Reading Notes


Gilles Deleuze, Empiricism and Subjectivity: An Essay on Hume's Theory of Human Nature
Chapters 1-3

•  Chapter One:   The Problem of Knowledge and the Problem of Ethics (pp. 21-36)

•  [pp. 21-22]

•  psychology of mind's affections in place of psychology of the mind

•  two forms under which mind is affected, each implicating the other and their unity shows itself historically in political organizations and institutions

•  passional

•  social

•  because the mind in itself is not human nature, Hume's question:   How does the mind become human nature ? (22)

•  the role of Understanding is to make passions sociable and interest social.  

•  [pp. 22-28]

•  identity mind = imagination = ideas (22)

•  but the ideas that make up the mind are not a system , how does the mind become a system? (22)

•  how does the mind become a subject? (23)

•  GENERALITY of an idea is not a property of an idea nor of the imagination, it is a role that every idea can play under the influence of other principles of association (which he will sometimes also call principles of nature) : (23-24)

•  Contiguity

•  Resemblance

•  Causality (which, it will turn out, is the only one that can make us believe , the subject going beyond the given)

•  the "special ground of empiricism:   nothing in the mind transcends human nature, because it is human nature that, in its principles, transcends the mind; nothing is ever transcendental"... imagination is human nature ONLY to the degree that principles of association have settled it and given it constancy (24)

•  it is nonetheless imagination, and not the principles, that are human nature because the imagination is where the effects happen (pp. 24-25) and this is what philosophy should be concerned with

•  Effect of association appears in three ways, but in all three its result is the mind's easy passage from one idea to another, and this gives the mind, now become nature through the principles of association, a tendency (25)

•  General idea ("the idea takes on a role and becomes capable of representing all these ideas with which, through resemblance, it is associated")

•  Substance and Mode ("the union of ideas brought about by the mind acquires a regularity not previously had, in which case 'nature in a manner point[s] out to every one of those simple ideas, which are most proper to be united into a complex one'")

•  Relation ("one idea can introduce another")

•  Fancy will take this and extend it without limit:   hence the appearance of corrective rules (25-26)

•  "All serious writers agree on the impossibility of a psychology of the mind.   This is why they criticize so meticulously every single identification between consciousness and knowledge" (27-8) [ This will come back in Nietzsche and in Spinoza ]

•  [pp. 28-32] Why is Hume's question - "how does the mind become a nature?" - Hume's question?

•  D. shifts this to a different "plane" so that Hume's question is now a question about the "fact of knowledge"?   What (or where) is the fact of knowledge? (28)

•  It is the affirmation, as a subject, of general ideas and beliefs (a transcendence or going beyond).  

•  But Hume's point of departure is the "challenge" "of the philosopher" (28), the critique of an approach to knowledge that takes general ideas and beliefs as given (29) because "empirical subjectivity is constituted in the mind under the influence of principles affecting it; the mind therefore does not have the characteristics of a preexisting subject" (29).

•  So he always goes from "absence of an idea in the mind to the presence of an affection of the mind" (29) [ Here is see prefiguration of his interest in Nietzsche as the one who introduces sense and value ]

•  Hume's philosophy is " a sharp critique of representation.   It does not elaborate a critique of relations but rather a critique of representations precisely because representations cannot present relations" (30) i.e. a general idea (representation, the basis of the rationalist notion of knowledge) can never be constituted within experience.   "rationalism has transferred mental determinations to external objects" (e.g. there is no object corresponding to the general idea "reason" or "necessity" or "always" - these are rather affections of the mind and this is why philosophy, for Hume and Deleuze, if it wants to know knowledge must study the affections of the mind.  

•  Impressions or ideas of sensation ARE NOT THE SAME AS Impressions or ideas of reflections:   this seems to be the heart of Hume's critique of rationalism:   "the impressions of sensation are only the origin of the mind; as for the impressions of reflection, they are the qualification of the mind and the effect of principles in it" (31).

•  It is in this way, I think, that Deleuze also offers an original reading of the empiricist project:   the sensations of impression (atom) are not the end in itself of the empiricist enquiry, they are a basis that must be established in order to pose the real question:   that of associations and relations, which is the real issue because it is thorugh these that the subject is constituted. (31)

•  hence the empiricist self is an incomprehensible synthesis between mind and subject, between collection of ideas and disposition, between origin and qualification.

