6 Apr 2015

Somers-Hall, (2.1), Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition, ‘2.1 Introduction’, summary

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

[Central Entry Directory]
[Deleuze Entry Directory]
[Henry Somers-Hall, Entry Directory]
[Henry Somers-Hall’s Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition, Entry Directory]


[The following is summary. All boldface, underlining, and bracketed commentary are my own. Proofreading is incomplete, so please forgive my typos and other distracting mistakes. Somers-Hall is abbreviated SH and Difference and Repetition as DR.]

Summary of

Henry Somers-Hall

Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition:
An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide

Part 1
A Guide to the Text


Chapter 2. Repetition for Itself

2.1 Introduction [Introductory Material For Ch.2]

Brief summary:

In Chapter 2 of DR, Deleuze will elaborate on two themes from the prior text. He will look more at how repetition is possible. The difficulty is that repetition requires a new and different iteration (or else something is continuing and not repeating) while at the same time, the new reiteration needs to be identical to predecessors (for otherwise it will be something new altogether and not something occurring again). The other theme is explaining how the world can be constituted without supposing a unified subject that provides the basis for the coherence of the world.



Chapter 2 brings together two themes that were previously developed. The first is the idea that somehow repetition must involve something new occurring [for otherwise it would just be a continuation of the prior thing and not a reiteration] while at the same time, it must be identical somehow, for otherwise it would not be a recurrence but rather something radically new.

Chapter 2 explores the phenomenon of repetition, where we have elements that are absolutely identical (if they are not identical, then there is no repetition), but yet must also be different (if they are not distinguishable, then we once again have no repetition, as we only have one event).
(SH 56a)

We might think that it is possible using representation. [At one moment we experience something. Later we remember it, for example. But each time we remember it, picture it in our mind, give it some symbolic representation like a word, and so on, our mind is different. I suppose this means that each instance of the representation cannot be identical, but specifically why is not clear to me yet. Perhaps each instance of representation has its own context that colors the concept differently, thus making it not absolutely identical. But I am not sure.] However,

As Deleuze notes, representation might try to provide a concept of repetition by noting that while the elements that make up the repetition are identical with one another, ‘a change is produced in the mind which contemplates: a difference, something new in the mind’ (DR 70/90).
(SH 56)

[I am not exactly sure how to summarize the next points. It seems that in the case of representation, the differences are synthesized into a unified concept. Then somehow there is the appearance of sameness, but really the foundation is difference that is secondarily synthesized into unities/identities.]

Repetition is in this case made possible by the way in which the subject takes up the elements. In this sense, repetition is tied to the notion of synthesis. Once again, we will find that there are two forms of repetition: bare, material repetition, which operates at the surface, and a clothed, spiritual repetition which makes bare repetition possible. Furthermore, beneath the representation of repetition, the second mode of repetition will be an intensive repetition, reiterating the result of Chapter 1.

The next theme has to do with the structures of our mental operations (synthetic activities) involved in our making sense of the world. Kant thinks that we can know things about the world a priori (based on a basic conceptual analysis rather than on judgments based on experience) because our mind is structured in such a way that the world is given as having certain structures. For example. the outer world is spatial. But this is because our mind structures visual data spatially. Yet, since there is always such an organizing structure, there is central identity [I think for example, the structure of space (non-temporal juxtaposition)maintains its identity despite the variation of exterior things we see.] This means that Deleuze needs a viable alternative to a Kantian sort of synthesis.

Deleuze will draw from Hume [as part of his effort to offer an alternative]. In his book on Hume, Empiricism and Subjectivity, Deleuze distinguishes a transcendental from an empirical critique. [The transcendental critique assumes a constituted subject to whom things are given and who conditions that givenness. The empirical critique looks first at the given, then secondly asks, how by  means of the given, or how in relation to the given, is the subject constituted?]

Deleuze begins Chapter 2 with an analysis of Hume, and it is in Deleuze’s early 1953 book on Hume, Empiricism and Subjectivity, that we can find an account of the difference between Hume’s project and Kant’s [The following quotes Deleuze]:

We embark upon a transcendental critique when, having situated ourselves on a methodologically reduced plane that provides an essential certainty – a certainty of essence – we ask: how can there be a given, how can something be given to a subject, and how can the subject give something to itself? . . . The critique is empirical when, having situated ourselves in a purely immanent point of view, which makes possible a description whose rule is found in determinable hypotheses and whose model is found in physics, we ask: how is the subject constituted in the given? The construction of the given makes room for the constitution of the subject. (ES 87)
(SH 57)

SH note the distinction. For Kant, we begin with a subject and an object, then we explain how they can enter into a relationship with each other. SH interprets “methodologically reduced plane” to mean “the field of representation, with its concomitant positing of judgement” (57). But this will in the end run us into similar difficulties to the ones we had with Aristotle’s representation. However,

Hume’s approach instead begins with the ‘given’ that precedes the subject, and attempts to show how it is constituted, which in turn allows us to explain how the subject systematises the given into its own categories.

In Chapter 2, Deleuze will take this Humean path, and he will try to explain how the world can be constituted not on the basis of a subject. This will involve distinguishing active from passive synthesis.

Citations from:

Somers-Hall, Henry. Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition. An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University, 2013.

Or if otherwise noted:

Deleuze, Gilles. Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994/London: Continuum, 2004.



Deleuze, Gilles. Empiricism and Subjectivity: An Essay on Hume’s Theory of Human Nature, trans. Constantin V. Boundas, New York: Columbia University Press, 1991.



No comments:

Post a Comment