1 Jan 2020

Smith (5.0) Essays on Deleuze, Ch.5.0, “[Introductory material]”, summary

 

by Corry Shores

 

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[The following is a paragraph by paragraph summary of Smith’s text. Boldface, underlining, and bracketed commentary are my own. Proofreading is incomplete, so please forgive my mistakes.]

 

 

 

 

Summary of

 

Daniel Smith

[Smith’s academia.edu page]

 

Essays on Deleuze

 

Ch.5

Pre- and Post-Kantianism

Logic and Existence: Deleuze on the Conditions of the Real

 

5.0

“[Introductory material]”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brief summary (collecting those below):

(5.0.1) At the core of Deleuze’s interest in the rationalists, Leibniz especially, is the philosophical problem of using thought to distinguish the possible from the real. For, nothing would change among the predicates involved in the conception of something were it to exist instead of not exist (or not-exist instead of exist). (5.0.2) Smith will give a cinematic thematization of the material he presents in the text by characterizing its parts as if they were something like parts of a film. (5.0.3) The basic principles of logic, especially the three classic ones – Identity, Non-Contradiction, and Excluded Middle – tell us what is unthinkable and thus impossible. Under Deleuze’s formulations, the Principle of Identity is expressible as “A is A” or “A thing is what it is”; the Principle of Non-Contradiction is (unconventionally) formulated by Deleuze as “A is not non-A,” or “A thing is not what it is not”; and the Principle of Excluded Middle: “‘either A or not-A,’ that is, between A or not-A, there is no middle term’.”  They therefore offer some guidance regarding what is possible. Deleuze will conduct an investigation into the history of philosophy to see if these three laws especially had been reconceived to allow us to think beyond the possible to the real or existant itself. (5.0.4) Smith will follow how Deleuze tells a story in the history of philosophy that is about how philosophers of different times or sorts have reconceived the three classical principles of logic in order to think the real and existant itself and not merely the possible; the Principle of Identity: Pre-Kantian Rationalists, especially Leibniz; the Principle of Non-Contradiction: German Idealists, especially Hegel; and the Principle of Excluded Middle: “existentialists.” Lastly, Smith will explain Deleuze’s critique of these solutions and discuss the one Deleuze proposes instead.

 

 

 

 

 

Contents

 

5.0.1

[Deleuze’s Philosophical Question: How Can Thought Think the Real and Not Just the Possible?]

 

5.0.2

[Smith’s Cinematic Thematization]

 

5.0.3

[Deleuze’s Particular Formulations for the Three Classic Principles of Logic]

 

5.0.4

[Previewing the Text]

 

Bibliography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

5.0.1

[Deleuze’s Philosophical Question: How Can Thought Think the Real and Not Just the Possible?]

 

[At the core of Deleuze’s interest in the rationalists, Leibniz especially, is the philosophical problem of using thought to distinguish the possible from the real. For, nothing would change among the predicates involved in the conception of something were it to exist instead of not exist (or not-exist instead of exist).]

 

[ditto] [Deleuze discusses this issue especially in his course of 1983.05.17, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.] As Smith explains so well, if we only have our thinking to rely upon, we cannot make a distinction, conceptually speaking, between the concept of a thing were it to exist and the concept of that same thing were it not to exist. [Deleuze says something similar to Smith’s 100 dollars and unicorn illustrations and Kant comment in Course 1983.05.17, Part 1: “Pourquoi est-ce que la pensée en tant que pensée ne dispose d’aucun moyen pour distinguer le possible et le réel ? C’est évident - ou : le possible et l’existant -, c’est évident si vous y réfléchissez. Considérez un concept quelconque, ou une représentation quelconque : représentation soit d’un bœuf, soit d’une chimère, soit d’un triangle. Cette représentation ou ce concept, c’est ce que la pensée pense. Rien n’est changé, que l’objet de la représentation existe ou n’existe pas. Tout est changé pour nous, rien n’est changé pour la pensée, c’est-à-dire : rien n’est changé dans la représentation. C’est ce que Kant disait déjà dans une page célèbre de la Critique de la raison pure. Vous vous faites la représentation de 100 francs - il disait, lui, pour des raisons de nationalité, 100 thalers. Vous vous représentez 100 francs : que ces 100 francs existent, bien plus, que vous les ayez ou que vous ne les ayez pas, c’est très important pour vous ; du point de vue de la représentation, rien n’est changé. Vous vous faites un concept de chimère, animal fabuleux. Qu’il y ait ou qu’il n’y ait pas des chimères, ça change beaucoup ; ça change rien du point de vue du concept, du point de vue de la représentation.” (00:07:17-00:09.32).] Let us work with Smith’s example of the unicorn. We have the idea of the unicorn. And we note that it does not exist. Suppose now that genetic scientists produce a unicorn (or suppose millions of years from now one evolves.) Would the existence of the unicorn change any of its conceptualizable properties? It would seem not. (It would still seem to be a horse with a horn. The fact that it does not presently exist does not change what defines it. It either could exist or it could not. Either way, a unicorn is still conceived as a horse with a horn pointing straight forward from its head.) Thus existence does not seem to be a predicate at least when it comes to predicates that we assign when conceiving concepts or ideas, especially in terms of their essential or defining features. This is because, as Smith explains, “The position of the real is outside the concept; the existing thing is external to the concept.”  [Again, note Deleuze’s Course 1983.05.17, Part 1: “Ce qu’on a toujours traduit, en philosophie, en disant que l’existant, c’était extérieur à la représentation. L’existant, c’est la position de l’objet hors du concept. (00:09:35-00:09.44).]

