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SOPHIA (2008) 47:265279 DOI 10.


Gilles Deleuze and Michel Henry: Critical Contrasts in the Deduction of Life as Transcendental
James Williams

Published online: 21 August 2008 # Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2008

Abstract To address the theological turn in phenomenology, this paper sets out critical arguments opposing the theist phenomenology of Michel Henry and Gilles Deleuzes philosophy of the event. Henrys phenomenology has been overlooked in recent commentaries compared with, for example, Jean-Luc Marions work. It will be shown here that Henrys philosophy presents a detailed novel turn in phenomenology structured according to critical moves against positions developed from Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty. This demonstration is done through a strong contrast with Deleuze and a short engagement with Quentin Meillassoux. The paper presents an argument against the theological turn on the grounds that it misunderstands the form of affectivity when compared to Deleuzes work on affect and event. It will be argued that Henrys search for a free-standing affect deduced as a condition for any appearance underplays the way any affect is included in many causal and transcendentally determined series such that any notion of the pure affect independent of other processes is a fiction. The loss of this pure affect entails the questioning of the theological turn in Henry. Keywords Affect . Auto-affection . Event . Gilles Deleuze . Michel Henry . Transcendental . Suffering

Introduction In order to address the theological turn in phenomenology, this paper sets out critical arguments opposing the theist phenomenology of Michel Henry and Gilles Deleuzes philosophy of the event. Henrys phenomenology has been somewhat overlooked in recent commentaries when compared to, for example, Jean-Luc Marions work (though this is hardly Marions fault, given his work in keeping Henrys ideas in circulation through a series of re-editions for Presses Universitaires de France after Henrys death in

J. Williams (*) Philosophy, School of Humanities, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 4HN, UK e-mail:


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2002). Alongside these re-editions there has been a recent renewal in Henrys work in France (Lavigne et al. 2006; Audi 2006; Longneaux 2001; David and Greisch 2001; see also the excellent web resource run by Anne Henry and to a lesser extent abroad (see, for example, Mullarkey 2006 and OSullivan 2006, and the essays on Henry in Continental Philosophy Review, Zahavi 1999). It will be argued here that Henrys philosophy presents a detailed novel turn in phenomenology structured through critical moves against positions developed from Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty. This demonstration is done through a strong contrast with Deleuze and a series of answers to criticisms of phenomenology put by Quentin Meillassoux. The article as a whole should be viewed as an argument against the theological turn on the grounds that it misunderstands the form of affectivity when compared to Deleuzes work on affect and event. It will be argued that Henrys search for a free-standing affect deduced as a condition for any appearance underplays the way any affect is included in many causal and transcendentally determined series such that any notion of the pure affect independent of other processes is a fiction. The loss of this pure affect entails the questioning of the theological turn in Henry because this turn is based on a pure auto-affectivity as suffering, which in turn allows for its interpretation as a divine manifestation, interpreted according in Christian terms by Henry.

Affect and Immanence in Deleuze and Henry It has been argued recently by my colleague John Mullarkey that there are a number of significant points of convergence between the philosophies of Gilles Deleuze and Michel Henry: Henrys account is surprisingly Deleuzian (Mullarkey 2006, 49). This convergence is far from total though since, as Mullarkey points out, the two broad similarities between the thinkersdeep concern with affects and commitment to philosophies of immanencecover far-reaching distinctions (Mullarkey 2006, 4950). First, Deleuze stresses an affirmative version of affect. Affects are only fully registered when affirmed in a creative response to them, which Deleuze often calls counteractualization. So affects such as joy or suffering follow from complex events, but are only affirmed when these events are replayed by whoever or whatever is subjected to the event. The events happening to us are redoubled in a transforming affirmative act Deleuze likens to an actor replaying a script: to become the actor of ones events, counter-actualization. (Deleuze 1969, 176). Henry takes an opposing direction by singling out pathos as the essential form of affect because it is an auto-affectivity of life (Henry 2003a, 35). This is an affection of life by life, as condition for any actual existence independent of intentionality. The term auto-affection therefore means life and affect B determined by affect B, rather than affect B caused by external cause A, or determined by condition A. How though can something affect itself without contradiction since the affection ought to cause change in the thing? For Henry, life is originally an autoaffection, so it is not that there is something independent of the affect changing when it is affected, but rather that the affect is a self-relation inseparable into terms, hence avoiding the construction of a contradiction between the start term and the end term of the relation. Auto-affectivity is then a form of free-standing relation of self to self, or better selfhood or ipseity, such as a pure suffering retaining an independence from external causes yet standing as an undeniable ground for all other activities and sensibilities

