You are on page 1of 16

THE PHILOSOPHICAL FORUM

Volume XXXIII, No. 2, Summer 2002

DELEUZE, HEGEL AND THE TRANSFORMATION
OF SUBJECTIVITY
1

SIMON LUMSDEN

In The Age of the World Picture, Heidegger argues that the emergence of the
modern subject conflates “Man” and “subject” in a manner that is absent in premodern philosophy, which afforded no special relationship of Man to the notion
of the subject. But with Descartes, “Man becomes that being upon which all that
is, is grounded as regards the manner of its being and its truth. Man becomes the
relational center of that which is as such.”2 This shift emerges only because of a
wholesale shift in ontology. This is initiated through a change in the way in which
the world is represented. The mark of the modern representation is that what is
taken to be “in being” is in being only to the “extent that it is set up by man, who
represents and sets forth.”3 Heidegger contrasts this modern approach with the
Greek conception for whom, rather than the thought of man being the primary
determination of being, being is taken as “presencing itself ” to man.
Deleuze too tries to shift Man from his central place as the determiner of
all meaning. In his case, the infinite edifice of conceptuality and representation constructed by the philosophical tradition “may well multiply figures and
moments and organize these into circles endowed with self-movement,” but
“these circles no less turn around a single center, the great circle of consciousness” (Difference and Repetition 68/94).4 Usurping Man from this radial point
1

2

3
4

The research project of which this paper is a part was funded by an Australian Research Council
post-doctoral research fellowship. I am indebted to Daniel W. Smith for his comments on an earlier
draft.
From The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, trans. by William Lovitt (New York:
Harper and Row, 1977): p. 128.
Ibid., “The Age of the World Picture,” p. 130.
Difference and Repetition, trans. by Paul Patton (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994). Différence et Répétition (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1968), hereafter cited as DR. French
page numbers follow page numbers from the English translation.

143

”5 Deleuze in particular has been vitriolic in his critique of idealist subjectivity. in the most influential Hegel scholarship. Robert Pippin. ed. PhG §25/18. 1989) and his Idealism as Modernism: Hegelian Variations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. and Paul Redding. Whereas the fundamental limitation of thought for Hegel is that it cannot think the singular as such. self-transcending. German page numbers follow paragraph numbers from the English translation. hereafter cited as PhG. see their respective essays “The Final Appeal of the Subject” and “The Question of the Subject in Heidegger’s Being and Time” in Deconstructive Subjectivities.7 come to be understood as something of a fiction. Poststructuralism has self-consciously positioned itself in opposition to the metaphysics of subjectivity that runs from Descartes to Hegel. however. underwrites the notion of individuation and the conception of subjectivity that proceeds from it. by H-F.SIMON LUMSDEN does. 1997). by A. which he understands as the domain of intensities and individuations that operate outside of the universalizing patterns of representational thinking. 1994). Dominique Janicaud and Jean-Luc Marion see Heidegger as falling into this camp as well. ed. the metaphysical view of the Hegelian subject which was taken as the culmination of the European tradition beginning with Descartes has. Clairmont (Hamburg: Meiner. The particular concern of this paper is with the notion of individuation on which Deleuze bases his alternate consideration of subjectivity. involve re-directing ontology from Man to being. What I want to argue here. 1996). Stephen Houlgate. 1991). trans. epitomized in his famous assertion that “substance is essentially subject. The subject is shifted by placing the source of concept creation not in the subject but in the empirical. Miller (Oxford: Oxford University Press. V. in Deleuze’s case. Truth and History (London: Routledge. at least in part. Hegel’s Hermeneutics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press.6 However. for at least the last 25 years. 1988). is that both Deleuze and Hegel proceed from very different assumptions about the nature of thinking and conceptuality to nevertheless posit models of subjectivity which are both anti-reflective. The way Hegel rec- 5 6 7 Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. See. Terry Pinkard Hegel’s Phenomenology: The Sociality of Reason (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. as with Heidegger. Wessels and H. 1996). and de-centered. the transcendental landscape can be reconstructed by extricating the singular from any dialectical and negative formulation of it—this. but the univocal being to which Deleuze refers is a transcendental difference. 1977). The idealist infatuation with self-consciousness is just an extension of the Cartesian metaphysical subject. Volume 9 of Gesammelte Werke. by Simon Critchley and Peter Dews (Albany: SUNY. a fiction begun by Heidegger and continued by much of the post-1968 French philosophical tradition. 144 . Freedom. Hegel is presented as the culmination of this philosophy of the subject. for example. Hegel’s Idealism: The Satisfactions of Self Consciousness (New York: Cambridge University Press.

