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Romanian Journal for Phenomenology
Vol. XI I 2012

2012 Romanian Socie
fr Phenomenolo
AlRights Resered
ISSN: 1582-5647 (print) I 2069-0061 (online)
ISBN 978-973-50-3738-3 (paperback) I 978-973-50- 3739-0 (electronic)
Tis volume was published with the support of CNCS-UEFISCDI,
Project PN-II-RU-TE-2010-156.
Body ad World
in Merleau-Pont and Deleuze1
Corr Shores
Universit ofLeuven
Astac: To compae Merleau-Ponty's and Deleuze's phenomenal bodies, I
frst examine how for Merleau-Ponty phenomena appear on the basis of three
levels of integration: 1) beteen the parts of the world, 2) beteen the pats
of the body, and 3) beteen the body and its world. I contest that Deleuze's
attacks on phenomenology ca be seen as constructive critiques rather tha
as being expressions of an ati-phenomenologica position. By building from
Deleuze's defnition of the phenomenon and from his more phenomenologi
cal y relevant writings, we fnd that phenomena for him ae given to the body
under exactly the opposite conditions as for Merleau-Ponty, namely that 1) the
world's diferences 2) appear to a disordered body that 3) comes into shock
ing afective contact with its surroundings. I ague that a Deleuzia theory of
bodily-given phenomena is better suited than Merleau-Ponty's model in the
task of accounting for the intensity of phenomenal appearings.
Keord: Deleuze, Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology, Body, World.
I. Intoducton
A Joe Hughes obseres, there is "not much consensus in the current
critical literature when it comes to the question of Deleuze's relationship to
phenomenology."2 On the one hand, Deleuze is ofen explicitly critical of
Husser!, Merleau-Ponty, ad phenomenology in genera, and many commen
tators have regarded those critiques d expressing an anti-phenomenological
tendency in Deleuze's thinking.3 Other scholas acknowledge the tensions
May I thank Rolad Breeur, Ullrich Melle, ad Nicolas de Warren of the Husser! Archives
in Leuven for their contributions to this paper.
J. Hughes, De leuze and the Genesi ofReresentaton, London: Continuum, 2008, p. 3.
3 See, for eple, M. Foucault, ''Teat Phiosophc," i D. Bouchard (ed.), Langage,
Counte-Meor Pacce: Selced Es ays and Inteiews, Engsh ts. by D. Bouchad ad S. Si
mon, Ithac: Cornell University Pres, 1 977, pp. 1 65-196; L. Lawlor, ''Te End of Phenomenol
og: Epressionism i Ddeue ad Merleau-Pom" Contnetal Philsoph Rie 31 . 1 (1 998),
182 Corr Shores
beteen Deleuze ad phenomenology whie also recogmzmg fndaenta
compatibilities, a well a the ways that Deleuze's critiques fal to grap the a
biguities ad later development of Merleau-Ponty's thinking.4 Some scholas
have gone so far a to suggest tat Deleue's idea ca be seen a a radicaliza
tion of phenomenolog.5 Acording to Aa Beaulieu, Deleue thrived on his
confictual relation with phenomenology. For Deleuze, phenomenolog is an
enemy of sorts tat benefted hi like a fiend, because it helped him advace
his own idea.6 Ou aalysis here, however, is interested not so much in what
MN the relationship of Deleuze's idea to phenomenology but more in what it
coul become when we treat his criticisms as constructive critiques. Might it be
possible to do phenomenology i a Deleuea way? Miguel de Beistegui writes:
Ha phenomenology not chaacterized itself throughout precisely as this abil
ity to become and evolve? And is this not the historica lesson of phenomenol
ogy: that it is itself a fow, with unpredictable bends ad meanderings, which,
whatever their intensity, in the end aways reinvent phenomenology[ . . . ]. [ . . . ]
there is no "letter" of phenomenology: no primordia word, no consecrated
text, no originary truth that one could betray: only an endless series of her
esies, which is, at leat in philosophy, the only possible form of fdelity, that is,
the fdelity in and through genuine questioning.7
We will place Deleuze's philosophy of the body without organs, then, in
stark contrast to Merleau-Ponty's integrationist model to show that Deleuze's
pp. 15-34; D. Olowki, Del and the Rin o Rresetton Berkele: Unerit of Cafora
Press, 1999; L. Lwlor, Tinking through Fech Philsoph: Te Being of the Qton Bloomington:
Indiana Univerit Pres, 2003; D. Olkowski, "Phiosophy of Stce, Phiosophy of Event De
leu's Critque of Phenomenolog" Chii Inteona13 (2011), pp. 193-216; ad P Monte
bello, " Ddeu, ue ati-phenomenologe?" Chimi Intetonll3 (2011), pp. 315-325.
4 See, fr eple, C. Boud, "Traslator's Intoducton: Ddeu, Empicism, ad the Stg
ge for Subjectvty" i G. Deleu, Empircm and Subecvit: A Esay on Hume' Teor o Humn
Natre, English tas. by C. Bouda, New York: Columbia University Pres, 1991, pp. 1-19;
]. Rnold ad J. Rofe, " Deleue ad Mereu-Pont: Imaence, Univocity ad Phenomenol
og," jourl o the Brth Soce fr Pheomeolg 37.3 (2006), pp. 229-251; H. Somers-Hal,
" Ddeu ad Merleau-Pont Aethetc of Dif nce," i C. Boud (ee), Dele: Te Inteve
Rducon London: Continuu, 2009, pp. 123-130;]. Hughe, op. ct.;]. Wabacq, " Depth ad
Te i Mereu-Pont ad Deleue," Chii Inttonl13 (2011), pp. 327-348;]. Wabacq,
" Mauce Mereu-Pont ad Gile Deleu a Interreters ofHeni Bergson," iA T Tyeniecka
(e.), Tancendntli Overed From Absolut Powe of Concoues untl the Force of Cosic
Architcnic (lc Huseln 108), Dordecht: Springer, 2011, pp. 269-284; ad J. Wa
bacq, " Maurice Merleu-Ponts Critcism on Bergsons Ter ofTue Seen Trou the Work of
Gil e Deleu," St Phaomeolgca 11 (2011), pp. 309-325.
5 See, for Cple, C. Colebrook, Gilles Dele, London: Routledge, 2002; L. Brant,
Dif erence and Givenness: Dele Tanscendntal Empircism and the Ontolog of Immanence,
Evaston: Northwestern University Press, 2008.
A. Beaueu, Gills Deleuze et ! phinominolge, Mons: Sils Maria, 2004.
M. de Beistegui, "Towad a Phenomenology of Diference?" Rsearch in Phenomenolog
30 (2000), p. 68.
Body and Wrl in Merleau-Pont and Deleuze 1 83
conception is better suited for explaining the intensities of phenomena. To do
this, we frst exaine how phenomena appear to Merleau-Ponty on account
of three coordinated levels of integrations, naely the integration beteen
the parts of the world, the integration of our bcdy parts, and our bodys in
tegration within its phenomenal world. Ten parallel to each level we fnd
contrary principles in our Deleuzia theory of the phenomenological body:
for Deleuze, phenomena would appear when our body, whose parts are work
ing disjunctively detects incompatible diferences in a surrounding world that
is split of from it during a shocking encounter.
2. Phenomenal Integation
For Merleau-Ponty we never perceive qualities or other pas of perception
purely in themselves, but rather only in their integrated relation with other
quaities or parts. He ha \ imagine a white patch on a homogeneous back
ground. No matter what we ae looking at, there wilalways be something sur
rounding it. If in our example we are looking in te middle at a paricula
point, we thereby sense it belonging together aong its neigboring pats, with
all these points belonging to the whole patch. Or if we see a pat of the patch
at the bounda we also thereby sense it belonging with the neighboring pars
of the patch but not with the adjacent points outside it in the background.8 So
already we see there is no such thing as a pure atomic perception. In fact, all
the nearby qualities ae infuencing the way ay part of somethng looks:
Tis red patch which I see on the carpet is red only in virtue of a shadow which
lies across it, its quality is apparent only in rdation to te play oflight upon it,
and hence H a element in a spatia confguration. Moreover the colour ca
be said to be there only if it occupies an aea of a certain size, too small an aea
not being describable in these terms. 9
We are also misled into thinking that there is a "point-by-point" constant cor
respondence between the pats of what we see and the parts of our "elemen
tary perception."10 Certain optical illusions disprove this thesis.
