Becoming-Other: Foucault, Deleuze, and the Political Nature of Thought
AbstractIn this paper I employ the notion of the ‘thought of the outside’ as developed by Michel Foucault, in order to defend the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze against the criticisms of ‘elitism,’ ‘aristocratism,’ and ‘political indifference’—famously leveled by Alain Badiou and Peter Hallward. First, I argue that their charges of a theophanic conception of Being, which ground the broader political claims, derive from a misunderstanding of Deleuze’s notion of univocity, as well as a failure to recognize the significance of the concept of multiplicity in Deleuze’s thinking. From here, I go on to discuss Deleuze’s articulation of the ‘dogmatic image of thought,’ which, insofar as it takes ‘recognition’ as its model, can only ever think what is already solidified and sedimented as true, in light of existing structures and institutions of power. Then, I examine Deleuze’s reading of Foucault and the notion of the ‘thought of the outside,’ showing the ‘outside’ as the unthought that lies at the heart of thinking itself, as both its condition and its impossibility. Insofar as it is essential to thinking itself, finally, I argue that the passage of thought to the outside is not an absolute flight out of this world, as Hallward claims, but rather, a return of the different that constitutes the Self for Deleuze. Thinking is an ongoing movement of deterritorialization and reterritorialization, or as Foucault says, death and life. Thinking, as Deleuze understands it, is essentially creative; it reconfigures the virtual, thereby literally changing the world. Thinking is therefore, according to Deleuze, thoroughly political.
Copyright (c) 2014 Vernon W. Cisney
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