7 Jan 2012

Time Cut. Ch.4.3 of Williams' Gilles Deleuze's Philosophy of Time

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Time Cut

James Williams'


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

Chapter 4: The third synthesis of time

Part 3: Pure and empty form of time


What does the cut in time got to do with you?

The moment right now is significant. It opens you to a new future. But that means it cuts time apart, making it fork off into a new direction.



Brief Summary

Deleuze turns to drama to further explain the third synthesis of time. It is a dramatic cut that determines before and after. It presents an undetermined future. It is the condition for novelty. As a condition for something undetermined, it is pure and empty. Time is out of joint, because it loses its cardinal points of orientation, and is pure ordering rather than an ordering governed extrinsically. The cut is not a point but an event or process of dually cutting moments apart while joining them in succession. Something is before when it is too great for the underlying processes the subject is passive to.


Points Relative to Deleuze:

Drama determines temporal order.



Summary

There are two concepts that will help us answer certain questions regarding Deleuze's third synthesis of time:
1) "open determinability as a given, and"
2) "drama as form." (87a)

Deleuze will turn to Hölderlin and Hamlet.

Williams outlines the significance of this turn to drama.
1) The dramatic actions of the subject determine the self in time.
2) But because the subject depends on a passive self, it is fractured.
3) This means that the subject is not the condition for determinability. Rather, it is "the vehicle whose actions are further conditioned by passivity." (87b)
4) Thus there is a circular relation between dramatic actor and determinable self. "The actor is conditioned by the self that is created by the actor’s dramatic action." (87b)

Even though the passive self determines the subject, activity "is still undetermined in relation to novel differences that can be introduced into ongoing processes." (87c) In the third synthesis of time, "only difference returns and never sameness. This is the synthesis’s capacity for genuine novelty, rather than a repetition of the past. The third synthesis of time is the condition for novelty, which is why it must be pure and empty." (87c.d)

Deleuze turns to Hamlet and Oedipus to illustrate why "time has to be dramatised, that is, it must be assembled through a novel creative attempt where past, present and future are unified but only also as divided around an encounter with the new." (87d)

Williams then explains Deleuze's meaning for 'time is out of joint', from Hamlet. When we lose points of orientation in our lives, time comes out of joint.
"The Latin root for ‘gond’ is ‘cardo’ the hinge or axle, the north–south axis in a city, or orienting direction and cardinal points for a circle, for instance north on a compass. The number of revolutions of a circle can then be measured thanks to cardinal points, for instance, in the number of times a clock passes midday or a horoscope passes a birthday. The passing of time, as much for the soul as for the world, he says, is measured thanks to such cardinal points. When these go missing time goes out of joint and becomes maddened and disordered, as it does for Hamlet and the kingdom of Denmark when he receives the news, from his father’s ghost, of his uncle’s betrayal: ‘Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother’s hand / Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatched’ (Hamlet: I, v, 74–5)." (88b.c)


Time is empty because loses ordering, and pure because it is not contaminated by that ordering. There is no cardinal point to orient the cycling of events.
"Time out of joint or the third synthesis of time is therefore empty, in the sense of lacking cardinal numbering, and pure, in the sense of lacking hierarchies associated with numbering. We can understand this disruption further by returning to Deleuze’s critique of Plato. In the Platonic context, time out of joint means that the ideal is removed from the circle; we therefore are left with simulacra with no principle of resemblance. For Hamlet, once | his father’s ghost has spoken, the numbering and legitimacy of kings is out of joint and his time becomes empty (there is no next numbered ruler) and pure (there is no legitimate ruler). Hamlet’s task is then to revenge his father by killing his uncle, thereby re-establishing numbered order and legitimacy based upon it." (88-89)
Rather than cardinal, time becomes ordinal, pure ordering without orientation to that order. (89b) In the third synthesis, this ordering is a cut or caesura. Every present is a cut in the present into an ordering of before and after. (89c) "the third synthesis is static because its sole characteristic of order always remains the same, the before and after of each cut always remain." (89cd) "If novelty is accepted in any process (animal, vegetable, mineral) then a third synthesis of time is implied as condition for the new." (90a)

[Our self is fractured into an active and a passive part. The active selects novel differences. The passive part of us is determined by synthesis that the active side cannot control. The subject is the process doing the selection.] The fracturing of the subject should "be read as implying that any activity is also passivity and fracturing of the subject of that activity, where active means selecting by introducing a novel difference, passivity means determined by syntheses outside the control of activity, subject means process of selection, and fracturing means dissolution of the subject through the syntheses it is passive to." (90b)

The third synthesis, on account of its caesura, is both a break and a division into unequal parts. (90d)

Every point on the line of time is such a cut. This cut is not point-like or instantaneous. (91a) Deleuze elaborates with the concepts of assembly and series. (91a)

Deleuze time is not a time-line series of points succeeding before and after one another. (91b) The caesura is an event and dramatic division that is not a point between points but is something that gathers the points before and after together dramatically. (91c) So events in time are both assembled, by relating them dramatically, but also severed, because that ordering occurs on the basis of cutting them apart. (91d)
"Each point on the line has a set of points before and after it. This is not Deleuze’s model. Instead, the caesura is an event and has a depth to it. It is not instantaneous but rather must be considered with its effect on the points before and after it. This is why the caesura implies a drama: it divides time such that a drama is required to encompass this division. This event-like and dramatic division is in contrast with the thin logical point and set account of the line of time where an arbitrary point is taken on a line and every point before it is defined as before in time and every point after as after in time." (91b.c)
"the ensemble is rather a process of gathering and tearing apart. Why is this? It is because the whole of time is ordered, but it is ordered differently, that is, into before and after. The events of time are gathered in an ordering, but they are also torn apart, since some are irreparably before and others irreparably after the dividing event." (91d)