Fig. 1 One pat of the Miler-Lyer illusion
M. Merleau-Ponty, Phenominologe de l perception, Paris: Gallimad, 1 945, p. 9; Phenom
enolg of Percepton, English L35. by C. Smith, London: Rutledge, 1 962, pp. 3-. Hence
fonh abbreviated 3PP with French/English page numbers.
PP p. 1 0/4.
PP p. 1 4/7.
184 Cor
r Shores
Consider for example the above portion of the Miller-Lyer optical illusion
[fgure 1]. We see two equal lines. Now, view the remaining pieces [fgure 2].
Fig. 2 Aother pat of the Mil er-Lyer illusion
Wen we put them together [fgure 3], we do not see them combined into
two equal lines with inverted arrow-ends.
Fig. 3 Miller-Lyer illusion

r, the horizontal lines now appea as beaing dferent lengths, on account

of their integrated relations wit the agled pieces. Hence, what we sense is not
the immediate efect of te pats making one-to-one impressions on us:
normal fnctioning must be understood H a process of integration in which
the text of the external world is not so much copied H composed. Ad if we
try to seize"sensation" within the perspective of the bodily phenomena which
pave the way to it, we fnd [ . . . ] a formation already bound up with a lager
whole [ . . . ]. [ . . . ] the perceived, by its nature, admits of the ambiguous, the
shifing, and is shaped by its comext.11
Te integration of phenomenal parts has for Merleau-Ponty a certain phe
nomenological structure, namely, the horizona structure of our intentional
awareness. Te red of the stain on the carpet has its particuar look on account
of the other qualities and objects expressing themselves in that appearance, for
example, the overlaying shadow that tinges the color. So when we see the red,
our minds are also made aware of the blanket of shade covering the area, even
if we are not explicitly aware of it. We will not be surprised when we look up
and see something blocking the light source. Te red's particular shaded look
refers our mind to something not explicit in the perception. Our minds have
a awareness of it, but it is not in the forefront of our attention. A an implied
phenomenon, it hovers at the edges of our awareness, which could literally
be the perimeter of our feld of vision or j ust be a vague, indeterminate, ad
PP pp. 16/9, 18/11.
Body and Wrld in Merleau-Pont and Deleuze 185
ambiguous part of our intentional consciousness, residing in the background
of what our minds are currently attending to. It looms on the "horizon" of our
awareness. To see red, then, means that this red
announces something else which it does not include, that it exercises a cogni
tive fnction, and that its parts together mae up a whole to which each is re
lated without leaving its place. Henceforth the red is no longer merely there, it
represents something for me, and what it represents is not possessed H a "real
part" of my perception, but only aimed at d an "intentional part".12
Because each elementary part of our perception "arouses the expectation of
more tha it contains," it is "therefore already charged with a meaning';13 it is
already indicating or suggesting some other phenomenon.
In fact, this horizonal integration of phenomenal objects is so involved
that to see one object from a given perspective is also to have on the horizon
of our awareness the way that object looks from the perspectives of every other
obj ect facing it. Merleau-Ponty illustrates this efectively with the arm-shadow
in Rembrandt's De Nachtacht [fgure 4] . 14
Fig. 4 Rembrandt's De Nachtwacht (Ie Night Wtch)15
Notice how the man in the foreground holds out his arm, which casts a shad
ow on the man standing next to him [fgures 5 and 6].
PP p. 20/13.
13 PP P 9/4.
14M. Merleau-Pont 'Tri et !'esprit," in C. Lefort (ed.), Cuvres, Pais: Gal imad, 2010,
p. 1599; "Eye and Mind," English trans. by C. Dallery, in]. M. Edie (ed.), Te Primac of
Perception and Other Essay s, Evaston: Northwestern Universit Press, p. 167. Henceforth ab
breviated 3 OE, with French/English page numbers.
15 T image ad the following details: Rembradt, De Nachtacht, Wteda Comons,
ht:// commons. wmedia.org/wii/File: Rembrandt_nightatch_large.jpg,accessed1 4-Dec-2011.
186 Corr Shores
Fg. 5 ad 6 Details from Rembradt's De Nachtacht
We do not merely see his arm from just our perspective; we also see it d if we
were looking from his right side at the agle of the light source, because the
shadow we see from our perspective presents to us the appeaance of his am
from the sun's perspective.
Tis illustration will help us grasp the sort of paoptic vision we have even
fom our glance at one viewoint. Consider also when we stand beteen a set
of railroad tracks and look down their straight extent into the distance. Tey
seem to converge very fa of. But this tells us they must be still parallel all the
way in the distace, because they would instead appear paallel fom here only
if they continually diverged d they progressed. In a way, seeing the conver
gence is to indirectly stad far down the tracks ad view them being parallel.

Yet, this means we are implicitly taing the perspective of horizonally implied
objects related to the one in focus:
every object is the mirror of alothers. Wen I look at the lap on my table,
I attribute to it [ . . . ] the qualities [ . . . ]which the chimney, the walls, the table
can "see"; but back of my lamp is nothing but the face which it "shows" to
the chimney. I can therefore see an object in so fa a objects form a system
or a world, ad in so far as each one treats the others round it as spectators
of its hidden apects [ . . . ].Any seeing of a object by me is instataneously
reiterated among al those objects in the world which ae apprehended as co
existent [ . . . ] _17
Merleau-Ponty ofers anoter illustration to help us grasp j ust how thor
oughly diferent phenomena ae horizonally integrated. He has us consider
when we view the tiled foor at the bottom of a pool of water. We might think
that we are seeing the geometry of the tiles despite the wavy distortions that
OE, P 1624/187.
PP pp. 82-83/68.
Body and Word in lferleau-Pont and Deleuze 187
the water produces. Yet really the foor, as the appearance that it happens
to be, is seeable only because it is given to us through te rippling water. We
should not assume there is such a thing as an object seen in itsel Al things
are sensed in their intermeshment with everything else. Even the water we
mentioned is not contained only there in the pool. Wen we raise our eyes
to te trees above the water, we see the webbed play of the water's refections.
The tree foliage has its particular appearance only because the water below it
"sends into it, upon it its active and living essence."18
Yet, because these horizonal objects are indeterminate and ambiguous, we
are motivated to turn our attention toward them, which then makes tem
determinate. To better understand this process, Merleau-Ponty refers us to the
way that children acquire the abilit to perceive distinct colors. At frst, tey
can only distinguish colored things from non-colored things. Ten, they dif
ferentiate warm and cool shades of colored regions. Finally, they can discern
diferent colors. Te psychologist mistaenly thinks that the child originally
perceived the diferent specifc colors in their determinacy, except the child
was merely unaware of the colors' identities. So according to this psychologica
interpretation, children frst can see te redness of te red, with its diference
to the blueness of blue, but they just have not yet learned the correspondng
names and concepts for the color. Merleau-Ponty says tat instead te colors
were originally seen in an indeterminate form, and only gr
dually does the child
come to constitute tem distinctly In other words, te child sees diferent colors
but not so much the distinctions between them, although these diferences hag
implicitly on the horizon of her awareness.19 Tere ae relations, then, beteen
the colors tat ae seen, altough they appea only implicitly So, when children
early on see neigboring things beaing diferent colors, they have a vage sense
that the visual appeaances difer in some signifcat way. Aer later learning
how to detect the diferences beteen te colors, they then see them determi
nately ad uniquely. Because the colors began indeterminately, their becoming a
determinate appearance was merely on the horizon of the child's awareness. We
might here notice aother sort of horizon. Te determinate forms were there
indrectly in te beginning stage. Yet, teir arrival to the chld's consciousness is
pendng; in a way it hangs on a sort of temporal horizon too, being at te edge
of the grap of te present intentions.