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(Henry 2003b, 167). This definition of affect explicitly rejects the Deleuzian affirmation since its redoubling transformation and position within a series of changes are not consistent with the auto of Henrys auto-affection. Note however that pathos is still connected to activity for Henry because a sense of being able, a Je peux in the French, accompanies this auto-affectivity of life. Henry develops this point in, for example, his Quest-ce-que cela que nous appelons la vie? (Henry 2003c, 545). It is important to register Henrys critical turn from the Heideggerian question about what we call thinking Was heit denken? to the wider question What is called life? (See Heidegger 1976). Henry insists that his philosophy is a phenomenology of life rather than of appearances or Being. Thus, from Henrys point of view, there is an essential I am able in a living thing such as a living hand prior to (and as a condition for) any thought about ability or any intentionality involving the movement, perception, or presence of the hand. This pure ability is neither reducible to particular affects, nor is it a necessary condition for the affect, as it is in Deleuzes affirmation. The hand is ability, but not an ability to do this or that which would draw Henrys philosophy into a technological approach he is in vehement opposition to. Henry wrote against science, as technological, in his controversial La barbarie: Ignoring life and proper interests, the only interests of the world and whose origins we never find in the world, in objectivity, science places itself in an almost inconceivable solitude. That solitude of science is technology [la technique]. (Henry 1987, 70). For a prcis of many of the arguments from La barbarie, see also (Henry 2004a). Second, in terms of their shared philosophical dedication to immanence, immanent life is phenomenological for Henry but planes of immanence are empirically constructed for Deleuze, to use the later definitions of immanence from Deleuze and Guattaris A Thousand Plateaus (Deleuze and Guattari 1994). To be clear, this does not mean that the metaphysical reality of planes of immanence is constructed. The reality of planes of immanence is deduced rather than constructed. It means, though, that any singular plane is constructed and different for different actualities. In turn, this implies that the deduction of such planes is itself variable and singular: an individual and differently repeated deduction of a universal necessity. In contrast, immanence is deduced by Henry as a necessary transcendental condition following a phenomenological reduction that is the same for any form of life. Life as condition is then neither constructed nor variable, but essentially uniform. For instance, there can be a reduction that shows the necessity of pure life as auto-affectivity underlying any given particular suffering from a given injury in an actual body. This immanence to life is ultimately theistic for Henry where he develops suffering and the mystery of auto-affection in relation to Christianity. This Christianity is explicit and constant through most of Henrys works and includes the books Cest moi la vrit: pour une philosophie du Christianisme (Henry 1996) Incarnation: une philosophie de la chair (Henry 2000) and Paroles du Christ (Henry 2002). Henry stresses the consistency of his philosophy with his work on Christianity. I shall show the detail of some of his arguments for this coherence later, but another way of seeing this intimate connection is through his careful and original interpretation of Kierkegaard, another Christian philosopher whose work he greatly admired and depended upon at key points in his arguments (Henry 2003c, 53; for Kierkegaards discussion of suffering and its inspiration for Henry see, among others, Kierkegaard 1992). John Mullarkey, kindly commenting on an earlier version of this paper, has pointed that this Christian reference is neither ubiquitous nor perhaps necessary in Henrys


