LECTURES BY GILLES DELEUZE
I am going back. What distinguishes my basely sensual appetite from my best, most beautiful, love? It is exactly the same! The basely sensual appetite, you know, it‚s all the expressions, we can all make suggestions, it is in order to laugh, therefore we can say anything, the sadness After love, the animal is sad, what is this? This sadness? What does it say to us? Spinoza would never say this. Or then it is not worth the pain, there is no reason, sadness, good There are people who cultivate sadness. Feel, feel what happens to us, this denunciation which is going to run throughout the Ethics, namely: there are people who are so impotent that they are the ones who are dangerous, they are the ones who take power (pouvoir). And they can take power (pouvoir) ˜ so far away are the notions of power (puissance) and of power (pouvoir) ˜ the people of power (pouvoir) are the impotent who can only construct their power (pouvoir) on the sadness of others. They need sadness. They can only reign over slaves, and the slave is precisely the regime of the decrease of power (puissance). There are people who can only reign, who only acquire power (pouvoir) by way of sadness and by instituting a regime of sadness of the type: repent‚, of the type hate someone‚ and if you don't have anyone to hate, hate yourself, etc. Everything that Spinoza diagnoses as a kind of immense culture of sadness, the valorization of sadness, all of which says to you: if you don't pass by way of sadness, you will not flourish. Now for Spinoza this is an abomination. And if he writes an Ethics, it is in order to say: no! No! Everything you want, but not this. Then indeed, good = joy, bad = sadness. But the basely sensual appetite, you see now, and the most beautiful of loves, it is not at all a spiritual thing, but not at all. It is when an encounter works, as one says, when it functions well. It is a functionalism, but a very beautiful functionalism. What does that mean? Ideally it is never like this completely, because there are always local sadnesses, Spinoza is not unaware of that, there are always sadnesses. The question is not if there is or if there isn‚t, the question is the value that you give to them, that is the indulgence that you grant them. The more you grant them indulgence, that is the more you invest your power (puissance) in order to invest the trace of the thing, the more you will lose power (puissance). So in a happy love, in a love of joy, what happens? You compose a maximum of relations with a maximum of relations of the other, bodily, perceptual, all kinds of natures. Of course bodily, yes, why not; but perceptive also: Ah good Let’s listen to some music! In a certain manner one never stops inventing.
When I spoke of a third individual of which the two others are no more than parts, it doesn't at all mean that this third individual preexists, it is always by composing my relations with other relations, and it is under such a profile, under such an aspect that I invent this third individual of which the other and myself are no more than parts, sub-individuals. That’s it: each time that you proceed by composition of relations and composition of composed relations, you increase your power. On the contrary, the basely sensual appetite, it is not because it is sensual that it is bad. It is because, fundamentally, it never stops gambling on the decomposition of relations. It is really this sort of thing: Come on, hurt me, sadden me so that I can sadden you. The spat, etc. Ha, like we are okay with the spat. Ho. Like it is long after, that is, the small joys of compensation. All that is disgusting, but it is foul, it is the measliest life in the world. Ha come on, Let’s make our scene Because it is necessary to hate one another, afterwards we like one another much more. Spinoza vomits, he says: what are these mad people? If they did this, again, for themselves, but they are contagious, they are propagators. They won't let go of you until they have inoculated you with their sadness. What’s more, they treat you as idiots if you tell them that you don't understand, that it is not your thing. They tell you that this is the true life. And the more that they wallow, based on the spat, based on this stupidity, on the anguish of Haaaa, Heu The more that they hold on to you the more that they inoculate you, if they can hold on to you, then they pass it on to you. (Gilles Deleuze looks extremely nauseated).
