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Difference and Givenness

Deleuze's Transcendental Empiricism and the Ontology of Immanence

Bryant, Levi R.

Publication Year: 2008

From one end of his philosophical work to the other, Gilles Deleuze consistently described his position as a transcendental empiricism. But just what is transcendental about Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism? And how does his position fit with the traditional empiricism articulated by Hume? In Difference and Givenness, Levi Bryant addresses these long neglected questions so critical to an understanding of Deleuze’s thinking. Through a close examination of Deleuze’s independent work focusing especially on Difference and Repetition as well as his engagement with thinkers such as Kant, Maïmon, Bergson, and Simondon, Bryant sets out to unearth Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism and to show how it differs from transcendental idealism, absolute idealism, and traditional empiricism. 

Published by: Northwestern University Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xii

This is a book on Deleuze. In particular, it is a book on Deleuze’s metaphysics which makes no reference to his ethics, politics, or aesthetics. It is not a book on Deleuze and Guattari. Nor is it a book on Hume, Spinoza, Nietzsche, or Bergson. I do not seek to demonstrate that Deleuze is really a Bergsonian vitalist in disguise. Nor do I seek to show how Deleuze is really a thinker of active and passive forces. I do not, above all, seek to...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xiii

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pp. 3-14

The aim of this book is to determine what Deleuze understands when he describes his position as “transcendental empiricism.” Deleuze’s definition of transcendental empiricism is very simple: transcendental empiricism is that philosophical position which determines the conditions of real rather than possible experience. Consequently, to fully understand what Deleuze comprehends by “transcendental empiricism” we must...

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1. Empiricism and the Search for the Conditions of Real Experience

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pp. 15-48

Two very specific critical questions animate Deleuze’s thought. On the one hand, Deleuze endorses the Cartesian project of breaking with all presuppositions as the precondition of philosophy. So long as philosophy remains within the orbit of unspoken and unjustified presuppositions, it proves unable to ground itself or to explain why one position ought to be preferred over another. In such cases, philosophy remains within...

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2. Bergsonian Intuition and Internal Difference

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pp. 49-72

From the foregoing, we are able to determine why Deleuze paradoxically characterizes his position as both a transcendental empiricism and a transcendental empiricism. On the one hand, it is necessary that his position be a transcendental empiricism insofar as we cannot methodologically begin with the assumption of a supremely individuated world, of a world already given whether in the form of the subject or the object, ...

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3. Transcendental Empiricism: The Image of Thought and the “Phenomenology” of the Encounter

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pp. 73-91

There can be little doubt that Deleuze is deeply indebted to Bergson. This influence can be discerned everywhere in the way Deleuze makes use of division in his major texts. In Difference and Repetition it manifests itself in the division between difference containing all the differences in kind and repetition as the principle of differences of degree. Moreover, ...

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4. First Moment of the Encounter: The Sentiendum

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pp. 92-101

Given Deleuze’s account of recognition and good and common sense, the criteria he must meet to avoid these assumptions are daunting. With respect to recognition, Deleuze must avoid assuming a cross-modal or harmonious exercise of the faculties. With respect to common sense, Deleuze must avoid assuming the unspecified form of the subject and...

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5. Second Moment of the Encounter: The Memorandum

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pp. 102-134

The encounter has the effect of forcing us to pose a problem. “That which can only be sensed (the sentiendum or the being of the sensible) moves the soul, ‘perplexes’ it—in other words, forces it to pose a problem: as though the object of encounter, the sign, were the bearer of a problem—as though it were a problem” (DR 140). It would therefore...

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6. Third Moment of the Encounter: The Cogitandum

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pp. 135-174

The encounter has the effect of forcing us to pose a problem, but in posing the problem we are thereby forced to explicate the problem. Although related, these two moments are distinct. Posing the problem forces us to return to the domain of Memory, to remember that which can only be remembered and which is necessarily forgotten, to select a...

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7. Overcoming Speculative Dogmatism: Time and the Transcendental Field

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pp. 175-219

A very important question interjects itself at this point: can Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism be said to be a critical philosophy, or is it a speculative position born of enthusiasm and fanaticism? By “speculative” I understand any position which claims to have knowledge of reality or being through intuition, reason, method, or some other means without...

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8. Individuation: The Genesis of Extensities and the Other-Structure

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pp. 220-262

Three problems remain. First, how does the movement from the virtual to the actual take place? How is it that entities are actualized or individuated? Thus far, all that has been said has pertained to the virtual or time in its transcendental determination alone. If Deleuze is to be successful in his project of reconciling the two senses of the...

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pp. 263-266

Throughout this book I have sought to trace and resolve a particular puzzle, a knot, a paradox that runs throughout Deleuze’s thought which revolves around empiricism and is of central importance in giving a clear articulation of what is meant by “transcendental empiricism.” On the one hand, empiricism, argues Deleuze, is the source of illusion, it belongs to the domain of the Image of thought. This illusion arises in...


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pp. 267-270


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pp. 271-274


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pp. 275-278

E-ISBN-13: 9780810165960
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810124523

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2008

Edition: 1