Harris (Indianapolis: Hackett. because the logic of mediation prohibits asserting the difference of the object in any but conceptually mediated terms. 145 .” In the initial movement in which the natural consciousness moves from this rich field of the sensuous along its pathway of knowing. is not dismissing the immediate experience of sensecertainty. But if language expresses only what is universal. and self-consciousness with reference to the opening few paragraphs of the Phenomenology of Spirit.DELEUZE. Hegel. AND REPRESENTATION One could describe the differing pathways Hegel and Deleuze take with regard to thoughts on selfhood. but this strategy fails to think the object of experience as immediate. The path the natural consciousness travels down from sense-certainty to absolute knowing Hegel described as “the way of despair. S. in asserting the necessarily mediated character of language. subjectivity. “it belongs to me as this particular individual. It is. What he is dismissing is the idea that there is a given that experience could deliver untainted in our representations of it. The Encyclopaedia Logic: Part One of the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences. This process unfolds over the course of the Phenomenology. W. Consciousness has to try to make itself at home in the world as thought 8 G. Hegel says. In Hegel’s case. this singularity as thought is mediated by universals: a sensuous object that I alone mean is only mine. this is not something Hegel is interested in doing. Suchting. F. but once we utter something about the object even as minimal as “This. Trans. RECOGNITION. however. Hegel. by T. Hegel in particular tries to collapse any representation of the subject as a unified and transparent self-relation. INDIVIDUATION. or express in words. Garaets. Like Deleuze. then I cannot say what I only mean. HEGEL AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF SUBJECTIVITY onciles self-consciousness and consciousness in the end of the Phenomenology of Spirit challenges the very idea that the subjectivity at issue in Hegel is one which has anything like an absolutely certain self-knowledge. “just not possible for us ever to say. a sensuous being that we mean” (PhG §97/72). “Sense-Certainty” attempts to think a singular object in its immediacy.” we utter the universal. Hegel thinks that what characterizes the sensible is its singularity [Einzelnheit]. and nowhere in the text is the singularity of an immediate object ever described in a manner that could be said to provide a concept for what that singularity could be—moreover. 1991): §20R. and H. The immediate experience of an object is examined: we envisage an immediate object before us.”8 It is a limitation of language that it can only express the universal. W. F. the natural consciousness is plagued by a loss of unity that it cannot recover and by an immediate object that it cannot describe. A. in the first instance as a variety of indexicals.

However. Trans. and to introduce mediation in a movement which is no more than that of his own thought and its generalities. See Bruce Baugh. . is what is “left over” (PhG §99/72). This chapter contests 9 10 Nietzsche and Philosophy. In the opening dialectical development of the Phenomenology: Hegel substitutes the abstract relation of the particular to the concept in general for the true relation of the singular and the universal in the Idea. before examining the way he presents this. . I want to return to the way in which Deleuze distinguishes his own beginning of philosophy from the Hegelian beginning. He can contest this beginning because he thinks one can create a concept for a difference that is not mediated—one can create concepts for what he terms the individual [L’individu]. . Deleuze begins with one of the traditional problems of philosophy since Aristotle: where to begin philosophy (a question that reaches its zenith in German Idealism).10 (DR 10/18–9) In contrast. 146 . It is not just our inability to think the singular object outside of systems of mediation that is lost in Hegel’s dialectical conceptual development. according to Deleuze. Hegel betrays and distorts the immediate in order to ground his dialectic in that incomprehension. It is precisely these “leftovers” with which Deleuze is concerned. In the third chapter of Difference and Repetition. by Hugh Tomlinson (New York: Columbia University Press. 4. hereafter cited as NP. He argues that the opening of the Phenomenology sets the scene for the character of Hegelian dialectic and of all the concepts that are formed through its development. in both Difference and Repetition and Nietzsche and Philosophy. Deleuze. the empirical is also jettisoned and with it any genuine notion of difference. Deleuze wants to think the immediate and the singular in a manner that does not dialectically dissolve the singular into universality. 1983). but. In order to reassert empirical difference as the condition of conceptual difference. In Difference and Repetition and Nietzsche and Philosophy.9 explicitly positions his own consideration of the problem of beginning philosophy against the discussion of sense certainty and indexical reference that begins Hegel’s Phenomenology. “Transcendental Empiricism: Deleuze’s Response to Hegel” in Man and World 25 (1992): 133–48.SIMON LUMSDEN and as known. says Hegel. This claim is repeated in NP p. he is concerned to invalidate the opening movement that propels Hegel’s dialectic in the Phenomenology. The problem posed in the knowledge claim of sense-certainty is that our meaning in the instance of experience is not the universal—this. Deleuze must demonstrate the corrupt character of dialectical and representational thinking.

