David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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The thesis critically analyses the dominant foundationalist tendency of modern philosophy, with special reference to the sophisticated antifoundationalist critiques of foundationalism formulated by G.W.F. Hegel and Gilles Deleuze. It begins by outlining a general methodological aspect of foundationalism, regarding the necessity of radical self-critique in philosophy, which directly connects contemporary thought with Cartesianism, via classical German philosophy. In the philosophies of Kant, Fichte and Schelling, this self-critical project is transformed: they undertake to show that reason can, by examining itself, give an account of experience that is systematic, or consistent with itself. However, each of these thinkers fails to accomplish this, and indeed, the commitment to a priori foundations is itself undermined in Schelling's work; where a philosophical crisis of meaning (a 'trauma of reason', philosophical nihilism) emerges. Deleuze and Hegel's contrasting critiques of foundationalism, and their positive reconstructions of the standpoint of philosophy, are then interpreted as non-foundationalist attempts to overcome this internal crisis of foundationalist thought as inadvertently exposed by Schelling. Both criticise certain subjective presuppositions common to foundationalist philosophies, which they consider constitute a dogmatic 'image' of philosophy, a kind of transcendental illusion that is the guiding force behind foundationalism. Both also aim to replace this with a genuinely philosophical image. The thesis provides an original historical contextualisation of Deleuze's thought in relation to German Idealism, and Schelling in particular, with whom, it is argued, Deleuze has much in common. Deleuze's conception of pure difference is treated in this regard as a kind of 'absolute knowledge'. This contextualisation also allows the sometimes crudely understood antipathy between Hegel and Deleuze to be addressed in a more penetrating fashion, which shows that they have more in common in terms of their critical orientation than is usually supposed. The thesis concludes with a critical comparison of these thinkers, which argues that, although both succeed in their own terms, in relation to a criterion of self-consistency, Hegel's philosophy offers a more satisfactory treatment of the ontological and historical conditions of philosophical activity
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