Thinking Thought, Plane and Simple…
In his comment to Idealism and the Plane of Immanence, Pete writes:
…although it is certainly not the case that Deleuze is a subtractive thinker, we should be careful of following the Badiouian line of thought, whereby, if there is a totality it must therefore be a presented or presentable situation in its own right. It is possible not to read the structure of Being as the structure of presentation or givenness to thought (which both Badiou and Heidegger do, even if Badiou’s conception of thought is far more austere, i.e., purely quantificational), and despite Deleuze’s discussions of givenness (his transcendental empiricism) I would suggest we read him this way, insofar as there is no pre-defined term which plays the role of thought in his work (unlike Dasein in its multiple guises in Heidegger, and the quantificational structure of the count as one in Badiou).
The problem I have with this is very simple. If we take this line of argumentation, we are completely ignoring one of the perennial aspects of Deleuze’s thinking – his constructivism. Throughout his career, Deleuze was adamant that the ‘plane of immanence’ should not be thought as a pre-given, nonintelligible totality. Quite the contrary, the ‘planomen’ is always a philosophical posit, a laying out of a plane as a “surface for the absolute movement of thought”. Although not a concept that unites all concepts, the ‘plane”‘ is always a product of the complementary aspect of thought, the ‘fluidity’ opposed to the elasticity of conceptualizing. In that sense, the plane of immanence is not only posited by thought. It is much worse:
The plane of immanance is not a concept that is or can be thought but rather the image of thought, the image thought gives itself of what it means to think, to make use of thought, to find’s one bearing in thought. (What is Philosophy, 1991, p.37)
After this, it becomes incredibly difficult to play on the “non-thinking of the thought” card. To insist that Deleuze does not introduce “a predefined term that plays the role of thought” is a definite no-go. In that sense, I am resolute that the “plane of immanence” remains a phenomenological trope, which even divorced from the transcendent support, is dangerously amenable to idealist re-framings. For Deleuze, the problem is not correlationism, nor the existence of a non-intuitive structure of totality; the problem is the immediate coexistence of thought and Being, very much like in Schelling and Husserl. At one point in Immanence: A Life, Deleuze uses a qualificative doubling, marking immanence as the “immanence of immanence”. One has to be tirelessly inquisitive here and insist on an explanation of the need for this doubling. Isn’t the obvious reason the fact that immanence hides a dangerous tendency to become transcendent itself? In the same manner, I am also sceptical of his concept of “non-organic life”, which basically reiterates the same post-phenomenological sketch of the transcendental. Why name this virtuality “a life”? Isn’t Deleuze here clumsily re-introducing the metaphysics of experience?
All and all, the “lacuna” in Deleuze is far wider than it appears at first glance. A Badiou-an critique, I believe, can effectively reveal several very important ‘hidden’ aspects of Deleuze’s evental ‘Omnitudo’, and ultimately, I am confident, the kinship between it and post-Kantian idealism.
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