Gilles Deleuze and the Philosophy of Difference: Toward a Transcendental Empiricism

Dissertation, The University of Chicago (1997)
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The dissertation presents a systematic analysis of the work of the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze , using two interrelated themes as its guiding threads. The first is the concept of "difference," which is normally conceived as an empirical relation between two terms each of which have a prior identity of their own . In Deleuze, this primacy is inverted: identity persists, but it is now a secondary principle produced by a prior relation between differential elements. Difference here becomes a transcendental principle that constitutes the sufficient reason of empirical diversity as such. The second theme thus concerns Deleuze's relation to Kant. Deleuze's philosophy, I argue, can be read as both an inversion and a completion of Kant's philosophy--a "transcendental empiricism," as Deleuze puts it. It entails a resumption of the critical project on a new basis and with an entirely new set of non-categorical concepts. Each chapter of the dissertation considers a philosophical domain that roughly parallels those laid out in the architectonic of Kant's three Critiques in order to examine the implications of the positing of a principle of difference in each of them: Dialectics, or the theory of the Idea; Aesthetics, or the theory of Sensation; Analytics, or the theory of the concept; Ethics, or the theory of affectivity; and Politics, or social theory. Taken together, the five chapters attempt to present the broad outlines of Deleuze's philosophy of difference, and to indicate the nature of its demands in each of these domains
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