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Difference and Givenness: Deleuze's Transcendental Empiricism and the Ontology of Immanence (Topics in Historical Philosophy) Paperback – April 2, 2008
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—Daniel W. Smith, Purdue University
About the Author
Levi R. Bryant is a professor at Collin College in Frisco, Texas. His work focuses on the contemporary theory, Freudian-Lacanian psychoanalysis, and the history of philosophy.
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If you need to be further convinced: he reads Deleuze in the light of Kant, rather than as a Nietzschean 'everything-is-power-and-we-must- fight-the-forces-of-ressentiment' type. He takes the philosophy of difference given in 'Difference and Repetition' and 'The Logic of Sense' to be an answer to the problem of the Kantian passivity of reception. For Deleuze, Kant gives up on the critical project by not asking what makes the given of receptivity possible. Although Kant shows the transcendental conditions for the possibility of experience (being the conceptual determination of intuitions) he doesn't show the transcendental conditions for *real* experience: to do so would be to give the conditions for intuitions, or receptivity. Deleuze's answer to this question, what allows the given to be given, is Difference, which is located in a constellation of terms: Idea, structure, problems and so on.
Bryant reads 'experience' primarily in terms of the individuation of objects, it is individuation that difference explains (that is, how object x can be said to differ from object y). Deleuze takes previous philosophies to be incoherent with regard to individuation, because they take the individuation of an object to be dependent upon something external to it. Empiricists can only say 'this x is this red because it isn't that slightly different red;' Kantians can only say 'we can say this is this because our concept and intuition match up here.' Both are cases of 'representation,' according to which individuation is an effect of the subject rather than the object.Read more ›
Bryant's book is one of the few books I have read that really attempts to treat Deleuze as a serious philosopher. Deleuze has a reputation for being an affirmer of difference, a critic of representation, and a Dionysian reveler. That reputation is not entirely unfounded but a problem arises when we imagine that Deleuze's critiques of representation and his affirmations of becoming absolve us from the task of justifying those positions in a rigorous way through argumentation.
Levi Bryant takes many Deleuze interpreters to task for beginning from a normative standpoint and critiquing representation, the subject, morality, and the State from that standpoint, without actually providing any justification for that standpoint. It is simply assumed that representation, the subject, morality, and the State are "bad" without explaining why. Contrary to the commentators who follow this method Bryant argues, "One does not adopt the position of transcendental empiricism because it is against representation.Read more ›