namely: “thought has an affinity with the true” (DR 131/172). it is to be presuppositionless) would act against this image and this moral by liberating thought from this image. Deleuze argues. The coordination of the faculties to achieve “this form of identity in objects relies upon a ground in the unity of a thinking subject. does presuppose. Deleuze argues that for all Hegel’s dissatisfaction with Descartes’ Cogito. his own attempt to present a presuppositionless beginning itself presupposes “the sensible. HEGEL AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF SUBJECTIVITY Hegel’s attempt to think the beginning of philosophy. the beginning of the Phenomenology presupposes an empirical reality that is intended to correspond or not correspond to the knowledge claims of sense-certainty. For Deleuze. and this empirical reality must accordingly be prior to the epistemic claim. Thought in being so aligned with these recognitive faculties is thereby presented as conforming to this uniform and 147 . Following Nietzsche. This image or “subjective presupposition” guides the entire philosophical endeavor. This multiplicity is indefinite. Deleuze argues. Recognition is appealed to as the model that underwrites this assumption that thought can know the true. and such a coordination is assumed to occur in all subjects.” Accordingly. concrete. This pretense of presuppositionlessness rests on an image of thought that remains unexamined. my emphasis). here and now” which is not able to be represented. the empirical “this. Hegel’s discussion of the “this.DELEUZE. of which all the faculties are modalities. Moreover. Good sense assumes itself to be universal and known as such. This is the meaning of the Cogito as a beginning” (DR 133/174. he describes this philosophical endeavor as built on a morality of good will. a genuinely philosophical beginning (if this is. here and now. as this image corrodes any genuinely critical aspiration for thought. the epistemological and homogenizing function of recognition coordinates all the faculties toward a logic of identity that presupposes its universality. he argues that this beginning also presupposes a natural capacity for thinking: that thought can seek truth or equates with truth. and the interpretation of the object is open. Deleuze concludes from what he takes as the empirical presuppositions of Hegel’s beginning that there is no proper beginning for philosophy.” which attempts to demonstrate the inadequacy of these indexical referents to explain the empirical. The operation of this image. empirical being” (DR 129/169). what “Sense-Certainty” fails to appreciate is that the empirical is the condition for the conceptual. as only a morality can persuade us that this project of philosophy has a “good nature. The empirical object is unable to be contained by a single identity or a concept—it is a singular object with a multiplicity of senses. In effect. In this sense. first and most cogently put forward with Descartes. Thought is synonymous with this unified subject as it too is supposed to present a unity of the various faculties in thinking. assumes the good virtue of common sense to assess claims to universality.

This too. is the genuinely philosophical endeavor of breaking thought free from the limitation of representation (the model of thinking with which the philosophical tradition is beset). the thought that escapes this paradigm must express a thought that has “not always existed. They are experienced not as a determination of being. but is not. Genuine thinking is the result of an encounter which “forces us to think” (DR 139/182). Deleuze makes a clear division between two ways of doing philosophy: the first is essentially conservative. thinking. He argues that it assumes the very model of self-consciousness that it takes itself to be and sets out to find in another. The genuinely new can be established only by a thought of difference. The quest for truth. as we shall see in the next section. if pinned on this recognitive model. Whatever is encountered has as its “primary characteristic that it can only be sensed” (DR 139/182). It is a sensibility that stands alone as experience. They do not conform to existing ideas and concepts.” Representational or recognitive thinking sees only itself in the objects it encounters. but is rather an “object of a fundamental encounter” (DR 139/182). it is an activity of thinking that only has thinking busy with its own image. motivated by a truth quest guided by an unexamined good will. for Deleuze. Our concern here is not to give a detailed examination of this sensibility. These sensibilities are “grasped” in a range of affective tones.SIMON LUMSDEN universalizable “identity experience. but only to examine it in so far as this 11 See DR p. it is just a self-identity that merely fulfills itself in what it sets out to find. and this destruction lies at the origin of thought. The force that prompts thinking is not recognizable. is why Deleuze is so critical of the reflective model of consciousness and the Cartesian ego. it only gives rise to sensibility. which emerges with Nietzsche’s affirmative thought.” Recognition as such comes to define the very meaning of what it is to think. but as the “being of the sensible” (DR 140/182). This “primary characteristic” is not able to be coordinated and recognized by other faculties. is neither challenging nor particularly difficult as it simply “ ‘rediscovers’ all the current values” that it presents as eternal truth (DR 136/177). and the second. Rather than being open to transformation or affirmation. The new thought does not assume our common sense and innate thinking. 150. the condition of which involves the destruction of imagistic thinking.” and this simply affirms existing patterns of identification and established values. which cannot appeal to a logic of recognition and representation. “in this sense [they are] opposed to recognition” (DR 139/182).11 The model of recognition can never escape from the pattern of “recognizable and recognized. Sensibilities are not determinate entities—they present themselves as unmediated. 148 .