Here is a philosophical problem that lies at the core of Deleuze’s interest in the rationalists, and particularly Leibniz.1 By itself, thought has no means of distinguishing between the possible and the real. I can have a concept of 100 dollars in my mind, and while it may be important to me practically whether or not I actually have 100 dollars in my pocket, the existence of 100 dollars in reality changes nothing from the point of view of the concept: that is, from the viewpoint of pure thought. The position of the real is outside the concept; the existing thing is external to the concept. (This was Kant’s argument against the ontological argument: existence is not a predicate; from the viewpoint of the concept, an existing God is no more perfect than a non-existing God.) Even though I know that unicorns do not exist, I can still form a concept or a representation of a unicorn, or define the essence of a unicorn.

(72)

1. This paper was originally presented at the conference “Deleuze and Rationalism,” which took place on 16–17 March 2007 at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Middlesex University, London.

(377)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.0.2

[Smith’s Cinematic Thematization]

 

[Smith will give a cinematic thematization of the material he presents in the text by characterizing its parts as if they were something like parts of a film.]

 

In this paragraph, Smith explains different philosophical ways to approach this problem, and he describes and defends his cinematic thematization of the material. He firstly reformulates the philosophical problem Deleuze is working on here, namely: how can thought leave its domain of the possible and instead think the real itself (the existant)? He says “Pre-Kantians like Leibniz approached this problem in terms of the distinction between truths of essence (“A triangle has three sides”) and truths of existence (“Caesar crossed the Rubicon”), while post-Kantians like Maimon approached the problem in terms of the distinction between the conditions of possible experience and the conditions of real experience.” (I do not have textual substantiation for these claims, at the moment.) Smith next says that he will approach the problem from a “semi-cinematic perspective,” and he grounds this in a comment Deleuze makes regarding Godard making a film about philosophical texts. [Overall, what Smith is doing here is explaining why he will thematize the presentation of his text as if it were something like a film script. As we will see, it makes the text more playful and charming. It is not entirely obvious if it adds anything substantial to the philosophical material he presents, but it enlivens the text and makes it even more fun and exciting to read.]

For Deleuze, this is one of the fundamental problems of a theory of thought: How can thought leave this meager sphere of the possible in order to think the real: that is, to think existence itself, to think existing things. Pre-Kantians like Leibniz approached this problem in terms of the distinction between truths of essence (“A triangle has three sides”) and truths of existence (“Caesar crossed the Rubicon”), while post-Kantians like Maimon approached the problem in terms of the distinction between the conditions of possible experience and the conditions of real experience. I would like to approach this logical problem from a semi-cinematic perspective. “Theoretically,” Deleuze once mused, “Jean-Luc Godard would be capable of filming Kant’s Critique or Spinoza’s Ethics” (DI 141). In the 1990s, Godard did a multi-part film entitled Histoire(s) du cinéma; following Deleuze’s suggestion, I am imagining Godard undertaking a similar project entitled Histoire(s) de la philosophie. I have no idea, of course, what Godard might have done in such a film, but none the less I am presenting the first part of this essay as a possible scenario for a single sequence of that multi-part film, which has as its title Logic and Existence, which I am borrowing from a well-known book by Jean Hyppolite.2

(72)

2. Jean Hyppolite, Logic and Existence [1952], trans. Leonard Lawlor and Amit Sen (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997). This book completes the project Hyppolite began with Genesis and Structure of Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Spirit,” trans. Samuel Cherniak and John Heckman (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1979), and examines the relation between the phenomenology and the logic. Deleuze wrote an important review of the book in 1954, “Jean Hyppolite’s Logic and Existence,” which is included as appendix to the English translation (191–5). (377)

[DI: Gilles Deleuze, Desert Islands and Other Texts, ed. Sylvère Lotinger, trans. Michael Taormina (New York: Semiotext(e), 2004).]

