. But any such experience will be of an empirical self that varies continuously through time. What unifies that temporally various self is a transcendental self-awareness that is merely the formal unity of our ‘I’, which is the grounds for the unity of all representations. For Kant, then, there is an active synthesis by the transcendental ego that we never experience, since we only experience our passively synthesized empirical self. Deleuze thinks that in fact what gives synthetic unity to us and to the world is not a transcendental subject but rather a passive synthesis of some kind.


Brief summary:

For Deleuze, there are three syntheses of time, and the third is the synthesis of the pure empty form of time, which he elaborates with his notion of ‘time is out of joint’. One way he further develops this concept is by commenting on Kant’s critique of Descartes’ cogito argument: I think, therefore I am. Descartes might be saying that because at this moment you are thinking, that means you know there is an I who is doing that thinking. And furthermore, this I [for some reason] is self-same and self-identical, and thus it does not vary over the course of time. Kant observes that Descartes is forgetting that in order to determine ourselves, that is, to determine our ‘I’ as being because it is thinking, we need some determination. Now, our ‘I’ formally speaking is no more than the unity that provides the glue for all variations through time we experience in the world and in our own selves. So this formal unity itself does not tell us more about who we are. Instead, in order to find out about and thus determine ourselves, we need to actuallty experience ourselves. [Recall also that for Kant, concepts require intuitions for there to be cognitions. We can only have cognitions of ourselves if we also have intuitions of ourselves.] Yet, we can only have such self-experiences in a flow of continuously varying experience. This means that we are never self-same from moment to moment. This also means that we never actually cognize that pure formal self that Descartes seems to think we have mental access to. That formal self is what actively syntheses all empirically given variations, including both intuitions of the world and of ourselves. Deleuze, however, does not think that we and the world are synthesized actively by some transcendental self. Rather, we will see that the unity of both ourselves and the world are the product of some passive synthesis.




Summary


 

[We previously examined Deleuze’s third synthesis of time in terms of time not being understood in the sense of a regular motion measurable by comparing steady cyclical movements but rather as an a priori form of sensibility which provides the conditions allowing us to grasp events as happening in succession.] Deleuze will now explain time being out of joint by looking at subjectivity and in particular the different conceptions of subjectivity found in Descartes’ vs. Kant’s ‘Cogitos’. “Descartes’ claim is that in doubting, the I which doubts can at least be known with certainty” (76). Kant says that Descartes makes the mistake of subtracting time from the ‘I think, therefore I am’, since all thinking must be conducted in time. [I quote in case I miss something here.].

Kant’s claim in the paralogisms is basically that Descartes has made the error of assuming that time is an inessential determination of thinking. That is, the I that doubts is able to reflect directly on its nature as a thinking thing (‘Descartes could draw his conclusion only by expelling time’ [DR 86/109]). In fact, as we saw in the transcendental deduction, all thinking has to take place in time. It is an essential determination of thinking.
(SH 76a)


[The following material is some of the most challenging that I personally have encountered in Deleuze’s philosophy. SH will give us a remarkably efficient and elegant summary. SH first has us note the category of substance. We use it to construct a world that is amenable to judgment, I suppose because of the idea that we form judgments by means of the predication of subjects, and that structure matches a substance-property sort of relation. It seems SH’s purpose for this is that Descartes and perhaps also Kant are saying that we are making a judgment, that “I am”, and so the I is both the subject and substance, and the determination/predication/property is something like, “being a thing that exists” or something like that. This of course could also hold similarly for the “I think”, in that it could be, “I am a thing that thinks”. The next important point SH raises is that “substance is a way of organizing something which is given.” I suppose here the given is one’s own self, which is substantialized as something, as an ego or ‘I’, with such properties as ‘being a thing that thinks’ and ‘being something that exists’. SH then explains that for Kant it is important to note how it is that the subject, the self, I, or ego in this case, is determined. I suppose we might say that it is not determined through some intellectual exercise, like if we were to deduce that Socrates is an animal because he is a man. Rather, we can only know what the determining features of our own self are by means of actually experiencing our very own self. This means we can only base our determinations of ourselves by means of our intuitions. But as Kant already established in his “Transcendental Aesthetic”: “Time is a necessary representation that grounds all intuitions” (Kant, Critique of Pure Reason A31/B46; p.162). In other words, so long as we have intuitions of ourselves, we do so by having intuitions of ourselves as we appear to ourselves in the experienced flux of temporal variation. But, the “I am” in Descartes’ formulation is not such a temporalized determination. (I am not exactly sure why this is so. Perhaps Descartes thinks our existence is not of a temporal sort. But I never thought about this. Is it not possible that Descartes’ “I am” can be understood to mean “I am something existing in the flow of time and therefore something capable of such actions as thinking”? What else could the “I am” mean? Is it just merely, “I am self-identical” or “I can be identified” or some other non-temporal sort of determination?) I am also not sure I follow SH’s next point, because I am not sure how it builds from this idea that intuitions of the self are temporal in some way. The next point is that when we introspect, we are not given as an object. SH writes: “As Kant notes, when we introspect, we don’t find the self as a given object: ‘No fixed and abiding self can present itself in this flux of inner appearances’ (Kant 1929: A107).” From that quote I did not gather that we are not given as an object, but rather that we are not given in a fixed and abiding way through the flux of time. Perhaps they means the same. At any rate, SH’s next point seems to be that since Descartes’ “I am” does not apply to a temporally variable substance, and yet the self as given in intuition is temporally variable, then Descartes misapplies the determination “I am.” This paragraph gives a very elegant explanation to this tricky idea, so let me quote it.]

Here we come to Descartes’ essential problem. Objects conform to our cognition, and in this sense the category of substance is something we use to construct a world that is amenable to judgement. As the transcendental deduction shows, it is one of the categories that makes thinking about objects possible. Now, Descartes is attempting to apply a determination (‘I think’) to an object that is undetermined (the ‘I am’), but according to our notion of substance, substance is a way of organising something which is given. According to Kant, the mistake is that Descartes hasn’t considered how the object can become determinable (under what form it can be given). For Kant, the answer is that objects are given in intuition, and therefore that the ‘I am’ can only be determined provided it is given to us by the intuition of time. But clearly the ‘I am’ that Descartes introduces as a thinking thing is not an object which is given to us in intuition. As Kant notes, when we introspect, we don’t find the self as a given object: ‘No fixed and abiding self can present itself in this flux of inner appearances’ (Kant 1929: A107). Descartes is therefore guilty of attempting to apply a determination outside of its proper sphere of application, by not using it as a form for synthesising intuitions, and it is this that leads him into error.
(SH 76)


[Let me continue by first quoting Somers-Hall.]


