HomeUncategorizedSummary Postscript on my debate with Desilet

Summary Postscript on my debate with Desilet

Much of my recent differences of perspective with Gregory Desilet seemed to hinge precisely on the different traditions we draw on (though we both love Derrida, Greg is writing a book on Wittgenstein and I am very deep into Deleuze). I found myself echoing Deleuze’s critique of analytic philosophy that he and Guattari give in “What is Philosophy”. Greg and I’s differences culminated in a debate over the term “necessary” in Nietzsche’s amor fati, where Nietzsche tells us to “love what is necessary”. What is “necessary” to the philosopher of radical contingency and the overman as creator of truth? Deleuze clarifies the paradox.

Analytic philosophy partly started precisely with Russell’s rejection of Bradley’s desire to keep to a principle of sufficient reason, which in my mind, is the core starting point for all spiritual and romantic perspectives: everything has meaning, value—there are no brute facts.  But Bradley’s Idealism rejected the reality of relations to keep some kind of ground of truth in the necessary, which he felt was impossible with relations, given that they imply an infinite regress.  Russell was able to affirm relations only by accepting them as brute facts in no need of deeper explanation. 

Whitehead seems like he was trying to reconcile the two positions, but I think only with Deleuze do we see a satisfying integration of Romantic and Enlightenment thinking.  I think he is our generation’s Kant for that reason.  Deleuze embraces the early modern principle of sufficient reason, yet grounded in a postmodern concept of difference.  Difference, or more precisely, “disparity”, intensive difference, is the sufficient reason for every manifest thing.  Everything has a reason, not just one reason or reference (brute facts, analytic philosophy), not just multiple, but “virtually” infinite.  But unlike the extensive infinite Hegel criticized of Spinoza, Deleuze’s concept of the infinite is an intensive differential structure. 

Why are things one way rather than another?, I ask myself in definite situations, like for instance in determining the cause of an illness.  I ask the sick person questions, I get a picture of all the feedback loops, all the interacting “causes”.  But amid all the manifest complexity, a coherent virtual picture emerges of the intensive gradients driving the patterns of attractors determining the situation.  There is an objective quasi-cause behind all the interacting causes—a consistent pattern, a problematic Idea, a multiplicity whose meaning is determined by the complex and contingent events of life, but which lends all events their character and spirit.  This “dark precursor”, as Deleuze calls it, can lead one into the occult, into the infinite mysteries of the virtual, of karma and destiny, or just serve as a good pragmatic picture of what the relevant factors and potentials are in any situation.