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work. This is an important qualification since it opens up the possibility of interpretations of Henrys work that bifurcate away from the later texts on Christianity and offer a more secular version of his radical phenomenology. This remark is all the more important in terms of suffering and Mullarkeys work on Deleuze and Henry sees their versions of this affect as closer than I do: Another point is the emphasis so far on sufferingthis works well vis--vis his Christian leanings, but it is also part of his phenomenological empiricism that makes it less Christian, i.e., suffering understood as test, ordealexperimentation in the French (experiment or experience) or preuve (test or ordeal) [Even souffrez has an ambiguity to it]. I see suffering on a par with life as experiment in Deleuze. (Mullarkey 2008, private email in response to this paper, June 24th 2008). As I will argue later, my position is that, as implicated in an event, suffering in Deleuze and Henry is not quite as close as Mullarkey sets them out here, however, this is a point that I do not at all see as settled, on the contrary, we are opening up two paths in the early reception of Henrys work rather than any final view (such closed positions are inimical to philosophical interpretation, anyway). It is worth noting that Henrys philosophy risks inviting quite narrow interpretations since he is, if not limited in his references, then at least somewhat repetitive, thus the affect of suffering is very frequently reflected upon through Kierkegaard, aesthetics through Kandinsky (see Henry 2003d), the phenomenology of life and the body through Maine de Biran on whom Henry wrote his first work (Henry 1965) and the missed opportunities in early modern phenomenology through Descartess famous wax example and the cogito and his works on the passions of the soul (Descartes 1989, 1996). This Descartes reference is important because it connects Henry to the revaluation of Descartess position within the development of phenomenology, a stance also taken by Jean-Luc Marion (see Henry 2003f,g; Marion 1981, 1991). However, where Marion focuses on Descartess metaphysical and theological arguments, Henry is interested in the relations between affect, perception, life and the subject, and in drawing the ego away from perception and cognition in subjectivity and into an originary selfhood. (Henry 2003h, 81). According to Mullarkey, immanence is not theistic but naturalistic for Deleuze. It is a matter of empirical description of nature rather than divine manifestation (Mullarkey 2006, 69). Thus immanence is constructed experimentally by Deleuze rather than deduced from phenomena. The commitment to immanence is however once again a shared critical tool for Deleuze and Henry. Henrys phenomenology of life emerges alongside a long critical engagement with Husserl, Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty. Deleuzes construction of fields of immanence also runs alongside many different critiques of transcendence, such as his well-known inversion of Platonism (Deleuze 1994, 5964). Some translations of Deleuzes book, including the one cited here, prefer overturning to inversion, but in my view this is too strong a term for the French renverser and leads to an overly strong interpretation of Deleuzes relation to Plato as repudiation rather than a more subtle inflection or reversal (I discuss this in more detail in Williams 2003, 7983). Deleuze and Henry are therefore united in a radical movement of philosophy identifying remnants of transcendence in traditions that explicitly attempted to avoid it. Their closeness comes out most strongly in their treatment of Husserl as still committed to a transcendent kernel at the heart of his philosophy. I cannot go into these critiques in great detail here but there is an extended reading of Deleuzes work on Husserl in Williams 2008 (99134). I would also refer readers

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concerned to pursue Henrys critical work on Husserl to his brilliant entry on phenomenology for the Encyclopdie philosophique universelle (vol IV), a piece of searing economy and insight (Henry 2003e). Henrys argument is that Husserls phenomenology ultimately fails because it sticks to a distinction between the world of appearances and a remnant of the self, where this minimal sense of self still transcends life understood as the life of appearances. Henrys counter is that once we abandon the distinction of selfhood or ipseity and life, and relinquish the identification of life with appearance, then phenomenology will arrive at life as auto-affection and as selfhood, rather than a myself opposed to an external worldly life: No one has ever seen life. The phenomenality of that auto-affection is pathos. It is in that original affectivity that life is given to itself: Arche-revelation, the pure phenomenological substance of which is Flesh. (Henry 2003e, 187). It is important at this point to note that although Deleuzes philosophy is described as a form of naturalism, I include his transcendental deductions and constructions of virtual fields in this experimental naturalism. Indeed, I would prefer to emphasize the experiment and the construction over the notion of nature which I believe vitiates the interpretation of Deleuzes philosophy by removing the virtual from the natural itself redefined as the real. This removal then grounds the criticism that Deleuzes philosophy involves a move away from life and towards an abstract virtual. See Peter Hallwards interpretation of Deleuze for a version of this critique with respect to the concept of creation where it is claimed that only the virtual is creating and the actual merely created. (Hallward 2006, 367). In my view, this is a misunderstanding of the different twoway processes involving virtual and actual such that, for example, there is a genetic and determining role for the actual in relation to the virtual (see Williams 2008, 194 202); this argument also applies critically to Badious reading of Deleuze which makes similar points with respect to the privileging of the virtual over the actual as Hallward (Badiou 1997, 2006). For a version of Hallwards position developed in relation to Deleuze and phenomenology, with significance for this essay because of a careful study of the role of affects in relation to events see Jack Reynoldss study of the event in Deleuze and in phenomenology (Reynolds 2008). Mullarkey makes this point better than Hallward or Badiou because he sees the necessity and place of the virtual, yet also sees the importance of some kind of experimental naturalism as a commitment to the actual in Deleuze: In terms of content, Deleuze will always have a core of ineliminable Virtualism in his work (especially Difference and Repetition) though it co-exists alongside the actual, especially in the more concrete works co-authored with Flix Guattari. (Mullarkey 2006, 46). Yet I do not follow Mullarkey in seeing the relation of virtual to actual as in tension with what he understands by naturalism and, instead, I prefer to insist on complex relations of virtual and actual constituting reality, including nature. These relations make the virtual and actual inseparable and complementary rather than always calling for a decision to set value down on one side or the other.