This brings us to the split in Kant’s philosophy. We can see what is going on here by relating the situation back to the transcendental deduction. There, Kant made the claim that ‘it must be possible for the “I think” to accompany all my representations’ (Kant 1929: B131). What made this possible was a prior synthesis by the transcendental unity of apperception. This prior synthesis was something about which we couldn’t say anything, as it was the ground for the categories (it was prior to notions such as substance).
(SH 76)

[The part above that I do not follow so well is when SH says that what makes it possible for the “I think” to accompany all representations is a prior synthesis by the transcendental apperception. I would think that it is possible for the ‘I think’ to accompany all representations without the transcendental apperception; however, the unity of those experiences requires it. In words, I had thought that it could be a different empirical “I” in each case. Let us first define apperception. “Consciousness of itself (apperception) is the simple representation of the I” (Kant, Critique of Pure Reason B132, p.246). We have two apperceptions, the empirical and the transcendental. The empirical apperception (that is, our empirical self-consciousness and empirical representation of our ‘I’) is our intuitive awareness of ourselves as we vary continuously through the flux of time, I suppose like how we might notice ourselves change from happy to sad upon hearing the news of a loved one’s death. The transcendental apperception may be more difficult to conceptualize. We first note that anything we sense, imagine, or conceive will be a synthetic unity, since it will be made of parts that have been brought together. With regard to intuitions, as we noted, they are given to us at different moments. We also said that our empirical apperception (our consciousness of ourselves as varying continuously through time) does not give us exactly the same self each moment. If all we had were the empirical apperception, then we would not be able to synthesize intuitions given at different moments, since they were not given to one same consciousness but rather to a series of different consciousness. So, there needs also to be a mode of self-consciousness of a self which does not vary over time, but rather which has a formal (or perhaps we can just say, a ‘structural’) unity such that no matter how our own selves are given to us as self-inconsistent appearances in our intuitions, still it is one same “I” whose self-unity allows for it to remain the same regardless of its empirical variations through time. Kant calls this self-consciousness of a formally unified self the “transcendental apperception”: “Now no cognitions can occur in us, no connection and unity among them, without that unity of consciousness that precedes all data of the intuitions, and in relation to which all representation of objects is alone possible. This pure, original, unchanging consciousness I will now name transcendental apperception” (Kant, Critique of Pure Reason A107, p.232). Kant then continues explaining this idea that the transcendental apperception is needed for us to unify our temporally varied intuitions.

Just this transcendental unity of apperception, however, makes out of all possible appearances that can ever come together in one experience a connection of all of these representations in accordance with laws. For this unity of consciousness would be impossible if in the cognition of the manifold the mind could not become conscious of the identity of the function by means of which this manifold is synthetically combined into one cognition. Thus the original and necessary consciousness of the identity of oneself is at the same time a consciousness of an equally necessary unity of the synthesis of all appearances in accordance with concepts, i.e., in accordance with rules that not only make them necessarily reproducible, but also thereby determine an object for their intuition, i.e., the concept of something in which they are necessarily connected; for the mind could not possibly think of the identity of itself in the manifoldness of its representations, and indeed think this a priori, if it did not have before its eyes the identity of its action, which subjects all synthesis of apprehension (which is empirical) to a transcendental unity, and first makes possible their connection in accordance with a priori rules.
(Kant, Critique of Pure Reason A108, p.233)

So, I understand how the transcendental apperception is responsible for there being one same “I” in all the temporally varied “I am thinkings” of our empirical awareness. But, I still do not understand so well the reasoning for why it is that the “I think” must accompany all representations. Here is one explanation Kant gives: “The I think must be able to accompany all my representations; for otherwise something would be represented in me that could not be thought at all, which is as much as to say that the representation would either be impossible or else at least would be nothing for me” (Kant, Critique of Pure Reason B131-132, p.246). He seems to be saying that if there were no “I think” accompanying a representation, it would not be thinkable. I am not sure exactly what that means. Is it not possible to have a mindless sort of experience and then later think about it by trying to remember it (using hypnosis for example)? In fact, I would not know how to give a definition for the ‘I think’. Hector-Neri Castañeda’s way of dealing with this seems to be to consider the ‘I think’ as like an implied prefix that is affixed to all our representations, but more in the form of ‘I think that …’. So if we see a red ball, perhaps the idea is that even though it is an intuition and thus not something conceptual, there is still somehow implied in the structure of that intuition something that would allow us to articulate it as ‘I think that the ball is red’, or at least, ‘I think that I am experiencing something red [or just redness]’. At any rate, Kant continues that such an unthinkable representation would be either impossible or at least be nothing for me. I do not know why a representation that cannot be thought is impossible. I also do not know why it would be a problem if the representation “would be nothing for me”. Can it not exist as a representation but never be of any significance or consequence whatsoever? I do not know how we can be certain.] Kant’s criticism of Descartes is that he conflates these two kinds of apperception.

Now, Descartes’ error therefore emerges because he conflates two different levels: ‘the unity of apperception, which is subjective, is taken for the unity of the subject as a thing’ (Kant 2005: 240). This means that since we can only be given to ourselves in time, when we reflect, what we observe isn’t the activity itself (which is | transcendental), but merely the empirical after-effect of it (the ‘I think’ is merely an analytic result of an underlying process of synthesis) [the following up to citation is Deleuze quotation]:

The spontaneity of which I am conscious in the ‘I think’ cannot be understood as the attribute of a substantial and spontaneous being, but only as the affection of a passive self which experiences its own thought . . . being exercised in it and upon it but not by it. (DR 86/108)

When we introspect, therefore, what we encounter is not an active subject, but a subject intuited under the form of time, and subject to the same patterns of determination that any temporal object is subject to: a passive self.
(SH 76-77)

[The last paragraph is fascinating but as well a bit difficult. It seems the point is that for Kant, a synthesis must be actively performed by a transcendental subject. But Deleuze will offer an alternate account where synthesis is passive, and it constitutes a subject. What is responsible for this synthesis is somehow time itself, which constitutes both the passive self and the world we experience.]

Kant argues that in order for us to be able to accompany all of our representations by an ‘I think’, there must be a prior, active synthesis, as the unity of the manifold is experienced through the passive form of time. This inference to the conditions of possibility of the ‘I think’, however, rests directly on the notion that all synthesis involves an active subject. His definition of synthesis as ‘the act of putting different representations together, and of grasping what is manifold in them in one act of knowledge’ (Kant 1929: A77/B109) implies that the elements of time are simply passively given, and that all synthesis takes place by an active self. Given the passive nature of the ‘I think’, which is determinable under the form of time, Kant is therefore obliged to posit a transcendental ego which makes the ‘I think’ possible. Deleuze has an alternative explanation of how we are able to confront a unified world, which is that syntheses can also be passive. As we have seen, passive syntheses are constitutive of a subject, rather than the result of a subject’s activity. In this regard, what makes the ‘I think’ possible for Deleuze is ‘a synthesis which is itself passive (contemplation-contraction)’ (DR 87/109). In this sense, Kant posits the transcendental unity of apperception simply because he has ruled out a constitutive role for time itself by assigning all organisation to the understanding. If the transcendental unity of apperception isn’t responsible for unifying our world of appearances, what is? For Deleuze, time itself is going to be responsible for constituting both the passive self and the world that the passive self encounters. In order to explain how this occurs, he will introduce a new moment: the eternal return. There are two doctrines of the eternal return to consider: the exoteric doctrine which provides us with a symbol of the eternal return, and the esoteric doctrine which, as we shall see, we have already encountered in Chapter 1.
(SH 77)

 


Citations from:

Somers-Hall, Henry. Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition. An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University, 2013.



Or if otherwise noted:


DR:
Deleuze, Gilles. Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994/London: Continuum, 2004.

