11 Dec 2012

Pt1.Ch2.Sb1 Somers-Hall’s Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. ‘Introduction.’ summary

Corry Shores
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[Note: All boldface and underlining is my own. It is intended for skimming purposes. Bracketed comments are also my own explanations or interpretations.]

Henry Somers-Hall


Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation.

Dialectics of Negation and Difference


Part 1: The problem of Representation

Chapter 2: Difference and Identity

Subdivision 1: Introduction


Brief Summary: In chapter 2, Somers-Hall will examine the limitations of representation and Hegel’s and Deleuze’s treatments of it.


Previously Somers-Hall (SH)

explored the extent to which Deleuze tries to overcome what he considers to be the limitations of the Kantian approach to philosophy. Kant's approach essentially required predication to take place through a third term, the understanding, that provides a common ground upon which the autonomous elements of the judgment can take a common form. (41)

We also saw how Deleuze is situated in the post-Kantian tradition. But “the success of Deleuze's deduction was limited, in that Sartre's 'decisive' new concept of the transcendental field itself presupposed a structure analogous to that employed by Kant” (40). Now in this chapter SH will examine the more general problem of representations by looking at Aristotle’s and Russel’s logics, which will show us the limitations of representation. “After having done so, we will sketch the general approaches of both Hegel and Deleuze to the problems thrown up by the representational approach to philosophy. The key issues we will address are the problems of transition and of univocity.” (40)

For Deleuze, the issue here revolves around 2 interrelated questions.

[1] What is the position of the concept of difference within the tradition. (41) Deleuze notes how philosophers, especially Aristotle, have so far conceived of difference as a difference between concepts. But this subordinates difference to identity, which hindered a formulation of a concept of difference itself.
[2] What about the homonymy of being? ‘Being’ is used in many ways.

Thus the unity of phenomena is lost within Aristotle's analysis. We will begin from the analysis of being in terms of species and genera put forward by Aristotle, as it is here that the problem of the univocity of being is first discovered in the form of the problematic of homonymy, synonymy, and paronymy. (42)

For Deleuze, Aristotle and his successors used an illegitimate concept of difference. The result is that several phenomena, including temporality and unity, have been misunderstood. “These points of silence Deleuze will call the catastrophes of representational thought-the points where difference shows through in spite of the limitations placed on it by identity.” (42) SH will then move to Porphyry the Phoenician’s formalized Aristotelianism and afterward will move to the problem of analogy in Aquinas. He will then analyze the problem of univocity in terms of the calculus of the Whitehead and Russel’s Principia Mathematica.

We will see that this purely formal description cannot, however, avoid a fall into an equivocal concept of being. Formal logic, therefore, and those schools of philosophy that define themselves in terms of the rigor of formal deduction that it provides, are themselves fundamentally tied to a metaphysical interpretation of being from which they cannot escape, since this interpretation is not even an axiom of the system but, and prior to this, a function of the very laws through which the axioms themselves are interpreted. (42)

SH will conclude by turning to the problem of the univocity of being in its connection to Hegel’s philosophy.

The problem will be to reconcile Hegel's often stated love of Aristotle with the difference between Aristotle's dialectic and his own. Important in this regard is the opening to the Science of Logic where the concept of being is introduced, and Hegel's understanding of contradiction, which differs both from the concept of contradiction as conceived of by Russell, and the concept of difference thought by Deleuze. (42)


Somers-Hall, Henry (2012) Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. Dialectics of Negation and Difference. Albany: SUNY.

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