The Kantian Image of Thought: Beyond Deleuze and Guattari’s Analysis of Presuppositions

Edward Thornton

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In this paper I will argue that Deleuze and Guattari’s critique of Kantian metaphysics fails to recognise an essential and radical aspect of Kant’s methodology. More specifically, I will argue that – contrary to Deleuze and Guattari’s accusations – Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason does not rely on a set of undefended and implicit presuppositions at all, because it offers an argument for these presuppositions via the transcendental deduction of the unity of reason. In order to make this argument, the paper contains an analysis of Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the ‘image of thought’ and of their distinction between ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ presuppositions. Following an exposition of Kant’s use of ‘transcendental presuppositions’ in his first critique, I show that these are of a different nature than those analysed by Deleuze and Guattari. Ultimately, by turning to an underdeveloped distinction that Deleuze and Guattari introduce in What is Philosophy? between presupposing and instituting an ‘image of thought’, I conclude by offering a possible rapprochement between Deleuze, Guattari, and Kant by claiming that the Kantian image of thought is not simply presupposed, but is instituted by the deduction of the idea of the unity of reason.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalPli: the Warwick Journal of Philosophy
Early online date1 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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