Badiou 2000

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Which Deleuze?

Renewed Concept of the One

"Deleuze's fundamental problem is most certainly not to liberate the multiple but to submit thinking to a renewed concept of the One. What must the One be, for the multiple to be integrally conceivable therein as the production of simulacra?" (11)

The "Purified Automaton"

concept of desire and "desiring-machines" "precludes any idea of ourselves as being, at any time, the source of what we think or do. Everything always stems from afar -- indeed, everything is always 'already-there', in the infinite and inhuman resource of the One" (11-12)


  • Kierkegaardian choice; not this or that, but to choose or not to choose
  • choice becomes "pure" by being "automatic" : "inreality, we are ourselves chosen, far from being, as the philosophy of representation would ahve it, the center, or seat, of a decision" (12)
"This figure of the automaton, which links up easily with that of the 'machinery' that produces sense, represents the veritable subjective ideal, precisely because it demolishes all subjective pretensions. The outside, as agency of active force, takes hold of a body, selects an individual, and submits it to the choice of choosing" (12)

therefore Deleuze's though is not egalitarian or communitarian but profoundly aristocratic; "thought only exists in a hierarchized space" (12); "the condition of thought, for Deleuze, is ascetic" (13), with the result that his philosophy of life is essentially a philosophy of death (13) -- dying as the immanent moment of life, related most personally and most impersonal/exterior to the individual -- which is also thought, "for thinking consists precisely in ascetically attaining that point where the individual is transfixed by the impersonal exteriority that is equally his or her authentic being" (13)

i.e., there's an identity between thinking and dying

"Monotonous" Productions

Deleuze wants to follow the Nietzschean program of "over-turning Platonism," but:

"Immanence requires that you place yourself where thought has already started, as close as possible to a singular case and to the movement of thought. Thinking happens 'behind your back' and you are impelled and constrained by it." (14)

e.g., use of free indirect discourse

from wide variety of thinkers, "Deleuze arrives at conceptual productions that I would unhesitatingly qualify as monotonous, composing a very particular regime of emphasis or almost infinite repetition of a limited repertoire of concepts, as well as a virtuosic variation of names, under which what is thought remains essentially identical" (15)

cinema texts an example of this -- hard to use for film critics, because the film's only function in favor of Deleuze's already-produced philosophy (15-16)

  • cinema used to generate concepts, but "what is generated bears no resemblance to the generating power" of cinema, only to preconceived concepts

thus, a new understanding of the principles of Deleuze's philosophy:

  1. "This philosophy is organized around a metaphysics of the One.
  2. "It proposes an ethics of thought that requires dispossession and asceticism."
  3. "It is systematic and abstract." (17)

Univocity of Being and Multiplicity of Names

linguistic turn ("philosophy as either a generalized grammar or a weak logic," 19) being overshadowed by an ontological turn

even Wittgenstein ("the only really great thinker of this turn," 19) in the Tractatus founds his theory of objects on an ontological basis: the limits of the world are the limits of language, therefore thought must exceed language, must achieve its highest power beyond the analytics of language

Deleuze's thought is solely ontological; "his work is concerned with thinking thought (its act, its movement) on the basis of an ontological precomprehension of being as One" (20)

Heidegger's Limit

phenomenology: begins from the premise "that consciousness 'is directed toward the thing and gains significance in the world' (Foucault, p. 108). This is what phenomenology names intentionality" (21)

Deleuze did not believe "the thinking of thought (philosophy's unique objective) could start from such a signifying directedness" (21)

  • can't begin exploring thought with consciousness, since thought achieves itself when unconscious
  • the intentionality of thought is dependent on an internal relation between consciousness and its object; but if thought is "the deployment of the Being-One," then it is grounded on external modalities, none of which have priority of internalizing the others

if all Being is One, can't break down its univocity by setting up internal-external relationships; the essence of the relation of modalities of being is the nonrelation, "for its only content is the neutral equality of the One" (22)

