18 Dec 2011

Time & Multiplicity. Intro .1 of James Williams' Gilles Deleuze's Philosophy of Time, summary

summary by Corry Shores
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Time & Multiplicity

James Williams'

Gilles Deleuze's Philosophy of Time:
A Critical Introduction and Guide

Chapter 1: Introduction

Part 1: Why study Gilles Deleuze's philosophy of time?

What does the purpose of James William's book got to do with you?

What is our life without its time? Since time and our own life are so intimately linked, would we not want to know more about what time is? Perhaps each one of us lives in a different time, in a way. How then do we relate with each other on a very basic level? When we come together, what would the fact that we are living time our own different way have to do with how we understand and treat one another?

Brief Summary

Studying Deleuze's temporality from the Difference and Repetition and Logic of Sense texts will not only vastly improve our knowledge of some of Deleuze's basic principles, but as well it will help us understand time in its philosophical and non-philosophical discussions, in both throughout the history of philosophy but also in contemporary theories. This requires we grasp time as multiple while also being produced on the basis of singularities.

Points Relative to Deleuze:

Deleuzean time involves communications between fractured differences.


Williams examines Deleuze's philosophy of time in Difference and Repetition and in The Logic of Sense.

There are two reasons to explore Deleuze's philosophy of time:
1) It is among the most original and sophisticated of time theories, having bearing on a wide range of philosophers and other theoretical fields, and
2) It lies at the heart of his early philosophy (prior to his coauthored works with Guattari).

His theory empowers him to articulate becoming on the basis of difference.
"The innovations on time allow him to explain and develop a philosophy of process and becoming without having either to ground it on a prior foundation dependent on some kind of metaphysical identity, or to give it some kind of independent experimental or empirical basis, or to make mystical and quasi-religious claims for its legitimacy and form. This philosophy | of time is therefore one of difference as becoming, where difference is free of any roots in identity claims or in analogies based on sameness and similarity." (2-3)

Deleuze describes not so much time as process, but rather the process that produces multiple times. (3a) As we will see, there are multiple processes and times acting on one another. (3b.d) There is an asymmetricality involved in the processes, which explains the arrow of time and also the irreversibility of time and its processes. (4b)

There is also singularity at work in the multiplicity of times and processes, because "There are different times according to the singularities of the individual processes at work" (4c). Thus

"Time for Deleuze is therefore not only irreducibly multiple at the level of types of time: present, present as dimension of the past, future as dimension of the present, future, and so on. It is also irreducibly complex insofar as each one of those types can only be said to be fully given when it is associated with singular events, which are themselves determined in accordance with series of singularities or singular processes drawing events together as processes of becoming that make times." (5ab)

To illustrate temporal multiplicity, Williams paints a scene of a mourner in a Victorian cemetery feeding pigeons and squirrels before a statue. [We will return to this example after learning the forthcoming explications of the ideas it portrays.] While giving us a way to picture multiple temporality, it also shows the challenge of providing an account for the communication between fractured temporalities.

He ends this section: "I will now give a further example designed, first, to give an intuitive sense of the implications of the philosophy of time, then second, to show its potential despite or perhaps thanks to its complexity." (7c)

Williams, James. Gilles Deleuze's Philosophy of Time: A Critical Introduction and Guide. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011.

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