Claire Parnet: Richard would like you to speak of the appetite
Gilles Deleuze: Of the composition of relations?! (Laughter). I have said everything on the composition of relations. Understand, the misinterpretation would be to believe: look for a third individual of which we would be only the parts. It does not preexist nor does the manner in which relations are decomposed. That preexists in Nature since Nature is everything, but from your point of view it is very complicated. There we are going to see what problems this poses for Spinoza because all this is very concrete all the same, on the ways of living. How to live? You don't know beforehand which are the relations. For example you are not necessarily going to find your own music. I mean: it is not scientific, in what sense? You don't have a scientific knowledge of relations which would allow you to say: „there is the woman or the man who is necessary for me. One goes along feeling one‚s way, one goes along blind. That works, that doesn't work, etc. And how to explain that there are people who only launch into things where they say that it is not going to work? (general laughter). They are the people of sadness, they are the cultivators of sadness, because they think that that is the foundation of existence. Otherwise the long apprenticeship by which, according to a presentiment of my constituent relations, I vaguely apprehend first what agrees with me and what doesn't agree with me. You will tell me that if it is in order to lead to that, it is not strong. Nothing but the formula: above all don't do what doesn't agree with you. It is not Spinoza who said this first, at first, but the proposition means nothing other than : don't do what doesn't agree with you‚ if you take it out of all context. If you take this conception ˜ that I find very grandiose ˜ to its conclusion, the relations which are composed, etc. How is it that someone very concrete is going to lead his existence in such a manner that he is going to acquire a kind of affection, of affect, or of presentiment, of the relations which agree with him, of the relations which don't agree with him, of situations where he must withdraw, of situations where he must engage himself, etc. That is not at all: it is necessary to do this‚, it is no longer at all the domain of morality. It is not necessary to do anything at all, it is necessary to find. It is necessary to find his thing, that is not at all to withdraw, it is necessary to invent the superior individualities into which I can enter as a part, for these individualities do not preexist. All that I meant takes on, I believe, a concrete signification, the two expressions take on a concrete signification. [The essence is eternal.
The eternal essence, degree of power (puissance)
The eternal essence, what does it mean? Your essence is eternal, your singular essence, that is your own essence in particular, what does this mean? For the moment we can only give one sense to this formula, namely: you are a degree of power (puissance). You are a degree of power: it is this that Spinoza means when he says, verbatim: I am a part (pars) of the power of God‚, that means, literally: I am a degree of power (puissance). Immediate objection. I am a degree of power, but after all: me as a baby, little kid, adult, old man, it is not the same degree of power, therefore it varies, my degree of power. Okay, Let’s leave that aside. How, why does this degree of power have a latitude. Okay. But I say on the whole: I am a degree of power and it is in this sense that I am eternal. No one has the same degree of power as another. See, we will have need of it later, the fact that it is a quantitative conception of individuation. But it is a special quantity since it is a quantity of power (puissance). A quantity of power we have always called an intensity. It is to this and to this alone that Spinoza assigns the term eternity‚. I am a degree of power of God, that means: I am eternal. Second sphere of belonging: I have instantaneous affections. We saw this, it is the dimension of instantaneity. Following this dimension the relations compose or don't compose. It is the dimension of affectio: composition or decomposition between things.
Third dimension of belonging: the affects. That is: each time that an affection executes my power (puissance), and it executes it as perfectly as it can, as perfectly as is possible. The affection, indeed, that is the belonging to, executes my power; it realises my power, and it realises my power as perfectly as it can, according to the circumstances, according to here and now. It executes my power here and now, according to my relations with things. The third dimension is that each time an affection executes my power, it doesn't do it without my power increasing or decreasing, it is the sphere of the affect. So my power is an eternal degree‚ doesn't prevent it from ceaselessly, in duration, increasing and decreasing. This same power which is eternal in itself, doesn’t stop increasing and decreasing, that is varying in duration. How to understand this, after all? Understanding this, after all, is not difficult. If you reflect, I have just said: the essence is a degree of power, that is: if it is a quantity, it is an intensive quantity. But an intensive quantity is not at all like an extensive quantity. An intensive quantity is inseparable from a threshold, that is an intensive quantity is fundamentally, in itself, already a difference. The intensive quantity is made of differences. Does Spinoza go so far as to say a thing like this?
