Robert Hurley

“Deleuze offers a model in this regard: the unit of understanding is not the form or function or organism but the composition of affective relations between individuals, together with the “plane of consistency” on which they interact, that is, their “environment”. In this conception, some rather neutral notions, such as environment and individual, are re-animated. The environment is not just a reservoir of information whose circuits await mapping, but also a field of forces whose actions await experiencing. In a human sense, it can be called the unconscious, or at least the ground on which the unconscious is constructed. Which of these actions are we capable of experiencing? What is a walk in the forest (where the tick is waiting to experience us)? And what new individual do we compose when we “think like a mountain?” For Deleuze (for Spinoza), Nature itself is an Individual, composed of all modes of interaction. Deleuze opens us to the idea (which I take as a contribution to ecological thought) that the elements of the different individuals we compose may be nonhuman within us. What we are capable of may partake of the wolf, the river, the stone in the river. One wonders, finally, whether Man is anything more than a territory, a set of boundaries, a limit on existence.”

Robert Hurley, from the Preface to Spinoza: Practical Philosophy, Gilles Deleuze published by City Lights, Translated by Robert Hurley.

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