The separation, both theoretical and personal, that occurred between Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault after the publication of The Will to Knowledge is well known. Deleuze referred to it, after Foucault’s death, in an interview in 1986, which was later published in Negotiations. Aside from expressing sadness, these declarations repeat a question which Deleuze would return to again and again in other interviews given during that period: Foucault had, in his last years, been through some kind of crisis on all levels – political, personal and, of course, philosophical – which had led him to a certain seclusion that distanced him from his less intimate friends.
In an attempt to regain a closer relationship with Foucault, for whom he felt a mix of sincere affection and profound philosophical admiration, Deleuze wrote him a letter immediately after the publication of The Will to Knowledge in 1977, sending it to him via François Ewald. It is thanks to the testimony of this intermediary that we know of the intention that Deleuze harboured in that letter, in which he expresses his impressions with respect to the development of the philosophy of Foucault that his newly published book entailed. Among other things of notable importance, Deleuze considered that The Will to Knowledge constitutes a new advance with respect to Discipline and Punish, to the extent in which it confers a clearly more ambitious function to the apparatus [dispositif] of power: the old normalizing function through the formation of knowledge is replaced by a constituent function – constituent of nothing less than truth, of a truth of power (Deleuze, Two Regimes 123; Foucault, Discipline 183, 306).
The main problem posed by this new function that Foucault attributed to the apparatuses of power is that of the phenomena of resistance, insofar as they react against the former, must pass through the same channels, not being able to be either ideological or anti-repressive (Deleuze, Foucault 28-29). Regarding the status of the phenomena of resistance, Deleuze notices three possible directions in Foucault’s work published thus far: first, in The Will to Knowledge, in which these phenomena were a kind of “inverted image of the apparatuses,” which their antagonistic action opposed (Deleuze, Two Regimes 125-126; Foucault, The Will 95-96); second, that suggested in “The political function of the intellectual,” which explores the possibility of countering that truth of power with a power of the truth, as a counter-strategic response to strategy (Foucault, Dits 109-114); lastly, a third way that passes through the route of the body and its pleasures, outlined in the second volume of The History of Sexuality. Deleuze considers that the three directions seem to lead into a dead end: “He finds ammunition which can be turned against power? But I don't see how. We will have to wait for Michel to give his new conception of truth, on the micro analytical level” (Two Regimes 128-29).
In contrast to this crossroads in which Foucault’s thought found itself, Deleuze stresses that, in the context of his philosophy, the status of the phenomena of resistance is not a problem insomuch as it is prior to the relations of force, to power; in the same way as the plane of consistency is prior to the plane of organization.
Consequently, this conference discusses that well-known theoretical separation that occurred between Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault after the publication of The Will to Knowledge. Deleuze disagreed with the new function that Foucault attributed in this book to the apparatuses of power (to be constitutive of truth) because he considered that such an approach denied an inherent status to the phenomena of resistance, making all reality a truth of power. The aim of this lecture is to analyze this controversy: first, from the confrontation of the concepts of apparatus and assemblage that made it appear; secondly, from the Deleuzian interpretation of the Foucaultian topic of the processes of subjectivation as a modality of the event, which finally resolves it.
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