 

Kant 1929:

Kant, Immanuel (1929), Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Norman Kemp Smith, London: St. Martin’s Press.


Kant 2005:

Kant, Immanuel (2005), Notes and Fragments, trans. Paul Guyer, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



Or Kant in my comments:

Kant. Critique of Pure Reason. Eds. & Transls. Paul Guyer and Allen Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.


 



 

11 May 2015

Somers-Hall, (2.5), Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition, ‘2.5 The Third Synthesis 1: The Pure Form of Time (85–9/107–11)’, summary


by
Corry Shores
[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

[Central Entry Directory]
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[The following is summary. All boldface, underlining, and bracketed commentary are my own. Proofreading is incomplete, so please forgive my typos and other distracting mistakes. Somers-Hall is abbreviated SH and Difference and Repetition as DR.]



Summary of


Henry Somers-Hall


Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition:
An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide


Part 1
A Guide to the Text

 

Chapter 2. Repetition for Itself

2.5 The Third Synthesis 1: The Pure Form of Time (85–9/107–11)



 

 

Brief summary:

For Deleuze, time is something that is synthesized, and there are three ways it is synthesized. Perhaps the most important and the most difficult to conceptualize is the third synthesis. The basic idea here [it seems] is that time is most fundamentally a pure form rather than an actual activity or process. To elaborate this notion, Deleuze says that in this synthesis, time “comes out of joint.” An analog clock-hand has a central spinning “joint” or “hinge,” in the sense of a 360-degree door hinge, as in a turnstile. Similarly, the stars in the sky seem to circulate yearly in perfect circles around the north star, and the sun seems to wheel around the world circularly each day. These regular motions give value to one another by means of ratios. For example, the sun makes about 365 turns around the sky by the time a star returns to its original position in the night sky (when we observe the star the same time each night). This is time that is “in joint,” perhaps meaning that it is time formed or conceived by means of motional regularities whose ratio comparisons produce a measure for a linear, progressive, and steady flow of time. Such an ongoing, steadily-moving sort of time is one of succession, where we have one day coming after the other, one year following another, and so on. One way to understand how time is out of joint is to remove this concept of successivity. Deleuze, then, turns to Kant’s notion of the pure a priori intuition of time. Before we can even experience time as a succession of moments – that is, as having a linear order and a sequence that can be enumerated as ‘moment one, moment two, moment three, and so on’ – we first need a basic mode of receptivity which would allow us to experience something as temporal in the first place. Then somehow secondly we may give temporal order and measure to our experiences.




Summary


 

[We previously examined Deleuze’s first and second syntheses of time. The first is the synthesis that contracts habitually experienced pairings. This causes us to anticipate the future and to experience time as moving in that direction. The second one synthesizes the past with the present such that our memorial past is always expressing itself entirely in the present, although it does so to more or less degrees of activity or detachment.] The first synthesis depends on the second, since we can only bring the past to bear on the future if we first retain the past. Both of these syntheses will themselves depend on the third one. The third syntheses does not constitute the subject. Rather, it comes prior to a constituted subject. [SH says, “prior to the subject as either constitutive or constituted”. I am not entirely certain what is meant by ‘constitutive’. Perhaps we might also say ‘constituting’ in the sense of the subject constituting its world or somehow itself. There may be some other important meaning, too.] [Now, since it does not constitute a subject,] the third synthesis is not a passive synthesis [that happens automatically and provides the mental material out of which the subject somehow finds formation. And since it is not an activity performed by the subject] the third synthesis is also not an active synthesis (72). As we saw with the prior two syntheses, Deleuze will explain how it is that the third syntheses leads to the “illusion that a representational active synthesis is responsible for the constitution of our world” (72). First Deleuze, following Kant, claims that the argument for positing a substantial subject is fallacious. Kant’s solution is positing a “transcendental unity of apperception”. Deleuze will show that this solution “rests on Kant’s false belief that all synthesis requires a subject” (72). For Deleuze, however, it rests on time itself. SH then outlines his plan. First, he will look at how Kant’s unique philosophy of time opens the possibility of a pure time (73a). Next, he will look at the problem of the subject in Kant’s account. Thirdly, he will look at the pure and empty form of time in dramatic works. Lastly, he will look at the “‘esoteric’ doctrine of the third synthesis,” and he will relate it to intensive difference (73).


SH will begin first with Deleuze’s notion of “time is out of joint.” What does it mean for time to be in joint? To explain how that could be so, Deleuze refers to a mythological account in Plato’s Timaeus (73d). The cosmos begins in disorderly motion. But this is before there was time. So we first note that this  myth conceives of motion of as being able to exist without time. Out from this chaos the Demiurge arranges the celestial bodies into orderly circular orbits. The Demiurge is eternal, and the perfect motion of the bodies is the best way this eternity could present itself in a temporalized world that is limited to actual, ongoing motions. The regularity of the bodies’ movement allows for time to be measured. For example, there are so many days (cycle of daylight) in a year (cycle of the stars’ movements in the night sky or the sun’s peaks and valleys in the daytime sky). Time then becomes the measure of [regular] motion (74). This means however that time does not have an “empty form”. Rather, it is constituted by comparisons of actual motion. [I wonder why the form of the ratio of two motions is not considered an ‘empty form’. So for example, perhaps it could be something like the formula, a : b, where a is one regular motion and b is another to which the first is compared. For instance, the second hand makes sixty rotations for every rotation of the minute hand. Maybe it is formal, but just not “empty,” because it only has real value if actual motions are used in the comparison. Nonetheless, the formulation I would think is formal, and in its abstract form as a simple formula it would seem to be empty.]  [The heavenly bodies’ motion is ceaseless and unchanging. This makes it like eternity. But it is unlike eternity in that the motion that time is measuring is occurring in some present moment rather than somehow standing outside of all momentary time, like eternal things are normally thought to do. Thus] “Time is simply an imperfect way in which the eternal patterns of the world present themselves” (74). [The regularity and commensurability of the heavenly bodies’ motions make it such that they take on numerical ratio relations, and therefore this means that their motion is intelligible, as it can be understood conceptually. But] if we remove the movement, time becomes unintelligible. However, if we do not make time based on these patterns, that is, if we make it such that “time is out of joint,” then we would have a sort of time that is not like Plato’s “subordination of time to intelligible motion” (74). Now, “the subordination of time to an eternal, intelligible and also representational model is central | not just to Plato’s conception, but also to pre-Kantian philosophy in general” (74-75). But if “To be ‘in joint’ is … to be hinged, tied to cardinal numbers, and tied to a prior representational order” (75), then what does it mean that Kant makes time be ‘out of joint’?