Life as Transcendental Condition These arguments are important for two connected but very different reasons. First, Mullarkeys comparison with Deleuze allows for a reconsideration of the importance


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of Michel Henry in late-20th century phenomenology where he has been unjustly left as a secondary figure when in fact his deepening of the methods of this tradition and his critique of earlier thinkers such as Husserl and Heidegger should be set alongside arguments developed by better known figures such as Ricoeur, Nancy and LacoueLabarthe (not to mention Derrida or Lyotard, and others). Henry offers the most radical development of phenomenology as philosophy of immanence and life. This critical and original work spanned close on 50 years and his recently collected essays in the four volumes of Phnomnologie de la vie are testament to an effort of great consistency but also very wide applications. Second, Mullarkeys study of Deleuze and Henry raises questions concerning the closeness of Deleuze to what I am going to call Henrys radical phenomenology, thereby also raising questions concerning the remnants of forms of transcendence and religiosity in Deleuzes work around the role of the virtual in his philosophy. Mullarkey argues this through a study of an illegitimate role for the infinite in Deleuze and in Henry (Mullarkey 2006, 78). My aim is not to dispute the first of these claims; indeed, I wish to support it by following some of Henrys most interesting critical and constructive steps. I view Mullarkeys second set of points as more contentious, however, and I will try to show how Deleuzes philosophy provides counter points to Henrys position which show a greater distance between them than might at first appear when they are considered to supposedly share a same philosophical ground and method. If immanence is a central philosophical tenet for Deleuze and for Henry, it is nonetheless very difficult to characterize this in more accurate terms, in particular, in terms of categories of philosophical enquiry such as epistemology and ontology. This is because Henry is highly critical of the role of ontology in phenomenology, even after distinctions between beings and Being, between the ontic and the ontological, in Heideggers Being and Time (Heidegger 1978, 2835). Henrys radical phenomenology is then a repudiation of any claim that life as transcendental condition for the existence of beings can be represented in an identity even if this representation is only of an essence rather than any given existent: All of Heideggers philosophy owns up to, even more, explicitly affirms that ultimate identity of the essence of being, without doubt not its representation but its essence. (Henry 2003i, 17). Life as auto-affection in Henry is multiple and immanence is to this multiplicity rather than any given set of identities or world. (Mullarkey 2006, 5860). His response to the critical point that multiplicity is exactly one such identity is that life is an open set of modalities resistant to any overarching concept or category other than auto-affection, or a self contained relation: This is how affectivity departs from the lack of determinacy making it a simple concept: in primitive suffering in which the self-undergoing of life is accomplished, the affectivity which ultimately makes life possible receives the mark of an original suffering. (Henry 2003j, 149). Henrys difficult argument and terminology require some explanation here. When challenged by the fork either life as multiple must be identifiable or it is indeterminate to the point of nothingness Henry answers with the claim that life is determined by auto-affection, a property of any case of its modalities that are themselves pre-conditions for any actual affect or given form of life. This property does not determine the life according to a concept, for example, according to an intensive definition of autoaffectivity (something Henry always eschews, consistently with his argument, but no doubt in such a way as to invite rather unsophisticated accusations of evasiveness).

