Magazine littéraire 406, February 2002 - Dossier: "L'effet Deleuze" [The Deleuze effect]
Deleuze, Pour Quoi Faire? 1 [Deleuze, What's the use?] - Isabelle Stengers
Comments elicited by David Rabouin
"To Liberate Philosophy from the Seriousness
of All Arrow-like History [histoire fléchée]"
by Isabelle Stengers
"For someone like me, coming from the sciences, Deleuze was above all, with Difference and Repetition, the discovery of how much the philosophical text could require of the reader an engagement as equally intense as a physico-mathematical construction. And beyond that, this was an engagement without any assigned term: knowing of what an event had occurred, by means of which the planes of public thought and private feelings, of ethics and aesthetics, of the political and the ontological underwent a twisting that forces an obscure communication between them, and that it would take a lifetime to learn all that this makes necessary: becoming philosopher whereas one had received a degree in philosophy?
"Not becoming 'Deleuzian' but accepting this gift: philosophy separated from the resentment (ressentiment) that served as its ground. Not to define oneself against the Sophists, against the fetishists, against modern scientists who might unduly occupy reserved for philosophers, nor to hunker down in a supposedly impregnable fortress, the subject, the Other, nothingness And yet, with What Is Philosophy?, Deleuze and Guattari thought philosophy not under the sign of its twilight demise, but of its eventual, programmed assassination. But this was in order to rescue the event and extract from it the imperative, to liberate philosophy from the seriousness of all arrow-like history, whether the arrow be progress or decline. And in so doing, to cause a strange reverse effect, outside history. For if, in order to kill philosophy it suffices to endow the present with the power to judge the past and to assign a so-called 'corpus' to an outmoded past, a body always contemporary with philosophy, doesn't this corpus secretly share with objects laden and fabricated by other peoples the strange power of 'causing' thought, of forcing thinking under the test of that which is obligatory, not in the terms that grant authority?
"A strange gift, properly 'constructivist.' If thinking is always to follow a witch's line, if the philosopher must learn to construct concepts the efficacy of which he will submit to, this singular adventure called philosophy, fabricating, fabulating, could well replace for those among us who have deemed it superstitious the practices of those who are able to negotiate with invisible worlds."
** Isabelle Stengers is Professor of philosophy
at the Free University of Bruxelles. She coedited the collection
on Deleuze published in the Annales de l'Institut de l'Université
de Bruxelles (Vrin, 1998). She is currently preparing
a study of Alfred North Whitehead (Penser avec
Whitehead) that should appear next fall at Editions du Seuil.
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