Deleuze: Some Common Misunderstandings

To carry on the general theme of the last post, I thought I’d list in brief a few other common misunderstandings that I have encountered a number of times in Deleuze scholarship. These are my pet peeves.

1. Deleuze is not a transcendental philosopher

A lot of people do a double take when I mention this one, but its very true. Deleuze is indeed a transcendental empiricist, but the sense of transcendental here is different. There are really two different senses of the transcendental, a methodological sense (hence ‘transcendental philosopher’) and a more ontological sense (e.g. the ‘transcendental field’). To pursue a transcendental methodology is to inquire after conditions of possibility. Traditionally this is the Kantian project of the conditions of the possibility of experience, but there can be different objects of transcendental enquiry. The ontological sense refers to the conditions themselves, for instance, Kant’s categories, his pure forms of intuition, and the rest of his transcendental apparatus. These two senses neatly overlap in Kant, because what is sort in a transcendental enquiry is the transcendental conditions (conditions of possibility).

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