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Deleuze and the ethics of immanence: Beyond the illusions of consciousness

Markelj, Jernej 2019. Deleuze and the ethics of immanence: Beyond the illusions of consciousness. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis examines the idea of immanent ethics as it appears in the work of Gilles Deleuze by mapping its emergence in his most relevant works (including those coauthored with Félix Guattari). My analysis adopts an innovative perspective: it suggests that Deleuze’s ethical imperative can be best understood in terms of overcoming the illusions of conscious agency. My argument is organised around two particular illusions that are normally held to relate to the supposed primacy of consciousness – that of free will and that of value. I demonstrate that, for Deleuze, overcoming these illusions can be achieved by becoming attuned to the immanent organising principle of reality, which can, in a human sense, be called the unconscious. It is the unconscious forces that constitute effective agency, while the conscious self is capable of activity only insofar as it is able to express and restructure the unconscious forces which constitute the possibility of its activity. From this perspective, I trace the trajectory of Deleuze’s thought from his work on Spinoza and Nietzsche, where he conceptualises immanent ethics through idiosyncratic readings of these philosophers, to his co-authored work with Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, where a new account of the ethics of immanence is presented. This ethical approach takes the form of a materialist psychiatric practice called schizoanalysis. By examining the development of Deleuze’s immanent ethics, I seek to isolate and clarify its main conceptual elements. I show how schizoanalysis both embraces and diverges from Deleuze’s readings of Spinoza and Nietzsche, and suggest that its aim is that of dismantling normalised subjectivity to produce new thoughts, feelings and desires. Such a dismantling is the precondition for any future articulation of a genuinely immanent ethics.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Funders: AHRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 27 May 2020
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2020 02:30

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