TOWARD AN ONTOLOGY OF LITERATURE: DETERMINATION AND INDIVIDUATION IN DELEUZE
This is an excerpt from a much longer chapter, the fourth of a seven-chapter manuscript. The manuscript argues for the possibility of thinking literary form on the basis of a non-totalizing organization, one that can take into account the integrity of the literary work without reducing the work to a closed system of self-identity or self-reflection. Earlier chapters trace the relationship between German romanticism and Kantian aesthetics, as well as offer critiques of notions of organic form in American New Criticism and of possibility in Blanchot.
This chapter turns chiefly to Gilles Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition in order to draw out the way Deleuze articulates a concept of creation in which notions of system and freedom appear in terms very different from Kant’s. Deleuze offers a powerful critique of the traditional concept of determination, arguing that determination depends on a schema of recognition and an already-determined, unified principle. And he offers a parallel critique of the concept of possibility, which positions the real as an inferior image of, or sacrifice of, the possible. In place of these concepts, he proposes a study of the organization of difference, of the tension between a self-differing cause and a repetition that structures and communicates. My claim is that Deleuze’s rethinking of determination as individuation, and of being as difference, provides an alternative model of form, one that can and should be put into dialogue with theorizations of the literary work. This claim is based on the idea that the literary work is something that differs from itself as well as from its causes, and thus needs to be studied on the basis of philosophies that have explicitly articulated a logic and an ontology of self-difference.
KEEPING IT IMPLICIT:
A DEFENSE OF FOUCAULT’S CONCEPTION OF DISCURSIVE NORMS
This paper defends the specific conception of discursive norms underlying Michel Foucault’s idea of archaeology of knowledge: norms that are implicit in practices and nevertheless constitute and constrain the discursive possibilities of the participating subjects. The goal is to refute the influential line of criticism that Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow have leveled against Foucault, which concludes that the archaeological project is unsound because it is based on an incoherent conception of its subject-matter, norms of discourse. To meet this goal, I will, first, argue that the method and aim of Foucault’s archaeological project determine the following criteria of adequacy for a conception of the discursive norms whose historical transformations it studies: (1) the norms cannot be descriptive regularities but they must involve a normative force that is efficacious; (2) the norms must be operative in a practice without its participants having an explicit understanding of them by way of grasping statements of rules. In the second place, I seek show that, Foucault’s specific aspirations aside, these two criteria are motivated by the general need of an account of discursive norms to avoid the respective pitfalls of regularism and regulism, as discussed by Robert Brandom. By invoking the Kantian criticism of regularism and rehearsing ‘the-regress-of-interpretations-of-rules argument’ against regulism, I hope to show, following Brandom, that the criteria expressed in (1) and (2) must be met by any account of discursive norms. Hence, I will conclude, the fact that Foucault’s archaeological project presupposes a conception of norms that meets the criteria expressed in (1) and (2) cannot be a problem, despite what Dreyfus and Rabinow argue.
A SPLINTER IN THE FLESH: LEVINAS AND THE RESIGNIFICATION OF JEWISH SUFFERING, 1928–1944
This is a draft of chapter 2 of my new book “Sowers and Sages: The Renaissance of Judaism in postwar Paris.” Primarily the chapter works out how Jewish suffering in Levinas becomes the basis for his notion of election. The essay/chapter traces Levinas’s development of a philosophical conception of Jewish suffering/ election during these years by considering his debt to and departure from Heidegger. It treats the relationship between Geworfenheit and historicality in Heidegger and election and anti-historicism in Levinas as correlated categories. I want to show in particular how Levinas’s simultaneous debt and disavowel of Heidegger’s influence during these years lead to the project’s political liabilities.