Drama establishes what is before and what is after.
"A series is ordered by a dramatic event according to the following principles: ‘before’ is determined in accordance with the assembly of the line of time in an image operating as a symbol for that assembly. When the image is posed as ‘too great for me’ for a given event, then we have something before." (92b)
We should not, as the English translation suggest, consider the action under consideration as being imagined. (92d) "However, the difficulty remains that Deleuze is referring to actions by subjects and to what certainly appears to be a conscious awareness of an image that is ‘too great for me’ is posed as ‘too great for me’ for a given event, then we have something before." (93b)
"the image is too great for the self, that is, for the underlying processes the subject is passive to. It exceeds those processes as past or before. None of this depends upon an empirical experience. It is rather a formal connection between processes of cutting, assembly and setting into series in relation to the future as novelty: As for the third time that uncovers the future: it signifies that the event and the action have a secret coherence that excludes the coherence of the self. It has become equal to them and they shatter it into thousands of pieces, as if the bearer of the new world were taken up and dissipated by the shattering of what it, in the multiple, gives birth to. The self is equal to the unequal in itself. (DRf, 121)" (93d)
The cut, assembly, and serialization produces the future not as a dimension of the past and present. Williams then offers a helpful summary.
"The third synthesis of time, or pure and empty time, is a cut, an assembly, an ordering and a seriation. It is deduced as an a priori condition for action, which in simple terms claims that any novel action depends on a cut in time. This cut though must also assemble what comes either side of it. This assembly is itself dependent on a putting of time into an order of before and after the cut. The third synthesis of time is therefore a division of time and an ordering of time. This ordering though is also a seriation; it distinguishes the before and the after, rendering time asymmetrical. This complex third synthesis is the time of the future making the present and the past, which become dimensions of it, because the action it is posited upon is essentially determined by an open future. Neither the subject nor the self is a foundation for Deleuze’s philosophy, because in the third synthesis of time they are both ungrounded. The subject is divided by selves it is passive to. These selves though are shattered by the structure of the third synthesis that makes them past in relation to a future they cannot determine. All of these components of time are formal and deduced as necessary conditions for any novel action. So though Deleuze depends upon examples and vocabulary from drama to introduce and explain the third synthesis of time, this drama is strictly defined formally as the cut, assembly, ordering and seriation which can be explained by reference to Shakespearean drama but is not derived from it. As Deleuze insists all the way through his work on the third synthesis of time, it is a priori and not dependent on empirical observation." (94b.d)



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

Cycles of Synthesis. Ch.4.2 of Williams' Gilles Deleuze's Philosophy of Time:

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Cycles of Synthesis

James Williams'

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

Chapter 4: The third synthesis of time

Part 2: Back to Plato


What does Deleuze's modification of Plato's circle of time got to do with you?

You once returned to a place that you haunted in your childhood. The past returned to you, but as completely new, because wasn't the experience so much different than when you experienced that place as a child? But in every moment of our present living, doesn't the past inform us? It is never as though we see the things around us for the first time. They have become familiar. But the present moment itself, doesn't it always feel fresh? Even when we are bored, isn't the problem really that the present keeps imposing itself anew, and we are doing something unstimulating with that freshness of the moment? Is boredom maybe a tension we feel, having before us the immediate feeling of newness accompanied secondarily by forced distracting redundancies?

If you get bored staring at a clock, is it because the past keeps returning redundantly as the same? Or is it that the past keeps returning differently; each moment of seeing the clock has its own unique qualities and feels, but the situation compels us to ignore the differences from moment to moment, hence we become frustrated? Perhaps an interesting exercise might be not so much a meditation where you try to keep your focus on the clock or some other thing and stabilize your awareness, but rather an antimeditation where you keep your focus on the clock and experience each moment in its new freshness. Perhaps then boredom will be less a factor in your life, as you come to find normal redundancies continually renewed. The past is cycling back into the present always as something new. We can feel it.



Brief Summary

To expand the concepts of pure and empty time, Deleuze turns to Plato's theory of reminiscence and circular time. The main difference is that the return of the past is not based on an ideal and resemblances, but rather the past returns as something undetermined and yet also determinable.


Points Relative to Deleuze:

Deleuze has a cyclical temporality.



Summary

To further explain a pure and empty form of time, Deleuze turns now to Plato's theory of reminiscence: "knowledge must be remembered ... rather than acquired through the senses." Yet because knowledge is recalled, it must have been first forgotten. (84b) The Plato material also fits nicely with the concepts of the pure past and circular nature of time in the eternal return.
"On the one hand, there are aspects shared by the two philosophies: a circular notion of time, a relation between a phenomenal world and a world of Ideas (the actual and the virtual in Deleuze), and the foundation of time through the past rather than the present (explaining the priority of reminiscence for Plato and the necessity of the second synthesis of time for Deleuze). " (84-85)
Yet there are important differences between Deleuze and Plato. For Plato, the circle of time has layers of resemblance that culninate in the in-itself of the ideal. Things resemble the ideal, and they do so to more or less of a degree. If the soul can preserve the ideal or in-itself, it can escape the circle. "It does not return but is always the same ideal other things return to – to greater or lesser extent in relations of resemblance. In Deleuze’s circle, taken from Nietzsche’s eternal return, there will be no order of resemblance, no ideal or in itself and no escape through true knowledge." (85a)

For Plato, our lives are circular, because we undergo the cycle of death and rebirth.
"But each soul can return to the ideal or immortal part of its former incarnations through knowledge of the Idea, that is, through a return of the Idea as the same origin from which all phenomena decline. This means escaping the circle, because the ideal remains the same and hence does not revolve." (85b)
The only things that revolve are things that resemble, the simulacra. Deleuze's pure past is a 'founding' rather than a 'foundation', because it is a process that allows the present to pass. Plato's
past is a foundation and is
"still a present, because it is a present that has become past. However, it is not a present like any other, since all other presents | exist in relation to that foundation. So the present as foundation has to be a mythical present: ‘[. . .] the Idea is like the foundation from which successive presents are organised into the circle of time such that the pure past that defines it must necessarily still be expressed in terms of the present, as an ancient mythical present’ (DRf, 119)." (85-86)
Thus
"Deleuze’s objection to Plato is then two-fold. First, the past becomes the ground for identity and representation in the circles of resemblance of presents to mythical present. Second, this mythical present subsumes the past itself to representation and identity, and thereby it turns the past back on to presents that it is supposed to found, in the sense of make pass or dissolve in terms of identity: ‘This is the insufficiency of the founding, to be relative to what it founds, to borrow the character of what it founds, and to be proven by them’ (DRf, 119)." (86a.b)


Because of Deleuze's restricting representations from the cycling returns, "when the past returns with a new present it does so free of any determinations." (86c) This means that the new present is radically new; it is completely undetermined, although it is determinable. "This is why he adds the work on Plato to the work on Kant: it allows him to introduce the idea that time is circular with the paradox that this circle must not involve the return of identity and representations, of the same and the similar." (86c.d)



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

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

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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".



Summary


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.

6 Jan 2012

Rescuing Your Past. Ch.3.4 of Williams' Gilles Deleuze's Philosophy of Time

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Rescuing Your Past

James Williams'

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

Chapter 3: The second synthesis of time

Part 4: How to save all the past for us?



What does saving your pure past got to do with you?

Whenever we remember a past moment, we are not remembering it perfectly. In a way, we are continually recreating our past. But this in a way keeps it alive and relevant to our present experiences.


Brief Summary

If we want to save the pure past, we cannot use representation and we cannot consider it as the present it once was. We can save it by reliving it creatively, and this happens through forgetting. Because we forget the past as it was when it was present, we continually recall and relive it as different.


Points Relative to Deleuze:

We recreate the past in recollection.



