Stirb Und Werde the Creation of Thinking in Gilles Deleuze's Philosophy

By Eftestol, Torbjorn | Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, January 2016 | Go to article overview

Stirb Und Werde the Creation of Thinking in Gilles Deleuze's Philosophy


Eftestol, Torbjorn, Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy


What does it mean to think? In the following article I will show Gilles Deleuze's answer to this question. According to him 'to think is to create--there is no other creation--but to create is first of all to engender 'thinking' in thought' (Deleuze 1994: 147). To understand what this means, to grasp the radical nature of such an event, we need to see how for Deleuze to engender thinking in thought means a repetition of that genetic process which has brought forth the thinking subject in the first place. In this event that which otherwise subsists beneath normal experience, as life- and consciousness sustaining forces, now become conscious experience. True thinking therefore means the creation of a new life and consciousness. In order to show how this metamorphosis takes place I present a close-reading of the doctrine of the sub-representative syntheses, presented in the second chapter of Difference and Repetition. Here Deleuze presents a transcendental genesis, a genesis of thinking and consciousness out of a vital matter. In my reading I show how the engendering of thinking within thought involves a repetition of this genetic process of consciousness in consciousness--something which can only take place via a radical metamorphosis, a death and rebirth of the thinking consciousness. Here Deleuzian philosophy therefore enters into the domain of the esoteric, where vital processes of the universe enters into and transforms human consciousness into a cosmic becoming.

In secondary literature on Deleuze there has been a great deal of work done on clarifying this fundamental doctrine of the passive syntheses. (1) Also the metaphysical and esoteric or hermetic nature of his thought has been much discussed. (2) But there is still no close-reading which attempts to show how his theory of genesis relates to a possible experience of this sub-representational genetic domain, and what that would mean as the creation of thinking within thought. (3) The following essay attempts to do that. First I present the dogmatic image of thought and its basic model as the structure of recognition. This form of thinking, the representational consciousness, is the result of an unconscious genetic process which Deleuze presents in the second chapter. (4) I therefore continue to do a close-reading of the second chapter of Difference and Repetition. This has its culmination when we come to the third synthesis which is where the genesis that is otherwise unconscious becomes 'experience'. This happens in the encounter with a 'sign' which forces us to think, an idea presented in the third chapter of Difference and Repetition, and it is this event which both break out of that form of consciousness and thinking which he variously name as representation, recognition, common sense or the dogmatic image of thought, and which propels us into the genesis depicted with the doctrine of the passive syntheses. I try to show how this metamorphosis is portrayed in relation to the passive syntheses by quoting a number of other books where that same process is depicted. The conclusion of this essay is that for Deleuze in the creation of thinking within thought in the third synthesis of time, a process of Stirb und Werde (die and become) takes place.

THE DOGMATIC IMAGE OF THOUGHT

In the beginning of the third chapter of Difference and Repetition Deleuze submits the image we have of thought to a harsh and destructive critique 'to see whether this image does not betray the very essence of thought as pure thought' (Deleuze 1994: 133). What does this critique consist of? Deleuze identifies and criticizes eight postulates that belong to it, but these can be brought back to a basic structure or 'model' that underlies this image and predetermines what it means to think:

There is indeed a model, in effect: that of recognition. Recognition may be defined as the harmonious exercise of all the faculties upon a supposed same object: the same object may be seen, touched, remembered, imagined or conceived. …

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