then the traditional model of subjectivity and the character of its thinking can be transformed. effectively transposed onto the problem of subjectivity. If thinking itself can be extricated from the recognitive and representational model. Moreover. to reduce its multiplicity or fluidity to a singular identity. The notion of Individuation is at the heart of Deleuze’s attempt to rethink subjectivity and steer it away from the representational and recognitive limitations of self-consciousness. the problem of the relation of the empirical to the object as known. the link between individuation and thought is a more profound determination of subjectivity than the “I think. Conceiving the I as the dominant motif of subjectivity simply universalizes the I as species. as commentators such as Baugh have remarked. a “forced broken connection which traverses the fragments of a dissolved self as it does the borders of a fractured I” (DR 145/190). The intensities do not emanate from the thoughts of a unified subject whose transcendental character is the condition for thought and whose thinking aligns with a recognizable identity of the object.DELEUZE. and the intensity of sensibility is not a pattern of identity coordinated by the faculties. sensibility falls outside of existing patterns of recognition. in Difference and Repetition. HEGEL AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF SUBJECTIVITY attempt to re-construe sensibility outside of any mediated understanding structures Deleuze’s revision of the notion of subjectivity. Formulated in this way. As we have seen. The ‘I’ has a universalizable function which allows its recognition and representation. This intensive field is best understood. which conforms neither to a categorical architectonic of thought nor the unity of the faculties of the subject. Individuation cannot be equated with the self or the I: 149 . The I attempts to contain the notion of subjectivity. as a transcendental empiricism. It involves fields of fluid intensive factors which no more take the form of an I than of a self ” (DR 152/197. Genuine thinking is. in contrast. INDIVIDUATION AND THE SUBJECT For Deleuze. sensibility is taken as preceding the self-referential reflective language of Cartesian self-consciousness. Underlying thought itself is this force of sensation. is. about which we referred in the last section.” because in subject formation. The intensities themselves are the condition for both thinking and the communication between the faculties. my emphasis). it precedes and renders the latter possible. as we shall see. “Not only does [individuation] differ in kind from all determination of species but. Individuation by contrast is not universalizable in this fashion. sensibility and intensity have a field of operation that cannot be straightforwardly mapped onto the subject or a transcendental categorical framework.

which is the conditions for thought. and he makes few positive comments about this subject in Difference and Repetition. or as any originary unity is inconsistent with the image of thought which underscores it. In contrast. et al. op. this individuating domain should replace these abstract universals. without doubt “borne by individuals. . 12 13 On the epistemic or interpretative status of this domain. This “ground” cannot be mapped onto the I or the self. by E. .” But even if they are constitutive moments of the subject.13 is able to be described as a non-syllogistic dispersal of singularities because it is constituted by the transcendental empirical. (New York: Routledge. (DR 257/331) “I” and “Self ” represent the subject as self-identical and syllogistically situated within the universality of the species (DR 256/329). are fields of indetermination that do not conform to these patterns of I and self. 95. or self-determined manner. which precede and are the conditions for the self and the I.12 These differences are. and so on. Cadava. because its identity is not self-identical but multiple. This subject without a “preliminary unity. This of course is not to say that there is no subject. 135. self-presenced. p. “A Philosophical Concept . cit. this subject can never have the structure of the Cartesian I. Deleuze’s “dissolved” subject or “fractured I” is characterized as such because it is “undermined by the fields of individuation” (DR 152/197)..” which he refers to as ecceiteis or hecceiteis. indeed. the individual is far from indivisible. . 1991): p. The dynamism and disjuncture of this individuated subject render it incapable of being thought of in representational terms. never ceasing to divide and change its nature. Deleuze shifts the image from one of identity to incommensurability. subjecthood. Whatever one can positively say about Deleuze’s subject. They present the subject in a determinate form that limits the subject to these representational and recognitive strategies.” in Who Comes After the Subject? Ed. it cannot be reflective.SIMON LUMSDEN By contrast every individuating factor is already difference and difference of difference. and functions on the edges of that disparity as such. it cannot be assumed to know itself in any transparent. It is constructed upon a fundamental disparity. Because this field of intensity. can’t be made present to the subject nor is it a template of a transcendental subject. 150 . self. they are not to be understood purely “in relation to the identity of the I or the semblance of the self ” (DR 257/331). . see Baugh. it is described as the ground of the I and the self. the intensities of individuation. becoming enveloped in one another in a demesne which disrupts the matter of the Self as well as the form of the I . as Deleuze says. This field is chaotic and dissemblanced. but simply that the model of subjectivity as ego. to an incommensurability of thought and an individuated conception of being. That is why these factors endlessly communicate with one another across fields of individuation.