Summary


Our past is in continuous flux. But how should we act then? And if we cannot adequately represent our past, do we have any responsibility to it? Such practical questions lead Deleuze to a third synthesis of time. (76b)

Deleuze wonders how we may penetrate the pure past without reducing it to the former present that it was or to the actual present happening now, in related to which it is past. "How to save it for us?" (Deleuze qtd 76c)

To address this matter, Deleuze shifts from Bergson to Proust. Proust
"through his study of reminiscence, has shown how the past can be saved for us without reducing it to representations of a former age or to representations of our age (the past as how it could be). Instead, the past is given ‘as it was never lived, as a pure past revealing its double irreducibility to the present that it was, but also to the actual present that it could be, in favour of a telescoping of the two’ (DRf, 115)." (77c)
Thus "Reminiscence shows that the past is lost and forgotten as a past present. It accepts it." (77c) But also, reminiscence takes both the past and present representation together, and makes a third image, and in this way saves the past. "It is in this special kind of forgetting and recreating that the past is lived with in forgetting." (77cd)

We can save the past because it is a necessary process for present moments to pass. And we can save it in how our forgetting recreates it in the present. (77d) "Only as a recreation of past presents | as forgotten, as in need of being lived differently, can the past be saved for us." (77-78) Yet the pure past "what we must create with, it does not show us how." (78a) For this we need a third synthesis. Deleuze's explanation of how Eros allows us to penetrate Memory takes him to the third synthesis. (78ab)




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

Destined to be Free. Ch.3.3 of Williams' Gilles Deleuze's Philosophy of Time

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Destined to be Free

James Williams'

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

Chapter 3: The second synthesis of time

Part 3: Destiny and freedom



What does the destiny and freedom implied in the pure past got to do with you?

You are free to let your past haunt you, teach you, distract you, etc as much or as little as you choose. But because your past never goes away, you are destined to always live it freely as new moments of your life act like plot twists that change the way your past appears to you.

Brief Summary

In the second synthesis, repetition is found as the degrees of contraction in our memory. [We live the whole of our lives each moment at a different level of Bergson's cone.] This is destiny [although it is somewhat unclear why]. But although it is destiny, we have the freedom to choose that level of intensity. The pure past is virtual, because it is real and not actual, and it is noumenal, because it is the condition for the present's passage. Repetitions cannot be represented.


Points Relative to Deleuze:

Freedom and destiny are intertwined in the pure past.



Summary

Previously Williams ended with this question.
"‘condition’ has a different meaning to Deleuze’s. Bergson is not deducing a general transcendental condition for a formal process (such as the passing away of the present). Instead, like Deleuze, he is offering an alternative to the concept of cause, but unlike Deleuze, he is doing so in order to give an account of how each individual consciousness relates to its past as shown in the true operation of memory. This is where we can raise the question of the legitimacy of Deleuze’s work when compared with Bergson’s. What is the validity of an account of the past that does not base itself on a scientific account of causality (or some other contemporary candidate for explaining relations between states of affairs scientifically) but equally does not observe the operations of memory in detail or offer a full theory of memory in relation to consciousness, but instead constructs a speculative transcendental frame with abstract terms such as the pure past?" (68a.b)
Williams now addresses a possible objection to Deleuze, "that he does not observe memory or consciousness in a thorough or consistent way." (68bc) Williams offers as an answer to this objection:
"He is not primarily concerned with human memory or consciousness, but rather in a general study of repetition in relation to time. He is not constructing a philosophy according to an empirical approach, but rather combining a minimal observational element with a series of transcendental deductions guided by a speculative conceptual frame." (68c)
The way that repetition operates in the first synthesis is different from how it works in the second. In the first, repetition is based on a succession of elements that are contracted. In the second, repetition is found in "degrees of contraction of a whole ‘that is in itself a coexistent totality’ (DRf, 112)." (68d) [It does not seem here that Williams is thinking yet of the degrees as layers of the cone.]

Deleuze will relate these concepts to destiny, determinism, and freedom in our lives. Quoting:
"‘Nevertheless, we have the impression that, however strong the possible incoherence or opposition of successive presents, each one plays “the same life” at a different level. This is what we call destiny’ (DRf, 113)." (Deleuze qtd in Williams 69d)
To explain [again, rather than turning here to the layers of the cone], Williams notes that we have durations of differing lengths, like the time we have to finish our coffee or our life as a father. These can be incoherent. To explain destiny, Williams writes: "This preliminary definition of destiny is explicitly loose and Deleuze is careful to point out that it is based on an ‘impression’, that the incoherence and opposition are ‘possible’." (70a)

To further develop his concept of destiny, Deleuze contrasts it to determinism. Destiny is not determined; our life is not a single continuous line. (70c) But how can one life be multiple in this way?

[Here Williams seems to consider the 'levels' as overlapping durations, perhaps like the coffee and father examples above, rather than the layers of the cone] "The condition for connecting fragmentary durations into a life is that they are playing the same life but at different degrees and levels." (71a) What is destined is that each moment gives us the freedom to 'reprise' past moments. (71c) "The meaning of freedom in relation to destiny in Deleuze is then not the freedom to add to a sequence, for instance, when a new director adds a new film to an established franchise (My Life IV). Instead, we are free to make a new cut of an existing film (My Life, The Director’s Cut)." (71c.d)

Williams then seems to interpret the degrees and levels in terms of how much significance we regard past moments, and at each moment we have the freedom to grant those moments more or less significance. "Freedom exists in relation to destiny and determinism for Deleuze because we are free to change the relations of level and degree given to all past events through our present acts." (72d) Williams then seems to offer an interpretation of the levels and degrees more like the cone layers of differing expansion and contraction of the past.
"We are not free to change determined relations between actual presents. Here, changes in level and degree can be understood as changes in the intensities of distinctness and obscurity of relations in the pure past, that is, some relations in the past will be made more distinct as others become more obscure. For example, an act of atonement in the present can change nothing of the actual acts it seeks to atone for. It is free, though, to change the hold such acts have on new passing presents, perhaps by making them less significant in their relations to other events, or by making them more obscure and distant, and thereby diluting their hold on novel ones. Thus, to heap betrayal upon betrayal might increase the intensity of treach- | ery as a line leading from the past to the present, whereas to forgive might weaken it. Within Deleuze’s metaphysics, this freedom exists because the pure past makes all presents pass and coexists with them." (72-73)
To distinguish the second synthesis with actual presents, Deleuze appeals to Kant's noumenal and Bergson's virtual. The pure past is virtual, not actual, and as the condition for the present's passage, it is noumenal. (73b) Deleuze's noumenal then is not like Kant's realm of things-in-themselves but rather a transcendental pure past, a "realm that all actual things determine and are determined by. It becomes a virtual and ideal realm as condition for all events and not just those of human memory." (73c)

