Between Realism and Anti-realism: Deleuze and the Spinozist Tradition in Philosophy

Deleuze Studies 5 (1):1-17 (2011)
In 1967, after a talk Deleuze gave to the Society of French Philosophy, Ferdinand Alquiéé expressed concern during the question and answer session that perhaps Deleuze was relying too heavily upon science and not giving adequate attention to questions and problems that Alquiéé took to be distinctively philosophical. Deleuze responded by agreeing with Alquiéé; moreover, he argued that his primary interest was precisely in the metaphysics science needs rather than in the science philosophy needs. This metaphysics, Deleuze argues, is to be done ‘‘in the style of Whitehead’’ rather than the style of Kant, and in developing this metaphysics Deleuze draws heavily on Spinoza. The present essay examines this Deleuzian-Spinozist metaphysics done in the style of Whitehead, the ‘‘metaphysics science needs’’, drawing on the writings of David Hume and Bruno Latour in the process. This discussion will in turn enable us to situate Deleuze's metaphysics in relation to contemporary debates concerning speculative realism and correlationism, and especially Quentin Meillassoux's critique of the latter. Our conclusion will be that the kind of metaphysics Deleuze pursues is neither correlationist nor straightforwardly realist, but rather charts a course between realism and anti-realism.
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DOI 10.3366/dls.2011.0002
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