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Instead, auto-affectivity is originary and independent of conscious reflection. The suffering just is, or is always given as self-sufficient bodily event prior to any intention towards it. This sufficiency means that suffering doesnt happen to us and is not dependent on an external cause, but is instead what life is for us in all its multiple modalities or forms taken by auto-affection prior to any particular suffering registered as mine and as connected to a series of external causes. We live as the suffering: Suffering is an originary phenomenological tonality of life. (Henry 2003j, 149). Note how the difficulty but also the precision and subtlety of Henrys work come out in his short sentence. I used property to explain how auto-affectivity characterizes life, but this is still too close to a predicate allowing for conceptual identification. For Henry the property is itself open and resistant to identity; it is a tonality of life defined as auto-affection. The following important passage shows Henrys denial of the claim that any given phenomenon must be given for an intending consciousness. The passage also presents the end-point of his phenomenological reduction determining life as the essence of any given existence. In this reduction suffering as tonality of life is deduced as prior to my suffering in this given actual situation. For Henry an actual suffering in a given experience is not only a contingent occurrence in a causal chain, such that there could be experiences without it. Instead, any actual suffering presupposes an originary suffering: All the sufferings that come forth at any moment of our existence, following detectable events or unpredictably, or even incomprehensibly, all those lived sufferings treated each time by psychology as contingent facts are nonesuch in their hidden origin. They are multiple inflections of that primitive suffering and are necessarily referred to it as to a buried a priori in the invisible of life. (Henry 2003j, 149). In the passage Henry is taking on two different positions. First, he is moving from a phenomenon identified by a science, such as psychology, to a precondition in an origin that does not show itself in the phenomenon. What then is the validity of referring to it? It is that it is a common factor in all the contingent cases of phenomena: they all presuppose life, itself determined by affect limited to cases of auto-affection. This auto-affectivity is invisible in the sense, once again, that it is not an appearance. However, this life as transcendental condition is explicitly distinguished from Merleau-Pontys phenomenology of the body, despite the obvious connection through the role of the visible and of affection as passivity (Merleau-Ponty 1964). Henry claims closeness to Merleau-Pontys arguments in favor of a bodily perception independent of consciousness or intentionality, but he wants to distance himself from Merleau-Ponty on the grounds of an original interiority and ipseityself-hood or self-relationof life. When read by Henry, the body for Merleau-Ponty works against an I or subject that transcends it, thereby providing a horizon that overcomes the subject (Henry 2003a, 356). For Henry, on the other hand, life is originary for the subject but in such a way as the subject and its self-relation is transformed and becomes a radical passivity with respect to oneself, a being riveted to itself with no distance, no overcoming, no stepping back, a being that is its own living content, its own life, inexorably and inevitably its life, incapable of escaping it, or of taking hold of it, or of refusing it, or even accepting it. (Henry 2003a, 367). Henry wants a different kind of subject grounded in a transcendental life, rather than an overcoming of the conscious


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subject through the body. He wants life to become the ground for a new unity of phenomena independent of vision and visual appearance, yet appearing in autoaffection, rather than what he sees as Merleau-Pontys more pessimistic division of subject and body (I owe thanks here to John Mullarkey for the insight that appearance still matters for Henry but away from any dominance of vision, something I had misunderstood in an earlier version of this paper). Henrys position is no doubt controversial given Merleau-Pontys careful crossing of consciousness and body through the ideas of the chiasmus and of the interlacing of flesh and conscious perception (Merleau-Ponty 1964, 172204). However, Henrys argument can rest on the remark that in this interlacing the relations are ones of mutual breakdowns rather than the deduction of an original condition in one or other of the terms (Merleau-Ponty 1964, 198). The deepest stakes of this opposition between Henry and Merleau-Ponty no doubt lie in different conceptions of flesh (la chair). For the latter, flesh is bodily and intertwined with perception and consciousness (MerleauPonty 1964, 1923). For the former, flesh is life as auto-affectivity: a condition for embodiment but not embodiment proper. These distinctions are important in terms of a comparison of Deleuze and Henry because they mean that we cannot pass through current work on Deleuzes opposition to Merleau-Ponty to understand his relation to Deleuze, despite the apparent connections through affectivity and suffering (Olkowski 1999, 838; Reynolds 2008, 1456; Reynolds and Roffe 2006) because the two phenomenological positions are so distinct. Thus when Henry speaks of suffering it is never simply this ostensible suffering, but rather the transcendental condition for it in life determined by an auto-affection of suffering. For there to be each actual suffering there has to be an original openness to suffering in life, a suffering that is not found in things which do not live. This transcendental condition is the suffering of autoaffection, that is, to be auto-affected is already necessarily a form of suffering and a preparedness to suffer independent of any contingent external cause: This signifies that an objective eventaccident, professional or affective set-back, illness, losshas produced a suffering, to the point of being identified with it. Irrespective of how dramatic it is, such an event can only produce a feeling of suffering in a being transcendentally constituted in such a way as to be susceptible to undergo feelings and notably that particular onein a being susceptible to suffering (Henry 2003j, 147).

Some Answers to Quentin Meillassoux Life as auto-affection is necessary, not as a particular living being capable of seeing or feeling something, but rather as a source of affect capable of bringing the values of life to all objective phenomena. So it is not that Henry is committed to the claim that a lifeless planet has to exist for a particular living being for it to acquire meaning, as implied by the rather blunt critical points made by Quentin Meillassoux in his Aprs la finitude under the banners of correlationism and of the archi-fossil (Meillassoux 2006). Meillassoux argues that since we can have mathematical data pointing to an age before humanity, before life at all, philosophy has to be able to think factuality independent of any consciousness. Phenomenology and other consciousness-centered