Deleuze also articulates these ideas in terms of 'metempsychosis."
"Since each one is a passing present, a life can take another on, at a different level: as if the philosopher and the pig, the criminal and the saint played the same past, at different levels of a giant cone. This is what is called metempsychosis. (DRf, 113)" (Deleuze qtd 74a)
Williams explains: "for Deleuze, humans are not fully human until they express the pig within them and the true philosopher is one who is also or even foremost a fool." (74b)

Deleuze also then discusses "the return of difference" in terms of material and spiritual repetition. (74d)
"In material repetition, the synthesis of the living present or first synthesis of time, difference is subtracted, because a selection is made of a particular series within many differences. In ‘spiritual repetition’, the second synthesis of time, difference is included, because all differences are taken up, but at a particular level and degree." (74d)

This sort of difference cannot be represented. "When repeated elements are represented the subtraction that representation depends upon is erased. When repetition within the pure past is represented a subtraction is imposed on it such that it is no longer the whole of the past." (75bc) "difference is between the living present and the passing present that they belong together. One subtracts from the other while the other adds it back, but always differently in an ongoing creative process." (75cd)






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

The Presence of the Past. Ch.3.2 of Williams' Gilles Deleuze's Philosophy of Time:

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The Presence of the Past

James Williams'

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

Chapter 3: The second synthesis of time

Part 2: The deduction of the pure past



What does the transcendental deduction of the pure past got to do with you?

You carry your past around with you in your memories. But how did those past moments, back when they were happening, pass into the past? It might be because present moments begin already with the character of the past. We might be living in the past right now. Each present moment might from the beginning take the form of a memory. Do we not often feel like certain intense present moments are 'memorable', even before enough time has passed for us to recall them?

Brief Summary

In the second synthesis of time, what enables the present to pass is the past in general, which is not to be understood as all past moments taken together. The pure past is like an a priori for the present's passage. Deleuze explains the pure past by means of Bergson's Matter and Memory. He identifies three paradoxes of the second synthesis, building from Bergson's analyses: "the past must be contemporaneous with the present that it was; all the past must coexist with the new present in relation to which it is past; and the pure element of the past pre-exists the passing present." (63c) Each synthesis is its own unique time and process, and the others are dimensions of it. The present is a dimension of the pure past, and the past forms its present-dimension as having the character of something that passes. Deleuze's description varies from Bergson's in that it "constructs a speculative transcendental frame with abstract terms such as the pure past" (68b)


Points Relative to Deleuze:

Deleuze's explicates his second synthesis by means of "a speculative transcendental frame." (68a)



Summary

The pure past of the second synthesis is general, because it is the condition for the possibility of the present to pass. Active recollection however is the particular selection of moments in memory: "the aiming present as active memory is now particular, since it approaches the past in a particular way and for a particular aim, whereas the past as condition for any possible past present that could then be aimed at is general." (59d) Yet, Williams wonders why this past must be general and not instead a collection of particular memories. (59a)

Active memory as associative only selects artificial signs.
"As shown in the previous chapter on the first synthesis of time, these signs are not about the synthesis of the past in the living present, but instead depend on a distinction drawn between past and present such that something in the present is taken to represent something in the past." (60bc)
When we select past presents, we place them in relation to the aim of our present search, and in that way, "When a past present is actually represented, this representation also includes a representation of that actual representation to itself." (61bc) [So there is past moment that satisfies the search, but there is also the moment in the former present when we initiated that search.] But the actual passing present of the search is different from the represented past selected moment.
"The passing actual present that set out to recollect has a different status to the ones it set to search within: ‘The actual present is not treated like the future object of a memory, but as that which is reflected at the same time | as it forms the remembrance of the former present’ (DRf, 109–10)." (Williams 61-62)
There are "two processes are at work in the active synthesis of memory: reproduction and reflection." (62a) And, there are "two distinct ways in which the presents are represented." (62a)
"When it is a particular former present represented as the aim of a search, we have recollection and memory. When the present that embarked on the search is represented we have reflection, because it is represented to itself with the added element of the memory." (62a)
These reflected moments index deeper layers which index deeper ones, and in this way contain one another. The condition for this containment is the past in general. (62bc)

In order to recall past events, the past cannot be a collection of former presents but must instead be a past in general allowing for any reproduction. "It must therefore not be a past dependent on a particular experience of presents, a subset of occurrences, and must hence be a priori (prior to any given experience)." (62d) Also, the past in general is pure in the sense of it not being characterized or limited by any particular set of past presents. (62d)

Deleuze explicates the pure past through Bergson's Matter and Memory. However, Deleuze's portrayal of the general past is not exactly the same but rather a development on it. Williams then notes how
"Deleuze identifies three paradoxes relevant to the pure past in Matter and Memory. These are: the past must be contemporaneous with the present that it was; all the past must coexist with the new present in relation to which it is past; and the pure element of the past pre-exists the passing present. Rephrased in more simple terms, the first three paradoxes are: since the past adds nothing to the present that passes into it, it must be contemporaneous with that present; since the past must be contemporaneous with each passing present, all the past is contemporaneous with each passing present; and since all the past is contemporaneous with each passing present, the past is contemporary with all of time and pre-exists any passing present." (63c.d, emphases mine)
These paradoxes have both critical and productive functions.
1) Critically. They are critical of the notion of the past as a collection of particular moments, and they are critical of the notion of an active memory as the power to recall the past presents. (63d)
They "support the transcendental deduction of another version of the past, the pure past, not resembling such a collection." (63d) [This might be productive instead of critical.]

2) Productively. In the first paradox, the past is set within the passing present that is contemporaneous with the pure past but not identical to it. (64b)
"the creative move is to replace the idea that the past is the same as the present that was, with the idea that the past is a different kind of condition for the passing of the present occurring with the present or contemporaneously: ‘A present would never pass, if it was not past “at the same time” as it was present; a present would never be constituted, if it was not first constituted “at the same time” that it was present’ (DRf, 111). Deleuze has therefore replaced a notion of simultaneity where two things of the same kind are simultaneous, with a relation of contemporaneity between an actual present that can be represented (as present or past) and a different element, the pure past, accompanying every present and making it pass." (64bc)
Recall that the second paradox is "about the coexistence of all of the past with any present." (64d)
"the pure past is the whole of the past and cannot change in relation to each new present in the way a collection of copies of presents might: ‘That’s why, far from being a dimension of time, the past is the synthesis of the whole of time and the present and future are only its dimensions’ (DRf, 111)." (65ab)
So we see that in each synthesis there is only one time, and the others are dimensions to it. And also, each time has its own unique processes. (65bc)
"In the second synthesis, the present is the most contracted state of the passive synthesis of all of the past. It is no longer a synthesis of a particular pattern from the past in the present, but rather a dimension of an ongoing synthesis of all of the past in the past. We therefore have two sides of any present (as we shall see, there will be another with the third synthesis of time). There is the present as contracted synthesis, a particular stretch in the present, and there is the present as the most contracted state of the all of the past, of the pure past. Neither of these times can be reduced to one another and Deleuze’s philosophy of time is therefore one where time is only complete when taken from different sides or perspectives: a time of the living present and a time of passing present in relation to the pure past." (65c.d)
In the second synthesis, the past precedes the present "because the present is only a dimension of the pure past that must therefore pre-exist it." (66a)