"it is, doubtlessly, in the exercise of this nonrelation that thought 'relates' most faithfully to the Being that constitutes it. This is what Deleuze calls a "disjunctive synthesis": one has to think the nonrelation according to the One, which founds it by radically separating the terms involved. One has to steadfastly rest within thea ctivity of separation, understood as a power of Being. One has to explain that 'the nonrelation is still a relation, and even a relation of a deeper sort', insofar as it is thought in accordance with the divergent or disjoining movement that, incessantly separating, testifies to the infinite and egalitarian fecundity of the One. But this disjunctive synthesis is the ruin of intentionality." (22)

the limits of Heidegger for Deleuze, then, is he stops halfway, maintaining relations instead of proceeding to the more radical disjunctive synthesis

The Univocity of Being

could be said that all of Deleuze's thought is a riff on this sentence: "There has only ever been one ontological proposition: Being is univocal" (Difference and Repetition, pg. 35)

  • reading of other philosophers is a way of showing the univocity of being

Thesis 1: Being is not numerically one, but is compatible with the existence of multiple forms of Being; "The multiple acceptations of being must be understood as a multiple that is formal, while the One alone is real, and only the real supports the distribution of sense (which is unique)" (25)

Thesis 2: beings are "local degrees of intensity or inflections of power [i.e. the One Being] that are in constant movement and entirely singular" (25)

leads to a kind of Platonism -- the theory of simulacra:

"given that the multiple (of beings, of significations) is arrayed in the universe by way of a numerical difference that is purely formal as regards the form of being to which it refers (thought, extension, time, etc.) and purely modal i nregards its individuation, it follows that, ultiamtely, this multiple can only be of the order of simulacra. And if one classes -- as one should -- every difference without a real status, every multiplicity whose ontological status is that of the One, as a simulacrum, then the world of beings is the theater of the simulacra of Being." (26)

...but Deleuze, with Nietzsche, wants to overturn Platonism?

The Multiplicity of Names

for Deleuze, overturning Platonism means "to make the simulacra rise and to affirm their rights (Deleuze, Logic of Sense, 262); i.e., if simulacra or beings are depreciated in Plato, as Deleuze supposes, "it is necessary to affirm the rights of simulacra as so many equivocal cases of univocity that joyously attest to the univocal power of Being" (26)

  • disjunctive synthesis: "beings are merely disjointed, divergent simulacra that lack any internal relation between themselves or with any transcendent Idea whatsoever" (26-7)
  • world is a work, not a state -- concept shared with Plato
  • "glorification of simulacra as a positive dimension of the univocity of Being" (27)

problem of the names of Being: what is the appropriate name for that which is univocal? how can one test this sense?

  • ends up in the trap of always assigning two names for Being, since "Being needs to be said in a single sense both from the viewpoint of the unity of its power and from the viewpoint of the multiplicity of the divergent simulacra that this power actualizes in itself" (28) (same problem Plato and Heidegger have)
"In short: In order to say that there is a single sense, two names are necessary." (28)


An Antidialectic

sedendary nomos: assigning different types of beings a place or time in the ordered development of absolute Being; thinking == methodically running through this distribution; categories -- names that delimit a particular territory of Being -- are part of this, and destroy the univocity of Being (since Being can only be said in a single sense, not through categories)

for Deleuze, "the univocity of Being and the equivocity of beings (the latter being nothing other than the immanent production of the former) must be thought "together" without the mediation of genera or species, types or emblems: in short without categories, without generalities." (32)

  • can be no mediation, no dialectic
  • one then has to distribute "in a stable way the affirmative and univocal integrity of Being, on the one hand, and that which in which, within itself, Being occurs -- namely, the separation or equivocal disjunction of beings -- on the other" (33)
  • active aspect of things separated from their passive aspects
  • results in the duality that runs through Deleuze's work

The Trajectory of the Intuition

"Deleuze's method is the transposition in writing of a singular form of intuition." (35)

Descartes favored intuition as a complete clarity, ungrounded; "but if beings (or ideas) are only moving inflections of univocal Being, how can they be isolated in this way -- in the name of their clarity -- from the obscure and all-encompassing "ground" that bears them? Clarity is only a brilliance, that is, a transient intensity, and tis intensity, being that of a modality of the one, bears in itself the indistinctness of sense. Clarity is thus a punctual concentration of the confused." (35)

Deleuzian intuition as not a mental atom "but an athletic trajectory of thought and an open multiplicity" -- a "complex construction that Deleuze frequently names a 'perpetual reconcatenation'" (36)