Te parts of our phenomena world are given so pre-integrated that even
when te world suddenly appears to us quite diferently than the moment
before, in a way we were already anticipating the alteration.20 He depicts a
scene to illustrate. We walk along a shoreline. Before us is a ship run aground
in the beach. Behind it is a forest, and te ship's masts blend in with the trees,
preventing us from initialy noticing them as belonging to the ship. Yet, tere
OE, p. 1616/182.
1 9 PP p. 38/29-30.
PP p. 23/15.
188 Cor
will come a moment when we feel that the look of some of the trees is on the
verge of atering. Before even seeing the masts as distinct from the forest, we
felt some sort of tension in their appearance, j ust as "a storm is imminent
in storm clouds."21 Even when originally mistaen, we still perceived all the
distinguishing qualities of the masts, and they told us indirectly they were
not trees. So from the beginning we had a "vague expectation" that there was
something more to be understood in the appearance of the forest:
Te unity of the object is based on the foreshadowing of an imminent order
which is about to spring upon us a reply to the questions merely latent in
the landscape. It solves a problem set only in the form of a vague feeling of
uneasiness, it organizes elements which up to that moment did not belong to
the sae universe and which, for that reason, [ . . . ] could not be associated.22
So whenever the phenomena composition of our world changes, it is be
cause we turn our attention to some detail that alters the way we confgure
the whole. We were motivated to turn our attention in the direction of other
phenomenal parts; so in the case of the ship and forest, at the edges of our
awareness we sensed some details that told us there was something question
able about certain trees. Only aferard did we learn that these details were
indications that the trees were real y ship masts instead. So in other words,
even though we might have these dramatic experiences where the phenom
ena world around us radically rearranges before our eyes, it does not involve
a complete incoherence from one moment to the next; the new, altered world
was somehow still there on the horizon of our awareness, if only as the sugges
tion that there is more to be seen. In fact, it is only because it was there on the
horizon that we were motivated to discover it. Tis holds as well in Merleau
Pont's account of children's acquisition of color sense. Once they learn how
to discern diferent colors from one another, there is "a change of the structure
of consciousness, the establishment of a new dimension of experience, the
setting forth of an priori. "23 So, children lose the ability to see colors in that
indeterminate way they appeared in early childhood. It would seem then that
they fnd themselves in a new world that is incoherent with the prior one now
hovering marginally in their retentiona consciousness, from back when they
were only able to see colors indeterminately. Yet, when we come to these de
terminations that change the structures of our awareness, they begin as hori
zons giving us preformed "new regions in the total world."24 It is true that afer
their acquisition, the older structures are destroyed. However, this process is
one of bringing out something already implicit in the previous structures of
PP p. 24/ 1 7.
PP p. 25/ 1 7.
23 PP p. 38/30.
24 Ibid.
Body and Wrld in Mer!eau-Pont and De!euze 189
consciousness. So, rather than suggesting incoherence in the objects and in
our consciousness, it instead attests to their continuous selfunity:
It is precisely by overthrowing data that the act of anention is related to previ
ous acts, and the unity of consciousness is thus built up step by step through a
"transition-synthesis". Te miracle of consciousness consists in its bringing to
light, through attention, phenomena which re-establish the unity of the object
in a new dimension at the very moment when they destroy it.25
3. Synaesthetic Integation
Al implicitly and explicitly perceived phenomenal objects of our world,
then, are like threads woven together through the integrating "fabric" of our
body.26 It gives the world a certain density or "thickess," just as the tissues
of our muscles or our skin are intermeshed so as to produce the thickness of
our fesh. Moreover, perception, Merleau-Ponty thinks, must always involve
an intermiing of al our senses. A object is then "an organism of colours,
smells, sounds and tactile appearances which symbolize, modif and accord
with each other according to the laws of a real logic [ ...]. "27 1e diferent sense
qualities of the object are organically intertined, because from the begin
ning, our body's sense organs integrate their fnctioning to such a degree that
we can fnd no sense-datum that is not conditioned by the others. It is not
merely that one sense helps the others; rather, the impressions of one sense
are found implicitly within the others, and all our impressions ae intertwined
with our bodily motions. When Merleau-Ponty contracts his foot, for exam
ple, he can see this motion in his mind even when wearing his shoes.28 We aso
never actually see how our body looks when we walk, but we will recognize
our gait visualy when we see it flmed or if we watch it in our shadow. 29 So,
our bodily integration was already there from the beginning:
I do not traslate the "data of touch' "into the language of seeing' or vice versa-I
do not bring togeter one by one the pan of my body; t traslation ad this
uncation ae performed once and for alwt me: they ae my body itsel30
Aother way to articulate this sense-integration is that all sense-data are syn
aesthetic. He has us consider patients who lost the ability to visualy perceive
color qualities. Even without this capacity, they were still able may times to
5 PP p. 39/30.
PP p. 272/23 5.
7 PP p. 48/38.
PP p. 174/149.
29 Ibid.
30 PP p. 175/ 1 50.
190 Cor
determine the colors shining upon them, on account of how it was perceived
in its mixture with the other senses. Tey might for exaple know it is yellow
when their body responds as if feeling something stinging it; one patient said,
"I clenched my teeth, and so I know that it is yellow."31 Of course even when
we do visually perceive color quaities, we also sense them in these other ways
as well. It is not that we frst see red and then our body responds by enlivening
itself; rather, j ust as soon as we see red, our body is enlivened at the same time,
because seeing red is pardy a tactile sensation felt throughout our bodies. 32
"Synaesthetic perception is the rule," he writes, ad
the senses intercommunicate by opening on to the structure of the thing. One
sees the hardness and brittleness of glass, and when, with d tinkling sound, it
breaks, this sound is conveyed by the visible glass. One sees the springiness of
steel, the ductility of red-hot steel, the hardness of a plane blade, the sofness
of shavings.33
He has us consider that although we have two eyebals with each one giving us
diferent streams of visual data, we still have a unifed view of one phenomenal
world. He thinks that the visua quality of sounds and audible properties of
colors come about through the same sort of synthesis of sense-data. Because
al our senses are pre-integrated in this way, he says that their unity is an 'a
prior truth."34 Our body is "not a collection of adjacent organs, but a syner
getic system"; their fnctions ae allinked together in our actions.35
4. Immersive and Sympathetic Integations with the Wrld
Wen a child reaches out for something, from the beginning she feels her
self a part of the world around her, because on that basis she knows that her
body could move aong the things around her and take them into her grasp.
Our integration with the world, then, is evident from the way our senses al
low our body to immediately move around and interact with all the other
parts of the world.36 In fact, we even take up the objects around us and make
them extensions of our own sensibility. Merleau-Ponty's famous exaple is
the blind man waking with a stick. Wen frst beginning to use it, he might
feel the stick making contact with his hand. Yet aer a while, it becomes as
though the end of the stick is his new point of contact wit the objects aound
him. He no longer feels the contact between his hand and the stick but instead
31 PP p. 244/211.
PP p. 245/211.
33 PP p. 265/229.
34 PP p. 255/221.
35 PP p. 270/234.
OE, p. 1594/162.
Body and Wrl in Merleau-Pont and Deleuze 191
between the stick and the ground or other things his stick is "feeling."37 We
are inherently geaed to be organically integrated with the objective world
around us. Te blind person's awareness wants and tries to extend into its sur
rounding world. We use telephones to extend our voices and ears into distant
places. Our gaze, Merleau-Pontwrites, is anaogous to the blind man's stick:
like his cane, our vision feels out the world in an interrogative way, ranging
over objects and dwelling on them. Tis is "the organic relationship between
subject and world, the active transcendence of consciousness, the momentum
which carries it into a thing and into a world by means of its organs and
Our body's immersion in the world is evident as well in its sympathetic
relationships with it. Consider how when we hea a sound, part of our ear ap
paratus vibrates at the same frequency, in sympathy with the air's vibrations.
