7 Jan 2012

Cracking Kant's "I". Ch.4.1 of Williams' Gilles Deleuze's Philosophy of Time

summary by Corry Shores

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

[Central Entry Directory]
[Deleuze Entry Directory]
[James Williams, Deleuze's Philosophy of Time, Entry Directory]

[The following is summary]

Cracking Kant's "I"

James Williams'

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

Chapter 4: The third synthesis of time

Part 1: From Descartes to Kant

What does Deleuze's novel reading of Kant's "I" got to do with you?

You see yourself in the mirror. Each time you look slightly different. But you assume there is one you the whole time. Does that mean you have a unified self that stays the same, or does it mean that you are constantly an alien to yourself, as you see variations of yourself that do not reflect the identity you think you have, as for example when being surprised by signs of age like wrinkles?

Brief Summary

Deleuze works with Kant when describing the empty form of time and fractured self in the third synthesis of time. Expanding from Kant's inner sense, Deleuze regards there being a fracture between an active subject and a passive self, implied in Kant's treatment of the formulation "I think, therefore I am". On this basis, Deleuze claims that "I am an other", and he will work with Hölderlin to further explain.

Points Relative to Deleuze:

Deleuze has a novel reading of Kant's "I".


When explaining the third synthesis of time, Deleuze relates Descartes and Kant with the concepts of subject, time, and determination. But the subject for Deleuze is fractured and thus is not "a subject as philosophical foundation or to a specific form of time independent of prior processes." (80b)

Deleuze, as with the first two syntheses, makes use of transcendental deduction in the third synthesis. (80c)

For Deleuze, the "I" is not a generality but "a singular self as condition for a now singular subject stating the proposition ‘I think’." (81a) Yet Deleuze is not grounding his philosophy on the subject nor saying we need to begin with it and then dig for something more fundamental. "Instead, Deleuze’s main point is about determinability, passivity and time. The subject presupposes the self. The self passively presupposes a form of determinability. This form of determinability implies a fracturing of the self and hence of the subject because it is a pure and empty form." (81a) In the claim, "I think, therefore I am," the first "I" is determined as the "I" that thinks, but the second "I" has no such determination, and thus is undetermined. "How the 'I' exists is left open." (81b) Yet, Kant explains that the "I" is determinable in many ways, and this is only under the condition that the "I" is in time. Here Deleuze "is concerned with two consequences. First, activity presupposes passivity. Second, this passivity involves a different form to active consciousness and one that is inaccessible to the active one." (81bc)

All determinations of the "I" require time. We cannot control or deny this, and it is passivity. But it is doubly passive.
"This is because it is not the subject of the active conception that is directly passive, but rather, it is passive through a self positioned in time. The ‘I’ that conceives of the proposition is different from the ‘me’ positioned in time by being a living and sleeping thing. So now being is divided between an active subject and passive self where any action by the subject presupposes that self because the subject is only passively determinable in time through the self. A passive self is the condition for any active subject. The ‘I’ is therefore fractured or traversed by a fault line, because of the way the self is determinable in time" (81d)
Deleuze concludes from this that the "I" is an other, which is the paradox of inner sense. (82b)

The form of time implied in the fractured "I" is pure and empty. It must be pure and empty, for otherwise "it will lead to a determination of the self, rather than an open determinability, and therefore not to inner sense as paradox, but rather as a determined and fixed relation of subject to self." (82c)

For Descartes, the "I" is not situated in time. There is only the present instant. It is God continually creating the world that allows the "I" to be found across series of instants. It is only because God remains identical each moment that he can grant us our continuous identity. (82-83) Kant's account of moral action and passive receptivity provides a grounding identity for both the active subject and the passive self. (83b) Deleuze, however, finds a paradoxical relation between the active subject and passive self in Kant's inner sense. (83bc)

"The criticism of Kant gives Deleuze a set of indicators for answering the question of why the form of time must be pure and empty in the fracturing of the subject through its dependence on the self as another." (83c) In Deleuze's critique, the self is not identified by means of an external guarantor like God or through enduring receptive passivity. Thus,

1) The self is an other, and it is resistant to identity and representation. (83c)
2) "time itself cannot be determined in such a way as to allow a subsequent determination of things in time." (83cd)
3) we cannot identify time through external reference like God

Hölderlin's work on Kant and Sophocles will explain "the pure and empty form of time through ‘the continuous diversion of the divine, the prolonged fracture of the “I” and the constitutive passion of the self’ (DRf, 118)." (83d)
"The identity of the ‘I’ must therefore remain fractured through an ongoing process, and the self, as constituted by passivity, must not have a prior identity restricting this passivity, for instance, through the Kantian definition of receptivity." (84a)

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

No comments:

Post a Comment