Freedom, Teleodynamism, Creativity

  • William E. Connolly Johns Hopkins University
Keywords: Freedom, teleodynamism, drives, powers of the false, Deleuze, Nietzsche, Foucault


After presenting a critique of both negative and positive freedom this essay pursues the relation between creativity and freedom, drawing upon Foucault, Deleuze and Nietzsche to do so.  Once you have understood Nietzsche’s reading of a culturally infused nest of drives in a self, the task becomes easier.  A drive is not merely a force pushing forward; it is also a simple mode of perception and intention that pushes forward and enters into creative relations with other drives when activated by an event.  You can also understand more sharply how the Foucauldian tactics of the self work.  We can now carry this insight into the Deleuzian territory of micropolitics and collective action by reviewing his work on flashbacks and “the powers of the false.” If a flashback in film pulls us back to a bifurcation point where two paths were possible and one was taken, the powers of the false refer to the subliminal role the path not taken can play in the formation of creative action.  As you pursue these themes you see that neither old, organic notions of belonging to the world nor do negative notions of detachment as such do the work needed.  Deleuze’s notion of freedom carries us to the idea of cultivating “belief” in a world of periodic punctuations.  The latter are essential to creativity and incompatible with organic belonging.  They are also indispensable supports of a positive politics today.

Author Biography

William E. Connolly, Johns Hopkins University

William E. Connolly is Krieger-Eisenhower Professor at Johns Hopkins where he teaches political theory. His recent books include Pluralism (2005), Capitalism and Christianity, American Style (2008), A World of Becoming (2011) and The Fragility of Things: self-organizing processes, neoliberal fantasies, democratic activism (2013).

How to Cite
Connolly, W. E. (2014). Freedom, Teleodynamism, Creativity. Foucault Studies, (17), 60-75.
Special Issue on Foucault and Deleuze