It is as though there were a place of crossing-over beteen the world and our
body: "In the same way I give ear, or look, in the expectation of a sensation,
and suddenly the sensible takes possession of my ear or my gae, and I sur
render a part of my body, even my whole body, to this particular manner of
vibrating and flling space known as blue or red."39 He also has us think of the
holy sacrament of communion. Te bread is not only something sensible. A
well, it is believed that when we ingest it, it communicates into us the "real
presence of God." Sensation is like tis too. We are not only given an impres
sion of the world around us, but enter into communion with the world by
means of the sympatetic relation of that sensation.40 Wen our hands are
about to feel something smooth, they take up a certain "degree," "rate," and
"direction of movement" appropriate for feeling that knd of surface, instead
of the sorts of motion and readiness needed to feel something roughY Te
smooth thing called out to our hands to tell them how it needed to be felt, so
that even before making physical contact, the smooth thing in a sense placed
itself upon our hands. So, we cannot say that we are the toucher performing
the action, and the smooth thing is something passive receiving our action.
Te smooth obj ect acts on us j ust as much as we act on it. Te thing we sense
begins as a "vague beckoning" whose call to us allows us to "synchronize" with
it.42 We "interrogate" the object "according to its own wishes," which places us
into a "pre-established harmony' and "kinship" with it, an N prori sort of pre
condition of organic integration with the world, necessary for us being able
37 PP p. 1 77/ 1 52.
38 PP p. 1781 1 52-1 53.
39 PP p. 245/212.
PP pp. 245-246/212.
41 M. Merleau-Ponty Le visible et !'invisible, i n C. Lefort (ed.), Cuvres, Pais: Galimad,
201 0, p. 1 759; Te Viibl and the Inviible, C. Lefort (ed.), English tras. by A. Lingis, Evan
ston: Northwestern University Press, 1 986, p. 1 33. Henceforth abbreviated 3 V, with French/
English page numbers.
PP p. 248/21 4.
192 Corr Shores
to sense the things around us.43 Our hands can "[open] upon a tactile world"
when we are feeling the world from within them, but this also requires that
our hands remain accessible to being aready touched by the outside world,
which informs them how to go about their touching. In this way, there is a
"crisscrossing" of the touching and the tangible. By opening themselves up in
this way, our hands incorporate themselves into the world they feel out; "the
two systems are applied upon one another, d the two halves of an orange":44
Tus a sensible datum which is on the point of being felt sets a kind of mud
dled problem for my body to solve. I must fnd the attitude which will provide
it with the means of becoming determinate, of showing up as blue; I must fnd
the reply to a question which is obscurely expressed.45
So, we might think of ourselves togeter with the world we perceive d being
of one fesh. Tere is an intimacy beteen us

close as beteen te sea and

the strand,"46 whie yet we ae still somehow partly our own selves; we do not
e into te fesh just because we are so much a part of it. Objects, he says,
do not begin d selfsae thngs which we d seers come to view afer we begin
opening our attention to them. Instead we ad the objects are involved in an
intimacy d if "the gaze itself envelops them, clothes them with its own fesh."47
5. Dif rential in the Phenomenal Wrld
In Difrence and Repetiton, Deleuze characterizes phenomena appearanc
es as involving pure diferential relations that present to our awareness some
sort of a sign. To explain tese passages, we will frst look at how Deleuze reads
Leibniz's micro-perceptions as being infnitely small sub-phenomena that are
describable in caculus terms d diferential relations. Leibniz writes:
when we perceive colors or odors, we are perceiving nothing else but fgures
and movements, but fgures and movements so smal , so varied, and in such
great number, that our minds are not capable in their present states of consid
ering them singly and distinctly A a consequence we are not aware tat our
perceptions are composed of infnitesimally small perceptions of fgures ad
movements. For example, when we thoroughly mix very fne yellow and blue
powders, we perceive green; we are not aware that what we in fact perceive is
only yellow and blue, very fnely mied.4
43 V, p. 1 759/ 1 33.
` Ibid.
45 PP p. 248/21 4.
46 V, p. 1 756/ 1 30-1 31 .
47V, p. 1 757/ 1 31 .
` G. W Leibniz, "Meditationes de Cogtione, Veritate e t Ideis," i n C. I. Gerhadt (ed.), Die
philsophiche Schrfe von Goted Wlhelm Leibni, voL 4 Berlin: Georg Olms, 1965, p. 426;
Body and Wrl in kferlau-Pont and Deleuze 193
Deleuze combines this notion of infnitesimally small perceptions with
the vaishing infnitesimals in Leibniz's diferential calculus, and he illustrates
with Leibniz's triagle demonstration. 49
Fig. 7 Leibniz' triangle demonstration of vanishing vaues50
Leibniz describes a geometrical fgure with two triangles. sharing a com
mon diagonal line [fgure 7]. A this line moves to the right, one triangle
increases while the other decreases. Yet, the sides of both triagles remain
proportional, so the ratio of the larger one aways indcates the ratio of the
smaller one. Tis holds even the smaler triagle's sides diminish to the in
fnitely small. Tey have vaished, but their diferentia relation remains, stil
discernible in the larger triangle. 51
"Rections on Knowlede, Trth, ad Ide," iMonawg and Othe Phiwsophical Es ay s, Engsh
J. by P Schecker ad A M. Scecr, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrl, 1965, p. 10.
49 G. Deleuze, Semina 22/04/1980, English trans. by C. Stivale, http:l/ww .webdeleue.
com, accessed 14-Dec-2011.
0 G. W Leibniz, Mathematche Schrfen, vol. 4: Brieechsel zwichen Leibniz, Wllis, Vr
gon, Gido Grandi, Zendrni, Herann und Freiher von Tchirhaus, C. I. Gerhadt (ed.),
Hale: H. W Schmidt, 1859; image taken fom the pdf available at Achive.org, http:l/ .
archive.orgldetasl1eibnizensmathe02leibgoog, accessed 14-Dec-2011.
51 G. W Leibniz, "Justifcation du cacu des infnitesimales par celuy de l'algebre ordi
naire," in C. I. Gerhadt (ed.), Matheatche Schrn, voL 4: Breechsel zwichen Leibniz,
Wli, Vrgon, Gido Grandi, Zendrni, Herann und Freiher von Tchirhau, Hidesheim:
Olms, 1971, pp. 104-1 06; "Justifcation of the Infnitesimal Calcuus by Tat of Ordnar Al
gebra," in L. E. Loemer (ed.), Phiwsophical Papers and Leters, English trans. by L. E. Loemker,
Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1965, pp. 545-546.
194 Corr Shores
I ?+/.. ___
/b .
Fg. 8 Te vaishing ratio remains displayed in the larger triangle
So according to Deleuze's reading, when we perceive green, we are really
noticing the diferential relations beteen infnitely small perceptions of blue
and yellow. SZ At their basis, all our perceptions are primarily these undetect
able micro-perceptions. Tus, the perception of green is not really the homog
enizing blending of yellow and blue. Green results not from their assimilation
and bleeding into one another, but rather from their diferentially jarring up
agnst each other. And neither the micro-perceptions of yellow nor those of
blue have green on their phenomenal horizon. Tus, the whole is not implied
in the parts. So contrary to Merleau-Ponty's theory, phenomena in the world
around us, for Deleuze, appear to our perception not when they integrate
holistically, but rather when they oppose each other diferentially
Te micro-perceptions are obscure and confsed; we perceive nothing in
them, and yet they are like raw phenomenal data that are only secondarily
synthesized into constituted perceptions. So, when the infnitely small per
ceptions of yellow and blue diferentially relate to produce a higher-order
phenomenon of green, our perception comes more into clarity, because we
can better notice the color that we are seeing. A higher and higher orders dif
ferentially relate, the perceptions fnd themselves having greater clarity; thus,
"claity emerges from obscurity by way of a genetic process."53 1e diferential
52 G. Deleuze, Le pli. Leibniz et le Baroque, Paris: Les editions de rinuit, 1988, p. 1 1 9; Te
Fol: Leibniz and the Baroque, English trans. by T. Conley Minneapolis: University of Mi
nesota Press, 1 993, p. 90. Henceforth abbreviated 3 P with French/English page numbers.