"On the one hand, Deleuzian intuition has to apprehend the separation of beins as disjunctive synthesis, divergence and equivocity, and so avoid succumbing to the sirens of the categories or to the tranquil classification of beings under generalities that rescind the univocity of Being. But it must also equally think separated beings as simulacra that are purely modal or formal, and thus, ultimately, unseparated in their being, for they are merely local intensities of the One. The result of this is that intuition (as a double movement and, in the final analysis, as writing, as style) must simultaneously descend from a singular being toward its active dissolution in the One -- thereby presenting it in its being qua simulacrum -- and reascend from the One toward the singular benig, in following the immanent productive lines of power, and thereby presenting the being in question as a simulacrum of Being." (36)

pgs. 36-8: critical recapitulation of arguments from Logic of Sense through a reading of structuralism; sense as prior to any structure and nonsense as the ontological essence of sense

double movement:

  • "descending, or analytic, statements: 'there are different senses'; 'they are produced by combinatory machines'; 'these machines are open at the singular point of the empty square'; 'sense is produced by nonsense'" (39)
  • "ascending, or productive statements: 'Being is univocal'; 'it cannot make sense by itself, because there is no sense of sense'; 'it is therefore nonsense'; 'this nonsense is the donation of (ontological) sense'; 'there are different senses qua machinic simulacra of the univocity of Being (of nonsense qua the name of sense as what occurs multiply in beings)'" (39)
"when we have grasped the double movement of descent and ascent, from beings to Being, then from Being to beings, we have in fact thought the movement of Being itself, which is only the interval, or the difference, between these two movements ... univocal Being is indeed nothing other than, at one and the same time, the superficial movement of its simulacra and the ontological identity of their intensities" (40)

The Virtual

"the virtual" == principal name of Being in Deleuze's work

Rethinking a Notion of Ground

ground: "that which is determined as the real basis of singular beings" (45)

"Whereas my aim is to found a Platonism of the multiple, Deleuze's concern was with a Platonism of the virtual. Deleuze retains from Plato the univocal sovereignty of the One, but sacrifices the determination of the Idea as always actual. For him, the Idea is the virtual totality, the One is the infinite reservoir of dissimilar productions. A contrario, I uphold that the forms of the multiple are, just like the Ideas, always actual and that the virtual does not exist; I sacrifice, however, the One. the result is that Deleuze's virtual ground remains for me a transcendence, whereas for Deleuze, it is my logic of the multiple that, in not being originally referred to the act of the One, fails to hold thought firmly within immanence." (46)

The Song of the Virtual

  1. "The virtual is the very Being of beigns, or we can even say that it is beings qua Being" (48); it is not the possible -- rather the One is the virtual of which the existent is an actualization; i.e., the possible is outside of the existent, whereas the virtual is "actualized in beings as an immanent power, and eludes any resemblance to its actualizations" (48); "if, contrary to the equivocal abstraction of the possible, the virtual is the deployment of the One in its immanent differentiation, then every actualization must be understood as an innovation and as attesting to the infinite power of the One to differentiate itself on its own surface. and this power is what sense ise, namely, the senseless act of the donation of sense" (49)
  2. "The possible is opposed to the real, and immediately involves thought in the equivocal and analogy"; the virtual, though, is absolutely real (49) -- is the process of actualization; the One can never give in to totality, because "its real consists precisely in the perpetual actualizing of new virtualities. So the affirmation that the virtual is real becomes, in its turn ... a hymn to creation" (49)
  3. The virtual is not a kind of indetermination, "a formless reservoir of possibilities that only actual being identify" -- virtual cannot be a category -- rather, virtual as a kind of problem, with the actual as its solution
  4. "As the ground of the object, the virtual must not be thought apart from the object itself" (51)
  5. "The real object is therefore exactly like time: it is a splitting or a duplicity. We can say that the image-object is time, which is to say, once again, that it is a continuous creation that is, however, only effective in its division." (52)

Deleuze's "heroic effort" to maintain the virtual as ground ends up with a duality -- a split image whose split is indiscernable (53)

