I do not « hijack » philosophical discussions, I do conceptual analysis – the disappointed philosopher
Reading Deleuze and Guattari’s WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY? today, we are forced to ask: what is this book for us? What is « WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY? »?
Deleuze and Guattari are anti-essentialists. For them there are no essences, there is no essence of philosophy that can be stated in a definition that would be universalisable over space, time and persons, not even as a potential horizon of thought.
Thus their answer to the question posed in the title, what is philosophy?, cannot be in terms of an essence, encapsulated in a definition. It is also, reflexively, an answer to the question what is « WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY? »? The answer is not in terms of essences but of circumstances, i.e. the answer will vary with the circumstances.
WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY? is signed by Deleuze and Guattari. Some readers try to separate out their respective contributions, but the authors argue that this is impossible not only empirically (not enough information) but also in principle (due to the indetermination of becomings): they have included variance, différance, in their posing of the question and in their answer.
The circumstances that comprehend, and are comprehended the question are space-time dramatisations, comprising not only place, moment, characters, landscapes, décor, but also planes, movements, speeds, intensities, and affects. Philosophy is cinematic, in its own way, just as cinema is conceptual, philosophical (but Deleuze and Guattari this direction of the arrow).
In a similar vein François Laruelle, in TETRALOGOS, argues that philosophy is, or can be, « making music with concepts ».
The moment in which Deleuze and Guattari write is characterised by the inflation of the concept and the devaluation of theory. « Concept » has become an omnipresent slogan (in their terms « mot d’ordre ») at the same time as the world has become anti-intellectual.
Today, we are confronted with the ideological paradox of the « a-theoretical concept », in fact no concept at all. There is nothing more dogmatic.
Note: I have constantly analysed this practice of « de-concepting » in my critique of OOO.
A concept (in philosophy as elsewhere) is always taken up within, and given content and coherence by a theoretical matrix, whether it be one of philosophical (artistic, scientific, athletic) invention or of ideological repetition.
WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY? is Deleuze and Guattari’s practical book about thinking (noesis) in whatever domain, and its circumstance is the contemporary context of de-noetisation, the decline of spirit into the unthinking, but pre-programmed, repetition of stereotyped discourse and behaviour.