53 P p. 1 20/90.
Body and Wrl in Merleau-Pont and Deleuze 195
relating that produces the higher-order phenomenon in a sense is like a clarity
flter, and there is an infnity of these flters.
Each flter determines which perceptions will diferentially relate so to pro
duce higher-order phenomena on the basis of what is remarkable or notable in
that perceptual situation. To use Gregory Bateson's formuation, it is a matter
of diferences that make a diference. 54 Leibniz gives the example of the noisy
sound from a mill or waterfal that we have become overly accustomed to. Per
haps at frst the micro-perceptions of the sound were remarkable or notable
when we initialy began living near the waterfall. Te frst perceptual flter
selects the micro-perceptions whose diferential relations wil provide a clearer
perception of the sound. Tese various sub-perceptions are diferentially re
lated yet again and fltered to an even clearer perception, until reaching the
hest order of clait, t
e water
sound that we notice explicitly. However,
because the sound is monotonous, the noise
becomes less remark
able, and ocer diferential vaiations in our feld of perception come to be
selected inbLeHd through diferentia flrern
By selecting what is rema
le, the perceptions become distinguished
but not yet distinct. A peception obtans distinctness
y means of yet an
ocer sort of flter tat renders what is remarkable into what is regular. Tis
regularizing of the perceptions is perhaps what makes them less noticeable or
phenomenal. So in the case of te waterfall sound, we at frst distinguish its
variations from all the other possible ones that could have diferemially related
so to come into clarit in our awareness. We hear it as its own perception, but
as long as it stands out to us in its remarkableness, it seems new and hetero
geneous each moment and still worthy of our attention. Yet, as we gradualy
realize that it has, for exaple, a certan range of volume that it never strays
from, and the sorts of sounds it makes and their patterns also stay within
certain ranges of variation, the perception then becomes regular and homo
geneous. Our perception of the waterfall begins with a chaos of varying tiny
sounds that demand our attention, but it al gradually turns into a blanket of
ignorable white noise that occupies the background of our awareness.
For Deleuze, the diferential relation bereen micro-perceptions does not
just hold for all the perceptual data given together in one instant, like all the
micro-perceptions of blue and yellow that we have when seeing the green of
a apple; rather, "tiny perceptions are as much the passage from one percep
tion to aother as they are components of each perception."57 Tis is because
54 G. Bateson, Mind and Natre: A Necessar Unit London: Wldwood House, 1 979, p. 1 1 0.
55 G. W Leibniz, Nouveau essais sur l'entendement humain, in C. I. Gerhatdt (ed.), Die
philosophichen Schrifen, vol. 5, Berlin: Weidmann, 1 882, p. 47; New Essays on Human Un
dertanding, English trans. by P Remnant and J. Bennett, Cambridge: Cabridge University
Press, 1 981 , pp. 53-54, and see aso P pp. 1 1 6-1 17/86. Deleuze uses the exaple of a water
mill in his aalysis.
P p. 1 21 /91 .
57 P p. 1 1 5/87.
196 Corr Shores
in a way, the fture is already sensed now in the immediate feld of micro
perceptions. Following his waves illustration, Leibniz writes:
te loudest noise in the world would never waken us if we did not have some
perception of its sta, which is smal, just a the strongest force in the world
would never break a rope uess the leat force strained it and stretched it slight
ly, even though that little lengthening which is produced is imperceptible. 58
Deleuze reads this to mean that what we perceive now gives us tiny indica
tions of what is to come.
However abruptly I may fog my dog who eats his meal, the animal will have
experienced te minute perceptions of my steaty arrival on tiptoes, my hos
tile odor, and my lifng of the rod that subtend the conversion of pleaure into
pain. How coud a feeling of hunger follow one of satisfaction if a thousad
tny, elementar forms of hunger (for salts, for sugar, butter, etc.) were not
released at diverse and indscernible rhyrhms?59
So like animals, we feel "pricklings," even though what we wil come to per
ceive is not yet clear to \. Tese are tiny perceptions that "are not integrated
into present perception."60 In the following moments, more of these tiny
pricklings prove remarkable and come out as a clear and distinguished per
ceptionY Tese subversive micro-perceptions "destabilize the preceding mac
roperception while preparing the following one."62 Tis is strikngly similar
to Merleau-Pontys notion that we now are implicitly aware of the content
of our forthcoming perceptions. We shoud emphasize that for Deleuze, the
basis for the implicit perception is not that fture macro-perceptions are in
tegrated with present ones, but rather that present ones are heterogeneous
mutiplicities with ati-integrational parts that overthrow former phenom
enal appeaings rather than blending them together. It is only on the highest
order of synthesis, the regarizing flter that makes perceptions regular and
homogeneous, that such a blendng happens.
So recall how a macro-perception is the diferential product of sub-phe
nomena, which themselves are diferentials of yet smaller ones, all the way
to the infnitely small. We will turn now to Deleuze's explicit discussions of
phenomena in Dif erence and Reetiton, and note how his modifcation of
the J. -H. Rosny energetics formula corresponds to the analysis ofLeibnizian
G. W Leibniz, Nouveu essai, op. ct.,
. 47; Ne Esays, op. ct., p. 54.
59 P p. 1 1 5/87.
. 1 1 6/87.
' Ibid
P p. 1 1 5/87.
Body and Wrl in Au-Pont and Delze
Every intensit is an E- E, where each E refers to an e- e', ad e toe- c etc.:
each intensity is already a coupling (in which each element of the couple refers
in turn to couples of elements of another order), thereby revealing the quai
tative content of quatity. We call this state of infnitely doubled dference
which resonates to infnit disart. Disparity-in other words, diference or
intensity (diference of intensity)-is the sufcient reason of all phenomena,
the condition of that which appears. 63
Phenomena, Deleuze explains, fash in signal-sign systems, which we will
illustrate with the orders of perception. When the system itself has at least ro
heterogeneous series-"ro disparate orders capable of entering into commu
nication'-then it is a signal.64 Consider, for example, the sub-phenomenal
and the macro-phenomenal levels.
Te phenomenon that fahes across this system, bringing about the commu
nication beteen disparate series, is a sign. [ . . . ] Every phenomenon is com
posite because not only are the to series which bound it heterogeneous but
each is itself composed of heterogeneous terms, subtended by heterogeneous
series which form so many sub-phenomena.65
Te green fashes out as the diferential relation between yellow and blue,
which themselves are diferentia relations, ad so on to infnity. Green fashed
out phenomenally because it was remarkable in that situation, and perhaps
that is why we might call ii a sign in Deleuze's sense of the term here. Te
sound of the waterfal does not representationally signif anying when it
fahes out, but it alerts our awareness to someting remarkable in our phe
nomenal world.
6 Bodil Difrental
Deleuze aso uses Leibniz's diagram when discussing Spinozas bodily af
fection, which will allow us to explain the ati-integrative relations beteen
bot our body and its world and aso those within the Deleuzia phenomena
body itsel To do so, we begin with his interpretation of Spinozas simplest
bodies so as to link his renditions of Spinozistic bodily composition and a
fective variation.
3 G. Deleuze, Difrence et reettion, Paris: PUF, 1968, p. 287; Difrence and &etton,
English trans. by P Paton, Ne York: Columbia University Press, p. 222. Henceforth abbrevi
ated as DR, with French/English page numbers. Rosnys original formulation does not have te
third coupling
. Deleuze adds it, perhaps to emphasize that the orders go on to infnity.
See J .-H. Rosny, Les sciences et le pluralime, Paris: Feli Alcan, 1922, p. 6.
DR, p. 286/222.
