Difference, in other words, goes all the way down. To confront reality honestly, Deleuze argues, we must grasp beings exactly as they are, and concepts of identity forms, categories, resemblances, unities of apperception, predicates, etc. He therefore concludes that pure difference is non-spatio-temporal; it is an idea, what Deleuze calls "the virtual". Assuming the content of these forms and categories to be qualities of the world as it exists independently of our perceptual access, according to Kant, spawns seductive but senseless metaphysical beliefs for example, extending the concept of causality beyond possible experience results in unverifiable speculation about a first cause.

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This is a surprisingly compelling work of epistemology. For most philosophers, the question is discovering the stable given of human nature, and the nature of the mind itself.

Hume reverses this question by asking This is a surprisingly compelling work of epistemology. Hume reverses this question by asking "How does the mind become human nature? How is the subject constituted in the given? Rather, the mind is a collection of ideas that we refer to as the imagination. The imagination operates without constancy or uniformity, and it is a faculty guided the principles of association the famous threesome of contiguity, resemblance, and causality.

The principles of association provide a uniformity for the imagination, a system for the ideas so that they can acquire their own relations and thus become knowledge. It is in this process, the subject is born. The subject is always that which is constituted within the given, but it is simultaneously that which transcends and moves beyond the given through the imagination. There exists two axises that run through the subject.

What many philosophers have failed to grasp is that associations and affectations have no representative content. They cannot be thought in themselves but are merely activity. They go beyond the purview of reason.

Deleuze underscores how reason is a limited faculty which only deals with parts, while feeling and sentiment deal with wholes. Reason cannot influence practice in the way that passion can.

What is perhaps most central is that DH argues that experience and habit are the two most powerful regulators of association and understanding. Experience always exists in the present as the reconstitution of the past DH takes up temporality as duration here. Habit subsists through the difference of repetition, the aggregation of similar cases which allows the understanding to reason about experience.

Because of this habit presupposes and in some way is experience. But at the same time their unity is not given. Kant does not recognize that Hume has a completely different understanding of the nature of knowledge and experience. Hume holds up the atomism of ideas and the associationism of ideas as completely independent phenomena with disparate generative principles. Hume does not believe genesis is absolutely determinative, he merely draws out their functional capacity to create the subject and the understanding.

The fundamental question of empiricism once again is "How is the subject constituted inside the given? DH would contend that the given and the subject are not regulated by the same principles. Kant assumes this is the case. And this is primarily why his transcendental deduction fails. Deleuze closes with the following lines: "Here again, the fact is that the given never joins together its separate elements into a whole.

In short, as we believe and invent, we turn the given into a nature. Human nature conforms to nature--but in what sense? Inside the given, we establish relations and form totalities. But the latter do not depend on the given, but rather on the principles we know; they are purely functional.

And the functions agree with the hidden powers on which the given depends, although we do not know these powers. What we do has its principles; and being can only be grasped as the object of a synthetic relation with the very principles of what we do.


Empiricism and Subjectivity: An Essay on Hume's Theory of Human Nature

Additional Uncollected Articles 1. Biography Gilles Deleuze was born in the 17th arrondisment of Paris, a district that, excepting periods in his youth, he lived in for the whole of his life. He was the son of an conservative, anti-Semitic engineer, a veteran of World War I. When the Germans invaded France, Deleuze was on vacation in Normandy and spent a year being schooled there. In Normandy, he was inspired by a teacher, under whose influence he read Gide, Baudelaire and others, becoming for the first time interested in his studies. In a late interview, he states that after this experience, he never had any trouble academically.


Gilles Deleuze's Empiricism and Subjectivity



Gilles Deleuze (1925–1995)


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