Article

Deleuze's Third Synthesis of Time

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Abstract

Deleuze's theory of time set out in Difference and Repetition is a complex structure of three different syntheses of time – the passive synthesis of the living present, the passive synthesis of the pure past and the static synthesis of the future. This article focuses on Deleuze's third synthesis of time, which seems to be the most obscure part of his tripartite theory, as Deleuze mixes different theoretical concepts drawn from philosophy, Greek drama theory and mathematics. Of central importance is the notion of the cut, which is constitutive of the third synthesis of time defined as an a priori ordered temporal series separated unequally into a before and an after. This article argues that Deleuze develops his ordinal definition of time with recourse to Kant's definition of time as pure and empty form, Hölderlin's notion of ‘caesura’ drawn from his ‘Remarks on Oedipus’ (1803) and Dedekind's method of cuts as developed in his pioneering essay ‘Continuity and Irrational Numbers’ (1872). Deleuze then ties together the conceptions of the Kantian empty form of time and the Nietzschean eternal return, both of which are essentially related to a fractured I or dissolved self. This article aims to assemble the different heterogeneous elements that Deleuze picks up on and to show how the third synthesis of time emerges from this differential multiplicity.

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... With regard to resetting habits and memories, Voss (2013) argued that Deleuze's third synthesis of time 'introduces a cut or caesura into consciousness and produces the system of a dissolved self' (p. 212). ...
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