5 Ibid.
198 Cor Shores
Nested within the second book of Spinozas Ethics is a section known as
"Te Short Treatise on Physics," where Spinoza explains the composition of
compound bodies. On the most fndamental level, bodies are composed of
simplest bodies, which are distinguishable from one another only on the basis
of their diferences in speeds ad slownesses.66 However, simplest bodies ae
not atoms for Spinoza. By means of his novel interpretations ofSpinozas 12th
and 32nd letters, the "Letter on Infnit' and the "Letter on Blood," Deleuze
characterizes these simplest bodies as pure diferential relations, even though
the letters predate the invention of diferential calculusY And it is also on this
basis that Deleuze portrays Spinozistic bodily composition as being based on
diference rather than on integration, despite Spinozas language suggesting
otherise. Spinoza writes that simplest bodies become "reciprocally united to
each other" when "they ae in reciproca contact with each other, or if they
are moved with the same or diferent degrees of speed in such a way that they
communicate their motions to each other in some fxed ratio."68 However, this
"fxed ratio" for Deleuze is a relation of continuous co-variation. What makes
the relation fed is not that it stays the same, but rater that the simplest
bodies adaptively co-vary so tat they may together maintain themselves as a
compound despite each one afectively altering the other. To explain, Deleuze
turns to Spinozas "Letter on Blood."
Here Spinoza writes about the particles of blood, which are the tiniest
parts of "lymph, chyle, etc.," using terminology similar to when he describes
simplest bodies in the Ethics. Parts make up wholes when "the laws or nature
of one part adapts itself to the laws or nature of another part in such wise
that there is the least possible opposition beteen them."69 Deleuze taes into
account that the simplest bodies are not atoms, and thus are not the basic
indivisible extending bodies that make up larger extending bodies.7 Instead,
they are infnitely small partitions found together in infnite sets. According
to Deleuze's reading, when the simplest bodies of diferent sets continuously
afect each other's speeds and maintain their continuous co-modifcation, they
compose compound bodies. And as well, the simplest bodies can be regard
ed a infnitely small vanishing terms whose diferential value beteen their
B. Spinoza, Ethica, in C. Gebhardt (ed.), Opera, voL 2, Heidelberg: Winter, 1 972, p. 97;
Ethic, English trans. by G. H. R Pakinson, Oxord: Oxord University Press, 2000, p. 1 26.
7 S. Duf, Te Logc ofEression: Qualit Quantit and Intensit in Spinoz, Hegel and
Deleuze, Adershor: Ashgate, 2006, p. 48.
B. Spinoza, Ethica, op. cit., pp. 99-1 00; Ethics, op. cit. , p. 1 28.
9 B. Spinoza, Epitole, in C. Gebhadt (ed.), Opera, vol. 4, Heidelberg: Wmter, 1 972, p. 1 70;
Te Leters, English tras. by S. Shirley, Cabridge: Hackett, 1 995, p. 1 92.
0 B. Spinoza, Rnati Des Cartes Principiorum Philsophiae Pars 1 & Il, in C. Gebhadt
(ed. ), Opera, vol. 1, Heidelberg: Winter, 1 972, p. 1 90; Te Prnciles ofCartesian Philosophy
English tras. by S. Shirley Cambridge: Hackett, 1 998, p. 53. See also G. Ddeuz

, Spinoz et
le probleme de !'exression, Paris: Les editions de minuit, 1 968, p. 1 87; Expressionism in Phi
losophy: Spinoza, English tans. by M. Joughi, New York: Zone, 1 990, p. 204.
Body and World in Merleau-Pont and Deleuze 199
speeds determines the compound's power to afect other bodies and to sustain
its diferential composition under the infuence of detrimental afections. 71
For example,
chyle is an infnte set of very simple bodies. Lyph is aother infnite set of the
very simple bodies. 'at distinguishes te to infnite sets? It is the dif erentia
relation! You have this time a dy/ d which is: the initely smal pats of chyle
over the infnitely small parts of lymph, ad tis diferentia relaton tends to
wads a limit: the blood, that is to say: chyle and lymph compose blood.72
Our blood, then, is a "fed ratio" only in the sense that the lymph and chyle
maintain their continuously varying diferential relation instead of splitting
apat and forming diferentia relations with other bodies; in other words,
their being related in a ratio remains fed, even though the value of that ratio
is under continuous alteration.
Yet, the blood will decompose under the afective infuence of arsenic,
for example. Te poison's simplest bodies have a diferentia vaue that, rath
er than allowing the arsenic to combine with the blood, instead causes the
lymph and chyle to lose their co-variational relations and to then take up
relations with other simplest bodies. 73 Note as well that the blood's power to
sustain itself is dependent on its diferential relation to other parts of the body.
Te blood diferentially relates with other tissues to make up organs, which
themselves diferentialy co-compose to constitute the whole body. Our body
is then made of various levels of diferential composition, all the way down
to the infnitely smallest level of pure diferences without terms. So when we
are afected, our body's total level of power varies depending on whether the
afecting bodies increase or decrease the power of our compounds' abilit to
retain their continually atering relations. Arsenic, upon entering our body,
decomposes the blood, which then decomposes higher layers of our composi
tion, and so on, sending shock waves of disruptive afections throughout all
the levels of our body. A Spinoza writes: "I understand a body to have died
when its parts are so disposed that they maintain a diferent ratio of motion
and rest to one aother."74 A we will fnd, these compositiona disruptions are
matters of continuously varying af ective intensities sweeping throughout our
bodies and atering their power levels.
So as to better understand the continuous variations of our body's overall
power or perfection, Deleuze returns to diferential calculus concepts. We will
need to conceive afections as though they are like instantaneous velocities;
71 G. Deleuze, Spinoz. Philosophie pratque, Paris: Les edtions de minuit, 1981, p. 47; Spi
noz: Practcal Philosophy English tras. by R Hurley San Francisco: City Lights, 1988, p. 32.
G. Deleuze, Semina 10/03/1981, English tras. by S. Duf , hrtp://ww . webdeleuze.
com ad hrp:// . univ-pais8. fr, accessed 14-Dec-2011.
73 Ibid.
74 B. Spinoza, Ethica, op. ct. , p. 240; Ethics, op. ct., p. 256.
they would be more like tendencies-towad-chage that express themselves in
a pure instant, and as such tey are intensive quantities rater tha extensive
ones.75 One way to visualize this is to imagine a ball tied to a string ad swng
around in the air. At every phase of its motion, its direction is continuously
varying, so as to form a circle. Yet, if we cut the string, the ball does not fy of
in a spira, but rather moves in a straight line. Tis is because at every instant
the ball is tending straigt outward even though it actually moves circuarly
[fgure 9].
Fig. 9 Bal spinning on string
Tis path that lies at a right angle to te string would also be a tagent to
a circle's cure at that location. For a cure moving in a somewhat more ir
regular path, fndng its tendency-toward-change is more complex, and here
is where we might use something like Leibniz's method. We create a triangle
on the basis of how the curve's dimensions extend in a certain region. Ten, as
with Leibniz's triagles, we slowly diminish the two triagle legs, a
te third
diagonal side gives us the tangent, which also tells us which way the cure is
tending at that place [fgure 1 0].
Fig. 10 Tangent obtained through vaishing values
So in this way as the triangle legs almost completely contract upon each other,
te diagonal line gives us the intensive vaue of the tendency-toward-chage.
75 G. Deleue, Semina 20/01/1981, English tras. by S. Duf , http://ww .webdeleue.
com and http:// . uiv-paris8.fr, accessed 14-Dec-20 11.
Body and Wrld in Merlau-Pont and Deleuze
Ten, on te basis of Spinozas correspondence with Blyenbergh in letters
1 8 through 24, Deleuze characterizes afections as being series of instanta
neous af ective variations.76 Blyenbergh would like to know how it is possible
that our perfection, that is, our power of afection, is always atering, and yet
our essence is eterna. Blyenbergh wites "nothing else pertains to a essence
than that which it possesses at the moment it is perceived,"77 which Deleuze
reformulates as "there belongs to an essence only the present, instantaeous
afection that it experiences insofar as it experiences it."78
Deleuze ofers an illustration for how afections are continuous variations
tat are given as diferentia relations in the sense of instantaneous velocities.
