A Revolution in the Mind

July 29, 2007

At a second, recent visit to the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, I recently bought Reidar Due’s book on Deleuze, part of polity press’s “Key Contemporary Thinkers” series. Here again is an explication of Deleuze which puts thinking in the center of his work: “Deleuze’s philosophy . . . aims to produce a revolution in the mind, a fundamental change in how we think” (1). Due sees Deleuze’s early philosophy as being concerned with “how mental activity is situated within reality,” and in the process of engaging with the philosophical tradition in order to answer this question enlists the “cosmological metaphysicians” (the Stoics, Spinoza, Leibniz, Nietzsche, and Bergson) who “consider the mind to be an activity that unfolds within a larger set of forces or energies that constitute the cosmos or the world as a whole. The crucial feature of this picture of the mind is that mental activity is seen to be part of the world and not separate from it: the mind is not a screen” (5).

Due continues in his introduction and writes about how Deleuze extends the meaning of “immanence”: “This concept becomes for Deleuze a principle of thought rather than a property of reality. The principle of immanence means, positively, to think genetically, i.e. to reproduce in thought the genetic process that engendered an object” (8). And in turning to explain Deleuze’s alternative concept of the subject (i.e. “the notion of the individual human mind as constituting a self-conscious centre of knowledge and action” [9]).

In Deleuze’s thought, the starting-point for formulating this alternative concept of the subject is the concept of ‘affect.’ According to Deleuze, affects are the basic components of mental activity. . . . To understand an affect is to see it as a force, a particular type of energy and this energy does not presuppose self-consciousness. . . . In this philosophical perspective, the mind is a site of thoughts rather than a centre of consciousness. These thoughts are not defined by the fact that someone can say: they are my thoughts. Thoughts, in other words, are not defined as belonging to a subject.

The Philosophy of Creation

July 29, 2007

One thing I promise myself whenever I take an occasional trip to Harvard Square is a book purchase at the Harvard Book Store. This is how I have built a small collection of books on Deleuze over the years. After all, these are not the kind of books you get from the local public library, so one must build one’s own library. On a recent visit, I purchased Peter Hallword’s Out of this World: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Creation. The introduction addresses the centrality of thinking to Deleuze’s philosophy of creation:

Deleuze . . . assumes that the most creative medium of our being is a form of abstract, immediate or dematerialized thought. ‘Thought is creation’ and ‘to think is to create — there is no other creation’ (What is Philosophy, 55; Difference and Repetition, 147). . . . Almost every aspect of Deleuze’s philosophy is caught up with the consequences of this initial correlation of being, creativity, and thought. . . . In other words, the main task facing a creature capable of thought is to learn how to think. (1-2).

This has been my project throughout this process of participating in the Imaging Place conference: to learn how to think, to think about what thought is, or does.