Williams examines the vocabulary in this Deleuze quote:
"The paradox of pre-existence therefore completes the other two: each past is contemporary to the present that it was, the whole of the past coexists with the present in relation to which it is past, but the pure element of the past in general pre-exists the passing present. (DRf, 111)" (66a)
Williams seems to read "each past is contemporary to the present that it was" to mean that a past moment is contemporaneous not with a present moment but rather with a moment that has passed. And it is not that the whole of the past is contemporaneous with the present, but rather that it 'coexists' with a present in relation to which the whole of the past is considered past. But the past in general, as the condition for present moments to pass into the past, preexists the present's passing. (66b)

In the first synthesis, the present makes the past as a dimension of the present. But in the second synthesis, the past creates the present as one of its own dimensions in that the past creates the present's "essential properties, the main one of which is that every present must pass and is accompanied by the pure past." (66d)

Deleuze's reading of Bergson in this case varies slightly.
"‘condition’ has a different meaning to Deleuze’s. Bergson is not deducing a general transcendental condition for a formal process (such as the passing away of the present). Instead, like Deleuze, he is offering an alternative to the concept of cause, but unlike Deleuze, he is doing so in order to give an account of how each individual consciousness relates to its past as shown in the true operation of memory. This is where we can raise the question of the legitimacy of Deleuze’s work when compared with Bergson’s. What is the validity of an account of the past that does not base itself on a scientific account of causality (or some other contemporary candidate for explaining relations between states of affairs scientifically) but equally does not observe the operations of memory in detail or offer a full theory of memory in relation to consciousness, but instead constructs a speculative transcendental frame with abstract terms such as the pure past?" (68a.b)

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

Memory in Passing. Ch.3.1 of Williams' Gilles Deleuze's Philosophy of Time

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Memory in Passing

James Williams'

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

Chapter 3: The second synthesis of time

Part 1: A time within which time passes



What do the conditions for time to pass got to do with you?

The moments of your life slip away. Where do they go? What makes them leave? Or do you carry them with you always? In what way? How is it that you have a past?


Brief Summary

The second synthesis of time is a memory process that allows the present to pass into the past, all while this process is conducted completely in the present. This is because Memory is the condition of possibility for the past to be ordered and for the present to enter into determinate (but not determined) relations with the future.


Points Relative to Deleuze:

Deleuze's second and first syntheses interact.



Summary

The second synthesis is a 'synthesis of the past'. Deleuze's temporality involves multiple interacting syntheses. "Time is therefore manifold for Deleuze, with different syntheses interacting in a fractured and complex manner, allowing for dislocations and changes in perspective." (51bc) "Time and process coexist like reflections in a hall of broken mirrors, offering multiple perspectives to follow and recreate, but never a full image." (51c) The fact that we are now considering two different syntheses raises many questions regarding their relations and the temporalities they produce. (51-52)

Deleuze builds from features of the first synthesis: "the first synthesis is originary but not a pure origin; the present in the first synthesis of time is a passing present; the present is constituted of many durations or stretches that overlap." (52a)

The first synthesis operates in the second synthesis. (52d)

There is a paradox to the present. It both constitutes time while also passing into that constituted time. The time we constitute is both passing away and yet is a present process. "If the present constitutes the past first, then it must pass away into a past that it has not constituted, since there will be an interval, a difference, between the constituted past and the one the present passes away into." (53b)

To handle the paradox, Deleuze separate two things: a) the time that the present passes away into, and b) the first synthesis.

In Williams' reading, the syntheses of time are productive processes. The present does not pass into another time acting as a container. The first synthesis of time transforms as it passes into the second.
"Both syntheses of time are active in many different ways and passivity must itself be understood as a process in Deleuze, rather than inertia or indifference. So the meaning of ‘to pass away’ should not be seen as an inert falling into disuse. It is quite the contrary. To pass away is to pass away in a synthesis of the past as memory defined as the second synthesis of time." (54a)
There are two important principles in Deleuze's speculative metaphysics:

1) nothingness or void can never serve as an explanatory principle, and
2) all processes are two-way and asymmetrical

Deleuze speaks of necessary consequence and necessary referral. It is not logical necessity (because it "does not follow from formal logical operations") but rather it is speculative necessity (because it "follows logically only if we accept the structure of a complex speculative metaphysics.") (54bc)

Yet, perhaps Deleuze is wrong, and time passes into a void of some sort. (54-55) Williams also finds problematic Deleuze's distinction between the two process of foundation and founding. "The first synthesis of time is a foundation because it is a process of ‘occupation’ and ‘possession’, that is, it determines an open space according to patterns and to differences." (55bc) But, what is not given is the form and determination of the passing away of living presents. And what is the condition allowing for past things to be recalled? (55d) Here we turn to the concept of founding. The second synthesis makes present moments pass by placing them into well-determined relations of what is to come. (56a) However, this is not a final determination. (56cd)
"This is because the second synthesis of time as that which makes the present pass through a process of foundation cannot depend upon or lead to a finally established and identified true foundation. It has to allow the present to be determined differently as proper and appropri- | ate." (56-57)
"The pure past will be defined as determining the form of the passing present – that it must pass, and how it must pass – but it does not determine or cause the content of any particular passing present. The pure past cannot be the cause of the present or completely determine it. Deleuze’s philosophy cannot be deterministic." (57a)
Williams considers an objection. Note again how signs of the past are not in the past, but are given immediately in the present. Recall is not necessarily a going back to past presents but is instead an inspecting of present codes and signs. (57a) So if recall happens in the present, why is it necessary that there be a founding of past presents? The problem is that these interpretations of present signs of the past are active processes, yet the second synthesis is passive. (57d) The second synthesis does not synthesize particular moments but instead it synthesizes 'levels' that provide the conditions for an ordering of the past.
"the passive synthesis of the past is a synthesis not of particulars but of levels, that is, not of the passing presents themselves, but of the conditions for any ordering of them. For all passing presents to be ordered and related the successive levels created by their passing have to be connected or, to use Deleuze’s term, they have to be encased in one another." (58a)
Deleuze distinguishes capitalized Memory from uncapitalized memory:
"‘Memory’ as capitalised for the process of the second synthesis and ‘memory’ for active memory: ‘Habit is the originary synthesis of time, constituting the life of the passing present; Memory is the fundamental synthesis of time, constituting the being of the past (making the present pass)’ (DRf, 109). The being of the past is not the representations, records or codes of an active memory in the present. It is the condition of possibility for all the different active memories, their differences, but also their connections, above all their connections with the passing presents that came before them – all of them." (Williams 58b)
The different temporal processes condition one another asymmetrically. (59b)


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

5 Jan 2012

Passing Habits. Ch.2.4 of Williams' Deleuze's Philosophy of Time

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Passing Habits

James Williams'

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

Chapter 2: The first synthesis of time

Part 4: The passing present



What does the passing present got to do with you?