 

[Before we continue, let us note a couple of Kant’s interesting ideas regarding space and time. We might normally think that we get to know space and time from experiencing them. We see things in space, we then get a sense for what space is. Or we experience the flow of time, and that tells us what time is like. But in fact, we seem to have knowledge of them even before even experiencing them in the first place. How can this be? Space is for the most part something we sense outside ourselves, since we sense the spatial relations of the external world. “By means of outer sense (a property of our mind) we represent to ourselves objects as outside us, and all as in space. In space their form, magnitude, and relation to one another is determined, or determinable” (Kant, Critique of Pure Reason A22/B37; p.157). But, in order to sense something outside us as being in fact something that really is outside us with spatial features, we  need already to have a basic conceptual structure in our understanding which enables us to distinguish inside from outside. Yet, this distinction is already a spatial structure, since it places one thing or area exterior to another in a spatialized sort of way. Thus, we have an “a priori” conception of space, one that precedes and even preconditions our experiential, a posteriori notions. For time, first think of how we are constantly aware of the world around us or inside us. So, our inner or our outer world is constantly appearing to us. Now, try to imagine one instance of the inner or outer world appearing to you, but it does so without it happening in time. So, the appearance has no temporality to it, no duration, no location in a sequence of experiences, and no temporal relation to other appearings, such as being simultaneous with or coming before or after them. Can you imagine such an appearing without any temporality to it? I cannot, because any such appearing will have some experiential context that provides temporal indicators that tell me about its temporal features. If I imagine seeing a tree, I cannot imagine experiencing that tree unless I also imagine the experience happening at some moment and having some duration and location in my ongoing stream of consciousness. Now, imagine the inverse situation. Imagine instead that you are experiencing the flow of time, but during this temporal experience, nothing appears to you. Can you imagine experiencing time without experiencing the things appearing within time? Kant seems to say that we can experience just time without any appearings within it. I am not so sure that is the case. So perhaps I am misconstruing the situation by placing it in experiential terms. However, I also do not know how else you can have an appearance (in the context of an ‘Aesthetic’) without that also involving the experience of an appearance. So, if nothing appears to me, I think it is possible then that I also do not experience time. If my head and senses were completely “dead” or entirely blank, I am not sure I would know that time is passing, since nothing is passing before my mind. At any rate, even under this situation we are still assuming that there is an objective time that is passing even if I cannot perceive it. This is what Kant writes: “Time is a necessary representation that grounds all intuitions. In regard to appearances in general one cannot remove time, though one can very well take the appearances away from time. Time is therefore given a priori. In it alone is all actuality of appearances possible. The latter could all disappear, but time itself, as the universal condition of their possibility, cannot be removed” (A31/B46; 162).] [So SH just asked, “In what sense, therefore, does Kant make time ‘out of joint?’” He says he will answer the first question, but I do not recall any but this one. Later we may return to the other one that I am forgetting.]


To understand how time can be out of joint for Kant, we first note how in his theory of intuition that

rather than time being a mode of succession, succession is a mode in which time appears to us. In fact, for Kant, succession is simply a way in which we organise time. (SH 75).

[SH then turns to Deleuze’s explanation from a course lecture. In fact, it is from the excellent and well-known Kant lectures. Here Deleuze explains succession and coexistence as “modes” of time. By this I guess we are to think of time more substantially, and it can have different modalities. This is something I would like to know more about, but perhaps it is not necessary to go deeper into how time has modalities or modes. I can maybe understand instantaneity and duration as modes of time, as in quantitative variations, and in that sense they might be quantitative “modulations”. So we have a more substantial sort of time, and it can be modulated longer or shorter. But succession and coexistence I only knew as temporal relations between things in time. So one event in time can be simultaneous with or successive to another. I am not sure yet how simultaneity or successivity would be a modification of time itself (or a variable feature of some kind) like varying its length might be. Anyway, the important point is that we cannot define time on the basis of perdurance, coexistence, and succession. There would have to instead be a more basic structure or form of time that we have a priori, and on its basis are we able then to experience or know temporal endurance, coexistence, and succession. This is remarkable, of course, because succession seems essential to time, when instead under this view it would not be. SH seems to be saying that we already have time somehow (maybe even an intuition of it somehow), and then secondly we somehow give order to it by means of succession. At this point it is hard to picture how this is the case, so perhaps we get more explanation and elaboration later. How do we secondarily give order to time? Is it that we firstly experience a jumble of events, and later we only break them apart and organize them in a linear series of separate events? Bergson seems to discuss something similar to this with his example of counting the clock tower bell-tolls from memory by dissecting the more holistic and qualitative experience of their quantity.

Whilst I am writing these lines, the hour strikes on a neighbouring clock, but my inattentive ear does not perceive it until several strokes have made themselves heard. Hence I have not counted them; and yet I only have to turn my attention backwards to count up the four strokes which have already sounded and add them to those which I hear. If, then, I question myself carefully on what has just taken place, I perceive that the first four sounds had struck my ear and even affected my consciousness, but that the sensations produced by each one of them, instead of being set side by side, had melted into one another in such a way as to give the whole a peculiar quality, to make a kind of musical phrase out of it. In order, then, to estimate retrospectively the number of strokes sounded, I tried to reconstruct this phrase in thought: my imagination made one stroke, then two, then three, and as long as it did not reach the exact number four, my feeling, when consulted, answered that the total effect was qualitatively different. It had thus ascertained in its own way the succession of four strokes, but quite other- | wise than by a process of addition, and without bringing in the image of a juxtaposition of distinct terms. In a word, the number of strokes was perceived as a quality and not as a quantity: it is thus that duration is presented to immediate consciousness, and it retains this form so long as it does not give place to a symbolical representation derived from extensity. (Bergson, Time and Free Will, §77, pp. 127-128).

I do not think that this is what SH means, because the original experience here does not seem to be of a pure form of time but rather of a concrete experience of a “living” duration. So at this point we might wait on how to give more definite shape to this idea, since he continues to discuss it in the following sections. Perhaps when we examine the dramatic elaborations in a forthcoming section, we will have some illustration or example that can make the idea more graspable like how Bergson illustrated his idea with the above bell-toll situation. Here is SH’s conclusion to this excellent section:]

Thus, by making time a faculty that is different in kind from the understanding, Kant presents it as something more than simply derivative of succession. Rather, succession is a way of ordering time. This opens the way for a consideration of the empty form of time as time prior to succession. Deleuze will take up this notion to make the claim that the successive structure of habit and the co-existent structure of memory are both simply modes of one underlying pure form of time. (SH 75)

 

 

 




Citations from:

Somers-Hall, Henry. Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition. An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University, 2013.



Or if otherwise noted:


DR:
Deleuze, Gilles. Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994/London: Continuum, 2004.


Kant. Critique of Pure Reason. Eds. & Transls. Paul Guyer and Allen Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

 

 

 


 




 

9 Apr 2015

Somers-Hall, (2.4), Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition, ‘2.4 Deleuze’s Second Synthesis: Bergson (79–85/100–7)’, summary


by
Corry Shores
[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

[Central Entry Directory]
[Deleuze Entry Directory]
[Henry Somers-Hall, Entry Directory]
[Henry Somers-Hall’s Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition, Entry Directory]

 

[The following is summary. All boldface, underlining, and bracketed commentary are my own. Proofreading is incomplete, so please forgive my typos and other distracting mistakes. Somers-Hall is abbreviated SH and Difference and Repetition as DR.]