without some attempt to make a genuine engagement with these thinkers. Hegel then takes on the function of the negative that reproduces the very values of ressentiment that are to be usurped. 1997).” with these forces being either affirmative or re-active. 151 . Hegel’s Ethics of Recognition (Berkeley: University of California Press. ressentiment. Nietzsche’s positive account of forces asserts that “In its relation with the other the force which makes itself 14 15 16 Michael Hardt. the object of affirmation and enjoyment” (NP 9). See Catherine Malabou. most cogently represented in Hegel’s dialectic thinking. pity are reactive forces. Hegel. HEGEL AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF SUBJECTIVITY DELEUZE’S CRITIQUE OF HEGELIAN SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS It has become somewhat fashionable to assert the driving force of Deleuze’s philosophical identity in strict opposition to Hegel. op. Deleuze’s interpretation of Nietzsche takes the central motif of his thinking to be force. cit. for Deleuze. pp. For example. we are left with simply an opposition. nihilism. 1993): p. Nietzsche and the Critique of Metaphysics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. The clearest account of Deleuze’s dissatisfaction with the Hegelian model of subjectivity is presented in Nietzsche and Philosophy.. except by way of reference to Nietzsche. “Who’s Afraid of Hegelian Wolves?” in Deleuze: A Critical Reader. these reactive forces are. And as others have suggested. there is almost no discussion of the character of idealist self-consciousness. The main focus of the discussion of subjectivity there focuses on Ego and Self. arguing that all societies. “The Hegel-Nietzsche Problem” in Nietzsche-Studien 4 (1975). Williams. Moreover. phenomena. there are enough comments regarding consciousness that we can infer his dissatisfaction with the notion. consciousness. 1997). p. 1986). as a ressentiment caused by the reflection of a force back into itself . Stephen Houlgate. . Bad conscience. Gilles Deleuze (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Hardt says Deleuze: “wants to have nothing to do with self-consciousness and the self it gives rise to. and so on reflect “states of forces. the entire terrain [of Hegel’s Phenomenology] is oriented toward promoting the sickness of interiority and self-consciousness.”14 In the case of Hardt’s book. 145 n. This passage makes it seem that the Hegelian notion of self-consciousness is somehow transparent or straightforward.2. . an opposition that disallows any real confrontation between the two traditions. concepts.DELEUZE. ed. Deleuze’s reading of Nietzsche as above all anti-Hegelian has been convincingly presented as exaggerated on numerous occasions and I do not wish to engage with this here.16 Against this “speculative element of negation. see in particular Daniel Breazeale. He views it as a sickness. 38. opposition or contradiction Nietzsche substitutes the practical element of difference. However. 146–64.15 There is little direct discussion of self-consciousness in Difference and Repetition. and Robert R. see also Baugh. by Paul Patton (Oxford: Blackwell.

by H. it affirms its own difference and enjoys this difference” (NP 8–9).SIMON LUMSDEN obeyed does not deny the other or that which it is not. and as such. understood in terms of activity and re-activity. is concerned with difference. Memory. conceived on the dialectical model. for Deleuze.17 The critique of dialectic sketched in Nietzsche and Philosophy is further developed in Difference and Repetition. as Deleuze admits. self-consciousness is simply this paradigm writ large. is transposed onto the discussion contrasting individuation with representation and recognition. through the motor of the dialectic. by Allen W. representation. the external play of difference is sublated [aufgehoben] in an inter-recognitive game that interiorizes all difference. All that is other to the object is presented as merely a negative image of the object. Negation has the central role in this dialectical movement. This model of thinking and its host “distorts” the individuated play of intensively conceived thinking. Difference. and identity—these concepts are concerned with thought satisfying its own prefabricated image of itself through which it projects itself onto the world and then recognizes itself in those things. All thinking and difference that are conceived on this image of thought are given a home in the “identity of an originary concept grounded in a thinking subject” (DR 266/341). where dialectic. 152 . that the logic of the dialectic ensures that the difference conceived cannot be pluralistic. 1991). trans. See his Elements of the Philosophy of Right. there he sees the identity that the reign of terror seeks to establish as a purely negative expression of the will. is instantiated only through mediation and this negates difference. I am I because I am separable from that which is exterior to me. and it is against the reactive power of negation that Nietzsche’s affirmative thinking stands. which “does not disturb thought”— memory. recognition. all difference is dialectically appropriated to establish the identity. recognition. and consciousness preserve existing patterns of identity. The master-slave struggle epitomizes selfconsciousness. ed. as it crystallizes two motives at work in this tradition: representation and recognition. This procedure replaces difference with a logic of mediation and double negation. The problem with the way Hegel conceives difference is. Although Hegel. the identity is a reaction to what is other. the way in which that difference is conceptualized. is in the service of identity. in this case. What is other to the self is transformed through this mediated relation into a constitutive moment of the self-identity of the subject. Dialectical thinking is the methodology of the metaphysics of presence because it appears to conceive all relations on a model of negativity: establishing identity through a negative formulation. Hegelian self-consciousness is the apogee of this distorting tradition. 17 Hegel’s critique of the reign of terror in the Philosophy of Right offers a very similar argument. Nisbet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wood. §5z. B. Self-consciousness is associated with the gamut of terms that take the aberrant path that Plato inaugurates.