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philosophies fail to do this because they correlate world and, for instance, intentionality. In its strongest form, correlationism then ends with a form of fideism since, according to Meillassoux, when the correlationist thinker has to address what lies beyond the scope of intentionality or consciousness, for example, in questions about how the world is given to us or manifested, it must then turn to kinds of mystical and pious donation, something forever beyond human thought: The ultimate moment of fideism is indeed when it makes itself the thought of the superiority of piety over thought, without privileging any content of piety, because what was meant to be established by thought was that it is down to pietyand only to pietyto set out its contents. The contemporary devolution towards the Wholly-Other (the object that is itself empty of any profession of faith) is thus the inevitable and rigorous consequence of the interpretation of the lapsing of the principle of reason in its discovery of its essential incapacity to discover an absolute: fideism is the other name of strong correlationism (Meillassoux 2006, 67). I call this position blunt partly because it attacks straw men, partly because it fails to acknowledge that the idea of the archi-fossil is now a very well-worn one dating back at least to discussions around Darwinism and around the age of the universe in the nineteenth century and partly because it fails to address its own internal incoherence. Meillassoux is giving us his interpretation of the significance of the archi-fossil which involves many series of value judgments and selections based on life, for instance in terms of which numbers are taken to be the significant ones and why. It is not so much the number that is problematic but rather its selection and interpretation among many available figures and commentaries. Meillassouxs position implies mathematics is beyond questions of hermeneutics, but his own position is an interpretation of the role of numbers within linguistic arguments: without doubt within the field of hermeneutics. All the main thinkers within phenomenology have addressed the problem of the apparent human-centered nature of their work and many have questioned the necessity of a living focus for data indicating existence prior to human consciousness (for instance in questions regarding the nature of number and the role of science). I can think of no recent phenomenology that fails to address the problems that stem from the apparent division between man and world implied by living perception of the world. Correlationism is at the heart of debates within phenomenology, not as an unseen error, but rather as the motor behind a sustained reflection on and overcoming of the problem. My critique of Meillassoux is that his position fails to address this capacious and sophisticated material before writing off vast swathes of thought as grounded on simple errors. It is not so much that he is himself straightforwardly wrong, on the contrary, his points have considerable power, but rather that his arguments need greater detail in order to encompass recent work in phenomenology, as I will now show for Henry. Henrys version of this reflection is that we can concede that there are mathematical data pointing towards a time before life, indeed, more broadly he sees science and technology as divorced from human life or alienating, but once we have to consider the value and interest accorded to this scientific information or knowledge then we move back into the sphere of an original life as precondition for particular values and goals. Anything manifesting itself as having any worth (which should not be confused with


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economic value) does so only on condition of there being a life determined as affect. Henrys political philosophy, in particular his work on Marx is helpful here, since Henrys insistence on life as precondition runs parallel to a key distinction in his interpretation of Marx between work as capital and work as real which itself maps on to the distinction between exchange value and use value: Thus Marxs analysis achieves a sharp break, deliberately leaving the economic field where everything is appearance and everything is explicable, abandoning that noisy universe to descend into the secret laboratory of production, there where there are no longer exchange values, where life goes beyond its own conditions. (Henry 2004b, 57) Again, note the consistency of Henrys thought here. Economic activity and measurement is the realm of appearance, but like any phenomenological appearance it presupposes life as auto-affectivity beyond representation, instrumental reason and abstract value. For Henry, the worker setting out to work in the morning is an inescapable presupposition of exchange value and use value. If the former is viewed as independent of the latter, then political economy becomes illegitimately opposed to life. Much of Henrys political and ethical work is written to re-establish the primordial status of life as autoaffection. In the political sphere this means to revalue affectssuffering, alienation, bewildermentin political debate. This could seem obvious and trite, but it is important to insist that it is not only particular ostensible wrongs that he is concerned with, but rather a deeper and more pervasive one carried by the distinctions, goals and implications of the turn away from life. For instance, Henry argues against any intrinsic value to increases in wealth when these are not consistent with deeper values of life such as community. An economically successful state that led to greater division between its citizens would be a failure from this point of view, since a shared original set of affects is a condition for the actual affects of all citizens. Division would be a denial of the community and would be testified to by the falseness of, for example, affects connected to wealth where these run counter to a shared original suffering and an original equality in such shared affects: Thus equality for example is not the product of an evaluation, nor in consequence is it the product of a possible counter-evaluation. Men who ceaselessly fight to win against their fellow men, to seduce them or put them into submission, are born free and equal, such that freedom and equality can only be actualized in the reactivation of the internal link that connects every living being to life. This reactivation of the religious link is ethics (Henry 2004c, 181). Henrys method is not empirical in setting out equality, since he does not believe that any empirical work can establish it, or indeed that men are unequal. Instead, even in actual situations where inequality is striven for, underlying the strife there is a precondition: life as auto-affection (for instance in the suffering and predisposition to affectivity presupposed even by the desire for the subjection of others). Ethics becomes the struggle to reveal this precondition and value it against all positions claiming that any actual situation or goal predicated on that situation is sufficient for understanding the human condition. For Henry, democracy is then not only technically difficult, but difficult because it is not a matter of autonomy (that we are individually free to give ourselves our own laws) but a matter of a shared power of life to throw us into a condition of inconsistent affects. We only emerge as individuals against the background of that life. Yet the final sentence of the passage quoted above might well raise Meillassouxs points again, since the equation of the ethical with the religious might confirm the