We suppose we are meditating in a dark room. Wen someone abruptly en
ters and turns on the light, our concentration is broken and we are blinded.
We become aware that our power of afection has decreased instantaneously in
a "ligtning fast" alteration: "Two successive afections, in cuts. Te passage is
the lived transition from one to the other," and we experience this transition
as the "phenomenon of passage." Every passage between afections is then
"necessarily increase of power or a decrease of power."79 So if we were in
stead feeling for our glasses in the dark, and then someone turns on a sofer
light, our power instantaneously increases. Wat we feel in that instant is the
intensity of the change, ad thus we are phenomenally aware from moment
to moment of a continuous alteration of afective intensit.
So, we see that the continuous variation of afection not only involves a
series of discrete intensities, but is continuous like a curve or wave as well. De
leuze elaborates this when discussing the sequences of ideas that we have while
being continuously afected. Wen bodies afect us, we obtain inadequate
ideas of them. Deleuze says, "I look at the sun, and the sun little-by-litte dis
appears ad I fnd myself in the dark of night; it is thus a series of successions,
of coexistences of ideas, successions of ideas. "8 Corresponding to these ideas
is te continuous variation of increase and decrease in our power of action.
To illustrate, he has us imagine tat while walking down the street, we sud
denly encounter our enemy Peter, ad the idea of him makes us afraid. Yet,
just ten we notice our friend Paul; we turn our attention to him and become
empowered by his charm. A we transitioned from the idea of Peter to the idea
of Pau, we experienced our power continuously increae. "In other words,"
Deleuze says, "there is a continuous variation in the form of an increase-dim
inution-increase-diminution of the power of acting or the force of existing of
someone according to the ideas which she has," and "this kind of melodic line
76 Ibid
7 B. Spinoza, Epistole, op. cit. , p. 137; Leter, op. cit., p. 160.
G. Deleuze, Seminar 20/01 1 1 981 , op. cit.
79 Ibid
Deleuze, Seminar 24/01 / 1 978, English tras. by T S. Murphy http:/ /ww.webde
leuze.com ad http://ww .univ-paris8. fr, accessed 1 4-Dec-201 1 .
202 Cor Shores
of continuous variation will defne afect."8 1 It is a continuity made up of a
series of intensities. So to solve Blyenbergh's obj ection, then, Deleuze explains
that an existing mode like our body is something that continuously varies
in power on account of its afections. Yet, what is eternal about our modal
essence is the fact that it is a range of possible power levels that our existing
body can have, and when our power dips below the lowest threshold of our
range, our body ceases to express our modal essence and instead decomposes
into parts that express other essences. So, even while our body continuously
alters throughout its duration, the essence it expresses remains eternally the
same range of intensive quantities.
To frther explicate the phenomenologica value of Deleuze's rendition of
Spinozistic af ection, we should note his distinction between "afection" (af c
tio) and "af ect" (ajctu) . SZ An afection is the efect that colliding bodies have
on one aother, and these efects determine the compositional integrity of each
afected body. 'en our own body is afected, the afection itself seres as a sign
that makes us awae of how much power we have at that moment. An afect,
however, is more like a instantaneous vaiation or tendency-toward-change. It
tels us whether that afection is tending to increase or decrease our power, ad
how strongly it is doing so. Af ects, then, sere as signs of the afection's inten
sity Since af ections mae us aware merely of our quatities of power, he cals
tem "scalar." Af ects, however, he considers "vector," because they aso indicate
to ou awaeness the up or down direction of the afection's infuence on ou
power. If we regad the af ection as a place aong a cure representing a increae
or decreae of power, then the af ect would be like the tangent at those locations,
indicating how strongly ad in which direction the instataneous variation is
tending. 83 And because afections ad af ects ae signs that we interpret immed
ately, they then involve a sort of phenomenal bodily awareness of the way things
in the word appear to us when they afect our bodies.
Deleuze elaborates this afective awareness in his interpretation of Spinozas
frst two knds of knowledge. We obtain knowledge of the frst knd through
our reception of afective signs that indicate an increase or decrease in our
levels of power. Te sun's particles shockngly strike our skin, and we become
aware of whether and how strongly the sun is empowering or weaening our
body. 84 1e second knd of kowledge is more like "know-how" (avoir fire).
We might be under the continuous detrimenta afection of a body that will
decompose our composition if we do not adapt ad maintan our diferen
tial relation with it. To illustrate, Deleuze has us consider a line in Dante's
3 G. Deleuze, "Spinoza et les trois 'ethiques'," in Critque et ciniqu, Paris: Les editions de
minuit, 1 993, pp. 1 72-173; "Spinoza and the Tree 'Ethics'," in Essays Critcal and Clinical
English tras. by D. W Smith, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 1 38-1 39.
4 Ibid.
Body and Wrld in Merleau-Pont and Deleuze 203
nfro:85 "Te rain makes them howl like dogs; wit one side they screen the
other; they ofen turn temselves, the impious wretches."86 Rn droplets are
pelting a daned soul, disrupting te composition of hs skn at that location
and thereby sending shock waves of decompositiona forces throughout the rest
of his body. Yet, to maintain his constitution, the sou turns up a new side of his
body that is more able to sustain the afections. He is awae of how the rain af
fects him, and he thus knows how to self-afectively alter himself so to maintan
his dif erentia contact with it. Our active self-af ection ad adaptive interaction
with the world around us is what Deleuze here cals "rhythm." He also ofers
te example of swimming trough a powerfl wave. Wen we colide with the
wave, its afection begins to decompose our body Yet, by self-afectively altering
the arrangements of our own body's pats, we may swim in conjunction with
the wave and together form a larger composite body87 Deleuze suggests aother
illustration to explain more clearly how afective rhythm involves couplings of
continuous afective variations. He ha \ consider a dual improvisation of a vi
olin and a piao. On the one hand, each one needs to improvisationaly choose
its own development. Yet, the musicians' decisions wil infuence how the other
plays in concord with it. So, in order for both instruments to maintain their
diferential co-composition, they must make self-modifcations that are difer
entialy compatible with those of the oter player. 88
7 Te Phenomenal Body without Organs
We will now draw an even stronger contrat between a Deleuzian phenom
enological body and a Merleau-Pontian one, by applying Spinozistic afective
rhytm to the "rhythm of sensation" in Deleuze's more phenomenologicaly
relevant text, Francis Bacon: Te Logc ofSensation. We keep in mind that af
fections proceed as a continuous variation that on the one hand is made up of
discrete instantaneous intensities, while on the other hand still forms a fuid
cure or "wave" of sorts. Likewise, each fgure in Bacon's paintings presents a
"shifing sequence or series" of intensive variations, causing the sensation to
exist "at diverse levels. "89 Deleuze then ofers four problematic hyotheses to
explain how sensation is a matter of diferences of level, with the fourth being
the "phenomenologica hypothesis." It regards the levels as being diferent do-
5 G. Deleuze, Seminar 24/03/1 981 , English trans. by T S. Murphy, http://www.webde
leuze.com and htp://ww .univ-pais8.f, accessed 1 4-Dec-201 1 .
Date, 1e Infro ofDante Alighieri, English tras. by J. Calyle, London: J. M. Dent,
1 900, p. 61 .
G. Deleuze, Seminar 24/01 11 978, op. cit.
G. Deleuze, Semina 31 103/ 1 981 , http://ww .univ-paris8. fr, accessed 14-Dec-20 1 1 .
9 G. Deleuze, Francis Bacon. Logque de l sensation, Paris: Edtions du seuil, 2002, pp. 41-
42; Francs Bacon: 1e Logc ofSensaton, English tras. by D. W Smith, London: Continuum,
2002, p. 27. Henceforth abbreviated 3 FB, with French/English page numbers.