and Deleuze disagrees. If this serves as the model of philosophy.” “here. Once again. Deleuze argues that the beginning of the Phenomenology “wanted to ridicule pluralism. HEGEL AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF SUBJECTIVITY The master-slave struggle epitomizes the desire to represent values. far from being “happy” with its attempt to explain the object of experience with the indexicals “this.18 The desire for recognition and to be represented is motivated primarily by a will to reproduce the subject’s own self-understanding in the other. Although it is not my concern to show the inadequacies of Deleuze’s reading of Hegel. now’—like a child stuttering out its most humble needs” (NP 4). “difference in thought disappears” (DR 266/342). here. If I can be permitted to anthropomorphize the opening of the Phenomenology for a moment. The inability of “Sense-Certainty” to conceptualize the play of difference that it experiences is a problem for the natural consciousness. 153 . a problem that drives it forward to try to find a more adequate explanation of the objects of its experience. then what must be accepted is not genuine thinking of the new. Hegel asserts the singular object of sense certainty cannot be thought except in a mediated manner. identifying it with a naive consciousness that would be happy to say ‘this. and so on by making them uniform and universalizable. thereby allowing its reciprocal exchange. positing an empirical field of differentiation that is transcendental. this misinterpretation of “Sense-Certainty” is significant if one is to begin to refigure the DeleuzeHegel relation. nevertheless.” this shape of knowing (sense-certainty) is presented by Hegel as clearly inadequate and dissatisfied with itself (this reflects Hegel’s conception of reason as perennially restless and dissatisfied).” and “now. as such. The demand for recognition manifests a desire to fix meaning through a mediated process that implores the other to acknowledge the true as determined in a specific sense. he argues. as this pattern of relations. This. rather than allowing thought to be self-transforming. it is just not a pattern of mediation which is representable. this only preserves. it does not create. presuppose that this affectivity can impact on thought. is why representation poisons philosophy. 18 This does.DELEUZE. merely recirculates extant values. HEGEL’S SUBJECT If we can return to where we began this paper with two differing paths of thinking. Difference thus becomes subordinated to the concept and. but merely the imposition of one’s view of oneself on the other. This image of thought is then taken as thought. power. however. that. difference has a mediated relation to thinking and mediates thinking. concepts.

p.”21 It is possible to conceive of the contestation about the epistemic state of the empirical as causing the divergence in Hegel’s and Deleuze’s models of subjectivity. The central lesson of “Sense-Certainty” is not that there is no sensuous manifold. but the status of those ideas is positioned against any dialectical instantiation. in which the empirical is said to explain the conceptual. and subjectivity presents itself clearly. “A Philosophical Concept . 154 .22 Although it is clear that the status they accord to the empirical is different. Deleuze does argue that the empirical is the condition for the conceptual. not in the empirical as such. the character of subjectivity at issue is much less divergent than has often been represented. 135. for Deleuze. cit.” in Who Comes After the Subject? op. but rather that the empirical cannot explain anything—that is its problem precisely. Hegel’s consideration of the role of the empirical has to be understood in light of his attempt to overcome the gap that he thinks Kant places between consciousness and world. The alienation of the empirical given from the natural consciousness’ attempt to conceive it is a source of anxiety for the natural attitude in “Sense-Certainty. Hegel describes sense-certainty as “the richest and poorest knowledge” (PhG §91/69).20 We have seen that. because of the way Kant conceives the concept-intuition distinction. the play of intensities has implications for refiguring the subject. in the examination of this issue in Baugh’s discussion of Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism. “Hegel’s Original Insight” in International Philosophical Quarterly 33 (September 1993): 285–95. see Robert Pippin. not in the object.” Deleuze also would object to conceiving the empirical as explaining the conceptual: the explanation takes place in ideas for him. He remarks that “contrary to Kantianism or Hegelian idealism. but this is a very different matter to saying the empirical explains the conceptual. op. knowledge. Hegel’s dissatisfaction with the empirical as a determination of thinking.. cit. indeed. it is the empirical which explains the conceptual and the abstract conditions of all possible experience not the reverse. What is here at issue for Deleuze is the limitations of representational thinking generally. Only thought can achieve this.SIMON LUMSDEN The aim of “Sense-Certainty” is not to ridicule the empirical.”19 In this claim. 95. . consciousness. p. self. Baugh is trying to capture the transcendental status of the empirical in Deleuze.. All the developments of the Phenomenol19 20 21 22 Baugh. Self-consciousness takes the shape it does in the Phenomenology because of the beginning of the Phenomenology. . Sense-certainty sets out to present the empirical as the true. and this is why consciousness can only be at home in thinking. and self-consciousness need to be jettisoned in favor of “pre-individual singularities and non-personal individuations. but it finds that any attempt to explain it as such places the truth in the knowing. if negatively. it ensures that the subject should be conceived as a noncoincidence with self and the non-identity to self. On the importance of this issue in Hegel’s thought. Ego.

