exteriority / interiority


exteriority / interiority
  ---- by Jonathan Roffe
  One of the underlying themes of Deleuze's philosophy is a rejection of the value of interiority in its various theoretical guises. In fact, he goes so far as to connect the sentiment of 'the hatred of interiority' to his philosophy. On the other hand, terms like 'outside' and 'exteriority' play a central role.
  Deleuze's use of the term 'interiority' refers to the thought, dominant in western philosophy since Plato, that things exist independently, and that their actions derive from the unfolding or embodying of this essential unity. The Cartesian ego cogito would be the most familiar example of this thought, whereby the human mind - indivisible and immortal - forms the interior of the self, and where the body and the physical world in general form a contingent exterior. In other words, 'interiority' is a word indexed to transcendent unities, things that have no necessary connection to anything else, and which transcend the external world around them. Deleuze's philosophy is rigorously critical of all forms of transcendence. He wants to come to grips with the world as a generalised exteriority.
  In his first book on David Hume (Empiricism and Subjectvity, 1953), Deleuze insists that for Hume, there is no natural interiority (conscious willing, for example) involved in human subjectivity. Rather, the subject is formed from pre-subjective parts which are held together by a network of relations. This is part of the Humean philosophy that strikes Deleuze as particularly important, and he comes back to it a number of times. Deleuze considers Hume to be the first to insist that relations are external to their terms - and this presages much of Deleuze's mature philosophy. In other words, in order to understand any state of affairs, we must not look to the internal or intrinsic 'meaning', 'structure' or 'life' of the terms involved (whether they be people, a person and an animal, elements in a biological system, and so on). This will not provide anything relevant, since it is in the relations between (or external to) things that their nature is decided.
  Likewise, in his books on Baruch Spinoza, he demonstrates that organised beings are not the embodiment of an essence or an idea, but are the result of enormous numbers of relations between parts which have no significance on their own. In other words, specific beings are produced from within a generalised milieu of exteriority without reference to any guiding interiority.
  So, rather than being a philosophy concerned with showing how the interior reason or structure of things is brought about in the world - the interior conscious intentions of a human speaker, or the kernel of social structure hidden within all of its expressions - Deleuze insists on three points. First, that there is no natural interiority whatsoever: the whole philosophical tradition beginning with Plato that wanted to explain things in reference to their essence is mistaken. Second, this means that the interior/exterior division lacks any substantial meaning, and Deleuze sometimes casts the distinction aside. Third - and this describes one of the greatest aspects of Deleuze's philosophical labour - he insists that the interior is rather produced from a general exterior, the immanent world of relations. The nature of this production and its regulation proved to be one of the foci of his philosophy. Hence, human subjectivity as a produced interiority undergoes changes according to its social milieu, its relations, its specific encounters, and so forth: this is a topic that the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia deal with, and can be summed up in the following Deleuzian sentiment: 'The interior is only a selected interior.'
  Finally, on the basis of these points, Deleuze's philosophy also embodies an ethics of exteriority. In so far as interiority is a 'caved-in' selection of the external world of relations, it remains separated from the life and movement of this world. The aim of what Deleuze calls ethics is to reconnect with the external world again, and to be caught up in its life.
  Connectives
   § Hume, David
   § immanence
   § Plato
   § subjectivity

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.

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