•  [pp. 32-36] two modalities of human nature and two types of affection

•  Effects of association (which determines system of understanding)

•  Effects of passion   (which determines system of passion and ethics)

•  Parallels and Correspondences between the two (32)

•  Belief and sympathy correspond.

•  Everything that belongs to sympathy and goes beyond belief is analogous to that which the passions add to the association of ideas

•  Association fixes in the mind a necessary generality in the same way that passions make possible a practical and moral activity.

•  Motive and action (passional) is of a piece with causality (associational)

•  General rules, both extensive and corrective, have the same sense.

•  It is NOT association - understandinig - theory vs. passion - morals - practice; there is both a practice of understanding and a theory of passions.   Indeed in Hume, the only theory is a theory of practice whether it be the practice of understanding (calculation of probabilities and general rules) or practice of morality and the passions (general rules and justice). (32)

•  But thte modality of passion (morality) "determines the constitution" of the modality of association (understanding) (33):   reason can't touch the passions, though it can influence practice, it is made of representations and the passions are not (33)

•  only the system of understanding does the subject transend the given and come to believe (34) because it is only the principle sof association which can do this.

•  moreover [ I'm not sure I got this right but I think it'll make a little mor esense in the next chapter ]... reason moves from part to part in its practical understanding of nature and so the aim or effect is that transcendence

•  but in the practice of morality, because "the parts [interests, passions, etc.] are given immediately, without any inference required, and without any necessary application" and because the parts are not made up of parts but are rather "partial", the task becomes that of diverting and slanting partiality ( what I usually think of as "particular interests" ) and thereby to allow for their integration (rather than transcendence) into a schema. (35-6)

•  Chapter Two: Cultural World and General Rules (pp. 37-54)

•  [pp. 37-40]: what makes us "abandon the reference to our own point of view, and make us refer, to "charater in general"?   SYMPATHY

•  sympathy extends into the future, but is lmited in the present.; it is partial: and Hume's point, for Deleuze, is "human beings are much less egoistic than they are partial " (38)

•  There will therefore be a plurality of sympathies

•  From the point of view of society (and of social theory) the key is not to limit egoisms, but to integrate sympathies (39)

•  Esteem is the factor which integrates sympathies and the foundation of justice. so that we can vary in our sympathies without varying in our esteem.   It is at this moment that "conversation is possible as an alternative to violence" (40) and the moral world "affirms its reality".

•  [pp. 40-44]: How doe we extend sympathy?

•  the elements of mjorality (sympathies) are naturally given, but they cannot by themselves create a moral world because they are mutually exclusive

•  the moral world must be invented, must be artificial, and this is the job of politics: morality (or politics) can be seen as:

•  whole in relation to parts

•  and means in relation to ends

•  a system of directed means is a rule or norm:   "GENERAL RULE" for Hume; and it has two "poles"

•  form, conversation, system of customs

•  content, property, stability of possession

•  "the function of the rule is to determine a stable and common point of view, firm and calm, and independent of our present situation" (41):   it invents an interest (conversation or property) which overcomes the natural partiality of our sympathy and extends it:   it is a "third interest" beyond mine and yours

•  the role of the general rule is two fold:

•    extensive

•  corrective

•  it corrects our sentiments in making us forget our present situation (42)

•  In justice, we invent not a limitation, but rather an enlargment and extension of our passions (43)

•  it is only the partial movement of passions that is "denied and constrained" or "reflected" (in the sense that a beam of light is relected)

•  "The reflection of tendency is the movement that constitutes practical reason; reason is nothing bu ta determined moment of the affections of the mind - a calm or rather calmed affection" (43-44)

•  [pp. 44-49]:   Hume refuses the dualism of affection and reason, nature and artifice or culture

•  Justice may not be a principle of nature, but to the degree that we are an inventive species, even the artifice of justice is nature

•  "nature does not reach its ends except by means of culture, and tendency is not satisfied except through the institution" (44)

•  conversely, nature is what history does not explain, what cannot be defined, what may even be useless to describe, or what is common in the most diverse ways of satisfying a tendency

•  In this way Hume critiques "egoism" and contractual theories (Hobbes or Rousseau) that opposed the contract to nature because they work with "abstract economy and falsified nature" (44-5)

