Time and Critique in Early Heidegger and Deleuze

Open Access
Abdullah, Ayesha Mahasin
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
October 05, 2015
Committee Members:
  • Leonard Richard Lawlor, Dissertation Advisor
  • Robert Lambert Bernasconi, Committee Member
  • Sarah Clark Miller, Committee Member
  • Claire Mary Colebrook, Committee Member
  • Time
  • Critique
  • Heidegger
  • Deleuze
  • Foucault
  • finitude
My dissertation is on the influence of Immanuel Kant's notions of finitude and critique on Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze’s early works. Heidegger, Foucault and Deleuze, under Nietzsche's influence, determine that finitude and the concept of critique must be reoriented such that it no longer takes traditional ethical and anthropological assumptions as its starting point. Indeed, this necessary reorientation is both Foucault and Deleuze's interpretation of the well-known Nietzschean catch phrase “we must overcome man”. In this dissertation, I contend that Heidegger, Foucault, and Deleuze’s respective ontologies develop or harbor a concept of finitude purposed to furnish a path to a new type of critique, a type of thinking that leaves behind the anthropocentrism of our paradigm. For Heidegger, we must follow the central root of the faculties to their origin in the transcendental faculty of the imagination. It is here that we see the auto-affective emergence of the subject and its temporal horizons. For Foucault, we must maintain the separation between the transcendental and empirical realm and perform a critique of the subject such that it is no longer human, but a historically emerging a priori category. It is after we have let go of the traditional subject that we can finally say we have left the ‘Age of Anthropology’ thereby escaping the ‘Analytic of Finitude’. For Deleuze, whose ontology harbors rather than explicitly develops a concept of finitude, we must realign thought and being. It is after thought and being have been realigned that immanent critique can occur. Ideally such a critique, while occurring from within, is not a critique that reaffirms the self, but reaches what is deformed from the perspective of rational thought and brings what is without assumptions to the fore. Perhaps, then, Deleuze’s ontology – transcendental empiricism – holds potential to escape the ‘Analytic of Finitude’ described by Foucault and deeply related to Heidegger’s own philosophical fears. Importantly, various relevant socio-political consequences stem from such an interpretation. These philosophers are not merely concerned with taking up a vague Nietzschean project of overcoming man. What is at stake with moving past anthropology is all that accompanies the overcoming of anthropocentrism. Thus we can say that the overcoming of anthropocentrism is also about identifying the root of racism, sexism, homophobia and other abuses of power. To what kind of finitude has our paradigm been committed? Perhaps thinking finitude faithfully, such that we reach the origin and throw ethical, anthropological, social, and political assumptions aside, leads away from the abuse of power and toward genuinely new thought. While these social and political issues cannot be conflated - their differences obscured - the final merit of the project I will be working on will be to unify what Heidegger, Foucault, and Deleuze’s concept of critique may bring to discourses on these social political problems. In particular, this dissertation is meant to contribute to the newly developing area of Critical Philosophy of Race. It seems to me that the needs of Critical Philosophy of Race fundamentally stems from problems with traditional ethics and, therefore, call for ethical, anthropological, and socio-political reevaluations. My dissertation will tackle exactly how these philosophers mean to perform such reevaluations. Thus, while my dissertation is on the appropriation of the concept of critique in a “traditional” philosophical context, I intend to extend this research beyond the theoretical context to use my own work in building the methods of critique used to understand, discuss, and challenge race, racism and the effects of these concepts.