Deleuze and the Contemporary World

Deleuze and the Contemporary World

Deleuze and the Contemporary World

Deleuze and the Contemporary World

Excerpt

In Nietzsche and Philosophy, Deleuze says that you can never know a philosopher properly until you know what he or she is against. To know them at all, you have to know what puts fire in their soul, what makes them take up the nearly impossible challenge of trying to say anything at all. Too many people are content to say Deleuze, like Nietzsche, was against Hegel without ever asking why. And those who do trouble themselves to ask this question are too often satisfied with a merely philosophical answer. But if Deleuze found Hegel's philosophy intolerable it was not simply because he thought that the dialectic was a badly made concept, or that he objected to a metaphysics predicated on negation. These are the complaints of a sandbox philosopher and Deleuze was certainly not that. Hegel's philosophy was intolerable to Deleuze because in his eyes it offers a slave's view of the world (Deleuze 1983: 10). Worse, it is a model of thought that seems to participate in the legitimation of the very system that enslaves us by installing the master–slave dialectic at the centre of our ratiocination, making it seem like this is the only choice we have, effectively denying us in advance the option of asking our own questions and forming our own problematics. But this critique is only meaningful (for example, authentically critical) to the extent that it is read in terms of Deleuze's conception of philosophy's purpose, which is precisely Marxian to the extent that, like Marx, they hold that the point of philosophy is not simply to understand society, but to change it.

One answer to the question of what Deleuze and Guattari are against, then, is this: the axiomatic. The axiomatic is the latest form of social organisation, which for Deleuze and Guattari always means the organisation of the flows of desire. For them, desire is a kind of cosmic energy that is constantly being deformed into the desire-for-something; but, in their view, its true form is that of production itself. It is, in other words, a process rather than a thing. Desire is the force in the universe that . . .

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