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fideism he sees as implied by strong correlationism. This suspicion is a false one, however, because Henrys position is explicitly and firmly opposed to any notion of the Wholly-Other. Quite to the contrary, his argument for the association of transcendental life with Christianity is based on immanence rather than absolute transcendence: The intuitions common to a phenomenology of life and to Christianity can thus be expressed as follows: no living being without life, certainly, but also no life without a living being. This is because there is no life without the Ipseity of a Self effective in life, in the same way as every living being is necessarily a living Self, given to itself in the auto-donation of life and only in it. This is as valid for us as living beings as for the First Living Being. (Henry 2004d, 106) For Henry, faith is not at all a question of a mysterious transcendent donation, but rather stems from the argument that life is given to itself as auto-affectivity determining a selfhood which is given to itself. Thus God is life and not something mysteriously external to it. Flesh as auto-affectivity is born of this life and its first living being is the son of life or of God. The revelation of this living being to itself is the Word and all living beings, including the First and life itself are united in the pathos of this autoaffectivity and auto-donation. Whether we share this Christian interpretation is irrelevant to the repudiation of Meillassouxs overly quick implication from a supposed correlationism to transcendent fideism.

Auto-Affectivity: A Deleuzian Critique Henrys radical phenomenology is immune to accusations of a commitment to a transcendent other. It is therefore also resistant to a critique of mysterious forms of donation where appearances are given from an otherworldly source. Finally, it cannot be criticized validly as dualist ontology or for ungrounded distinctions between beings and Being, because his definition of life as immanent rather than finally transcendent avoids any unbridged distinctions between life (or God) and appearances. Henry developed his position with an acute awareness of all of these criticisms. Indeed, he deployed them against preceding philosophers with these problems in mind. This critical stance, as well as the original ideas developed to respond to perceived errors in earlier phenomenology, led him to develop a new philosophy of life to respond to the dominance of concepts of appearance and donation in earlier works. This radical phenomenlogy is neither dualist, nor ordered according to some mystical transcendence. So are there further critical points to be made against this new incarnation, with its dependence upon the difficult ideas of auto-affectivity and auto-donation? The aim of the conclusion to this article will be to deploy Deleuzes concept of the event in relation to realms that reciprocally determine one another, differently as set out in Logic of Sense, to claim that if auto-affectivity is an event then Henry cannot validly deduce the ipseity or selfhood he requires to construct his new philosophy of the subject and its explicit connection to Christianity. Aside from the shared commitments to immanence and to transcendental philosophy already described earlier in the article, the critical connection to Deleuze is interesting and promising due to two consequences of these shared factors when applied to the event. First, it could be pointed out against any criticism of Henry that he is not making any claims with respect to the causal