Every present moment of your life passes on. But consider how your habits in a way express passed moments when you previously performed those actions which built up into the habit. You contract these moments into the present while that present is passing. Yet, each contraction changes you in a way, and it alters how you construe your past and anticipate your future. You are a 'larval subject'.




Brief Summary

In the first synthesis of time, the present continually passes into its contractions, which produces a 'fatigue' of sorts. Need can be understood as fatigue rather than lack, because when we need something, we are constantly making contractions that anticipate what we need, which exhausts us. Need understood as lack has a negative structure, and this structure does not allow for questioning, because it presupposes the needed answer. The self of the first synthesis is multiple and continuously becoming as contractions continually to alter it, and it is understood not on the normal philosophical basis of the opposition between active and passive.


Points Relative to Deleuze:

On the basis of his account of habit in the first synthesis of time, Deleuze offers an original view of the self.



Summary

Williams quotes: "‘Nonetheless, this synthesis is intra-temporal, which means that the present passes’ (DRf, 105)." (Williams 45c) But does the present pass into itself, or does it pass to one of its dimensions?

Consider the paradox that arises when we think that the present passes into the past. The present moment has transformed the past through its synthesis. Thus that past has disappeared. But if the present somehow passes into the future, then it is passing into something that is only awaited and thus not something it can pass into. (45-46)
"If the present passes into its past dimension, it must change the particulars it has already synthesised. If the present passes into its future dimension, it carries actual particulars into the generality of the future, thereby contradicting its definition as only generality. In the first case the arrow of time must be reversed. In the second, it is denied." (46b)
Every contractive synthesis is already a passage. To contract the fourth bell toll, the third had to have passed.
"Physical duration is therefore the stretch that it takes for a contraction to pass. Durations are therefore multiple and overlapping: ‘An organism has a present duration, diverse present durations, following the natural scope of contraction of its contemplating souls’ (DRf, 105)." (47a)
The first synthesis as a passing present necessarily involves exhaustion and fatigue. The concept of fatigue could even help scientists and other sorts of researchers, although it has a special meaning for Deleuze. (47c.d) When we think in terms of our active syntheses, like when we representationally consider that tomorrow morning we will need to have coffee, then our needing of the coffee can be considered a lack [because we are taking into consideration a future contraction that has not yet happened.] However, when we consider the passive syntheses that are automatically making all these contractions, [our needing coffee is not our lacking it, but rather the exhaustion that results from us constantly making anticipatory contractions. So when we feel like we need something, we feel a discomfort. It is not a frustration that the situation is not otherwise. Rather, it is us exhausting ourselves by channeling our contractions so to guide us to what we need.] [Note: I do not follow Williams' example here. His example sentences are: "I need coffee in the morning" for need as lack and "Too tired even for coffee" for need as fatigue. I have not yet figured out how the second example sentence illustrates a contractive synthesis.]

Signs are present in our contractions. There are two sorts of signs.
"A natural sign relates to a present, to the work of present passive syntheses in a living present and in relation to the passing present. An artificial sign refers to the past and to the future as distinct from the present (Imagine your life free of your coffee addiction), for instance when we ask ourselves abstractly what we want to be, before we seek out the signs of what we are becoming in the present, before attempting to learn our present signs." (49a)
When we conceive need as lack, we do so on the basis of a negative structure. But really need results from changing contractions. We cannot properly question in a structure of negativity because "we presume to know what we need and hence the sole difficulty is how to get it." (49bc)
"A question draws on (‘soutire’) an answer, that is, it refines and selects within it, sets it within a series of repetitions. More importantly, it does so by experimentally searching for a novel difference that has passively appeared within the series; this novel difference is a larval subject driving towards a further synthesis of | the series." (49-50)
Deleuze's account of habit portrays our selfhood in the first synthesis as pre-reflective not limited to philosophy's normal opposition of passivity and activity.
"Habit as defined on the basis of Deleuze’s work on the first synthesis of time is itself the process where the syntheses of the passive self, ‘the world of the passive syntheses constituting the system of the self’, are also larval subjects, that is, the multiple subjects of actions prior to reflection, representation and understanding. Deleuze’s philosophy of time allows him to turn philosophy away from the opposition of passivity and activity, to an understanding of life – of all things that become – as activity drawn from passivity." (50bc)


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

4 Jan 2012

Souls of Habit. Ch.2.3 of Williams' Deleuze's Philosophy of Time

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Souls of Habit

James Williams'

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

Chapter 2: The first synthesis of time

Part 3: Of pebbles and their habits



What do the contractive habits of your body parts got to do with you?

You might witness a catastrophic traffic accident. You would feel something all throughout your body. Every part of you in a way is confronting the event. Your twitching muscles are in a sense 'contemplating' this moment, combining it with other frightening experiences that required the muscles move your body to safer locations, hence they twitch now. Each body part is performing their own individual contractive contemplations, and thus they are all like souls that make up who you are. But, who are you then? You are not any of the souls. Nor are you somehow the average of them all, if such a thing could be conceived. No, you are the differential relations between your soul components' contractions. Feel the difference within you. It makes you who you are.


Brief Summary

Habits create differences. This is because we are made up of a multiplicity of contemplating souls each contracting events in their own ways. This process never ends.


Points Relative to Deleuze:

The first synthesis of time involves multiplicity.