Letter to Meyer on infinity
Here, I make a parenthesis of pseudo scholarship. It is important. I can say that Spinoza, firstly, said explicitly pars potentiae, part of power (puissance), and he said that our essence is a part of our divine power (puissance). I am saying, it is not a question of forcing the texts, part of power‚ is not an extensive part, it is obviously an intensive part. I am always pointing out in the domain of scholarship, but here I need it in order to justify everything that I‚m saying, that in the Scholastics of the Middle Age, the equality of two terms is absolutely current: gradus or pars, part or degree. Now the degrees are very special parts, they are intensive parts; this is the first point. Second point: I point out that in letter XII to Meyer, a gentleman named Meyer, there is a text that we will surely see the next time because it will allow us to draw conclusions on individuality. I point it out from this point on and I would like, for the next time, those who have the correspondence of Spinoza to have read the letter to Meyer, which is a famous letter, which is concerned with the infinite. In this letter, Spinoza develops a very bizarre, very curious geometrical example. And he made this geometrical example the object of all sorts of commentaries and it looked quite bizarre. And Leibniz, who was himself a very great mathematician, who had knowledge of the letter to Meyer, declared that he particularly admired Spinoza for this geometrical example which showed that Spinoza understood things that even his contemporaries didn't understand, said Leibniz. Therefore the text is that much more interesting with Leibniz’s benediction.
Here is the figure that Spinoza proposes for our reflection: two circles of which one is inside the other, but above all they are not concentric. Two [non-]concentric circles of which one is inside the other. Note the greatest and the smallest distance from one circle to the other. Do you understand the figure? Here is what Spinoza tells us. Spinoza tells us something very interesting, it seems to me, he tells us: in the case of this double figure, you can not say that you don't have a limit or threshold. You have a threshold, you have a limit. You even have two limits: the outer circle, the inner circle, or what comes down to the same thing, the greatest distance from one circle to the other, or the least distance. You have a maximum and a minimum. And he says: consider the sum, here the Latin text is very important, the sum of the inequalities of distance. You see: you trace all the lines, all the segments which go from one circle to the other. You evidently have an infinity. Spinoza tells us: consider the sum of the inequalities of distance. You understand: he doesn't literally tell us to consider the sum of the unequal distances, that is of the segments which go from one circle to the other. He tells us: the sum of the inequalities of distance, that is the sum of the differences. And he says: „it is very curious, this infinity here. We will see what he means, but I mention this text for the moment because I have a specific idea, he tells us: „it is very curious, it is an infinite sum. The sum of the inequalities of distance is infinite. He could also have said that the unequal distances is an infinite sum. And yet there is a limit. There is a limit since you have the limit of the big circle and the limit of the small circle. So there is something infinite and yet it is not unlimited. And he says that it is an odd infinity, it is a very particular geometrical infinity: it is an infinity that you can say is infinite even though it is not unlimited. And indeed, the space encompassed between the two circles is not unlimited, the encompassed space between the two circles is perfectly limited. I take up exactly the expression of the letter to Meyer: the sum of the inequalities of distance‚, even though he could have made the same reasoning by taking holding of the simpler case: the sum of unequal distances. Why does he want to sum up the differences?
For me it is truly a text which is important, because, what does he have in his head that he doesn’t say? He needs it by virtue of his problem of essences. Essences are degrees of power, but what is a degree of power? A degree of power is a difference between a maximum and a minimum. It is in this way that it is an intensive quantity. A degree of power is a difference in itself.
(End of tape.)
How to become reasonable?