204 Cor
mains of the senses, with each one being integrated with the others in a Mer
leau-Pontian synaesthetic way; for example, when our eyes see the stomping
hooves of the bulls in Bacon's bullfghting paintings, our ears seemingly hear
the noises they make. In this sense, the painter woud "mae visible a knd of
original unity of the senses." Ddeuze rejects this ad the other hyotheses, be
cause they do not take into account the "vita power" of sensational rhyhm. 90
In simple sensations, he writes, rhythm "appears as the vibration that fows
through the body without organs, it is the vector of the sensation, it is what
makes the sensation pass from one levd to another. "91 Recall that the "vector"
of the afect-sign is the intensity of the af ection's increase or decrease in value.
Aso, these af ective intensities send shock waves of disruption throughout the
body's composition, causing it to decompose ad recompose, in accordance
wit a "rhythmic" co-variation within and between bodes. So, Ddeuze's read
ing of Spinozistic af ect will now help us better characterize the phenomeno
logica value of his body without organs, for he writes that it is "an intense
and intensive body. It is traversed by a wave that traces levds or thresholds in
the body according to the variations of its aplitude. Tus the body does not
have organs, but thresholds or levels."92 In Ddeuze's Spinozistic body, these
intensive levels are precisely what causes our bodily composition to shif and
change its arrangements, and the more rhyhmically our body acts, the more
it breaks down its norma organic divisions and relations to produce new
fnctional relations between its pats. In other words, the rhythm of afection,
j ust like the rhythm of sensation, pushes our bodies to the limits of its organi
zation, tending it toward being a body without organs. We see this correlation
as well in Ddeuze's notion of the indeterminate and tempora organs of sen
sation moving from place to place in bodies without orgas. Te exposed side
of the damned soul in Dante's Infro is the point of contact where the pdting
rain distributes its decompositional afective shock waves throughout him. By
turning another side upward, he self-af ectively sends witn himself waves of
afective ateration so to rearrange the rdations of his body, and by doing so,
he creates a new site of sensitivit to the external waves of afection. Because
he continually twists his sides around, each new organ of sensation replaces
the prior one, mang al of them temporar and indeterminate. Likewise,
Ddeuze writes of the body without organs:
A wave with a variable amplitude fows through the body without orgas; it
traces zones and levels on this body according to the variations ofits aplirude.
Wen the wave encounters external forces at a particular evel, a sensation ap
pears. A organ will be determined by this encounter, but it is a provisiona
9 FB, pp. 45-46/30.
91 FB, p. 71 15 1 .
92 FB, p. 47/32.
Body and Wrl in Merleau-Pont and De leuze 205
orga that endures only as long as the passage of te wave and the action of te
force, ad which will be displaced in order to be posited elsewhere.93
So by interpreting Deleuze's body without orgas in this Spinozistic language,
we may better explain his explicit attack on phenomenology when he con
trasts the body without organs to the phenomenologica lived body:
Tis ground, this rhyhmic unity of the senses, can be discovered only by
going beyond the organism. Te phenomenological hyothesis is perhaps in
sufcient because it merely invokes the lived body. But the lived body is still a
patry thing in compaison with a more profound ad amost unlivable Power
[Puissance] . We ca seek the unity of rhyhm only at the point where rhythm
itsel plunges into chaos, into the night, at the point where the diferences of
level are perpetually and violently mied. Beyond the organism, but also at the
limit of the lved body, there lies [ . . . ] the body without organs. 94
According to the "phenomenological hyothesis," the lived body's sense-organ
domains are synaesthetically linked. To contrast it with the body without or
gans, consider a Bergsonian exaple that Deleuze sometimes evokes: a cow
automaticaly recognizing grass.95 Te cow is able to recognize grass because
its habitua behaviors have formed the motor equivalent of a general idea.
In the animal itself we fnd representations which lack only refection and
some disinterestedness to be general ideas in the flsense of the term: i not,
how should a cow that is being led stop before a meadow, no matter which,
simply because it enters into the category that we cal grass or meadow?96
A living being selects from a pool of diferences the parts or elements that
satisf one of its needs. Tus, although each experience of grass is diferent,
they are all grouped together, because they each satisf the cow's hunger. Te
cow then can dip its head mechanicaly and eat the grass, without an intense
awareness of all the meadow's variations that would distinguish one clump
from another. Bergson illustrates a sort of dephenomenalization that happens
as our bodies become more accustomed and integrated into our surroundings.
I take a walk in a town seen then for the frst time. At every street corner I
hesitate, uncertain where I going. [ . . . ] there is nothing in one atitude
93 FB, p. 49/34.
94 FB, p. 47/32.
95 See DR, p. 1 76/ 1 35; G. Deleuze, Cnea 2: L'image-temps, Paris: Les editions de minuit,
1985, p. 62; Cinema 2: Te Tme Image, English tras. by H. Tomlinson and R Gaeta, Lon
don: Athone, 1 989, p. 42.
96 H. Bergson, La pensee et le mouvant. Essai et confrences, Paris: Fel Alcan, 1 934, p. 66;
Te Creatve Mind English tras. by M. Andison, Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, 1 946,
p. 62.
206 Cor
which foretells and prepares fture attitudes. Later, afer prolonged sojourn in
the town, I shall go about it mechanically, without having any distinct percep
ton of the objects which I 3 passing. [ . . . ] these accompanying movements
are orgaized to a degree which renders perception useless. I began by a state
in which I distinguished only my perception; I shall end in a state in which I
3 hardly conscious of anything but automatism.97
Yet, suppose the cow sees what looks like grass, eats it, ony to fnd that it
has the plastic taste of atifcial turf Quite suddenly, what the cow is eating
becomes remarkable, and it comes to the forefront of its awareness. Te parts
of its phenomenal world are not integrating, as its bodily domains of tasting
and seeing are forced to work simultaneously in disharmonious way. A well,
the cow stops its habitual action of dipping its head to eat the grass and in that
way loses its integration with its world, as though the world suddenly becae
foreign to the cow. Tus, eating grass stands out as a potently phenomena ex
perience when the cow's horizons cease to integrate. "Ryhm" in the Francis
Bacon text is the unpredictable varying of the waves of sensation that af ect
each bodily domain diferently in such a way that the sense data cannot be
processed, regularized, recognized, and thereby dephenomenalized. Wile this
use of the term "rhythm" is surely quite distinct from the Spinozistic sense, we
might note that even in this context, rhythm also seres to explan the varying
diferential relations within the body, within the world, and between the body
and the world that are at work in phenomenal experiences.
8. Conclusion
Merleau-Ponty's integrationist model of the body would better account
for the passive synthesis of phenomenal obj ects and for our body's norma
organic fnctioning at work in this process. Phenomena for him come to be
constituted by means of horizonal integrations, unfolding over time and oc
curring on the basis of our body's internal cooperations and its sympathetic
interaction with a coherent world. Yet, as the examples of the waterfall and
grass illustrate, the more that the component parts and moments of our per
ception integrate, and the more our senses agree on what they sense, and thus
the more accustomed to the world around us our body becomes, the less phe
nomenally intense the experience is. Hence, the lived body of Merleau-Ponty
is a "patry thing" compared to the body without organs, for it is incapable of
having intense phenomenal experiences. Te body without organs "lies at the
limit" of the lived body because it is only when the lived body's harmonious,
97 H. Bergson, Matere et memoire. Esai sur f reltion du cors a !'esprit, Pais: Germer Bail
Here et Cie. , 1 903, pp. 1 00-1 01 ; Mater and Memo
English. trans. by N. M. Pau and W S.
Pamer, Mineola, New York: Dover, 2004, p. 1 1 0, emphasis mine.
Body and Wrld in Merleau-Pont and Deleuze
integrated fnctioning breaks down that it comes closer to being the phe
nomenal body witout organs. Deleuze's diference-based model, then, can
be seen as compatible with Merleau-Ponts model, as long as we distinguish
teir explanatory purposes. Merleau-Ponts theory better accounts for the
ongoing constitution of phenomena objects, the familiar things in the world
around us, while Deleuze's theory better explains the intensit of any given
moment of phenomenal experience. Tus, although Deleuze's model in many
fndamenta ways contraposes Merleau-Ponts model, we need not regard it
as a critique of phenomenology itself but rather as a usefl contribution to
phenomenolog's pool of theoretical ideas.
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