Summary of


Henry Somers-Hall


Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition:
An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide


Part 1
A Guide to the Text

 

Chapter 2. Repetition for Itself

2.4 Deleuze’s Second Synthesis: Bergson (79–85/100–7)


 

Brief summary:

The second synthesis is based on Bergson’s theory of time. It synthesizes the past with the present. Both of which are cotemporal. Why? If a new moment supplants the current one, there needs to be a place for the new one to settle into. There can only be such a place if the present one is already in the past. The solution is to say that the present moment is already in the past, and this is because as soon as new moments are experienced, they are already registered or entered in our memory. For Bergson, the past and all the present are one large entity with no discrete parts. When we recall something, it may seem like we remember a discrete moment in time. Really it is just a part of the whole of memory that is expanded. Every moment of our lives we carry all our memory with us. Sometimes we act in the moment, and all past memories express themselves in how we act, like when performing something we previously practiced many times. Other times we sit back and expand moments, like recalling one memorable practice session. The past is inserted in the present and determines it. But we are free to choose which parts to expand and when to expand them and to what degree to expand them. This mixture of the past’s determinacy without our current freedom of choosing how to experience the past in the present Deleuze calls Destiny.



Summary


SH explains that “Deleuze’s first synthesis parallels Kant’s first synthesis” (SH 66). [Kant’s first synthesis is the synthesis of apprehension. Deleuze’s first synthesis is contraction. As I understand it, both are synthesizing the living present. For Kant, we put together a number of close recent moments into a chunk of presence. For Deleuze, the present is a qualitative feeling of waiting and anticipating on the basis of bringing the past to bear on the future using the imagination’s power to reproduce past experiences and foresee future ones.] Deleuze’s first synthesis also “aims to show how we are constituted along with a coherent temporal framework” (SH 66). [We saw this in the prior section.] SH then asks, why for Deleuze is the first synthesis insufficient for explaining experience? This is because the past and future that are in this synthesis are only experienced as presence. This present then can then be replaced by another one. [I think the idea here is that this present must already be synthesized with the ones that replace it, but I am not sure I get this.]

This particular present, with its particular anticipations, can itself become past and be replaced by another present. In this sense, as Deleuze puts it, ‘there must be another time in which the first synthesis of time can occur’ (DR 79/100).
(SH 66).


We recall from 2.2 “Kant’s claim was that our imagination reproduced a past present, which is recognised as such by the understanding” (66). So we have the present during which we do the recognizing and the present of the recalled moment. But since both are presents, how do we distinguish them? We somehow represent the past as past. For Deleuze, the past is the mediation of presents. [I do not know what that means. Maybe it is presents that are mediated by means of representations of them being past]. There are two important consequences to this. Firstly, it seems to assume that the past is no more than a series of passed presents. It also assumes that there is no difference between the current present and the passed presents [since all are equally presents, only some have passed.] Deleuze turns now to Bergson’s critique of associationism to explain why this account is flawed. (66)


Kant said that first a synthesis brings impressions into affinity with one another, and secondly past impressions become associated with present ones. [What it means to bring into affinity is not something I understand very well yet. It seems to be recognizing similarities by means of conceptual relations.] One problem Bergson notes is that everything in some way will have some resemblance with anything else. There is nothing inherent to anything which would make it connect to one thing rather than another. [I am not sure I understand how, but] they are self-sufficient, so no relations can be determined. This means an exterior force like the active synthesis of consciousness must impose those relations. [I think the idea then is, if we give them these affinities, and those affinities were not there, on what basis do we say certain ones have affinities and others do not?] “If this act of relation is external to the elements, and comes after them, then we cannot explain how it is able to operate according to an affinity we find within them” (67). [I also do not grasp well the next idea. It seems to be that just as we experience something, we already associate it with forthcoming instances not previously related with the current one. Please read this part for yourself.]

Bergson presents the following alternative: ‘In fact, we perceive the resemblance before we perceive the individuals which resemble one another; and in an aggregate of contiguous parts, we perceive the whole before the parts’ (Bergson 1991: 165). Bergson’s point is that there is a self-relation of the moments prior to their constitution as individuals that can be given to an active synthesis. This in effect is the claim that active synthesis is transcendentally dependent on a prior passive (non-conscious) synthesis.
(SH 67)


Bergson will give an alternative account. For him, the past, or memory, does not resemble the present, or perception. We first note how three domains run together in Kant’s account: “recollection-memory, habit-memory, and perception” (67). [I do not understand how these three run together. Maybe the basic idea is that we perceive things, then we recall similar things, and this is from habitual recurrences. But the difference between recollection-memory and habit-memory is especially unclear to me. Please read for yourself:] “Habits are produced by the re-presentation of actual past experiences by the imagination, just as, presumably, the imagination reproduces particular events from the past that we recollect. These moments are represented as the equivalent of perceptions” (67). But habit [by which we anticipate experiences] directs us to things in the world of experience, while instead reminiscence detaches us from present concerns. (67)


Now we want to see how for Bergson these two notions of habit and reminiscence are related. We first note that for Bergson, consciousness is “fundamentally oriented towards action” (67). [So we sense something, and its meaning is the forthcoming action we take in response.] “That means that the present moment of time is to be understood in terms of the connection between perception and action (i.e., in sensory-motor terms)” (67). But how we act in the future can be based on things we learned in the past, in our memory. Now, something interesting is that Bergson thinks that the past and the present are different in kind. Somehow “memory ‘begets sensation’ (Bergson 1991: 141) when it is brought to bear on a present situation” (SH 68). And somehow the present integrates two movements which are different in kind (68) [maybe, the movement from the past into the present and the movement of the present into the future? I am not sure. I also do not yet understand what it means for memory to beget the present.] We now ask, how is the past structured, since it is unlike the present? And, how does it integrate with the present, when the two are different in kind? (68)


[I am not sure about this paragraph, but the idea just seems to be that we retain all past experiences, and select them associatively given the situation.]

Beginning with the first question, we can note that there appears to be a process of selection involved in action. What is similar to the present is brought to bear on present experience. As Bergson notes, children often have far greater facility of recall than adults, which is inversely proportional to their ability to select the experiences appropriate to the present context (Bergson 1991: 154). If the detail of one’s recollections is inversely proportional to action in this way, then ‘a human being who should dream his life instead of living it would no doubt keep before his eyes at each moment the infinite multitude of the details of his past history’ (Bergson 1991: 155). So memory that functions by recollection contains a greater and greater part of the past, until we reach a point at which it is completely detached from action and hence, in the state of pure memory, contains a complete record of the past. Now, for Bergson, memory is different in kind from the present, which relates itself by succession to the future. We can now give a clearer account of its structure.
(68)


Firstly, we are not seeing the past as being made of discrete parts. We instead store the whole past as one thing. It might seem that we experience something now, smoke, then we ‘select’ from the past experiences of fire. Instead what happens is we see smoke, then we ‘expand’ in our memories certain parts of the past. These can expand at various levels. Thus Bergson’s cone, where the condensed tip of present action and at the top expanded memory. [See Matter and Memory §84 and especially §91. I am perhaps not saying enough here, so if you would like more elaboration and examples, some from cinema, I give some in my paper, “In the Still of the Moment: Deleuze's Phenomena of Motionless Time.”]

triple cone p211 english


You see there are various ‘layers’ of contraction. We might be more or less acting in the moment or detaching ourselves from the activities of the moment while drifting into a memorial daydream. (69)