The realization of this reorients the conscious subject’s relation to itself. As the shapes of consciousness unfold. In Deleuze’s brief account of Hegelian self-consciousness. as it were.” In the very opening of the Phenomenology (Sense-Certainty). As each shape collapses. It is. consciousness through its quest for recognition simply imposes itself on the world or recycles existing forms of understanding of both itself and the world. who simply believes it has direct knowledge of sensory objects. and recognizes further that these are the conditions by which it understands itself. the character of knowledge shows itself bound up with an increasingly complex field of relations. the mediated nature of consciousness’ knowing is manifested. such that the focus of its self-understanding becomes concerned with the determinations of what allows it take itself as an object (its self-consciousness) rather than with an essential “I. but rather the path of the text refigures the conscious subject as de-centered. a matrix of determinate relations is expressed. From one perspective. It gradually recognizes the determinate nature of its knowing. Consciousness’ knowledge claims show themselves as operating within a network of relations that allow cognition. In this sense. we are directed towards the conditions of knowing. Consciousness. As it unfolds. leads consciousness to see that the way in which it understands itself and its object 155 . by which the Phenomenology proceeds. Deleuze describes the subject as formed by ideas and experiences of itself that are necessarily more than it can know of itself because it is contingent on the transcendental empirical. the Phenomenology is a project of self-comprehension. Every shape of consciousness in the Phenomenology presents its knowledge as certain.” eventually recognizes these conditions as the conditions that allow its very selfhood. as such. Self-consciousness is just the ego or the cogito externalized and then reappropriated and writ onto substance. This pathway does not produce or assume a self-identical subject who is coincident with itself and with the whole. In contrast. My concern here is not to map out those relations and determinations. and it is these mediations which the text goes on to explore. The process of self-examination. The truth of knowing is initially posited in something other—an external object. as it moves along its “way of despair” and “path of suffering. it is an interiorizing force. against the intentions of the natural consciousness.DELEUZE. HEGEL AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF SUBJECTIVITY ogy flow on from this beginning. self-transcending. and actively undermining of the Cartesian subject. The progress of the Phenomenology also involves moving from a limited Cartesian conception to an understanding of subjectivity as essentially self-transcending. radically anti-Cartesian. This pathway of the text eventually establishes that thought can only be at home with itself—the empirical cannot be understood as determining thought and self-consciousness. but simply to sketch the way in which this pathway transforms the notion of subjectivity. yet each claim to know appeals to something beyond the knowing at issue to validate its claim.

