The Times of Deleuze: An Analysis of Deleuze's Concept of Temporality Through Reference to Ontology, Aesthetics, and Political Philosophy
I analyze Deleuze’s concept of temporality in terms of its ontology and axiological (political and aesthetic) aspects. For Deleuze, the concept of temporality is non-monolithic, in the senses that it is modified throughout his works — the monographs, lectures, and those works that were co-authored with Félix Guattari — and that it is developed through reference to a dizzying array of concepts, thinkers, artistic works, and social phenomena.
I observe that Deleuze’s concept of temporality involves a complex ontology of difference, which I elaborate through reference to Deleuze’s analyses of Ancient Greek and Stoic conceptualizations of time. From Plato through to Chrysippus, temporality gradually comes to be identified as a form that comprehends the variation of particulars. Deleuze modifies the ancients’ concept of time to suggest that time obtains as a form of ceaseless ontological variation. Through reference to Deleuze’s reading of Gilbert Simondon, I further suggest that Deleuze tends to conceive of temporality as an ontogenetic force which participates in the complex process of individuation.
A standout feature of this dissertation involves an analysis of how Deleuze’s concept of temporality is modified in his works on cinema. In Cinema 1: The Movement-Image and Cinema 2: The Time-Image, temporality comes to be characterized as something other than the measure of the movement of existents. In his detailed analyses of Bergson — in Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, Cinema 2: The Time-Image, and Bergsonism — Deleuze suggests that time involves an actualization of aspects of a virtual past as contemporaneous with the lived present. While not an outright denial of the relation of temporal succession, Deleuze’s claim implies a diminishment of this relation’s significance in an adequate elaboration of the nature of temporality.
Further, I observe —through reference to Deleuze’s readings of Marx, Kierkegaard, and Spinoza — that (the explicitly temporal) change of societal forms of economic organization is non-reducible to that suggested by linear evolution. The claim is that putatively discrete modes of economic organization do not enjoy temporal displacement with respect to one another. This suggests that linear evolutionary models of societal development are inadequate. This further implies that temporality is non-reducible to the relation of temporal succession. In concrete terms, societal change is characterized as immanent temporal variation.
Taken together, these analyses yield the conclusion that Deleuze tends to conceive of the nature of temporality as involving the ongoing realization of multiple — non-identical, sometimes contrary — aspects of a stochastic process of creation that is expressed in ontogenetic circumstances, social evolution, literary works, and filmic works.