7 Jan 2013

Pt3.Ch7.Sb3 Somers-Hall’s Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. ‘The Inverted World.’ 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 3: Beyond Representation

Chapter 7: Force, Difference, and Opposition

Subdivision 3: The Inverted World

Brief Summary:

Deleuze opposes virtual and actual, and difference in itself from negativity. From the Hegelian perspective, this means Deleuze is using spatializing thinking of finite thought. If Deleuze had used infinite thought, he would have seen that the opposed terms dialectically converge, and thus this fundamental distinction in Deleuze’s philosophy does not hold.


Previously we saw how Hegel could critique Deleuze’s actual and virtual by showing that the forces involved in each are dialectically inherent to one another, thus collapsing the ontological distinction on which Deleuze bases his transcendental empiricism. But the concept of the law of forces proved tautological, so we will turn to the inverted order of law.

Recall how for Hegel the tautology A = A requires a moment of difference to prevent the two terms from collapsing into each other. “Likewise, the world of pure identity, law, opens up a world of pure difference, its absolute negation, the inverted world.” (195) The supersensible world of laws capture the permanent, the identical, in the world we perceive. But it could not capture the movement inherent within it. In the inverted world, the identical moves back into itself.

The inverted world is not simply the world of change and alteration, however, but in its very determinateness it seems to present itself as the opposite of the world of laws. "What tastes sweet is really, or inwardly in the thing, sour; or what is north pole in the actual magnet in the world of appearance, would be south pole in the inner or essential being; what presents itself as oxygen pole in the phenomenon of electricity would be hydrogen pole in unmanifested electricity". The inverted world appears to take us no further than the world of law therefore, as it simply posits the inner as being the exact opposite of the world. (PS, 97-98). In the end, it fails to supply any extra content, as it is purely formed from the negation of appearance. As such, it is just as inert as an explanatory principle. (195)

But “ultimately the separation of the inverted world and the world of laws cannot be maintained”. (195)

Our [finite] understanding understands differences as being fixed in a different sustaining element, and thus we do not understand difference on its own terms. Namely, it presupposes [relational] space as the medium that allows opposites to stand beside one another and also allows one to subsist independently of the other. But if we no longer use this spatial medium to conceive difference, then we need not create such a sharp divide between difference and that which it differs from.

"But just because I have the 'opposite' here in and for itself, it is the opposite of itself or it has, in fact, the 'other' immediately present in it" (PS, 99). Once this move has been made, Hegel's resolution of the problem of the inverted world is simple enough. (195)

For this we need infinite thought. Because law has the character of infinity, it is both self-same and different.

That is to say, instead of seeing both moments as essentially indifferent to one another, they need to be seen as implicit moments of a single unity. "The two distinguished moments both subsist; they are implicit and are opposites in themselves, i.e. each is the opposite of itself; each has its other within it and they are only one unity" (PS, 100). [196)

Take the example of revenge. From  [the law of the non-inverted world], revenge requires that we destroy our enemy (who does not consider us a person) as an individuality. But from the law of the inverted world, were we to destroy the other as an effort to reinstate ourselves, we instead are committing self-destruction [because we are co-defined by our enemy?]. If we use finite understanding these two laws are opposites, then neither case allows us to achieve personhood, because in the first one our enemy does not recognize us as a person, and in the second case we destroy ourselves as a self. But if we use infinite thought, we no longer see each subject as distinct and self-subsisting. Instead, with the infinite thought of reason, we see that [somehow] revenge affirms our personhood [I cannot explain this passage, I will go back to the finite part]:

This movement is indeed clear in the inverted world provided we do not take the 'superficial' viewpoint of the understanding. In another example of the inversion, for instance, Hegel cites the case of revenge. In the immediate world, revenge requires me to "confront [my enemy] as himself a person who does not treat me as such, and in fact bids me destroy him as an individuality" (PS, 97), whereas the law of the inverted world instead proclaims that "the reinstatement of myself as a person through the destruction of the alien individuality is turned into self-destruction" (PS, 97). These two laws are opposites, and, taken as such, neither allows me to achieve personhood, as in the first case, I am not seen as a person by my enemy, and in the second, the destruction of my enemy is also the destruction of myself as a self. When understood according to infinite thought, however, we are able to achieve a resolution of this dichotomy. The diffi- | culty emerges for the understanding because each subject in this case is seen as distinct, and self-subsisting, much in the same way that the immediate and inverted worlds were. From this perspective, it is likewise impossible for me to recognize myself in the other, so the destruction of the alien individuality can only be understood as a destruction tout court. From the perspective of reason, however, both of these moments can be reconciled, as now destruction of the alien in the other amounts to my recognition of myself therein and thus becomes a condition of my personhood, rather than of its destruction. Likewise, this equally opens the possibility of the other confronting me as a person in tum, thus generating the infinite movement of self-consciousness that Hegel takes as determining the subject as a person. Thus, from the standpoint of reason, these opposites are reconciled precisely through an infinite movement that allows them both to subsist without a radical split into two worlds. (196-197)

So we see that “dialectic of consciousness and self-consciousness is therefore implicit in the dialectic of the inverted world.” (197) When we conceive of identity in a way that excludes the possibility of maintaining differences within it, we fall into tautology in our explanations. But when we use the infinite thought of reason, “the universal nature of law can be maintained without having to abstract from all differences.” [I did not understand the time space example so I will quote it here, as it is important to Somers-Hall’s explanation.]

