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After presenting a paper before members of The French Society of Philosophy titled The Method of Dramatisation, Gilles Deleuze was posed a number of questions by those in attendance. The crux of the paper relates to his conception of the dynamisms and pre-personal singularities involved in the process of differenciation by which Ideas come to be incarnated.

The last exchange is as follows:

M. Philonenko: In such a way that in the final instance on the side of specification and multiplicity we experience the same truth as in Plato, and we would have the same idea of the true, I mean: the simplicity of the true always equal to itself in the totality of its production?

M. G. Deleuze: It would not be that Plato. If we think of the Plato of the last dialectic, where the Forms are a little like multiplicities which must be traversed by the questions How? How much? In what case?, then yes, everything that I am saying seems to me in effect to be Platonic. If it is on the contrary a matter of a Plato who subscribes to a simplicity of the essence or an ipseity of the Idea, then no.

This strikes me as a little strange. From my understanding it was Deleuze's focus on the concept of sense, first explained in his book Nietzsche and Philosophy, which leads to his emphasis on questions establishing How? How much? To whom? etc. I'm at a loss however in relating this to anything I have found in Plato.

Can anyone point me in the direction of the above mentioned 'last dialectic'?

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One place that immediately occurs to me to look for more on this is the appendix on Plato to Logic of Sense –  Joseph Weissman Jan 1 '13 at 14:14

1 Answer 1

The reference is to Plato's Sophist, to which Deleuze refers with some frequency, albeit, at times, quite obliquely. This is a text where the key question is often "How?" and perhaps more importantly "What is it?" Moreover, it articulates a concept of "simulacrum" and provides a rejoinder avant le lettre to the Neo-Platonic reading of Parmenides (and hence Deleuze's differentiation between Platonism and Plotinism).

I can think of three reasons that this might be referred to as the "last dialectic":

  1. Some supposed ordering of textual composition
  2. Sophist is the dialogue where Socrates steps aside and gives way to the stranger
  3. Deleuze's discussions of Sophist tend to link it with the Phaedrus and the Statesman. The order of these last two changes, but Sophist stands at the end of the series, and indicates the point where Platonism begins to reverse itself.

Relevant sections of Deleuze (from the books that happen to be in front of me at the moment) include the first appendix to Logic of Sense, as Joseph suggested, as well as the section of "Difference In Itself" in Difference and Repetition that begins "La tâche de la philosophie moderne a été définie: renversement du platonisme." ("The task of modern philosophy has been defined: the reversal of Platonism" --- This is marked as a separate section in the French text, though Patton's translation omits these sections. The "Antilogos" section of Proust and Signs also offers an interpretation of Plato in the same spirit as the bit of Deleuze you quoted, though without explicit reference to Sophist.

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Great points here! In passing -- it also seems to me the whole of D+R develops the themes encapsulated in the presentation that OP is quoting, although as you say much of it is only "obliquely" about Platonism as such –  Joseph Weissman Jul 29 at 21:18

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