J. Williams

connection of actual events for his philosophy of life. Therefore, simply to trace life as suffering to actual causes would be to misunderstand his point that in order to be able to follow such tracks we presuppose forms of life as capable of suffering. It is this capacity, or more properly given, that he departs from to deduce auto-affectivity. The critical advantage of Deleuzes philosophy of the event is to move beyond actual causes between events to a definition of the event as actual and virtual where virtual and actual events are transcendental conditions for one another not only in terms of singular occurrences but in terms of the general structure of events. Second, it is important to note that Henrys philosophy is in no way committed to a sense of the subject as active and as available to immediate perception and inspection through some kind of inner sense. Ipseity is not an awareness of subjective power nor is it any kind of apperception in the Kantian mode as pure original unchangeable consciousness (Kant 1982, 136). This means that familiar critical points to be made against the subject on the grounds of a prior embodiment, or of a constitutive role for the unconscious and therefore of a deconstruction of the subject on the basis of psychoanalytical or linguistic presuppositions are not applicable to Henrys position. Indeed, his phenomenology is constructed with embodiment and psychoanalysis at the forefront of considerations with respect to the empirical subjectas shown in his critique of Merleau-Ponty, his debt to Maine de Biran and his extensive critical work on psychoanalysis (see Henry 1985). The point of transcendental life as auto-affection is that the subject that emerges is not the empirical subject but instead a set of relations of selfhood that provide critical and constructive guides for our reflection on empirical subjectivity. For instance, we know that this empirical side is supplemented by a transcendental one implying an essential role for affectivity in selfhood, a sense of freedom as an I am able rather than an abstract liberty, and an essential embodiment through the affects and their transcendental formsfor instance as suffering. We also therefore know that our community with other subjects does not take the form of some kind of abstract and secondary inter-subjectivity, but rather the form as a prior condition through a shared life where all subjects participate in the same relations of selfhood not posited on a similar condition as subjects but rather as belonging to the same life that makes them themselves and goes beyond this selfhood into the selfhood of life itself (which, as we have seen, Henry describes as God, the Son and the Verb in his Christian interpretation of his phenomenology). Deleuze discusses affects and suffering, in particular, in his work on the French writer Jo Bousquet in Logic of Sense. I have discussed the wider implications of this elsewhere (Williams 2008, 1517) and here my attention is strictly on the potential for a critique of Henrys ideas of auto-affection and ipseity. The simple version of this critique is that although Henry deduces life as auto-affection as a transcendental condition for actual forms of life, his version of the immanence of actual life in its condition views the two as separate with respect to the way actual changes can determine virtual conditions. In short, from a Deleuzian position, life as auto-affection is determined by actual determinations and there is a relation of asymmetrical reciprocal determination between the two. The asymmetry stems for a distinction drawn between the eternal (and neutral or impassive) aspect of virtual relations and changes in their intensities. (Deleuze 1969, 149) Which relations hold in the virtual or in the later language of the work with Guattariwhich becomings make up the virtual cannot be determined by the actual. This is very important because it means

Critical Contrasts in the Deduction of Life


that actual changes cannot make virtual relations disappear permanently. All they can do is dim or brighten the intensities of their relations. However, the intensity of becomings and hence the way they determine an actual genesis is changing in an eternal cycle of asymmetrical relations between the virtual and the actual (or between depth and sense, in the language of Logic of Sense). Translated into Henrys language, this means that auto-affection as suffering is determined in the intensity of its relation to other affections by actual empirical cases of suffering. This cyclical and asymmetrical series of determinations is important because it justifies the Deleuzian comportment and moral value of counter-actualization drawn on at the beginning of this article. It is because actual and virtual determine each other differently and asymmetrically through ongoing geneses that events must always be replayed since we are caught in an ever-changing cycle of geneses or reciprocal determinations we can only participate in well when participate in them. (Deleuze 1969, 217) When we do so we can determine our transcendental conditions. This means that there is no ipseity or satisfactory selfhood at the level of transcendental life because it is incomplete if it is not included in an active replaying in singular situations which determine and express it anew (see Deleuze 1995, 35, for Deleuzes late version of this understanding of life as immanent and transcendental). It also means that affection is never auto-affection, but neither is it strictly a matter of actual causation. Instead, affection is always about reciprocal determinations of actual causes to one another and of virtual effects (or becomings or infinitives in sense) to one another and vice versa. There is no event of auto-affection, not because all events are caused by other events, but because what Henry calls the modulations of auto-affection are determined by their relations to actual events. Thus which forms of affections are drawn to the fore or set out most distinctlysuch as suffering for Henryis changeable and changing, from Deleuzes perspective. Moreover, no life, however pure or essential, is simply ipseity since it is always becoming because of its ongoing actual and virtual relations and the changes in intensity and significance they determine through series of counteractualizations (Deleuze 1969, 176). Finally, this means that the theist turn in Henrys phenomenology can be seen as contingent and historically determined. It may be the right interpretation and replaying of the events of Henrys life and times, of their singularities, but it has no essential role beyond this, because the grounding of the Christian association with phenomenological life misunderstands the changeable form of that life in relation to actual events. In the stark warning from Deleuzes Limmanence: une vie Henry has taken a possibility and imposed it on the virtual and on life as immanent and transcendental. To do so is to render life back to the transcendent against what Deleuze and Henry sought to achieve through their radical philosophies: There is a great difference between the virtuals that define immanence to a transcendental field and the possible forms that actualize them and that transform them into something transcendent. (Deleuze 1995, 7).

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