Like many thinkers of his time, he is one of the philosophers who have said most profoundly: you know, you are born neither reasonable, nor free, nor intelligent. If you become reasonable, if you become free, etc., it is a matter of a becoming. But there is no author who is more indifferent, for example, to the problem of freedom as belonging to the nature of man. He thinks that nothing at all belongs to the nature of man. He is an author who thinks everything, really, in terms of Becoming. So then, good, okay, without doubt. What does this mean, becoming reasonable? What does it means, becoming free, once it is said that we are not? We are not born free, we are not born reasonable. We are completely at the mercy of encounters, that is: we are completely at the mercy of decompositions. And you must understand that this is normal in Spinoza; the authors who think that we are free by nature are the ones who make of nature a certain idea. I believe we can only say: we are free by nature if we don't conceive it as a substance, that is as a relatively independent thing. If you conceive yourself as a collection of relations, and not at all as a substance, the proposition I am free‚ is plainly deprived of sense. It is not at all that I am for the opposite: it makes no sense, freedom or no freedom. On the other hand, perhaps the question has a sense: How to become free?‚ Similarly to be reasonable‚ can be understood if I am defined as a reasonable animal‚, from the point of view of substance, this is the Aristotelian definition which implies that I am a substance. If I am a collection of relations, perhaps they are rational relations, but to say that this is reasonable, is plainly deprived of all sense. So if reasonable, free, etc., make any sense it could only be the result of a becoming. Already this is very new. To be thrown into the world is precisely to risk at every instant encountering something which decomposes me.
Hence I said: there is a first aspect of reason. The first effort of reason, I believe, is very curious in Spinoza, it is a kind of extraordinarily groping effort. And there you can’t say that it is insufficient because it encounters concrete gropings. It is all a kind of apprenticeship in order to evaluate or have signs, I did say signs, to organize or to find signs that tell me a little of which relations agree with me and which relations don't agree with me. It is necessary to try, it is necessary to experiment. And my own experience, I can not even transmit it because perhaps it doesn't agree with another’s. That is, it is like a kind of groping so that each discovers at the same time what he likes and what he supports. Good, it is a little like this that we live when we take medication: it is necessary to find their doses, their things, it is necessary to make selections, and the prescription of the doctor will not be sufficient. It will come in handy. There is something which goes beyond a simple science, or a simple application of science. It is necessary to find your thing, it is like an apprenticeship in music, finding at the same time what agrees with you, what you are capable of doing. This is already what Spinoza will call, and it will be the first aspect of reason, a kind of double aspect, selecting-composing. To select, selection-composition, is to manage to find by experience those relations with which mine compose, and drawing from them the consequences. That is: at any cost flee as best as I can ˜ I can’t totally, I can’t completely ˜ but flee as much, to the maximum, the encounter with relations which don’t agree with me, and compose to the maximum, be composed to the maximum with the relations which agree with me. Here again is the first determination of freedom or of reason. So Rousseau‚s theme, what he himself called the materialism of the wise‚, you remember when I spoke a little of this idea of Rousseau‚s, very very curious, a kind of art of composing situations, this art of composing situations that consists above all of withdrawing from situations which don't agree with you, of entering into situations which agree with you, etc.. This is the first effort of reason. But I insist overall: at this level, we have no previous knowledge, we have no preexisting knowledge, we don't have scientific knowledge. It is not about science. It is really about living experimentation. It is about apprenticeship: I never stop deceiving myself, I never stop running into situations which don't agree with me, I never stop etc., etc.
And little by little is sketched out a kind of beginning of wisdom, which brings us back to what? Which brings us back to what Spinoza says from the beginning: but the fact that each knew a little, had a vague idea of what he is capable of, once it‚s said that the incapable people are not incapable people, it is people who rush to what they are not capable of, and who drop what they are capable of. But, Spinoza asks: What can a body do?‚ It doesn't mean: what a body in general can do, it means: yours, mine. Of what are you capable? It is this kind of experimentation with capacity. To try to experiment with capacity, and at the same time to construct it, at the same time that one experiments with it, is very concrete. Yet we don't have prior knowledge (savoir). Good, I don't know what, there are domains  of what am I capable? Who can say, in the two senses, there are people who are too modest who say: „I am not capable of it because I would not succeed, and then there are the people too sure of themselves, who say: „Ha that, such a nasty thing, I am not capable of it, but they would perhaps do it, we don't know. No one knows what he is capable of.
What am I capable of?
