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Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation (Suny Series, Intersections: Philosophy and Critical Theory) [Kindle Edition]

Henry Somers-Hall

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Book Description

A critical account of the key connections between twentieth-century French philosopher Gilles Deleuze and nineteenth-century German idealist G. W. F. Hegel.



Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation provides a critical account of the key connections between twentieth-century French philosopher Gilles Deleuze and nineteenth-century German idealist G. W. F. Hegel. While Hegel has been recognized as one of the key targets of Deleuze’s philosophical writing, Henry Somers-Hall shows how Deleuze’s antipathy to Hegel has its roots in a problem the two thinkers both try to address: getting beyond a philosophy of judgment and the restrictions of Kant’s transcendental idealism. By tracing the development of their attempts to address this problem, Somers-Hall offers an interpretation of the sweep of nineteenth- and twentieth-century philosophy, providing a series of analyses of key moments in the history of thought, including the logics of Aristotle and Russell, Kant’s own philosophy of judgment, and the philosophy of Bergson. He also develops a novel interpretation of Deleuze’s philosophy of difference, and situates his philosophy in relation to the broader post-Kantian tradition. In addition to Deleuze’s relation to Hegel, the book makes important contributions to the study of Deleuze’s philosophy of mathematics, as well as to the study of several underappreciated areas of Hegel’s own philosophy.



“This is the most comprehensive and philosophically interesting analysis of the Deleuze-Hegel relation. Somers-Hall has assembled a remarkable amount of material that is quite diverse—from the problems of representation, judgment, and calculus to those of force and evolution—and his interpretations are masterful. This book will have a significant impact on the way we think about the development of twentieth-century philosophy.” — Leonard Lawlor, Sparks Professor of Philosophy, Penn State University



“Somers-Hall’s book is a profound engagement with both Deleuze and Hegel, and it provides a much-needed antidote to interpretations that all-too-quickly characterize Deleuze as anti-Hegelian.” — Daniel W. Smith, coeditor of Gilles Deleuze: Image and Text



Henry Somers-Hall is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom. He is the cotranslator (with Alistair Welchman, Mergen Reglitz, and Nick Midgley) of Salomon Maimon’s Essay on Transcendental Philosophy.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 839 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press (24 Feb. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007D2X7XK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,522,614 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Schein is NOT appearance 25 April 2015
By John G. Bardis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This should be an important book. It is, first, a comparison of Hegel, perhaps the greatest philosopher of the 19th century, with Deleuze, perhaps the greatest philosopher of the 20th. Second, Somers-Hall has, on the whole a very good knowledge of and understanding of Hegel. And, finally, Somers-Hall has the remarkable ability to express complex philosophical arguments in a clear, understandable, interesting and enlightening way.

Unfortunately, though, ultimately this book seriously misrepresents Hegel's position. And it is just on the basis of this misrepresentation that Somers-Hall finds the basis for the opposition between Hegel and Deleuze--who would otherwise be, on the contrary, quite close.

Chapter 5 of the book is a presentation of the first part of the Doctrine of Essence. This deals, to begin with, with the triad Essence-Schein-Reflection. Schein is translated by Miller as "illusory being". Now more often it is translated simply as "shine" or, as in this book, as "seeming". This first part of the Doctrine of Essence is quite likely the most difficult thing in all of Hegel. It is almost uncanny the ease and the clearness with which Somers-Hall presents all this.

Chapter 7, then, rather than dealing with the second part of the Doctrine of Essence, deals instead with the Consciousness section of the Phenomenology. This isn't necessarily questionable in itself. The second part of the Doctrine of Essence deals with the thing and its properties, appearance, and force and its expression. So it is essentially a do-over of the Consciousness section of the Phenomenology. And, again, this section is presented in a very clear and interesting manner.

The problem, though, is that the Consciousness section isn't presented as a continuation of the first part of the Doctrine of Essence, replacing and corresponding to the second part of the Doctrine of Essence. The attempt is made, rather, to compare the Consciousness section directly to the first part of the Doctrine of Essence. The effort is made to make the argument of the Consciousness section correspond to the argument of the first part of the Doctrine of Essence, rather than, as is the case, with the second part of the Doctrine of Essence.

So, then, as a result of this Schein is conflated with appearing. But Schein and appearing are two very different things. Just to begin with they occur, obviously, in two completely different parts of the Doctrine of Essence.

So the misrepresentation of Hegel takes place, first, on page 188. I should say, again, that up to this point the book is VERY readable and VERY interesting. So, then, on page 188 Somers-Hall writes:

"We saw in chapter 5 how the Hegelian dialectic led to a renunciation of the conception of essence as somehow providing the ground for appearance, since essence turns out to be 'the seeming of itself within itself" [SL 398], that is, the actual process of appearing. Such a result would clearly present difficulties for a transcendental philosophy such as Deleuze's, where the object is conceived of as doubled [as virtual and actual: similar to Kant's noumenon and phenomenon]... Hegel's dialectic of essence would allow the 'doubled' aspect of the object to be reincorporated into a single ontological plane, thus collapsing the distinction between virtual and actual."

But this is quite incorrect. "Appearance" is not dealt with in chapter 5. "Seeming" is dealt with there. And appearing and seeming are quite definitely on two different ontological planes. This replacing of "seeming" with "appearing" by Somers-Hall is really quite the sleight of hand, quickly, quietly and efficiently setting up an unreal opposition to Deleuze.

Then again on page 193 the "dialectic of seeming and essence" is interchangeable with the dialectic of "essence and appearance" thus leading to the conclusion that this "would clearly offer strong grounds to reject Deleuze's dual ontology of virtual and actual". But when Schein and appearing are seen, correctly, to be two quite different things, then this offers, rather, grounds to accept Deleuze's dual ontology.

On page 202 the switch has definitively been made and we read:

"As we have seen, however, whereas for Hegel, the critique of essence and appearance [forget Schein!] aims to situate everything on a single plane, Deleuze instead argues that what is required is a field of depth to supplement this plane."

A further point of confusion here is that the third part of the Doctrine of Essence, Actuality, is not dealt with. This is a particular problem because "actuality" is a term that Deleuze uses. But this word has a precise meaning for Hegel. For Hegel Actuality is the reconciliation, or synthesis if you will, of essence and appearing. To some extent at least Actuality is for Hegel an eschatological term. To see how this might correlate with Deleuze, on page 200f Somers-Hall writes:

"...the virtual and actual operate as tendencies within the real, rather than as states. In this sense, everything exists between the virtual and the actual, rather than as simultaneously in one or both states. Indeed, the pure virtual and pure actual are themselves abstractions created by taking tendencies to the limit."

So perhaps Deleuze's virtual-actual-real correspond, respectively, to Hegel's essence-appearance-actuality.

And aside from this misrepresentation of Hegel's position, I believe the last chapter of the book on Hegel's philosophy of nature, as interesting and generally well-informed as the chapter is, also misrepresents Hegel in a number of ways. I would love to go into it--but this review is already way too long.
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