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.0.3

[Deleuze’s Particular Formulations for the Three Classic Principles of Logic]

 

[The basic principles of logic, especially the three classic ones – Identity, Non-Contradiction, and Excluded Middle – tell us what is unthinkable and thus impossible. Under Deleuze’s formulations, the Principle of Identity is expressible as “A is A” or “A thing is what it is”; the Principle of Non-Contradiction is (unconventionally) formulated by Deleuze as “A is not non-A,” or “A thing is not what it is not”; and the Principle of Excluded Middle: “‘either A or not-A,’ that is, between A or not-A, there is no middle term’.”  They therefore offer some guidance regarding what is possible. Deleuze will conduct an investigation into the history of philosophy to see if these three laws especially had been reconceived to allow us to think beyond the possible to the real or existant itself.]

 

Smith next notes that we might turn to the principles of logic in order pursue this question of how can thought thing the real and existant? He then proceeds through the three classical principles of logic, identity, non-contradiction, and excluded middle. Smith will give verbal formulations for each of them. The Principle of Identity says that “A is A” or “A thing is what it is.” Smith notes that the next two can be seen as specifications of this principle [but in what way they are specifications is not explained yet]. The Principle of Non-Contradiction can be seen as saying that “A is not non-A,” or “A thing is not what it is not”  [At this point, it is important that we take some care. To all appearances, Smith is closely following Deleuze’s course lecture of 1983.05.17 that we have and will continue to quote from. In this lecture, Deleuze verbally formulates the three classic principles of logic in a way that Smith also does here. But what I find problematic is Deleuze’s formulation of the Principle of Non-Contradiction. “A is not non-A” is not, as far as I know, the conventional way to formulate this principle, even going back to its early appearance in Aristotle. Normally we understand the Principle of Non-Contradiction as being verbally formulated as “It is not that A and not-A.” (See especially Graham Priest, Doubt Truth to be a Liar, 8-9). Deleuze’s and Smith’s formulation is much closer to the Principle of Double Negation (“A if and only if not not-A”) on account of the verb ‘to be’ normally functioning more like the biconditional operator. I have not discovered the source for Deleuze’s seeming confusion about how to formulate the Principle of Non-Contradiction. Given his later focus on Hegel when discussing non-contradiction, we might think that he is getting this formulation from Hegel. However, that is not how it seems to me at the moment. For instance, in Hegel’s Science of Logic, he gives a positive and negative formulation for the Principle of Identity: “the essential category of identity is enunciated in the proposition: everything is identical with itself, A = A. Or negatively: A cannot at the same time be A and not A” (Hegel, Science of Logic, 409). The negative formulation here is close to the normal formulation of the Principle of Non-Contradiction. Hegel later writes, “The other expression of the law of identity: A cannot at the same time be A and not-A, has a negative form; it is called the law of contradiction” (ibid., 416). Yet, Hegel does not next explain what the negative form of this expression is, which would presumably formulate precisely the Principle of Non-Contradiction. So he does not say here that it would be “A is not not-A,” as far as I can tell. I find this issue highly problematic for making more precise determinations of Deleuze’s logic. In other words, we cannot easily say, on the basis of what Deleuze says here, whether he rejects or accepts the Principle of Non-Contradiction. He will seemingly state that he accepts it, but what he would apparently be accepting rather is the Principle of Double Negation.] And the Principle of Excluded Middle is verbally formulable as: “‘either A or not-A,’ that is, between A or not-A, there is no middle term’.” These three laws tell us what is unthinkable, which thereby tells us what is impossible [presuming that anything unthinkable is impossible]. So, were something to break the Principle of Identity, then it would not be what it is. Were it to break the Principle of Non-Contradiction, then it would be what it is not. [This seems to me to be more a matter of breaking the Principle of Identity than of Non-Contradiction. But Deleuze is seemingly working with the Principle of Double Negation here instead of the Principle of Non-Contradiction. Hence, perhaps, this odd claim.] And finally, something breaks the Principle of Excluded Middle if it is “both what it is and what it is not.” [This seems to be what is more conventionally understood as breaking the Principle of Non-Contradiction. To break Excluded Middle, I think it would be something more like, “To be neither what it is nor what it is not.”] Deleuze’s question will be: “Is there any way in which these three classical principles can be used to exit the sphere of logic and penetrate existence itself?” [Again, see Course 1983.05.17, Part 1, at audio times (00:11:50-16:46): mais c’est très important de comprendre ça, c’est pour ça qu’il y a un problème de la pensée. Je dirais : le problème éternel de le pensée, ç’a été : moi, pensée, comment est-ce que je vais arriver à penser le réel et l’existant ? comment est-ce que je vais sortir de ma sphère des possibles ? comment penser autre chose que l’essence ? Je dirais presque, c’est à partir de là, bon... D’où... d’où, il me semble, la distinction de deux types de principes. La pensée par elle-même pense le possible. Au nom de quoi ? Au nom de certains principes qu’on appellera des principes logiques. Les principes logiques sont des principes qui fixent ce qui est possible et ce qui ne l’est pas ; qui déterminent ce qui est possible et ce qui n’est pas possible. Et ces principes logiques, je dirais : ce sont les principes des essences ou du possible, puisqu’ils discernent, ils distinguent le possible du non-possible ou de l’impossible, ces principes sont au nombre de trois dans la logique classique. → L’un, c’est le principe d’identité, A est A. Et puis deux petits principes qui semblent être comme des spécifications du grand principe d’identité, A est A, c’est-à-dire la chose est ce qu’elle est. → Second principe, dit de non-contradiction : A n’est pas non-A, la chose n’est pas ce qu’elle n’est pas. → Et puis troisième principe, dit du tiers-exclu : la chose est A ou non-A. Ou si vous préférez : entre A et non-A, il n’y a pas de tiers, d’où l’expression « principe du tiers exclu », A ou non-A. Ça m’intéresse déjà, parce que ces trois principes de pure logique, → l’un est un principe de position ou d’affirmation (A est A), → le second est un principe de négation (A n’est pas non-A), → le troisième est un principe d’alternative ou de disjonction (A ou non-A). Je sais donc ce qui est impossible, c’est-à-dire impensable. Ce qui est impossible ou impensable, c’est quelque chose qui ne serait pas ce qu’elle est (donc elle contredirait à l’identité), qui serait ce qu’elle n’est pas (elle contredirait à la non-contradiction), et qui serait à la fois ce qu’elle est et ce qu’elle n’est pas (elle contredirait au tiers exclu). Tout va bien. Sous ces trois principes, je pense les essences, le monde des essences ou le monde du possible, mais je retombe toujours là-dessus : comment penser quelque chose de réel ?]