Summary

Deleuze portrays inanimate objects as also performing the contemplation and contraction of habit at work in the first synthesis of time. (38b) According to Deleuze, habit "draws" difference from repetition, (38c) and in this way it "creates a change or becoming in the series" of repetitions. (40ab) Williams goes on to explain the French term for 'draws'. The process involved in the synthesis is one of intensive variation. (40b.d)
"‘Soutirer’ is a technical term with a chemical basis from winemaking. It is one of many taken from chemistry and biology used by Deleuze when he wants to point to this differential variation (at other times he uses examples such as ebullition, at DRf, 296, for example). The term means to draw wine from one barrel into another, for instance, in order to remove sediment. It is important, however, not to identify the concept with the casks, or the wines in their apparently fixed states in each one. The process Deleuze wants to map his philosophical concept on is not the passage from one state to another. Instead, Deleuze is interested in the process itself and, more precisely, in the introduction of a difference in intensity, a differential variation, in the process synthesised as time. So habit is a contraction, not in the sense of a passage from a dilated to a contracted state, as Deleuze says about heartbeats, but rather a synthesis of events (contraction and dilation) as a differential, an ongoing variation of intensity or a becoming – and not a difference between two states. So we can now better understand what habit is as retention and expectation: it is the synthesis of a variation in intensity over events, where retention is the absorption." (40b.d)
When habit draws difference from repetition, it is synthesizing the series "in a novel manner, such that differences in intensity appear within the series and contract it differently in relation | to other series." (40-41)
"the process he is defining and describing is not about associating identified causes and effects repeating in the same way over time. Instead it is about a novel variation continuing to vary, thereby constituting time as the synthesis of the variation." (41b)
New contractions change the intensive relations in the series of repetitions, (41c) (as when a new occurrence changes how we configure our pasts and anticipate our futures, perhaps like when a plot-twist occurs).

Deleuze does not abandon a scientific perspective which would regard the synthetic process as constituting identities rather than differences, because Deleuze does not exclude identity from the process; he merely gives difference the primary role. (42b)
"From both angles, he does not seek to deny scientific evidence and theories, but instead seeks to complement them with an account of the role of difference as taking a primary but never complete role in relations of determination between actual identities and ideal differentiations. We can and should consider an event as the referent of scientific accounts. However, these accounts are incomplete unless taken with a more speculative model explaining the intensive difference making each event different." (42b)
Contraction is performed by a contemplative soul. (42c)
"The soul is the intensive difference contracted by a habit. It is the difference allowing a series of events to be synthesised in a living present, as different from identifications and representations of sameness to other events. The soul of any thing is therefore the singular way in which it contracts past and future series." (42c)
There are souls for all things. Deleuze's world is multiple and non-hierarchical.
"Deleuze’s world is radically multiple: it is constructed from multiple and irreducibly different syntheses forming many different perspectives on one another (where perspective is a way of describing different syntheses and contractions). A beach is not a totality of beings. It is a multiplicity of contractions which cannot be organised into a final order, logic or pattern without imposing an illusory sense of the real." (43a)
This also means each part of us, heart, muscles, nerves, is also a contracting soul. And thus, we are made up of a multiplicity of passive souls. (43c.d) [We are the differential relations between our multiple contractive souls.]

According to Williams, there are two types of contractions.

1) [Integration] Contraction of particulars into generalities [contracting series of occurrences] (43-44)
2) [Differentiation] Contemplative contraction at work in individuation [each soul differentiating itself as individual through its own particular manner of contraction] (44a)

Deleuze says that difference is between two repetitions. Is difference like an entity or substance lying between repetitions, or is difference "in the relations of the processes of repetition themselves"? (44bc)

Integrative contraction draws two sorts of difference from the "chaos of passing instants": "difference as opposition between represented identities, but also and primarily, difference as passive synthesis. This second difference is differentiation, where any integral thing is undone into a multiplicity of passive selves or syntheses in time." (44c) Thus

"The first synthesis of time is therefore a differentiation and an integration, a contraction allowing for action, and a passive synthesis undoing that contraction and opening up to novel differences. [...] The primary rep- | etition in the first synthesis of time is hence in passive synthesis, in the renewal afforded by a differentiating synthesis that means that no process of integration is final, determining of a complete entity, or free of internal differences and differential intensities." (44d; 44-45)






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

3 Jan 2012

Time & Method. Ch.2.2 of Williams' Deleuze's Philosophy of Time

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Time & Method

James Williams'

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

Chapter 2: The first synthesis of time

Part 2: Synthesis and method in the first synthesis of time



In Deleuze's account of his first synthesis of time, what does his methodological shiftings from empirical to transcendental got to do with you?

Who are we? Does it have something to do with how we behave and view the world at any moment? Our minds put experiences together. So each time we let go of something heavy, we anticipate it dropping; so perhaps we automatically move our feet out of the way. This is on the basis of empirical observation. But would we not also say that part of being who we are is that this contracting process always is going on, because if new occurrences did not come into and merge with past ones, we would stay the same in a timeless way, which is like death in way. When we deduce that it is logically necessary that this process is at work, we are using a transcendental methodology: we are explicating the conditions of possibility for our lives to move forward in time.


Brief Summary

Deleuze mixes empirical and transcendental methods. We empirically observe our mind's tendency to contract. We transcendentally deduce the necessity of passive synthesis for this tendency to be at work.

Deleuze also does not limit his account to subjective and objective perspectives. The repetition of cases is not seen objectively, because the occurrences do not each already have contracted relations to the others (it must be performed on them). Yet, the repetition is not understood subjectively [perhaps because each contraction changes the mind itself, so the contractions are not based on some stable subjectivity; rather, that subjectivity is under alteration on account of the contracted occurrences].

There are three moments involved in repetition: succession, contraction, and representation.

There are two further ways to distinguish repetitions. The first regards additions. They are closed insofar as an addition will change it qualitatively, like how the fifth bell toll feels different than the fourth, and thus the fourth one was closed off to further addition. And they are open insofar as the addition strengthens quantitatively certain paths of anticipation. So the more times we hear the bells toll at five o clock, the more we anticipate the fourth toll being followed (and contracted with) the fifth toll. Another way to distinguish repetitions is on the basis of grouping status. Each new toll makes a new contraction, and this is the repetition of elements. But each toll is what it is on account of its paired contractions, and this is the repetition of cases.

When our sense impressions contract, they do so on the level of passive synthesis, but also we may more explicitly consider representations of occurrences not seen in terms of their mergence with others. The representational level is not adequate to capture everything about the immediate sense experiences, and so also thinking representationally about our habitual contractions is not enough to change them; we must instead somehow do so on the level of passive synthesis. Each contraction is a sign for how we might make future contractions. But interpreting the sign representationally misses implicit components of its meaning.


Points Relative to Deleuze:

Deleuze mixes empirical and transcendental methods. Also, he regards representation as inadequate for a description of what is going on in the syntheses of the lived present.



