Gilles Deleuze

Gilles Deleuze: Difference and Repetition

Instructor: Michael Stevenson
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

Unlike his fellow French philosophers, such as Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida, who wanted to overcome and think beyond metaphysics, Gilles Deleuze remained committed to the idea of philosophy at its core as a metaphysical project. But he identified in the history of western metaphysics a certain illicit bias: the privileging of identity over difference—that is, the need to see all multiplicity, plurality and diversity in our experience as derived from some prior unity and oneness, whether it be the Form of the Good, God, or, most especially, Hegel’s absolute Spirit. In Difference and Repetition, written in the thick of the revolutionary year of 1968, Deleuze develops an anti-Hegelian “philosophy of difference” which reverses the terms and asserts “pure difference” as the source of all identities. Such a philosophy, he insists, must remain in some way “transcendental” in the Kantian sense. But rather than seeking the “conditions of the possibility of (representational) experience,” his philosophy of difference will seek the genetic conditions of actual, real experience in its concrete singularity. But what does it mean for difference to be the ground of experience? How and what can we know, and what can we recognize, in a world knowable only via difference? And what is the significance of repetition? Why, for Deleuze, is the compulsion to repetition the very origin of difference and the new, rather than identity and sameness?

In this class we’ll wrestle with Deleuze’s major work Difference and Repetition. We’ll ask, among other things: What is a philosophy of immanence? What is “transcendental empiricism”? How can unities within our experience of the world and in our concepts of it arise from the fundamental multiplicity of “difference in itself”? What is the meaning of virtuality, intensivity and actuality as “ontological schemas”? 

Course Schedule

Tuesday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
June 04 — June 25, 2024
4 weeks


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