Zizek has an ambivalent or two-tiered reaction to Deleuze on the question of ontological negativity. This response is only approximately summarised in Zizek’s idea that the pre-Guattari Deleuze of DIFFERENCE AND REPETITION and of LOGIC OF SENSE proposes a negative ontology (in terms of the previous post a type 3 ontology) and the Guattarised Deleuze provides a full or positive ontology (type 1).

However, both before and after Guattari Deleuze’s texts swarm with holes, gaps, fissures, ruptures etc. despite his official pronouncements in favour of affirmation and positivity.

Zizek is quite explicit in LESS THAN NOTHING in his praise of Deleuze’s formulations of an ontology of appearance as appearance, even if he considers that Deleuze himself is mistaken in thinking that this is an anti-Platonic thesis.

One of the forms in which negation enters as a central concept in Deleuze and Guattari’s system is in the concept of deterritorialisation. They assert that « deterritorialisation (note the negative prefix) comes first ».  Deterritorialising does not efface our cognitive map but opens it up to permanent revision and self-revision, making its use heuristic rather than dogmatic. It subtracts vertical transcendence.

Zizek has evolved on the question of negativity point. In LESS THAN NOTHING and in the preface to the second edition of his book on Deleuze, ORGANS WITHOUT BODIES, that he elaborates a concept of negativity that does not only negate but is also productive. Zizek comes closer to Deleuze here, perhaps without realising it.

In terms of the discussion in my last post Adrian Johnston seems to be going for a sort of « weak negativity » (my description, not his). I consider Zizek’s reply to an earlier version of Johnston’s critique here.


Note: I am indebted to a discussion with Cadell Last for helping me to clarify these ideas.

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  1. landzek dit :

    Two routes upon things. Two orientations that do not reduce to another unity.


  2. landzek dit :

    I suppose the question that I’m constantly asking in different ways is if there something more to a car than it’s Car-ness.

    I would say yes and no. And that these answers revealed to particular and irreducible situations. They do not conflate into another unity where there’s some sort of an big US ethereal transcendent situation where they both come together. To me that place where everything comes together is ontology. And that would be “yes“ answer to their is there more to the car then the car itself.

    All these ontological answers as if we were finding something more substantial or more involved than the car itself or audibly metaphysical and religious, and philosophical ontology is really discussing religious cosmology.

    End it is possible to know this because most people that would hear that last sentence would be offended and they would say “no philosophical ontology is nothing like religious cosmology and here’s why”. And they would proceed to give me an ontological basis for explain to me why their religious cosmology has more to it than religion, and that somehow it is “of reason“ or something like that and it’s definitely not a religious posture.

    So there is no arguing against that. Every argument that a person would put towards rebutting the rebottle to ontology religion just asks more into the ontological situation of whether or not it is religious or whether or not it is of reason or epistemology or any of these facets, any of these ontological metaphysical ideas of that something is more then what is presented.

    There is no arguing with that there is no argument that can confront that type of faith.

    So that is the “yes” part.

    The “no”part simply says that you can take a parent says and you can describe what they look like.

    But due to the religious part of the “yes” answer, every time you give a description of something someone else is going to take offense to their faith about what you’re saying is true of that factual situation, and they will offer for themselves something that is more than the basic fact of the existence.

    To me this reveals two routes.

    If I say that philosophical ontological proposals are religious cosmologies, a type of modern schoolasticism, it is because that’s exactly what it is doing. If you look at the functioning of this discussion of “reason” it appears to function in a manner similar to a bodily organ.

    But of course the ontology just switch say that can’t be the case because they would be including me, the person that says or states this particular fact, in their common room of opinion saying that you as a human being cannot have any knowledge that I am not privy to and the way my mind is working as consciousness is no different from yours and so this is how mine works and so yours has to be part of the same relative scheme that is in capable of talking about facts of human beings

    That is nothing less then Christian apologetics.


  3. dmf dit :

    « Deterritorialising does not efface our cognitive map but opens it up to permanent revision and self-revision, making its use heuristic rather than dogmatic » indeed we need a new pragmatism as Stengers and others have suggested, a new poetic (as-if) dwelling if you will.


  4. Deterritorialization comes first but the negative comes last, as an illusion. Deleuze has to desperately disqualify negativity because he cannot help but face apparitions of the negative in thought, and its validation as index of truth becomes the ultimate philosophical sin « Those who bear the negative know not what they do: they take the shadow for the reality, they encourage phantoms, they uncouple consequences from premisses and they give epiphenomena the value of phenomena and essences. » (DR, 1994:55). The « positive twists » he proposes to these occurrances demand us an axiology of thought. Positivity and affirmation are imanent to negativity, but for Deleuze, negativity is imanent to afirmation only as a shadow and a false-problem to be disconsidered by a performative correction of thought. In this sense, it’s in fact
    very interesting to think how Zizek can surprisely agree with Deleuze’s acusation, only insofar to the well known further twist of illusion as not only immanent to truth, but the very form of truth itself.


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