cogito


cogito
  ---- James Williams
  Deleuze's critical approach to the cogito of René Descartes, the 'I think, therefore I am' from the Discourse on Method or the 'I think, I am' from the Meditations, can be divided into a critique of the Cartesian analytic method, a critique of the self-evidence of the cogito and an extension of the Cartesian view of the subject.
  Descartes' foundational method is the rationalist construction of a system of analytic truths. That is, he believes that certain propositions are true independently of any others and that therefore they can stand as a ground for the deduction of further truths according to reason. Deleuze's synthetic and dialectical method, developed in Difference and Repetition, depends on the view that all knowledge is partial and open to revision.
  Thus, any relative truth is open to extension through syntheses with further discoveries and through further experiments. The relation between these truths is dialectical rather than analytical and foundational. There is a reciprocal process of revision and change between them, as opposed to Cartesian moves from secure and inviolable bases out into the unknown. Where Descartes situates reason at the heart of his method, as shown by the role of thinking in the cogito, Deleuze emphasises sensation.
  Sensation is resistant to identity in representation. Thought must be responsive to sensations that go beyond its capacity to represent them. These point to a realm of virtual conditions defined as intensities and Ideas (the capital indicates that these are not ideas to be thought of as empirical things in the mind, rather they are like Kantian Ideas of reason).
  Deleuze holds that no thought is free of sensation. The cogito cannot be self-evident, because sensation always extends to a multiplicity of further conditions and causes. The Cartesian hope of defeating systematic doubt through the certainty of the cogito must therefore fail. Deleuze often turns to dramatisations from art, literature and cinema to convince us of the insufficiency of the cogito. Wherever we presume to have found pure thought, or pure representations, the expressivity of the arts points to sensations and deeper Ideas.
  A thought, such as the cogito, is therefore inseparable from sensations that themselves bring a series of intensities and Ideas to bear on the subject. The 'I' is therefore not independent but carries all intensities and all Ideas with it. These are related to any singular thought in the way it implies different arrangements of intensities and different relations of clarity and obscurity between Ideas.
  You do not think without feeling. Feeling defines you as an individual. That singular definition brings some intensities to the fore while hiding others (more hating, less anger, greater caring, less jealousy). In turn, these intensities light up Ideas in different ways making some relations more obscure and others more distinct (The Idea of love for humanity took centre stage, after their sacrifice).
  The subject is therefore extended through the sensations of singular individuals into virtual intensities and Ideas. Unlike the Cartesian cogito, which is posited on the activity of the thinking subject, Deleuze's individual has an all-important passive side. We cannot directly choose our sensations, we are therefore passive with respect to our virtual 'dark precursors'.
  Deleuze's philosophy depends on Descartes' rationalist critics, notably Baruch Spinoza, for the synthetic method and for the opposition to the free activity of the subject, and Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, for the extension of the subject or monad to the whole of reality. Deleuze is not simply anti-Cartesian; rather, he extends the active subject through passivity and through the conditions for sensation. The cogito is an important moment in philosophy, but it requires completing through syntheses that belie its independence.
  Connectives
   § sensation

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.

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