•  The essence of society, for Hume, is NOT LAW BUT INSTITUTION, because "law" or "contract" based theories of society presume a set of natural rights and and make of society nothing other than negativity, limitation, and alienation; whereas for Hume, law can't be source of obligation because obligation presupposes utility; society can't be source of rights because rights presuppose society (people enter into society, in other words, because they have no "rights"; only partial sympthies) (45)

•  "The institution, unlike the law, is not a limitation but rather a model of actions, a veritable enterprise, an invented system of positive means or a positive invention of indirect means.   This understanding of the institution effectively reverses the problem:   outside the social there lies the negative, the lack, or the need.   The social is profoundly creative, inventive, and positive." (45-6)

•  "society is a set of conventions founded on utility, not a set of obligations founded on a contract" (46)   law, by the way, appears only to limit the institution?

•  But don't forget that institutions are not identical to the drives they create the means to satisfy (marriage - sexuality, e.g.).   for the means by which the institution satisfies the drive also limits it. (47-7):   i.e.UTILITY DOES NOT EXPLAIN THE INSTITUTION (e.g. a thousand different institutions could be invented to satisfy sexuality) (47)

•  so what does explain the institution in its essence an dparticularity?   REASON AND CUSTOM or THE REFLECTION OF THE DRIVE IN THE IMAGINATION (48)

•  [pp. 49-54]

•  the general rule is established by interest and utility, determined by the imagination.   But how can the general rule's "lack of adequation between real persons and possible situations" be corrected (i.e. how do you take into account exceptions, difference, insurgency?)

•  This sets Deleuze up ( and we see here again Deleuze everywhere producing the questions presupposed by the argument ) to distinguish in the case of the general rule, three dimensions which are nonetheless simultaneous:

•  Establishment: possession is instituted as property

•  Determination: property is stabilized through government

•  Correction: the scarcity generated by stability is corrected through commerce

•  The question, now that vivid, partial sympathy has been made extensive but "colorless", is how to reinforce and enliven justice?   LOYALTY is the answer and it becomes the third general rule (conversation and property being the first two?) and Government becomes the institution in which we deposit loyalty

•  SEE THE TABLE ON P.54 TO HASH OUT THIS WHOLE CHAPTER.

•  Chapter Three:   The Power of the Imagination in Ethics and Knowledge (pp. 55-72)

•  [pp. 55-62]

•  extension and reflection   are identical but they are also different

•  determining rules are extended beyond the circumstances from which they arrive

•  corrective rules account for the exception and thus are rather more reflective

•  "The real definition of a general rule is that it is a passion of the imagination" (57) - thanks so much for telling me now!  

•  And now 3 types of rules:

•  Rule of taste

•  a feeling of the imagination not of the heart;

•  "imagination reflects both the passions and their object, separating them from their actuality and recuperating them in the mode of the possible

•  "Aesthetics is the science which envisages things and beings under the category fo power or possibility" (57)

•  the passion images itself and the imagination becomes passionate

•  Rule of freedom:   the will, which is a kind of passion, "moves easily every way, and produces an image of itself even on that side on which it did not settle" (58)

•  Rule of interest and duty: the imagination furnishes an image of an object in which we have invested passion that allows us to sublimate our uncertainty with respect to that object???? (e.g. husband/wife example) (58)

•  In the wake of all of this - one more time!!! - "the general rule is the absolute unity of the reflection of the passions in the imagination and the extension of the passions by the imagination" (59)

•  All of the next three pages are really hard to pin down, but they seem to amount to establishing the role Hume provides for fancy within his conception of culture and society (and the working of general rules) and concludes with this passage:

•  "the illusion of the fancy is the reality of culture.   The reality of culture is an illusion from the point of view of the understanding, but it asserts itself within a domain where the understanding can not, and should not, seek to dissipate illusion. . . culture is a false experience, but it is also a true experiment.   The understanding has the right to exercise its critique only if we unduly transform thte powers of culture into real entites, and only if we give real existence to general rules" (62)

•  [pp. 62-64]

•  the principles of the passions (like those of association) transcend and fix the mind, but they do it differently

•  principles of association "give the ideas possible reciprocal relations" (if a person is my brother, I am his)

