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Towards a Political Anthropology in the Work of Gilles Deleuze

Towards a Political Anthropology in the Work of Gilles Deleuze: Psychoanalysis and Anglo-American Literature

Rockwell F. Clancy
Volume: 13
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: Leuven University Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Towards a Political Anthropology in the Work of Gilles Deleuze
    Book Description:

    Political anthropology' as the major contemporary importance in Deleuze’s work. This work explores the significance of two recurring themes in the thought of Gilles Deleuze: his critique of psychoanalysis and praise for Anglo-American literature. Tracing the overlooked influence of English writer D.H. Lawrence on Deleuze, Rockwell Clancy shows how these themes ultimately bear on two competing 'political anthropologies', conceptions of the political and the respective accounts of philosophical anthropology on which they are based. Contrary to the mainstream of both Deleuze studies and contemporary political thought, Clancy argues that the major contemporary importance of Deleuze’s thought consists in the way he grounds his analyses of the political on accounts of philosophical anthropology, helping to make sense of the contemporary backlash against inclusive liberal values evident in forms of political conservatism and religious fundamentalism.

    eISBN: 978-94-6166-171-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-6)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 7-10)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 11-12)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. 13-14)
  5. Preface From Psychoanalysis and Literature to Political Anthropology
    (pp. 15-16)
  6. Introduction Deleuze, Politics, and the Problem of Human Nature
    (pp. 17-32)

    We are in desperate need of political anthropology. Classical and modern political thought, including the related fields of ethics and law, has generally grounded its analyses of concepts belonging to these spheres – notions such as justice, rights, and duties – in terms of human nature, taking philosophical anthropology as a touchstone to understand notions belonging to the domain of politics.

    To understand the nature of justice, for example, Plato appeals to an account of the soul via thepolisin theRepublic. Similarly, in theNicomachean Ethics,Aristotle says man is born for citizenship, that the function of man consists in...

  7. Chapter One The Metaphysics of Psychoanalysis
    (pp. 33-76)

    At various points throughoutAnti-Oedipus, Deleuze and Guattari refer pejoratively to psychoanalysis as a kind of idealism.¹ Criticizing a conception of desire they associate with psychoanalysis, for example, Deleuze and Guattari write the following: “The three errors concerning desire are called lack, law, and signifier.It is one and the same error, an idealism that forms a pious conception of the unconscious” (AO 111 – emphasis added). Hence, despite their various and far-reaching criticisms of psychoanalysis, at bottom these have as their common root a fundamental philosophical error, namely, idealism. Deleuze and Guattari’s criticisms of psychoanalysis are more fundamental than the...

  8. Chapter Two The Metaphysics of Classic American Literature
    (pp. 77-104)

    One comes across the following while reading through Deleuze’sColdness and Cruelty, his second book-length study dealing with literary figures: “[F] or Masoch as for Sade,language assumes its full value in acting directly on the senses” (17 – emphasis added ).¹ As with Deleuze and Guattari’s criticisms of psychoanalysis as a kind of idealism, however, on the basis of what Deleuze writes inColdness and Crueltyalone, it is by no means clear what he means by language “acting directly on the senses” or why language’s fullest value consists in this rather than, for example, conveying information, entertaining, etc.² Regarding...

  9. Chapter Three Reading Anti-Oedipus from behind with Lawrence
    (pp. 105-180)

    If Deleuze and Guattari’s engagements with psychoanalysis inAnti-Oedipussimply had as their aim a criticism of psychoanalysis, then there is good reason to doubt the importance of this book. Although the work of Freud and psychoanalysis sets the stage for and provides a broad framework in terms of which psychological theory and practice develop, many of its guiding suppositions remain speculative and dubious.¹ Psychoanalysis represents a small, somewhat marginal position within contemporary psychology. This is especially true in the United States where psychoanalysis has always been less popular than in Europe and South America. Today drug therapy in conjunction...

  10. Chapter Four Anglo-American Literature as a Philosophical Concept
    (pp. 181-216)

    InAnti-Oedipus, Deleuze and Guattari align what they call an “Oedipal form of literature” with psychoanalysis and capitalism. This form of literature not only reinforces the processes of psychoanalysis and capitalism but also in some sense precedes them. This Oedipal form of literature comes before, conditions, and is itself more central to capitalism than psychoanalysis.¹ Time and again, Deleuze and Guattari reiterate the fact psychoanalysis does not invent but discovers the Oedipus complex. It is composed of elements that arise with the social machines through an illegitimate employment of the syntheses of the unconscious, giving rise to the notions of...

  11. Chapter Five The Political Significance of Opinion, Philosophy, and Art
    (pp. 217-256)

    Increasing attention has been paid to Deleuze and Guattari’s account of the creative nature of philosophy, art, and science, as well as the political import of this creativity. However, inWhat is Philosophy?, Deleuze and Guattari oppose these disciplines to what they call “opinion.” Opinion is the object against which the creative forces of philosophy and art struggle (WP 204). For this reason, understanding what they mean by opinion and its negative significance is paramount for understanding the creative nature and positive significance of philosophy and art, as well as the political implications of this significance. For Deleuze and Guattari,...

  12. Chapter Six Creating a People to Come
    (pp. 257-300)

    In his first speech as Prime Minister, David Cameron announced the failure of multiculturalism in the UK. Although he singled out Muslim groups specifically, to combat extremist tendencies of all types, Cameron argued for the need to build a strong sense of national identity (“State multiculturalism”). Even before events such as September 11thand the killing of Theo Van Gogh brought the problem of “Islamism” to popular consciousness, Samuel Huntington proposed a similar course of action in his 1996The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. As the last remaining superpower and guardian of Western values, he...

  13. Conclusion Political Anthropology, Liberalism, and Deleuze
    (pp. 301-308)

    Although classical and modern thought has traditionally grounded its analyses of concepts belonging to the political sphere with reference to human nature, the mainstream of contemporary political thought has – for good reasons – largely abandoned such an approach. Abandoning this strategy has itself been understood as a precondition for justice, a line of thought associated with “liberalism.” However, this shift is problematic for at least two reasons: Not only is it impossible to divorce political thought from philosophical anthropology but even attempting to do so is also perilous.

    Refraining from making strong claims regarding the nature of the good life, morality,...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 309-320)
  15. Index
    (pp. 321-336)