Here’s the first shot: a radiant sphere hovering in the middle of nowhere. Nothing is written on it, but we know it is the sphere of logic. The film begins here | for an obvious reason: if thought, on its own, is only capable of thinking the possible, it does so on the basis of what can be called logical principles. Classical logic famously identified three such principles. These are the principle of identity (which says that “A is A,” or “A thing is what it is”), and then two smaller principles which seem to be specifications of the principle of identity: the principle of non-contradiction (which says that “A is not non-A,” or “A thing is not what it is not”) and the principle of the excluded middle (which says “either A or not-A,” that is, between A or not-A, there is no middle term). Taken together, these three principles determine what is impossible—that is to say, what is unthinkable without contradiction: something that would not be what it is (which would contradict the principle of identity); something that would be what it is not (which would contradict the principle of non-contradiction); and something that would be both what it is and what it is not (which would contradict the principle of the excluded middle). This sphere of logic would seem to enclose us within the domain of the possible, or what classical philosophy called the domain of essences. But this opening shot sets up the problem with a visual image: Is there any way in which these three classical principles can be used to exit the sphere of logic and penetrate existence itself?

(72-73)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.0.4

[Previewing the Text]

 

[Smith will follow how Deleuze tells a story in the history of philosophy that is about how philosophers of different times or sorts have reconceived the three classical principles of logic in order to think the real and existant itself and not merely the possible; the Principle of Identity: Pre-Kantian Rationalists, especially Leibniz; the Principle of Non-Contradiction: German Idealists, especially Hegel; and the Principle of Excluded Middle: “existentialists.” Lastly, Smith will explain Deleuze’s critique of these solutions and discuss the one Deleuze proposes instead.]