The more it understands itself in terms of these conditions.25 23 24 25 I discuss this issue in more detail in “A Subject for Hegel’s Logic” in International Philosophical Quarterly 40 (March 2000): 85–99. One can only understand oneself within a system of conceptual relations that are the product of a myriad of determinate forces. but in terms of an interplay of conditions that are beyond it and yet are inscribed in the very way it is aware of itself and the world. it does return to itself. but are also the condition for its very subjectivity. It comes to understand itself in terms of the relations underlying the way it experiences itself and the world. those relations and ideas can only be presented in thought. These conditions determine selfconsciousness. It is these determinations that transcend the conscious subject. whose knowledge of the world it tries to capture in what amounts to correspondence claims to truth. 53. p. which is of course not to say that the empirical is not a determination of the subject. but reflect the manifold of its normative and interpretative context. this contrasts with the reading of Hegel by Philip Goodchild. 1999). those relations and problems that frame our experience of our self and the world are not swarms as they are on Deleuze’s view. but the subject it “returns” to is radically transformed from the singular consciousness of the first three chapters of the Phenomenology. see Paul Redding. the comprehension of both the knowing relation and consciousness itself involves much more than simply a singular consciousness engaging with the world or the direct awareness of self. that Hegel. These conditions are unable to be mapped onto the I in any straightforward sense. For a thorough reappraisal of this issue in Hegel and German Idealism in general. Certainly these conditions cannot be conceived of as empirical qua empirical. The subject comes to understand the relations that underwrite its own thinking as not merely its own. 156 . and Hegel is concerned that our self-understanding “reflects” these conditions.24 It renounces the exclusiveness of its beingfor-self. Deleuze and Guittari: An Introduction to the Politics of Desire (London: Sage. but only as thought.SIMON LUMSDEN reflects these conditions. For Hegel. The relations are not self-coincident. chapters 4–7. 1996).23 The journey of the Phenomenology takes consciousness beyond itself. However. The role of the empirical in the formation of self-consciousness cannot be understood in empirical terms. the more it understands its own self-transcending character. that does not mean he thinks we can know these conditions in any definitive manner or that they are coincident with the subject. as the empirical can only be conceived in conceptually interpreted terms. as it sees the character of its subjectivity not as a singular self-identical subject. sets out to examine. Again. The Logic of Affect (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. in the Phenomenology. but are seen much more in Kantian terms as conditions and determinations. In Hegel’s case.

a model of subjectivity which is fractured because of its relation to an empirical domain that cannot be overlaid onto the subject (Deleuze). In short. the empirical does impact on the conceptual and we can grasp this. can have no force. on the one hand. Swarming at the edges of the intensities are ideas. but ideas which allow us to reconfigure the subject as a fractured I or a dissolved self. Hegel’s subject has precisely such an overreaching relation with conceptuality.DELEUZE. the previous representational way of considering the knowing relation has to be radically revised. but finite consciousness could not make present to itself all those conditions and relations. as we have seen. through his monolithic self-consciousness. which he clearly sets out to achieve. The trajectory of self-consciousness rhetoric is always reactive. If he does not assume this in some sense. The intensities that characterize the empirical field are not just affectivities. Hegelian self-consciousness is. those relations are constantly 157 . extinguishing difference through dialectical mediation. posits all meaning internal to the subject. If the empirical is to remain unable to be. but rather transforming the subject such that its character is perpetually selftranscending. a subject that is simply self-identical (Hegel). in some sense. ideas that are expressed “in individuating factors. The difference between Hegel and Deleuze is not between. Central to this revision is the disposal of the metaphysical subject. In order to grasp it. an interiorizing agent. In Hegel’s case. the pathway of selfunderstanding as he describes it in the Phenomenology is not concerned with mapping out an assumed set of internal relations onto the external world. the project of transforming thought. indeed.” These ideas are. But the real difference between Deleuze (and Poststructuralism in general) and Hegel is the way in which they consider the subject’s relation to determinations that are external to it. “problems” that emerge from the relations between the individuating factors. then Deleuze’s whole project would recede into a pre-Kantian metaphysics or mysticism. and on the other hand. they are also ideas. Hegel and Deleuze are often contrasted in this way: Hegel. one interiorizes all difference and the other externalizes it. Thought has to be able to appeal to this realm of the empirical in order to transform itself. the play of determinations that constitutes spirit and that must frame any conscious agent’s self-awareness and experience can be understood as self-determined. HEGEL AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF SUBJECTIVITY Even Deleuze. Although I have really only been able to gesture at Hegel’s notion of self-consciousness here. grasped in thought and yet seen as the most forceful determination of thought and the subject. whereas Deleuze refigures his subject such that its identity is fractured by the transcendental status of the non-representable empirical. with the peculiar transcendental status he gives to the empirical. a subject writ large whose identity is self-coincident. From Deleuze’s point of view. Hegel does take spirit to be all reality. Deleuze says. argues it can be made present in thinking. He thinks we can bring into thought this play of difference.

it remains to be seen if Deleuze can give the empirical a transcendental status while maintaining philosophy’s role as concept creator.SIMON LUMSDEN being revised and transformed. However. that is the limit of knowing for him: there is no other to thought within thinking itself. Deleuze does not want to conceive of thought in this way. one cannot look beyond meaning derived in Spirit to find the determinations of the ways in which we make meaning. Australia 158 . What I have tried to do here is clear some of the ground so that we might begin to have that exchange between these two thinkers. University of Sydney. This is only the beginning of an exchange between Deleuze and Hegel as to whether or not such an approach is viable. and this is why he places such emphasis on the empirical as transcendental. To simply say Deleuze wants to have nothing to do with the “sickness” of the philosophy of self-consciousness has served only to curtail that debate. The concern for their apparently divergent models of subjectivity has only been an obstacle to this debate. Nevertheless.