5 Nov 2014

Somers-Hall, (Intro.3), Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition, ‘The Structure of the Text’, summary

Corry Shores
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[The following is summary. All boldface, underlining, and bracketed commentary are my own.]

Henry Somers-Hall

Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition.
An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide



Intro sect.3
The Structure of the Text

Brief summary:

The basic structure of Difference and Repetition begins with a new understanding of these concepts in order to develop a way to understand the world without representation or judgment.


Commentators are not in agreement as to what is the structure of Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition or what exactly its line of argumentation is. Somers-Hall (SH) sees it as having the following structure:

[1] Introduction: Deleuze relates the concepts of difference and repetition. Repetition is not understood in the concept of law but rather on a non-conceptual understanding of difference.

[2] Chapter 1: This chapter gives a logical and metaphysical analysis of our relationship to the world. The traditional conception of difference – x is different from y – is inadequate. A judgment attributes predicates to objects. It, as well as representation, only gives a partial description of the world. For Deleuze, judgments really arise from a world of intensity.

[3] Chapter 2: this chapter examines experience from a transcendental viewpoint. For Kant, our perceived world is synthesized by the subject in accordance with the structure of judgment. This is why traditionally we have used logical concepts of judgment to explain the world. Deleuze thinks that Kant’s syntheses are based on temporal syntheses which do not have the structure of judgment. The time syntheses also explain the structures of the self and the categories of judgment, rather than the other way around as it is in Kant. So our normal means of explaining the world are inadequate, because the structures we use to understand the world are merely “effects of a deeper play of intensity”.

[4] Chapter 3: So there is a deeper level of intensity and a misleading level of judgment. Firstly Deleuze shows how traditional structures “occlude” intensity. Secondly he discusses his eight postulates of the ‘dogmatic image of thought.’ 

[5] Chapter 4: Certain advances in differential calculus help us understand how it is that the world is fundamentally intensive. Differential calculus deals with entities that cannot be represented, that is, be incorporated into judgments.

Thus, while the calculus is a definite conceptual structure, it is a conceptual structure with a determinate reference beyond the conceptual realm. It is this reference which allows us to prevent our thought from collapsing into the belief that everything can be understood in terms of extensity and judgement.

Other domains can also understand the world without reducing it to judgment, for example, physics, biology, and sociology have in some cases done this.

[6] Chapter 5: Deleuze previously portrayed thinking in terms of his concept of Ideas rather than of judgments. In this chapter Deleuze shows the relationship between Ideas and intensity in order for Ideas to not replace judgment. Ideas need to be more than ways we understand the world.

The above are the central themes. SH will also note the implications Deleuze draws out from these ideas, for example, how the rejection of extensity pushes us toward a perspectival model of the world, how the move away from representation raises the importance of the arts in exploring genesis, and Deleuze also shows the need for an alternative philosophical tradition following Lucretius, Duns Scotus, Spinoza, Feuerbach, Nietzsche, and others. SH will touch on as many of these themes as possible. (6)

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

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