 

Smith next outlines how the text will proceed. First he looks at how pre-Kantian rationalists, especially Leibniz, reconceive the Principle of Identity and extend it to the whole of existence. Secondly, he examines how German Idealists, especially Hegel, do this with the Principle of Non-Contradiction. And thirdly he looks at how “existentialist” sorts of philosopher do this with the Principle of Excluded Middle. He lastly will explain why Deleuze thinks they all fail and how he offers his own response to the problem.

The response to this question will take us through three scenes, which correspond to three broad sequences in the history of philosophy, three attempts to resolve this problem using one of these logical principles. Scene one focuses on the pre-Kantians, the rationalists; its star is Leibniz, since it was he who attempted to extend the principle of identity to the whole of existence. Scene two focuses on the post-Kantians, primarily the German Idealists; its story culminates in Hegel, since it was he who attempted to extend the principle of non-contradiction to the whole of existence. Scene three, finally, looks at that loosely related group of thinkers that often tend to be called, precisely, “existentialists,” since it is they who attempted to extend the principle of the excluded middle to existence. The screenplay reaches its climax with Deleuze: at the end, it briefly examines the reasons why Deleuze is at once fascinated with all three of these philosophical attempts to “think existence,” but none the less thinks they fail, and why he ultimately charts out his own response to the problem. The ending, alas, is somewhat truncated, since the production went over budget, which meant that entire scenes wound up being consigned to the editing room floor.

(73)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography:

 

Smith, Daniel. “Logic and Existence: Deleuze on the Conditions of the Real.” In Essays on Deleuze, 72–85. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University, 2012.

 

(or simply:)

 

Smith, Daniel. Essays on Deleuze. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University, 2012.

https://www.academia.edu/20805798/Essays_on_Deleuze

 

Note that an earlier version of this chapter text (which is nearly but not precisely identical) is found in:

 

Smith, Daniel. “Logic and Existence: Deleuze on the ‘Conditions of the Real.’” Chiasmi International 13 (2011): 361–77.

 

Smith’s Academia.edu page

 

 

Other sources, if otherwise noted:

 

Deleuze, Gilles. Course 1983.05.17, Part 1. Online recording at Bibliothèque nationale de France/Gallica; recording and transcript at La voix de Gilles Deleuze en ligne, Université Paris 8 (No transcriber is named); transcript at Web Deleuze (Transcription by François Zourabichvili. The Voix transcript is identical to Web Deleuze, which is perhaps the original source, and thus the Voix one perhaps is also transcribed by Zourabichvili). Paris, 1983. https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k128342x ; http://www2.univ-paris8.fr/deleuze/article.php3?id_article=236 ; https://www.webdeleuze.com/textes/204.

 

Deleuze, Gilles. Course 1983.05.17, Part 2. Online recording at Bibliothèque nationale de France/Gallica; recording and transcript at La voix de Gilles Deleuze en ligne, Université Paris 8 (No transcriber is named); transcript at Web Deleuze (Transcription by François Zourabichvili. The Voix transcript is identical to Web Deleuze, which is perhaps the original source, and thus the Voix one perhaps is also transcribed by Zourabichvili). Paris, 1983. https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k128342x ; http://www2.univ-paris8.fr/deleuze/article.php3?id_article=250 ; https://www.webdeleuze.com/textes/204.

 

Deleuze, Gilles. Course 1983.05.17, Part 3. Online recording at Bibliothèque nationale de France/Gallica; recording and transcript at La voix de Gilles Deleuze en ligne, Université Paris 8 (No transcriber is named); transcript at Web Deleuze (Transcription by François Zourabichvili. The Voix transcript is identical to Web Deleuze, which is perhaps the original source, and thus the Voix one perhaps is also transcribed by Zourabichvili). Paris, 1983. https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k128342x ; http://www2.univ-paris8.fr/deleuze/article.php3?id_article=251 ; https://www.webdeleuze.com/textes/204.

 

Hegel, G. W. F. Science of Logic. Translated by A. V. Miller. Oxford/ New York: Routledge, 2002.

 

Priest, Graham. Doubt Truth to Be a Liar. Oxford: Oxford University, 2006.

.

 

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