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What is Transcendental Empiricism? Deleuze and Sartre on Bergson


In this paper we give an outline of what Deleuze means by transcendental empiricism and discuss both its theoretical and historical background. We show that the centre of the Deleuzian Philosophy is the Bergsonian superior empiricism. The Deleuzian thought has been elaborated in open antagonism to the coeval French philosophical scene. The special critical referent is the new-born French phenomenological-existentialist thought, with particular regard to the early works of Sartre. The philosophers belonging to the Sartrean generation set in opposition against the Bergsonian cultural vogue. They see in the Husserlian phenomenology the correct way to get to the concrete, to the immediate data. Deleuze in L’image-temps stands in opposition to the Sartrean critics to the thesis contained in Bergson’s Matière et Mémoire presented in the book L’imagination. With a powerful inversion, Deleuze uses almost the very same words used by Sartre and develops a novel view on transcendental empiricism, by distinguishing it from the phenomenological empiricism. Deleuze takes phenomenology as being in the facts responsible of repeating the Kantian procedure and of re-establishing transcendence. On the contrary, Deleuze, along a Bergsonian perspective, wants to realize a superior empiricism able to take into account the differential element while retaining immanence.



Giovanna G. Gioli