4 Jan 2013

Pt2 Somers-Hall’s Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. ‘Infinite Thought’. 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. Also, proofreading is incomplete.]


Henry Somers-Hall


Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation.

Dialectics of Negation and Difference


Part 2: Responses to Representation

Very Brief Summary:

Deleuze and Hegel overcome the limitations of Aristotle’s, Kant’s, and Russell’s representational systems by proposing alternate theories where unity is based on conjoined difference rather than on self-identity. 


Brief Summary:

Deleuze and Hegel propose alternative theories to overcome problems in the representational systems of Aristotle, Kant, and Russell. Both proposals revolve around a concept of unifying difference. Deleuze takes up Bergson’s continuously-integrated heterogeneous multiplicity, which considers terms as intrinsically and inseparably related. Hegel’s dialectic also conceives of terms being both different yet intrinsically and inseparably related, but in his case because of a process of productive negation that unites the terms in their genetic sequence.


In part 1, we examined representational theories in the history of philosophy, also briefly indicating Deleuze’s and Hegel’s responses. Kant explains the basis of our knowledge of things being a transcendental self  whose a priori unity allows for the synthesis of empirical intuitions, concepts, and the judgments uniting them, giving them all a subject-predicate format.  But Deleuze’s logic of incompossibility also explains our ability to make judgments of the world without the help of representational unities. Aristotle and Russell propose hierarchical logical systems of the division of things, but these systems lead to paradoxes and the inability to explain change on account of their law of excluded middle. Hegel’s solution is a productive sort of contradiction.

In this second part, we expand more on Deleuze’s and Hegel’s alternate proposals. Deleuze’s is based on Bergson’s duration, which is a continuously-integrated heterogeneous multiplicity, unlike the discrete multiplicity of externally related extensive parts characterizing homogeneous space. Bergson’s heterogeneous multiplicity better explains living systems.

Deleuze then uses Bergson’s continuously integrated heterogeneous multiplicity to characterize the Idea, the problem, and the concept. In all cases, they are terrains of virtual differential incompossibly-actualizeable paths of developmental explication. We can understand them with the model of topographical phase space portraits. They indicate all the tendencies for a system’s development using terrain features. This describes the system’s behavior on a whole, but in each instantiation only one possible line of development indicated in the map is actualized, because all the lines are incompossible yet coincident in this virtual form. They explicate into extensity. And any one actualization implicates the totality of the whole ‘problematic’.

Hegel’s dialectical movement brings contraries within one another, and also unites them on the basis of their genetic productions of one another. This allows him to go beyond Kant’s finite thought, and also to have totality to his system and an account of change, which is lacking in Aristotle’s system.  Kant cannot go beyond finite thought, because it cannot think contraries together, like Hegel’s infinite thought can. And because Hegel’s concepts are united genetically, differences are inherently linked, and thus he can have totality to a system of differences without the need of some generic category to encompass them all, which was a source of a problem for Aristotle. Rather, their genetic process of unfolding is the glue uniting the differences. Thus Hegel can also explain the process of change, as he has accounted for the process that generates and unites the diverse contradictory changes when something alters.




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

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