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Deleuze and the Kantian Problematic
Unformatted Document Text:  8 How, then, does Kant address the problem of modern practical philosophy after his Copernican Revolution in theoretical philosophy? Deleuze’s reading contains two parts. First, Kant’s critical philosophy opens the door to a new way to think about morality. Second, Kant himself does not walk through this door. Deleuze explains: Kant is the first philosopher who understood critique as having to be total and positive as critique. Total because ‘nothing must escape it’; and positive, affirmative, because it can not restrict the power of knowing without releasing other previously neglected powers. But what are the results of such a vast project? Can the reader seriously believe that, in the Critique of Pure Reason, ‘Kant’s victory over the dogmatic concepts of theology … damaged that ideal and can we really believe that Kant ever had any intention of doing such a thing’…? As for the Critique of Practical Reason does not Kant admit, from its opening pages, that it is not really a critique at all? He seems to have confused the positivity of critique with a humble recognition of the rights of the criticized. There has never been a more conciliatory or respectful total critique. (NP, 89) Kant’s critical philosophy opens the door to a new way to think about morality – one that is neither utilitarian nor rational/theological. This new way of thinking is neither historical nor eternal, but untimely (WP, 112-13). It teaches us to question everything, including the presuppositions that compose the moral, or dogmatic, image of thought. Unfortunately, Kant does not walk through the door that his critical philosophy opens; indeed, he institutes a “court of pure reason” to prevent other philosophers from trying to do so. One tactic that Kant uses to protect the dogmatic way of thinking about morality is to create the concept of practical reason. Deleuze dramatizes Kant’s way of thinking as follows: “When we stop obeying God, the State, our parents, reason appears and persuades us to continue being docile because it says to us: it is you who are giving the orders. Reason represents our slavery and our subjection as something superior which makes us reasonable beings” (NP, 92-93). Deleuze agrees with Feuerbach that the drift of Kant’s critical philosophy is to turn theology into anthropology – i.e., to put man in God’s place (NP, 88). Deleuze disagrees with Feuerbach that this suffices to bring Kant’s

Authors: Tampio, Nicholas.
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8
How, then, does Kant address the problem of modern practical philosophy after his
Copernican Revolution in theoretical philosophy? Deleuze’s reading contains two parts. First,
Kant’s critical philosophy opens the door to a new way to think about morality. Second, Kant
himself does not walk through this door. Deleuze explains:
Kant is the first philosopher who understood critique as having to be total and
positive as critique. Total because ‘nothing must escape it’; and positive,
affirmative, because it can not restrict the power of knowing without releasing
other previously neglected powers. But what are the results of such a vast project?
Can the reader seriously believe that, in the Critique of Pure Reason, ‘Kant’s
victory over the dogmatic concepts of theology … damaged that ideal and can we
really believe that Kant ever had any intention of doing such a thing’…? As for
the Critique of Practical Reason does not Kant admit, from its opening pages, that
it is not really a critique at all? He seems to have confused the positivity of
critique with a humble recognition of the rights of the criticized. There has never
been a more conciliatory or respectful total critique. (NP, 89)
Kant’s critical philosophy opens the door to a new way to think about morality – one that is
neither utilitarian nor rational/theological. This new way of thinking is neither historical nor
eternal, but untimely (WP, 112-13). It teaches us to question everything, including the
presuppositions that compose the moral, or dogmatic, image of thought. Unfortunately, Kant
does not walk through the door that his critical philosophy opens; indeed, he institutes a “court of
pure reason” to prevent other philosophers from trying to do so. One tactic that Kant uses to
protect the dogmatic way of thinking about morality is to create the concept of practical reason.
Deleuze dramatizes Kant’s way of thinking as follows: “When we stop obeying God, the State,
our parents, reason appears and persuades us to continue being docile because it says to us: it is
you who are giving the orders. Reason represents our slavery and our subjection as something
superior which makes us reasonable beings” (NP, 92-93). Deleuze agrees with Feuerbach that
the drift of Kant’s critical philosophy is to turn theology into anthropology – i.e., to put man in
God’s place (NP, 88). Deleuze disagrees with Feuerbach that this suffices to bring Kant’s


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