Deleuze says there are three paradoxes involved in this account of the pure past. They result from the fact that representation cannot characterize its own account of representation (70). Yet, if we do not see the past as being represented, the paradoxes dissolve. Paradox 1: Suppose time is a series of distinct moments. As new ones come, they force-out the current ones into the past. But in order to force-out the current ones, it needs to be that the place they occupy in the present becomes vacant. They can only become vacant if the present ones were already in the past. Thus we have not explained how they become past in this account. We only assume it. Instead, the past must coincide with the present. [Just as things happen, they must also, in their presence, take on the trait of pastness, or at least the present moments have in the immediacy of their presence their mirror image in the past. Sometimes we experience something and we feel like it will be meaningful in the future, but we do not know why. Then later something makes us recall that event (which has come to be in the past) and see its significance. Someone is selling us something. They talk quickly about certain things and pass rapidly to other matters relating to the sale. We think at that moment something about this means something. We buy the thing. Later we learn that it is partly broken. We recall the salesperson was talking quickly when discussing that part which was really broken. This means that when we first experienced that fast talk, we constituted it as a memory, even as it was present, because we noticed it was memorable for some reason. We recalled it in advance (precalled it) by noting then that we will recall it in the future.] Paradox 2: [This one is confusing, so you will have to interpret it for yourself. It seems the idea is that we take two assumptions, one, that the present moment is a discrete moment, and two, that the present is different in kind from the past. We then deduce that since the past and present are different in kind, and since the present is a self-sufficient atom, that means the past cannot be atomic. If it were atomic, then part of it could potentially coincide with the present while other parts would not. And if a part of the past does not coincide with the present, then the whole of it must in fact coincide with the present. But there are a couple problems with my explanation. Is it really the case that two things which differ in kind must share no structural features at all? I do not know of some counter example, since we do not know what else could be characterized as different in kind in this way of thinking. Maybe one example could be time and objects. Time is composed of parts, before and after. Physical objects are composed of parts, particles. Both time and objects, which I assume are different in kind, share the structural feature of being composed of parts. So why is it that the Past and the Present, if they are different in kind, cannot share the feature of being made of discrete parts? The other thing that I do not grasp so well is the conclusion, namely that if the past does not partly coincide with the present, then it must do so entirely. Why not that it does not coincide at all? Is it because we ruled that out already by saying such a notion cannot explain the passing of the present and the formation of the past?]


The second paradox is that of co-existence. If the past cannot be constituted from the present, it must be different in kind from it. Now, as what characterises the present is the self-sufficient, atomic nature of the presents which make it up, the past must be non-atomic. If that is the case, then it cannot be only a part of the past which co-exists with the present, but the whole of it.
(70)

Paradox 3: The past is a prerequisite for the present. But how can the past come before the present? [I do not understand the problem here very well. I think this would only be a problem for the first moment ever. In that case, how could the past come before the present, if there was nothing before the present? But normally the past comes before the present. How could it come after? Is the problem that first there is a present, then it moves to the past, so the present precedes the past? Still however, the one that is past happened before the one that is present. Or maybe this problem can be put this way: the pastness of the present needs to precede the presentness of the present, but that present is still present and has not yet become past. So how can its pastness precede its presence? But I am not sure. I will quote.] “The final paradox is that of pre-existence. The past, as it is a condition of the passing of the present, must exist prior to the present.” (70)


There is a passive synthesis that synthesizes the present with the past. Then secondly there is an active synthesis which takes the the product of that synthesis (memory as a whole) and, and this active synthesis selects parts of the whole past to expand. (70)


Both passive and active synthesis lead to their own concepts of repetition. “In fact, there are four repetitions at play in Difference and Repetition at this point, as we have two levels, habit and memory, and two modes of synthesis operating at these levels, active and passive synthesis” (71a). How do the levels of habit and memory interact? Recall the representational account of associative memory. It could not explain on what basis the associations are made, since they are arbitrary when the memories are self-sufficient. Hume says that there is a passive synthesis of the imagination that contracts moments. But on what basis are the contracted moments selected? [I do not grasp very well the following explanation. Apparently the first important point is that the memories in the cone are already related, since they are “a field of similarities and differences between events”, with the example being that if we hear a word we can either evoke its meaning or the first time we hear it. I do not understand that very well. But maybe the basic idea is that the associations are built into the structure somehow. Perhaps the idea we take away from this is that the parts of memory are already ‘contracted’ in one whole, and additionally, particular regions are ‘contracted’ with the present through habitual actions and recollections. And we can choose to what degree we act in the present moment or detach from it and daydream.]

We still need to know how the imagination is able to select what it contracts, or what it fixes on as the basis for its anticipation. This is where the synthesis of the past comes into play. As we have just seen, Bergson represents the past as a cone, each level of which contains the entirety of the past, but at different levels of contraction and relaxation. At the widest level of the cone, we have the absolute relaxation of memory, the pure past. At the point of the cone, the past was contracted down to a point of practical generality. Between the two the past was layered in different degrees of contraction and relaxation. Each of these layers of contraction and relaxation can be seen as a field of different similarities and differences between events, just as in Bergson’s example of hearing a word in a foreign language can evoke either the meaning of the word, or the first time that I heard it. These two syntheses are therefore related as follows: ‘The sign of the present is a passage to the limit, a maximal contraction which comes to sanction the choice of a particular level as such, which is in itself contracted or relaxed among an infinity of possible levels’ (DR 83/105). The imagination that Hume talks about is therefore the point of actualisation of a particular plane of memory in relation to action. We therefore have two different contractions: the contraction of the plane itself, and then the contraction that relates the plane of memory to the actual world. Bergson’s account supplements Hume’s by providing a model of time within which the first synthesis can take place, but also by explaining how different contractions of the same temporal field are possible: ‘each chooses his pitch or his tone, perhaps even his lyrics, but the tune remains the same, and underneath all the lyrics the same tra-la-la, in all possible tones and all pitches’ (DR 83–4/105–6).
(72)


[By means of habit, we repeat instants, and by means of memory, we repeat the same past things but on different levels of expansion and contraction. Habit creates temporality and gives ‘material’ or ‘bare repetition.’ Underlying this repetition is the repetition based on memory. I am not sure how this is so, but maybe since the past itself is required for us to have the present moments of habitual repetition, and furthermore since the past is a repetition of layers, then habitual repetition is based on memorial repetition. The memorial repetition is ‘clothed’, but I do not know why this description is used. This memory is also responsible for the fact that the past determines the present, but we have the freedom to choose how we experience that past in the present. Deleuze calls this Destiny. Deleuze’s thinking and terminology here I find somewhat odd. I quote.]

We can therefore say there are two forms of passive repetition – the repetition of habit, which is ‘empirical’, and is the repetition of instants, and the repetition of memory, whereby the same past is repeated at a series of different levels, with different degrees of contraction and relaxation. Habit synthesises essentially indifferent elements into a field of temporality, or duration, and in doing so creates what Deleuze calls ‘material’ or ‘bare repetition. It does repeat, as in the case of the heartbeat, but only on the basis of the ‘clothed’ repetition which underlies it. This repetition is based on memory, and is responsible for what Deleuze calls ‘Destiny’: the fact that everything is determined by the past, but a past that still allows for freedom through the selection of the level at which the past is played out.
(72)

 

 


Citations from:

Somers-Hall, Henry. Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition. An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University, 2013.



