The last week of philosophical reflection was actually very illuminating for me. It helped me get a better grip on a difficult idea of Deleuze’s – the conceptual persona. Same goes for his very evocative – but not always the most enlightening – metaphor for philosophy as grasping hold of chaos in thought.
I managed to clarify how I understood this very imagistic concept. The great thing about Gilles Deleuze as a writer was that, no matter how far into one project he was, his writing also involved new ideas that he’d expand and further explain in the future.
So you’d read early books and see vague treatments of concepts, then see them developed in amazing depth and complexity a few years later. The problem with Deleuze’s talk of thought moving at infinite speed and catching hold of chaos, is that the follow-up never came.
But the legacy lives on, doesn’t it? Why else would you publish groundbreaking philosophical works at a damn near annual rate in your peak period? You want to have a massive impact in the world you devote yourself to, you could pick far worse role models than Deleuze.
Same with any thinker of that kind of calibre. There were plenty – Deleuze is one member of a literally multiple-millennium tradition of writing and thought.
I find it a little strange that someone who’d devoted himself to philosophy in his career and life to the degree and intensity that Deleuze did, only wrote one work of concentrated meta-philosophy. Where he gives an explicit argument about what philosophy is.
That’s why, in my list of tags, I haven’t used too many in these last few entries other than the proper names and ‘creativity.’ To me, meta-philosophy is built into every worthwhile philosophical project.
It isn’t often remarked on because a philosophical writer takes for granted that you all know what philosophy is. Of course, he’s only certain about his own conception of what philosophy is. But don’t think you can tell him that.
Deleuze gives his own answer to that question. There’s a lot to value in his response. I’ve been talking about it for a couple of weeks now, and I have enough material from my revisit to What Is Philosophy? for at least another week of posts. The main reason I’m not digging deeper today is because I’m writing this at the end of some very long days, and I'm a little tired before bed.
More details tomorrow.
But there’s also a few ideas in What Is Philosophy? that I can’t really get down with. His restriction of what philosophy is to the Western tradition definitely irks me. It’s based on a curious account of cultural / economic contingency, which I’ll talk about tomorrow.
Yet his conclusion goes well beyond the evidence he presents, and contradicts a lot of what he’s said before in his career. Seriously now, more details tomorrow.