Summary

Deleuze's writings on the first synthesis of time also raise questions of philosophical method. Recall the role of retention and expectation in the 'living present' (from Ch.2.1). For example, we always find that heavy things fall when we let go of them in the air. We retain all these similar particular events retentionally in our mind. Then, just as soon as we see ourselves about to let go of a heavy object, all similar past occurrences contract together to make our mind anticipate the object falling. This much is empirical, because it is all based on experience. But what is not empirical is the very fact that synthetic processes are required for this contraction; for, "It is a logical deduction from the independence of instants" [For different instants to relate together in the contraction, they must first be different, thus they are not inherently related, and so an additional synthetic exercise is necessary to relate them contractively.] What is also not empirical is the fact that the processes involved are conditions for each other and also that that their relations are asymmetrical. [The conditions for example for possible future contractions are grounded in actual ones now, and because this concerns the conditions of possibility for other processes,] it is transcendental rather than empirical. However, we do not deduce logically that there are at work these process of the first synthesis of time; rather we observe them as such. Williams wonders why Deleuze turns to Hume's thinking when perhaps there might be more recent and convincing support in psychology, neurology or Merleau-Pontian phenomenology. (30bc.d)

Williams finds the first clue in Deleuze's distinction between the empirical and the formal with regard to processes. What makes Deleuze's argumentation different than scientific and phenomenological ones is that he moves swiftly from empirical to speculative remarks regarding the formal properties of these processes. So he begins with 'a sketchy empirical observation' [contraction of like causal pairings] in order to set out a 'speculative formal frame' [perhaps, an account of the necessity for these processes and their relations] with a transcendental element [describing the conditions of possibility for these necessary processes]. (31a.b)
"This partly explains the difficulty of setting down a label for his philosophy: it is empirical, speculative and transcendental. It also invites a deep worry, since there is a danger of failing in each of these moves and standing as poor (unscientific) empiricism, (non-rigourous) phenomenology and (logically deficient) speculative philosophy" (31a.b)
Deleuze makes use of the resources of all three, without falling victim to their dangers, through a careful analysis of them in the history of philosophy. (31b) To do so, Deleuze first "establishes the priority of passive synthesis and the living present." (31c) So it is not that what is most primary are the individuality of the instants, and then secondarily they are synthesized. Rather, it is only on the basis of the synthetic processes that they can be conceived as separate in the first place [perhaps because they would not be relatable as being different from one another if there were not some synthesis that brings them together into such a relation]. Also, the synthesis is the condition for the incompleteness and the secondary nature of our conception of the separations of occurrences [perhaps because the process is ongoing; or perhaps because the repetitions involved are not merely repetitions of the mind, but continuous new differences given to the mind and thus the mind itself is always changing with its contractions]. (31-32)
"What this means is that repetition cannot be thought of as either the repetition of objects, which explains why Deleuze presented such an approach as leading to a paradox, or as repetition in the subject, which explains why it would be a mistake to associate his reading of Hume with an interpretation of both philosophers as setting down the human mind | as the condition for repetition." (31-32)
So because Deleuze's theory of time avoids taking the objective and subjective perspectives, "Deleuze can appeal neither to brute empiricism, nor to simple phenomenology." (32a) This raises the question as to how we conduct or philosophical inquiries without basing them on objective or subjective grounds. Deleuze shows that the necessity for repetition is not found in any object alone. Instead, repetition is a matter ideal relations that provide the conditions for actual differences. (32d)

Deleuze proceeds then to show that:
"Time and synthesis, as well as the living present, cannot be subjective in the sense of properties of the understanding or memory of a thinking subject." (Williams 33b)
Deleuze reads Hume to be saying that our conceptually represented memory contains individual memories with their own distinct times and spaces. These separated memory representations is not the same as the retended past, because events in retention are inseparable.

Williams then discusses two 'far-reaching conclusions on time and repetition' that Deleuze draws from these ideas.

1) Repetition implies three moments:

1a) objective instants passing away because they cannot be repeated
1b) contracting through passive synthesizing
1c) representing (specific distinguishable occurrences) reflexively in the active memory and understanding (34a)

Each of these moments, however, reciprocally determine the others. (34b)

2) Each moment is necessary and has methodological facets:

2a) "expression of individuation in the living present (duration in Bergson and imagination in Hume)",
2b) "representation of identity in memory and understanding", and
2c) "creation of syntheses in a thinking of the relations of the other two and all presupposed ideal relations." (34c)

There are two sorts of dissimilarity in Bergson's and Hume's examples of repetition (the clock tolls and the AB causal parings) [see paragraph 3 and paragraph 4]

1) Closed vs Open repetition

1a) Closed [contraction changes qualitatively with addition] (Bergson's 4 tolls would change at 5)
1b) Open [contraction changes quantitative 'weight' or tendency for association with each new repeated occurrence] (oncoming Hume's AB parings are contracted together and can keep being contracted as more come) (35d)

2) Element vs Case

2a) Coupled [Case]: "Hume's involves cases of AB couples"
2b) Undivided [Element]: "Bergson has repeated undivided elements or strikes" (34d)

Deleuze notes that in Bergson's example where we hear the bell toll four times, the first and second toll were also contracted as an AB coupling, as was the second and third, and finally the fourth and fifth. So on the one hand, like with Hume, we just have recurrences of AB pairings, but like with Bergson, each pairing can be secondarily differentiated from the others representationally by means of spatializing duration. (35a)

Empirically we observe that the passive synthesis tends to experience the clock's ticking as having tick-tocks (contracted pairings). We know transcendentally that the condition that makes the contraction possible is the synthesis itself. In this way Deleuze integrates empirical and transcendental methods. (35b.d)

The relation between element and case is different on each of the three levels of its operation ("passing away of instants, contraction and representation"), in regard to sensibility and sensation. (36a) The contractions of our sense impressions happen automatically. [Here the elements, each occurrence, and the cases, their groupings, seem to coincide.] On the level of representation, we might inquire whether something will give us some certain sense impression. But doing this presupposes the passively synthesized contractions. [Here the elements are not yet cases, but it is on the basis of their having been contracted into cases that we can pick certain ones out representationally and anticipate the coming contraction of pairings.]
"on one level, our sensibility is just a contraction of organic syntheses, a series of sensations of warmth, say, prior to and independent of any representation or concept: ‘[. . .] a primary sensibility that we are’ (DRf, 99). On another level, though, we are intending beings who can intend towards an object and ascribe a given quality to it, for instance, when we reach out and ask the question, ‘Is it warm?’ From this point of view, contraction is prior to even that sensation, if sensation is defined as a conscious faculty. This is because we cannot have the sensation in that form until there has been a series of passive organic contractions." (36b.c)
According to Williams, each contractive synthesis is a 'level', and each level is a 'sign'. Because a contraction selects paths of how we might contract future occurrences, it is like a sign pointing to the future. (36-37) But to interpret these signs, we need to use representations, which for some reason will always miss something about the prior syntheses it is trying to interpret. So this poses a problem in Deleuze's thinking, because signs have an importance for helping us understand "how we are becoming what we are", while also it is impossible to fully represent and interpret those signs. So, "what is the right way of living with and living up to the passive syntheses constituting and driving us forward?" (37a.b)

If we want to change a habit, we will miss things about it if we remain on the level of representation; thus "learning and unlearning habits must not be seen in terms of the conscious repetition of movement, for instance, but instead must be seen as an interaction with processes that we cannot directly represent or act upon." (37d)





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