Or if otherwise noted:


DR:
Deleuze, Gilles. Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994/London: Continuum, 2004.


Bergson, Henri (1991), Matter and Memory, trans. N. M. Paul and W. S. Palmer, New York: Zone Books.

 





 

Somers-Hall, (2.3), Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition, ‘2.3 Deleuze’s First Synthesis of Time: Hume (70–9/90–100)’, summary


by
Corry Shores
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[The following is summary. All boldface, underlining, and bracketed commentary are my own. Proofreading is incomplete, so please forgive my typos and other distracting mistakes. Somers-Hall is abbreviated SH and Difference and Repetition as DR.]



Summary of


Henry Somers-Hall


Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition:
An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide


Part 1
A Guide to the Text

 

Chapter 2. Repetition for Itself

2.3 Deleuze’s First Synthesis of Time: Hume (70–9/90–100)





Brief summary:

We often see pairings of things, like: smoke-fire, smoke-fire, smoke-fire. After a while, when we see smoke, we then call to mind fire and expect to see it, and indeed, after looking below the smoke, we see the fire. This is because we contract all the prior instances of the pairings into one forceful association. Since it unites our past memories with our future anticipated impressions, this is a “contraction,” which somewhat inexplicably Deleuze also terms “contemplation”.  From an empiricist view, we are not some preconstituted subject who performs these contractions. Rather, the contractions happen automatically on a very basic level of experience, by means of a passive synthesis that does not involve our conscious understanding or the use of any concepts. Yet, [somehow] we can see every part of the world performing these contractions, including our hearts (and other organs) and all other things (including rocks, somehow). This means that we are composed of a ‘symphony’ (you might say) of different temporal contractions of past and future. This also means that all the world is such a symphony of selves each with their own temporality. Time then is not a linear, quantifiable sequence of successive events. It is rather a multiplicity of things feeling time in their own way, and is thus qualitative.



Summary


Deleuze first evokes in this chapter the Humean idea that repetition does not change anything about the object that is repeating. It only changes the mind that “contemplates” the object. Why do the objects not change? Well, if they did, then there is not a repetition of the same thing. We think of repeating pairing like smoke-fire, smoke-fire, smoke-fire, or AB, AB, AB, etc. If the repetition changed the objects, then it would be AB, CD, EF, …, and thus not a repetition. [SH moves to another point in this paragraph, but I am not sure if it is connected with the prior]. We now want to know, what allows us to expect B when perceiving A? [We might say that we “habitually” see fire after first detecting smoke. I am guessing that is what is meant by ‘habit’ here is not repeating actions that we have little control over, like smoking habits or superstitious habits. If this normal meaning of ‘habit’ is to be included here, I do not know how exactly. But it also seems strange to use the word ‘habit’ if this predominant meaning is not meant to be included. The next idea I think is clearer. We have different instances of AB, AB, AB, .., but they all contract together in the present when we see A and call to mind B. The force of the tendency to make that association is a product of the number and significance of the prior repetitions. Perhaps also the normal meaning of habit can be understood here, if we regard all habits as being responses to something else. We feel stress, the our minds automatically call to mind smoking.] In other words, we want to know, “what is it that allows us to contract habits?” (62). We already saw how the synthesis of reproduction of the imagination calls to mind past impressions that associate with current ones. But Hume thinks that “the ability to contract habits is not restricted to creatures with cognitive faculties as subtle as those Kant describes, and so any explanation in terms of those faculties cannot be accurate” (63). [I think the idea here is that for Kant, the imagination can only associate reproduced past moments on the basis of conceptual relations between the parts. So we see something that we match with the concept of smoke, and that concept is then matched conceptually with its correlate fire.  Where for Hume, no concepts are needed. In fact, what we call concepts are really just very strong associations.] For Kant, there is a “quantitative relation of the understanding, which relies on storing a sequence of prior moments. [I do not at all understand the quantitive relations. Perhaps for Kant we calculate how many times the pairing was found in the past. I do not know.] But for Hume, the imagination “operates like a ‘sensitive plate’ in order to develop a qualitative impression of the AB relation”.

Hume’s point is that the ability to contract habits is not restricted to creatures with cognitive faculties as subtle as those Kant describes, and | so any explanation in terms of those faculties cannot be accurate. Rather than an inference from a number of supporting cases, Deleuze argues that Hume sees habit formation as a process whereby past instances of the AB sequence are contracted together to form generalities by the imagination. The imagination operates like a ‘sensitive plate’ in order to develop a qualitative impression of the AB relation, rather than the quantitative relation of the understanding, which relies on storing a sequence of prior moments.
(62-63)


[We see smoke. We think fire. We then turn our eyes downward from the smoke, and we actually see fire. Thus] habit allows us to anticipate the future by means of the past, thus giving us “a relation between the past and the future”. SH then addresses what makes this a synthesis. [It is not entirely clear how the following point is different from the prior one. He seems to reiterate that on the basis of the past we anticipate the future. Please read to see if there is more in it.]

Now, on this level we have a conception of time, in that habit anticipates the future on the basis of the past. After having observed AB enough times, we anticipate a future, B, when we perceive A. So habit gives us a relation between the past and the future. In what sense is this a synthesis of time? Hume says the following about our perception of time: ‘For we may observe, that there is a continual succession of perceptions in our mind; so that the idea of time being for ever present with us’ (Hume 2000: 1.2.5). Habit turns this succession into a synthesis of time by systematising it, thus generating a field of past instances and a horizon of anticipation of the future. Rather than simply having a succession, certain impressions are retained (qualitatively), and others are anticipated on the basis of our retained impressions. We therefore have a model of time whereby aspects of the past are retained, and aspects of the future are anticipated from within the present.
(63)


SH then addresses “Deleuze’s account of method” [I am not sure what method SH is referring to here. None was mentioned before, so it must be a new concept, but I do not see what that concept is in the following material.] This account of method shows how active syntheses are possible by means of passive ones [I am also not sure what the difference is. I suspect that the passive ones are like the automatic habitual contractions, and the active ones are more explicitly, willfully, and conceptual performed. So we do not just see smoke and call to mind fire. We think about smoke and its significance, and we think about fire and its significance, and their connection. Probably there is a better explanation of what the active syntheses are.]. SH first notes that the subject is constituted through “the systematisaton of the flux of experience” (SH 63). Habit constitutes the subject. And the subject is the synthesis of time, namely, the synthesis of the past with the future. SH then says that on the basis of the fact that syntheses constitute subjects, we can now see how active syntheses are possible. [The next point is very complicated and very difficult to re-explain. SH deals with this Deleuze quotation. “Deleuze claims that once the subject emerges, then ‘on the basis of the qualitative impression in the imagination, memory reconstitutes the particular cases as distinct, conserving them in its own “temporal space”. The past is then no longer the immediate past of retention, but the reflexive past of representation, of reflexive and reproduced particularity’ (DR 71/92)” (SH 63). SH says that “we represent this process to ourselves”. But I thought Deleuze was saying that the past becomes represented as distinct memories, and these memories are the representations, and not that the process itself of reconstituting that past is represented. But let us assume what SH is saying. I suppose that means we are thinking about and representing in our minds the process of remembering something. SH continues to say that we represent it using Kant’s structures, I suppose the faculties. Maybe it works like this. We see smoke, and we think fire. We then say to ourselves, ‘oh, I must have conceptualized smoke and then using operations of my understanding I associated it with fire, even though all these operations were invisible to me.’ Somehow this operation of the understanding constitutes the relation of past and future, which I suppose means that we use our understanding to tie together past with anticipated impressions. This I suppose is an active synthesis which can be conducted secondarily to the original one in the imagination. But really all of this is done by the passive synthesis of habit. The final point is that this original synthesis cannot be accurately represented by the faculties, but I do not yet understand why.]