Time and Truth

the idea of truth for Deleuze can perhaps be ascribed to science alone, since it includes a point of transcendence, the referring of actual beings to the play of mirrors that characterizes the possible, and analogical circuits that presuppose the use of categories that divide Being (55-6)

The Power of the False

Badiou argues that Deleuze insidiously replaces "truth" with "false" as a new form of "the true"

truth is coextensive with the One-virtual; actual forms, beings, simulacra, are agents of the false; this gives us the "power of the false"

Primacy of Time and Detemporalization

if we say it's "true" x may happen tomorrow, then it may or may not; if it does happen, then "x does not happen tomorrow" as a possibility of the "true" statement "x may happen tomorrow" becomes false, but retroactively because of what happened in the future of the past moment

Deleuze uses this paradox "to show that there can be no straightforward connection between truth and the form of time" (60); primacy is given to time, truth deposed (choosing either, though, for Badiou is just a matter of choice -- no reason to give primacy to time for Deleuze, other than preference)

thus, for Deleuze:

  • "time is truth itself"
  • "as truth, time is not temporal: it is integral virtuality"
  • "the absolute being of the past is indiscernible from eternity" (61) (and also from Being)

Memory and Forgetting

Deleuze comes close to Hegel on time as a Relation

Badiou sees truth as always interruptive -- the "being-not-there" of the object (64)

"if the 'there is' is pure multiplicity, if all is actual, and if the One is not, then it is not toward Memory that one should turn to search for the true. On ehte contrary, truth is forgetful, it is even, contrary to what Heidegger thinks, the forgetting, the radical interruption, caught up in the sequence of its effects. 'And this is forgetting is not the simple forgetting of this or that, but the forgetting of time itself: the moment when we live as if time (this time) had never existed, or, in conformity with the profound maxim of Aristotle, as if we were immortal -- for the common being of all time is death. This, to my mind, is the real experience of (political) revolutions, (amorous) passions, (scientific) inventions, and (artistic) creations. It is in this abolition of time that is engendered the eternity of truths." (64-5)
"Truth, which begins as disjunctive synthesis, or the experience of the separation of the present, culminates in the memorial injunction to recommence perpetually. This amounts to saying that there is no commencement, but only an abolished present (undergoing virtualization) and a memory that rises to the surface (undergoing actualization). And this is what I cannot consent to -- for I maintain that every truth is the end of memory, the unfolding of a commencement." (65)

Eternal Return and Chance

if truth is memory, truth only occurs by reoccurring, in return -- such that return is eternal

On Three Misinterpretations

  1. The One returns constantly; but the One isn't thought according to its identity -- i.e., "no thought of the One exists that would permit its identification and its recognition when it returns. There are only thoughts in the One, or according to the One, and these are themselves inflections of its power, trajectories, and intuitions" (68)
  2. The eternal return is a formal law imposed on chaos; yet, although objects are double for Deleuze (virtual, actual), different principles don't apply to the different parts -- rather, "what returns as living eternity is that every (actual) order is never anything else than a simulacrum and that the being that is to be reaffirmed of this simulacrum is the chaotic interference of all the virtualities in the One" (71); it isn't the One that returns, but that "every type of order and every value, thought as inflections of the One, are only difference of differences, transitory divergences, whose profound being is the universal interference of virtualities"; "the return is the eternal affirmation of the fact that the only Same is precisely chaotic difference" (71)
  3. The return of the same is an algorithm governing chance, such as probability theory; yet Deleuze seeks to refute 'the probabilistic conception of the eternal return and to maintain the rights of divergence and the improbability within the very heart of the infinite power of One" (72)
"The maxim of Mallarme is: 'the Infinite proceeds from Chance -- that Chance you have negated.' That of Deleuze, as we are about to see, must be expressed as follow: 'Chance proceeds from the Infinite -- that Infinite you have affirmed.'" (73)

The "True Throw of the Dice"

for Deleuze, the "true throw of the dice" is:

  1. unique;
  2. the affirmation of the totality of chance;
  3. such that "what returns each time the dice are cast, is the original unique throw of the dice with the power of affirming chance" (74)
"this throw of the dice is not, in its numerical result, the affirmation of its own probability or improbability" but "the absolute affirmation of chance as such" (74)
"the innermost power of the cast is unique and univocal, it is the Event, justa s it is what affirms in a unique Throw, which is the Throw of all throws, the totality of chance. The numerical results are only superficial stampings or simulacra of the Great Cast" (74)
here we refind the logic of sense, "for the fact that univocity, as we know, is the univocity of the distribution of sense according to nonsense, can equally be put in the following way: in every event of sense, there returns eternally its having been produced by nonsense" (75)

(see Deleuze 1990 -- section on "ideal games" -- for more on the dice throw)

Nietzsche or Mallarme

Badiou follows Mallarme; Deleuze, Nietzsche

"We find, on the one hand, a ludic and vital conception of chance; on the other, a stellar conception of the Chance of chance: in sum, Nietzsche or Mallarme." (76)

The Outside and the Fold

central question of philosophy: what is thinking? how does it relate to Being?

fore Deleuze, "Being is formulated univocally as: One, virtual, inorganic life, immanence, the nonsensical donation of sense, pure duration, relation, eternal return, and the affirmation of chance. As for thinking, this is, for him, disjunctive synthesis and intuition, the casting of dice, the ascetic constraint of a case, and the force of memory" (79)

An Anti-Cartesianism

Cartesian tradition situates Being-thinking question in a problematic of the subject; Deleuze, though, is opposed to anything presenting itself as a "philosophy of the subject", since

  • the subject ruins the univocity of Being is primary; "whoever begins in this way will never extract himself or herself from the equivocal, and never attain the power of the One" (81)
  • beings cannot be split into interior/exterior or reflexitivity and negativity, since beings are all simulacra of the one
  • the "lived experience" studied by phenomenologists is only another simulacra; phenomenologists do for lived experience what sciences do for states of affair, but this isn't philosophy
  • influenced by Foucault, he cannot uphold structural objectivism or subjectivism
Foucault's "'epochs,' the historical formations, and the epistemes' ... "'escape from both the reign of the subject and the empire of structure'" (qting Deleuze 82)

The Concept of the Fold

"given that thought is set in motion by disjunctive syntheses, and that it is solicited by beings who are in nonrelation, how can it be in accordance with Being, which is essentially Relation?" (82-3)

the second ascesis of affirmative thought

intuition begins with "thought of the outside" -- not the external world, but the automata doing the thinking itself is the outside, as animation by the outside (86)

the diagram of forces == pure inscription of the outside

"We pass from a simple disjunctive logic of exteriority to a topology of the outside as the locus of the inscription of forces that, in their reciprocal action and without communicating between themselves in any way, produce singular exteriorities as a local figure of the outside." (87)

thought makes itself a topology of forces of the outside; has to ask: "what are the strata, the diversities, the edges ,the connections, that compose this topology?" (87)

"The intuitive identiication of thinking and Being is realized, for Deleuze, as the topological densification of the outside, which, as such, is carried up to the point that the outside proves to envelop an inside. It is at this moment that thought, in first following this enveloping (from the outside to the inside) and then developing it(from the inside to the outside), is an ontological coparticipant in the power of the One. It is the fold of Being." (87)

disjunctions cause lines that act as limits

"The most profound moment of the intuition is, therefore, when the limiit is thought as fold, and when, as a result, exteriority becomes reversed into interiority. The limit is no longer what affects the outside, it is a fold of the outside." (89)

at the point of the fold, thought and time are the same thing, so that thought is also identical to Being" (90)

Badiou: if the new is simple a (re)folding of the past, then all thought is always the same -- this is problematic for politics

A Singularity

throughout a period in philosophical and political upheaval, "Deleuze inflexibly absorbed the diversity of experience within an apparatus that allowed him to pass, by the subteranean passages of the virtual, from the leftist public scene to a sort of ironic solitude, without ever having to modify his categories" (97)

in his many books on other thinkers, "on finds that they form a history whose singularity is that of Deleuze's own virtuality and which embeds the actuality of his writing within a circuit where the whole of philosophy is treated as an absolute detemporalized memory. The result is that Deleuze's "historian" style cuts across the classical opposition between objectivist history and interpretative history. It is a style in which the most precise knowledge of texts and contexts is inseparable from the movement by which they are drawn toward Deleuze." (100)