Difference, in other words, goes all the way down. To confront reality honestly, Deleuze argues, we must grasp beings exactly as they are, and concepts of identity forms, categories, resemblances, unities of apperception, predicates, etc. He therefore concludes that pure difference is non-spatio-temporal; it is an idea, what Deleuze calls "the virtual". Assuming the content of these forms and categories to be qualities of the world as it exists independently of our perceptual access, according to Kant, spawns seductive but senseless metaphysical beliefs for example, extending the concept of causality beyond possible experience results in unverifiable speculation about a first cause. Deleuze inverts the Kantian arrangement: experience exceeds our concepts by presenting novelty, and this raw experience of difference actualizes an idea, unfettered by our prior categories, forcing us to invent new ways of thinking see Epistemology. Simultaneously, Deleuze claims that being is univocal , i.
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Himself unknown in the immediate post-Second World War period, Deleuze was writing innovative essays in the s on a deeply unfashionable philosopher. Deleuze always defended his interest in Bergson and was right to do so. And yet, Deleuze is a notoriously difficult and dense thinker, and the difficulty and density are in evidence in his text on Bergson published in These concepts and themes include the virtual and the actual, difference, individuation, problematisation, superior empiricism, and the critique of negation.
This was well before his texts on Nietzsche and Spinoza , both of which, with respect to key notions and contentions, are Bergsonian-inspired. In his essays of the s and the text of Deleuze set out revitalize the appreciation of Bergson. The title of his text of is symbolic of this effort since it had become commonly accepted by this point in time that, to quote Merleau-Ponty, Bergsonism, when considered as a fashionable philosophy, distorts Bergson since it is little more than a collection of accepted opinions.
Fifth, that the movement of life involves a movement of differentiation whereby the virtual is actualised in a creative process of divergence. As well as being a serious and dedicated scholar of Deleuze and Bergson, Lundy shows in this book that he is an assured and able writer.
Much to his credit Lundy does his best to provide concrete and tangible examples to illustrate the work these concepts can do and as way of getting us to think reality afresh and anew. Lundy shows in highly instructive terms how memory, as duration, operates for Bergson and how it is to be conceived in terms of a heterogeneous multiplicity an interpenetrating progression. He also shows in equally instructive terms how Deleuze first develops his commitment to a notion of the virtual from his deep engagement with Bergson and especially the text, Matter and Memory.
As Lundy explains, common sense would maintain that memory only comes into being once a perception has vanished. But then, if this is the case, how do we account for the passing of time and credit the past with an ontological reality? In short, we have to think in durational terms in which the past memory and present perception co-exist and are co-constituted as virtual and actual. The assumption that memory comes after perception arises from the nature of practical consciousness, namely, the fact that it is only the forward-springing jet of time that interests it.
Memory becomes superfluous and without actual interest. The illusion is generated from thinking that we are actually undergoing an experience we have already lived through when in fact what is taking place is the perception of the duplication we do not normally perceive, namely, of time into the two aspects of actual and virtual. I cannot actually predict what is going to happen but I feel as if I can: what I foresee is that I am going to have known it.
I have a few criticisms to make of the book. As it is, we have nothing to compare Bergson to and an opportunity to indicate the important role intuition has played in early modern and modern philosophy is missed. Why is this an important insight, one we would be wise to adhere to today? It is because dynamic theories of biology and evolution can only operate through the recognition of the temporal character of living systems and ecological theories can only operate through the recognition of sympathy between organisms.
Bergson developed both these approaches at a time when biological science on the whole operated by treating organisms as raw material. Our thinking of life today is moving away from control and towards participation, away from exploitation and towards sustainability.
Only now is scientific thought embarking on the path that Bergson pointed out a century ago, a path that he had seen indicated in the evolutionary biology of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. William James was of the view that when you open Bergson you find new horizons looming on every page you read. The Clamor of Being, trans. Louise Burchill, University of Minnesota Press, , p. Michael Chase, Blackwell, pp. Robert Hurley, City Lights Books,