[D-G] desire - conatus - lacan - spinoza - deleuze

hwenk hwenk at web.de
Tue May 1 04:26:04 PDT 2007

Hello filip,

unfortunately I didn't read Lacan's seminar on ethics until now,
but I am very interested in it. So I would also be pleased, if you would
tell us a little
about your reading.

The most easiest way to start understanding Deleuze on  Spinoza and Spinoza
is the little book of Deleuze "Spinoza, practical philosophy".
There is a glossary with the main notions of Spinoza, also conatus.
It is very wise to read that completely first, before going ahead with
further reading on Spinoza - also there are
of  course different readings of
Spinoza, but you will get more acquainted with both - Spinoza and Deleuze.

To your question about Spinoza and desire, you must know that Spinoza
human soul by the desire with the consciousness of that desire.
The desire is tied to its survival, to stay in existence as much as
possible - that s the conatus - the wish to "be" as much as possible and the
power to do so.
Therefore it is ontology, the science of being.

Thus the desire is also the power to stay or increase in existence or being
and the pleasure one has.
Pleasure come if you get more "being" or better "being" - the synapses or
in the brain are more working together or there are
pleasureful neurotransmitters in the brain.
This is also Freud's principle of lust and unlust.
  At best these pleasures are produced by the brain or the body itself, like
understandings or moving the body or
by uniting, aslo emotional,  with other appropriate people.

By definition there cannot be any desire within the human soul which desires
to destroy
the existence of the individual. There can be desire in the soul of a part
of the soul which
has the effects of destroying, as  I will explain.

Now, the thing with obsessions is that of disturbing the
 harmony of the soul or its acting together as a whole or a unit.

As the human soul is made of a lot, Deleuze, going to subatomic areas,
liked to speak of an infinity,
of parts, a complex of complex of ideas, mainly the synapses of the brain.
Spinoza and the other philosophers of the 17th century
knew that already.

Now the theory  by an obsession is, that one part of these complexes got so
much pleasure,
that its desire, the parts have also a tendency to get their specific
conatus as a part pleasure pleasure, increases as their pleasure as parts.
So, if you eat sweets, an addiction to sweets can occur, for the pleasure of
the part of the brain,
receptors in the brain which consume the sugar in the sweets is and becomes
so great, that it overruns the
tiny part which tries to keep the teeth healthy or not to get to thick.

So, the pleasure of one part of the soul acts like "fan the dog with the
tail", that is the sweet addicted part
of the soul dominates the whole thinking and behaviour of the soul,
neglected or dimishing the desires
of the other parts of the soul. This is the justification for the power of
the parents over the child's. "If you would let them act
alone, they would eat so much chocolate that they die or get sick."
This addiction, sugar is only an trivial and harmless example,  may result
in decreasing the "sense" for reality and neglecting vital desires so much,
that situations may occur, also illness, which result in destroying the

There is then an overrun of "red warning lamps", the desire which wants to
keep in life,
like a red lamp "there is no fuel in  the motor" are overrun.
This overrun of warnings from the sensory of the body and the soul maybe
like the source of madness, a division from reality, to get into a "false
reality" from the point
of ones own vital interests. Reality is substituted by phantasy - also going
to the framework of interpretation.
If this process goes very far, no real communication
or contact with "reality", especially the common inter subjective
interpretation of
it is possible. People would need a lot of time and information to get the
idea that someone has overrun the red
lamps of no fuel so consequently for such a long time.
 He didn't talk and react in the way. And the car becomes slower, for the
motor will be more and more really destroyed.
So he will run very slow, people will ask automatically themselves: Why does
he not drive faster in this situation?

This is dramatically expressed in Descartes'' madness picture: "to think to
be a king and in reality being a poor man".
For the part of the soul which is able to something like a king, your
narcissm, is driven to phantasy, where
it becomes very great without any real possibility of acting and
satisfaction bound to real adequate activity - on the contrary,
 the  ability of acting gets smaller.
A common solution is to identify with something successful great in reality,
like nations, soccer teams .. but that is  a complicated own story.
And there is the great realm of seeking "private" solutions for heroism or
great tasks or something like that.
This must not be wrong.

This is also the start of Lacan's analysis of madness, starting from
Descartes picture in his
article about psychical causality, which goes back to his dissertation on
paranoid psychosis

There maybe also another process, that by evolving your abilities and your
feeling for red lamps, conflicts our something dangerous so high,
that the "red lamp" only flickers one time and you already stop and try to
repair the car, which is very difficult but healthy.
This is also very unusual and gives some trouble with common reality.
"You are very anxious, there is nothing, go ahead."
" - But I saw tee flickering of the red lamps. -"
 "Be quiet,
if we would act on every flickering, we had a lot to do. We have a lot to do
for there are burning a lot of red lamps for some longer time.
There is also often flickering without any real danger. "
That would still be within common communication

" I saw no flickering of a lamp - to be honest, I doubt if there had been
some flickering".  This is already slight division.
"There cannot have been any flickering - only you imagine flickering - You
are flickering" This is hard division.
"I saw only the flickering of another orange lamp" - that something like
"shifting". Which is also very important.
So far for today.

I hope, I could help you a little.

greetings Harald Wenk

-----Original Message-----
From: deleuze-guattari-bounces at lists.driftline.org
[mailto:deleuze-guattari-bounces at lists.driftline.org]On Behalf Of filip
Sent: Dienstag, 1. Mai 2007 02:17
To: deleuze-guattari at lists.driftline.org
Subject: [D-G] desire - conatus - lacan - spinoza - deleuze

hello everybody,
i'm a student philosophy trying to get into the thinking of deleuze,
which is quite hard.
but anyway here is my little question.

i'm trying to find out if i can find something like a lacanian "la
chose" in spinoza and deleuze.
i mean: for lacan there can be something in our lives which become so
important without actually knowing why, that we would do anything to
achieve it. Lacan speaks of this in his 7th seminair: the ethics of

I wonder if spinoza has seen this? : could the conatus of a person
express itself boundlessly such that the person itself becomes disolved ?

i know that spinoza nor deleuze are not subject philosophy's so that
there cannot be really a subject, but i think that is less important for
question. Can desire become so big that the subject dies ? something
like an obsession or something. Within spinoza the conatus can never
gets in
the way of the individual, well that's what i mostly read. i know that
spinoza writes that we tend to desire repression in a social system.
but actually it isn't desire that is repressed, because desire itself
has to be mediated ? is it not that desire is invested in the social
system and thus
has to come to expression in this system ? or is there really a
diminishing of the conatus ?

and why would we want a social system: is it because in this system we
can expres ourself more ? is it like a small sacrifice to get much more
afterwards ? (if it is a sacrifice) and how do we know such thing in
advance ? or do we just revolt if it ends up bad ?

anyway lot's of questions

thanks in advance
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