I think that one of the things, in the beautiful era of existentialism, there was as it was all the same very much connected to the end of the war, to the concentration camps etc. There was a theme that Jaspers had launched, and which was a theme, it seems to me, which was very profound: he distinguished two types of situation, limit situations and simple everyday situations. He said: limit situations could befall us at any time, they are precisely situations which we can’t anticipate. What do you want: someone who was not tortured what does that mean? He has no idea if he will hold out or if he won't hold out. If need be, the most courageous types collapse, and the types that one would have thought, in that way, pathetic, they hold out marvelously. One doesn't know. The limit situation is really a situation such as this, I learn at the last moment, sometimes too late, what I was capable of. What I was capable of for better or worse. But we can’t say in advance. It is too easy to say: Oh that, me, I would never do it! And inversely, we ourselves pass our time doing things like that, but what we are really capable of, we pass right by. So many people die without knowing and will never know what they were capable of. Once again: in atrocity as in the very good. It is the surprises, it is necessary to surprise oneself. We tell ourselves: Oh look! I would never have believed that I would have done it. People, you know, they are quite artful. Generally we always speak of the manner ˜ it is very complicated for Spinozism because we always speak of the manner in which people destroy themselves, but I believe that, finally, it is often so for discourse too. It is sad, it is always a very sad spectacle, and then it is annoying! They also have a kind of prudence: the cunning of people! the cunning of people is odd, because there are a lot of people who destroyed themselves over points which, precisely, they themselves have no need of. Then evidently they are losers, you understand, yeah, I suppose someone who, at the limit, renders himself impotent, but it is someone who doesn't really have the desire to do it, it is not their thing. In other words it is a very secondary relation for them. To budge is a very secondary relation. Good. He manages to put himself in states where he can no longer budge, in a certain way he has what he wanted since he set on a secondary relation. It is very different when someone destroys himself in what he himself experiences as being his principal constituent relations. If running doesn't interest you a lot, you can always smoke a lot, hey. We will say to you: You destroy yourself, then very well. I myself would be satisfied to be on a small chair, on the contrary it would be better like this, I would have peace! Very well. So, I destroy myself? No, not so. Obviously I destroy myself because if I can no longer budge at all, in the end I risk dying of it, in the end I would have the boredom of another nature that I would not have foreseen. Oh yes, it is annoying. But you see, even in things where there is self-destruction, there are tricks which imply a whole calculus of relations. One can very well destroy oneself over a point which is not essential for the person himself, and try to keep the essential, all this is complex. It is complex. You are sly, you don't know to what extent you are all sly, everyone. There you go.
I would call reason, or effort of reason, conatus of reason, effort of reason, this tendency to select, to learn the relations, this apprenticeship of the relations which are composed or which are not composed. Now I wouldn‚t mind saying: as you have no previous science, you understand what Spinoza means: science, you are perhaps going to arrive at a science of relations. But what will it be? Funny science. It won't be a theoretical science. The theory will perhaps be a part, but it will be a science in the sense of vital science.
The sign is the equivocal expression: I manage as best I can. And the signs are what? It is the signs of language which are fundamentally ambiguous, according to Spinoza, they are on one hand the signs of language, and on the other hand the signs of God, prophetic signs, and on the other hand the signs of society: rewards, punishments, etc. Prophetic signs, social signs, linguistic signs, are the three great types of signs. Now each time it is the language of equivocity. We are forced to set out from there, to pass by there, in order to construct our apprenticeship, that is in order to select our joys, eliminate our sadness, that is to make headway in a kind of apprehension of the relations which are composed, to arrive at an approximate knowledge (connaissance) by signs of the relations which agree with me and of the relations which don't agree with me. So the first effort of reason, you see, exactly, it is to do everything in my power (pouvoir) in order to increase my power (puissance) of acting, that is in order to experience passive joys, in order to experience of the joys of passion. The joys of passion are what increase my power of acting according to still equivocal signs in which I don't possess this power (puissance). Do you see? Very well. The question which I have come to is: supposing that it is like this, that there is this moment of long apprenticeship, how can I pass, how can this long apprenticeship lead me to a more sure stage, where I am more sure of myself, that is where I become reasonable, where I become free. How can this be done?
We will see next time.
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