As we saw, explanation turns out to be tautologous because it relies on a difference being created that is in fact not a difference. Thus, for example, space and time are separated from one another in order to later reunite them in the laws of motion. The reason for the fall into tautology was essentially that identity was conceived of in such a way that it in itself excluded any possibility of maintaining concrete differences within it. It remained purely abstract. From the perspective of reason, however, the universal nature of law can be maintained without having to abstract from all differences. Instead, we have a concrete universal that allows the differences between time and space to be preserved while at the same time maintaining the necessary connections between the parts. It is important to note in concluding this exegesis of Hegel's dialectic of force that this resolution of the inverted world is only available to us as readers of the Phenomenology. The consciousness that moves through the dialectic instead remains trapped in an understanding of the world as doubled: "It is true that infinity itself becomes the object of the Understanding; but once again the Understanding falls short of infinity as such, since it apportions to two worlds, or to two substantial elements, that which is a difference in itself-the self-repulsion of the selfsame and the self-attraction of the unlike" (PS, 102). (197)


We now wonder how much this dialectic relates to Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism. One of the dialectic’s targets is a Kantian sort of transcendental philosophy. In Kant’s philosophy, we posit appearance, which we can understand, and a beyond to appearance that we cannot understand. Hegel’s dialectic goes further.

While consciousness may stop, as Kant does, with the notion of an empty thing-in-itself, the dialectic impels a move to the notion of law, which in tum, in order to capture the movement as well as the permanence of the phenomenal world, necessitates the positing of an inverted world. (198)

But the understanding cannot sustain an “indifferent relation relation between the immediate realm of laws and the inverted world.” (198) Then with infinite thought difference and identity are “brought together in one unified world”. (198) “Infinite thought allows us to conceive of the coexistence of contrary, and hence, to the understanding, contradictory, determinations within the same world. It does this by overcoming the understanding's desire to situate these determinations in a spatial milieu of the 'here' and the 'there'.” (198)

First the similarities between Hegel’s and Deleuze’s positions. Hegel’s concept of force is derived from Aristotle’s metaphysics. We saw there are two moments of force, it expressing itself into multiplicity and it turning back onto itself as unity. But they are only different in our thinking. [But in the Jena Logic, Hegel defines force as a possibility whose actuality is outside it. So force is understood both as force’s possibility and also as force’s externalization as its reality. But this leads to tautologous explanations, for example we might say that a falling rock unites with the ground because it has a ground-uniting force. So here force is understood as a possibility, that a rock with a ground-uniting force has the possibility of uniting with the ground, and the actuality is its uniting with the ground.]

In the Jena Logic, Hegel defines force as "the cause, as infinity, which itself is only in the form of possibility and has its actuality outside it" (JL, 47). This leads to the two moments of force being understood as, on the one hand, its possibility, and, on the other, its extemalization as its reality. Ultimately, this means that the concept of force simply relies on a doubling of the kind found in the parodies of Aristotelian physics, and this doubling leads to the inevitable tautologous nature of explanation. "To explain a rock's falling to the ground (that is, uniting with the ground) it is said that it unites with the ground not because it unites with the ground but because the force in the rock unites it, namely, the force uniting the rock with the ground" (JL, 62). These explanations come about because "the content of the appearances and of the force is the same; the totality of utterances is gathered together within the force. Internally sundered as the relation may be, it still counts as one in name, a simple togetherness; and the separating that is posited with respect to the relation is one that is alien to it, a separating of force as something possible from force as something actual; so the tautology of explanation remains the same" (JL, 63). What is therefore key to Hegel's rejection of the notion of force, and consequently the first notion of law, is that it provides a mere repetition of possibility in terms of actuality. | Within this repetition, nothing new is actually added to the explanation, since the division between the two is a division for the understanding and is not present in force itself. (198-199)

Deleuze sees the situation similarly. “we saw that Deleuze's chief concern with the Kantian schema was that by providing conditions of possibility that simply mirrored the functions of judgment, Kant was only able to offer a theory of the conditioning of experience, rather than to actually explain the genesis of experience itself.” (199) [Hegel thinks we need to go beyond finite thought, which thinks force in terms of possibility and actuality being separate, but this leads to tautologous explanations. Deleuze thinks Kant in giving the conditions for understanding only repeats the functioning of judgment and is unable to explain the genesis of experience. But for Deleuze we need to go beyond the conditioning (of possibility) of experience and go to the actuality of its genesis.] But virtuality and possibility are not the same. Possibility is opposed to reality, but virtuality is real. But conceptually the possible has all the same features as the actual, except one is existing and the other not.

In these comments, we can see that Deleuze is in agreement with the first movement of the dialectic of force and understanding. If force or law is posited in terms of possibility, then ultimately our explanations become empty. For both thinkers, therefore, the movement from possibility to actuality is the movement from the same to the same and is only a movement in thought. (199)

[Deleuze moves from a view of the transcendental as the same to the transcendental as different. Why would we not next think of these opposites being reconciled in the infinite movement of reason?]

[In order to prevent Deleuze’s notion of the transcendental as different being sublated with it as same, and thus to preserve it as different, as Deleuze wants it,] “Deleuze therefore requires a response to the immanent dialectic that Hegel attributes to force.” (199) To overcome tautologous explanations, consciousness turns to the inverted world, which “completes appearance by providing the "principle of change and alteration" (PS, 97), which was lacking in the realm of law.” (199) Deleuze opposes difference in itself to negativity, so they are in opposition. So perhaps he is using spatializing thinking, and he is “ignorant of infinite thought's reconciliation of these two moments”. (200) “Thus, from a Hegelian point of view, in separating virtual and actual, Deleuze has spatialized their relation.”



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

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