Deleuze's Hume

Deleuze's Hume: Philosophy, Culture and the Scottish Enlightenment

Jeffrey A. Bell
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Deleuze's Hume
    Book Description:

    This book offers the first extended comparison of the philosophies of Gilles Deleuze and David Hume.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-3440-8
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Deleuze begins the preface to the 1987 English language edition of Dialogues with the assertion ‘I have always felt that I am an empiricist, that is, a pluralist’ (D vii). A few lines later, Deleuze details what this means: a pluralist assumes that the abstract ‘must itself be explained,’ and explained so as to ‘find the conditions under which something new is produced (creativeness)’ (ibid.). Thirty-four years earlier, in his first published book, Empiricism and Subjectivity, Deleuze found just such an explanation in Hume.¹ With the premise that ‘Mankind is an inventive species’ (T 484), Hume set out in his...

  6. Chapter 1 Staging the Mind: From Multiplicity to Belief
    (pp. 9-33)

    In Deleuze’s first published book, Empiricism and Subjectivity, he lays out what he takes to be two central problems at work in the philosophy of David Hume. The first problem, as Deleuze reads Hume, is how the multiplicity of ideas in the imagination ‘become[s] a system?’ (ES 22). This problem arises for Hume, as we will see, because of the externality of relations between impressions and the ideas that are the copies of these impressions. ‘The mind,’ Hume says in his Treatise, ‘is a kind of theatre,’ but Hume immediately adds this caution: ‘The comparison of the theatre must not...

  7. Chapter 2 Becoming Who We Are
    (pp. 34-58)

    In Empiricism and Subjectivity Deleuze is, as we have seen, forthright in asserting that ‘empiricism will not be correctly defined except by means of dualism’ (ES 108). For Hume this consists of the dualism of the causes of perception, the hidden powers of nature, and the causes of relations, or the principles of human nature. Understood in light of the transcendental empiricism Deleuze finds at work in Hume, there is that which is ‘given’ in experience, the multiplicity of impressions and ideas, but within this ‘given’ there is ‘the subject which transcends experience and the relations which do not depend...

  8. Chapter 3 The Time of our Life: Historical Ontology and Creative Events
    (pp. 59-81)

    In What is Philosophy? Deleuze and Guattari echo Bergson’s claim that philosophy ought ‘to remount the incline that physics descends’ (Bergson [1907] 1911, 208), arguing in this context that to do philosophy ‘It would be necessary to go back up the path that science descends, and at the very end of which logic sets up its camp (the same goes for History, where we would have to arrive at the unhistorical vapour that goes beyond the actual factors to the advantage of a creation of something new)’ (WP 140). This history entails a double reading of events. There is first...

  9. Chapter 4 Becoming Civil: History and the Discipline of Institutions
    (pp. 82-105)

    A number of Hume’s commentators criticize Hume’s historiography for being more concerned with the ahistorical than the historical.¹ Hume himself seems to encourage this view when, throughout his Treatise, he applies the method of ‘experimental reasoning’ to the study of human nature in order to arrive at certain universal principles that hold at all times and all places. History, it would seem, is simply another opportunity to exercise this method, as the following passage from the first Enquiry points out:

    Mankind are so much the same, in all times and places, that history informs us of nothing so new or...

  10. Chapter 5 Creating Culture: The Case of the Scottish Enlightenment
    (pp. 106-130)

    As Deleuze and Foucault make quite clear, the primary role of the intellectual is not that of representing an already established consensus or intellectual field, but rather one of engaging in a counter-discourse that counter-actualizes the givens of the field. To counter-actualize the unquestioned givens of an intellectual field, or to carry out a problematizing history of this field, is precisely to engage with the reality of the virtual. In What is Philosophy? Deleuze and Guattari refer to this engagement as a higher taste, an attunement to the problematic that is inseparable from the actual. And this is the case,...

  11. Chapter 6 Beyond Belief: Deleuze’s Hume and the Fear of Politics
    (pp. 131-155)

    As we have been arguing throughout this book, Deleuze’s interest in Hume derived largely from the manner in which Hume sought to understand the inventiveness and creativity of human nature. While relying solely on the given, this human creativity was able to constitute identities that are irreducible to the given. For Deleuze, this given is the virtual multiplicity of pre-individual singularities, and the activation and actualization of this multiplicity is the condition for the emergence of the novel and the new. As Badiou makes clear on numerous occasions, Deleuze was quite right to develop philosophical concepts that entail ‘an embrace...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 156-166)
  13. Index
    (pp. 167-174)