•  principles of the passion give sense and direction to these relations, impress them in a particular way in the imagination (the relation between brothers, though reciprocal, will have different effects on each imagination)

•  thus we associate our ideas with a goal, a purpose, an intention, which only passions can confer on human activity:   the passions need the association of ideas, but the association of ideas presuppose the passions (63)

•  the simple effect of the passions within the imagination is thus to give it direction or tendency

•  but because the whole complex of the imagintion (bearing these passional effects) constitutes general rules...beyond the tendency of the imagination (64)

•  and here,   in a way I don't understand, deleuze declares that the problem of the self in hume can now be solved:   "the problem of the self, insoluble at the level of the understanding, finds, uniquely within culture, a moral and political solution.   . . . That which now constitutes the self is the synthesis of the affection and its reflection, the synthesis of an affection which fixes the imagination and of an imagination which reflects the affection" (64)

•  [pp. 64-72]

•  the imagination (reflective, excessive, and quasi-constitutive) makes possible the establishment of the whole that is culture and morality, a whole not of parts but of general determinations (64)

•  but only theoretical reason is the determination of the detail of nature; of parts submitted to calculation:   how is this possible? The schematism proper to theoretical reason would work differently:   it would be the principle of determination of parts (65)

•  "In the case of relations between ideas we must distinguish between

•  those that depend entirely on the ideas which we compare together (resemblance, relations of quantity, degrees of quality, contrariety) gives the logic of mathematics (demonstration)

•  relations of objects which may be changed without any change in the ideas (relations of time and place, identity, causality) gives the logic of physics (experimental reason, understanding)

•  Similarly, we must distinguish between two kinds of reasons (or different uses of reason)

•  Reason that proceeds on the basis of certainty (intuition and demonstration):   certainty

•  Reason that proceeds in terms of probabilities (experimental reason, understanding): belief

•  The common   root of both uses of reason is comparison

•  So the kinds of conviction they generate - certainty and belief - have some relation to each other (the example of causality: is it derived from understanding, whose object it is, or from probability?)

•  Habit: both gradually formed by degrees and principle of nature (the principle is the habit of acquiring habits)

•  Experimental reasoning is the result of habit

•  but in the domain of the relations of ideas (i.e. intuition and demonstratio) reason is determined immediately by the corresponding principles, without a gradual formation and under the sole influence of human nature

•  "Whether as relations of ideas or as relations of objects, relations are always external to their terms.   What Hume means is this:   principles of human nature produce in the mind relations of ideas as they act 'on their own' on ideas." (66)

•  Both habit and experience are principles, and habit presupposes experience, but is different from it (67)

•  Experience causes us to observe conjunctions; its effect is causality as a philosophical relation.   This is how imagination turns into understanding , but it doesn't explain how understanding is able to make an inference or to reason about causes and effects.

•  The understanding must, from a principle other than experience, derive the faculty of drawing conclusions from experience, and also of transcending experience and making inferences (67)

•  Habit is the principle that lets us move from one object to another in the mind (68)

•  In this way, habit works for the world of knowledge as artifice works in the world of morals: as the origin of general rules which are both extensive and corrective (68)   but they don't function in the same way

•  Habit can fake experience and bring about belief that a repetition "fiction of the imagination":   these are the general, extensive, and excessive rules called "nonphilosophicla probability" such as stereotypes (Irishman cannot be witty)

•  Philosophical probability will only arise from a second operation in which "understanding . . . resumes the act of belief and holds it together with its principle within thelimits of past experience". (69)   This is the denunciation of error

•  Illegitimate beliefs have two sources, known as fictious causalities

•  Language: through the subsitution of spoken repetition for observed repetition, (education, poetry, eloquence, credulity)

•  Fancy: confuses the essential and the accidental. (e.g. vertigo)

•  Difference between morality and understanding:   when morality is exceeded we find culture and art; but when knowledge is exceed we find only negativity of errors and lies (71)

•  So belief is an act   of the imagination (moving from past experience to unknown future):   but it must find its "content and also the measur eof its vividness, in the greatest number of similar parts offered separately by the understanding" (72)

•  In brief, habit has opposite effects upon the imagination and on the judgment: on one hand, extension, and on the other , the correction of this extension" (72)



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