Deleuze’s account of method aims to show how active syntheses are possible on the basis of passive syntheses, and so we also need an account of how these higher syntheses are possible. The first point to note is that the systematisation of the flux of experience is, for Deleuze, the constitution of the subject: ‘Habit is the constitutive root of the subject, and the subject, at its root, is the synthesis of time – the synthesis of the present and the past in the light of the future’ (ES 92–3). I want to come back to this point in a moment, but if syntheses are constitutive of subjects, we can now see how the active syntheses are possible. Deleuze claims that once the subject emerges, then ‘on the basis of the qualitative impression in the imagination, memory reconstitutes the particular cases as distinct, conserving them in its own “temporal space”. The past is then no longer the immediate past of retention, but the reflexive past of representation, of reflexive and reproduced particularity’ (DR 71/92). So Deleuze’s claim is that when we represent this process to ourselves, we do so through the types of structures Kant has outlined. Doing so gives us a false impression that the work of synthesising time is being carried | out by those faculties themselves, whereas in fact by simply representing the process they have falsified it. The synthesis of a temporal manifold therefore, according to Deleuze, relies on a prior synthesis whereby the notions of past and future are generated, and the indifferent moments of sensation are related to one another through habit. Thus, Kant’s active synthesis in terms of the higher faculties relies on a prior synthesis that cannot be accurately represented by these faculties.
(63-64)


We said before that the subject is constituted through the contraction of habit, and it is not that an already constituted subject is doing those contractions. Now we ask what is the nature of this subject? SH says that it is “simply the organisation of impressions themselves” (64). So habit is not an activity that the subject performs. It is rather a mode of expectation or ‘contemplation’ using Deleuze’s term. And “it is this contemplation of time as involving anticipations and retentions that Deleuze claims is the subject. We now address some implications Deleuze draws from this.


1) “First, this synthesis of time is organised according to rhythms of anticipation, rather than simply as a succession of moments. Rather than mathematical time, which is modelled on space, the time of habit is qualitative, and, like Henri Bergson’s duration, forces us to wait” (SH 64). [What is a rhythm of anticipation? That is not clear to me. And what does it mean for time to be qualitative? That it feels like something? So we feel like something will happen, because we anticipate it? Thus time is experienced as a sort of tension of waiting?]


2) The self is anything that contracts. This includes hearts. So selfhood is not psychological. [This next part is hard to follow. For it to work, we need to accept that rocks are performing some kind of contemplation, thus some sort of habitual contraction. What would that be? I do not know. Maybe the rock was formed by a contraction of particles. Put I am not sure what this has to do with the habitual contractions we are talking about. At any rate, assume that somehow this is happening, that means the rock has both selfhood and its own temporality. In fact then, everything in the world has selfhood and its own temporality. Furthermore, all time is organized. So far the organization has meant organized into habitual contractions. That means that time is not pure succession, because it is contracted all over the place. I will quote this paragraph, since I cannot explain it.]

Second, if the subject is simply the synthesis of time into an organised structure, then it is going to be the case that wherever we encounter such a synthesis or organisation of time, we will encounter a self: ‘there is a self wherever a furtive contemplation has been established’ (DR 78/100). This means that habit is not itself a psychological phenomenon, but instead operates throughout the world. In fact, as this synthesis is constitutive of the psychological realm, it will operate in the material world prior to it. We can see, for instance, that the heart contracts, not in the sense of the actual movement it makes, but to the extent that it organises an essentially indifferent succession into a series of moments of a particular duration (the heartbeat). Now, if the heart can be seen as operating according to a habit, then so can almost everything in the world. Deleuze puts this point as follows: Perhaps it is irony to say that everything is contemplation, even rocks and woods, animals and men, even Actaeon and the stag, Narcissus and the flower, | even our actions and our needs. But irony in turn is still a contemplation, nothing but a contemplation. (DR 75/96) A consequence of this is that if everything is a contemplation, then although the organisation of time is subjective, all time is organised. Essentially, the world is constituted as a field of co-existing rhythms operating with different tones, rather than as pure succession.
(SH 65)


3) [This third inference says a lot but gives no explanations. I will just quote it since I cannot explain anything in it.]

Third, when we look at how habit functions, even when a habit is driven by a need on the part of an organism, it is not the case that the habit itself is constituted in terms of the objects themselves. If I am thirsty, for instance, I do not anticipate or expect the molecular structure, H2O, but rather water. Habit does not operate in terms of that which generates impressions, but rather in terms of signs. Habit does not, therefore, operate with representations of things, but rather with what Deleuze and Guattari will later call affects.
(65)


So recall that our heart is contemplating. We have other organs too that must be contemplating. Thus we are a system of syntheses. We dissolve into these syntheses and thus we are larval subjects. [This notion of larval subjects is very interesting, but it is not explained here, even though it is in the quotation. A larva is a younger form of an animal before it metamorphosizes into its adult form. What does us having many internal contemplations have to do with our subjectivity being larval? It would seem to imply that our constitutive multiplicity or complexity of selfhood makes us be in a state before metamorphosis. Why? Is it because it prevents us from taking a final form? How?]  [This next part also seems to need some clarification and elaboration] SH also says that the “notion of the sign is important here” [but he does not explain what is meant by the sign. It is very difficult to explain what SH is saying in the rest of the paragraph about signs, since it introduces concepts without clarifying their meanings. So please read it for yourself.]

This leads us on to the fourth point. Deleuze has said that the heart contemplates, and obviously, the heart is a part of us. What is the relation between us and our heart, and all of the other organs and constituents of organs that make us up? We ourselves, according to Deleuze, are systems of syntheses [The following up to citation is Deleuze]:

The self, therefore, is by no means simple: it is not enough to relativise or pluralise the self, all the while retaining for it a simple attenuated form. Selves are larval subjects; the world of passive syntheses constitutes the system of the self, under conditions yet to be determined, but it is the system of a dissolved self. (DR 78/100)

The notion of sign is important here, because the relations between levels of the self cannot be understood as if the self were a series of distinct elements brought into relation with one another. We don’t have interactions between different substances, but interactions between levels of the same substance. Rather than a causal interaction between entities, we therefore have signals between levels. Our heartbeat appears as a ‘sign’ in our world, but this sign does not resemble the movement of the heart itself. The signs transmitted between levels are different in kind from the selves that generate them.
(65)

 

 


Citations from:

Somers-Hall, Henry. Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition. An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University, 2013.



Or if otherwise noted:


DR:
Deleuze, Gilles. Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994/London: Continuum, 2004.