Self Shock: The Phenomenon of Personal Non-Identity in Inorganic Subjectivity

Shores C. M.

in: The Yearbook on the History and Interpretation of Phenomenology, Anton Vydra, Editor, Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., Frankfurt, pp.157-183, 2013

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Publisher: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.
  • City: Frankfurt
  • Page Numbers: pp.157-183
  • Editors: Anton Vydra, Editor
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


For both Merleau-Ponty and Deleuze, time is the affecting of self by self. Yet, the nature of this self-affection, as well as the temporal structure it produces, is fundamentally different in each case. In Merleau-Ponty’s model, the self ’s variations are united by time’s continuous thrust. However for Deleuze, self variation is far more radical. Our self immediately varies from itself: we are always both ourselves and not-ourselves at every singular moment and not just over the course of multiple successive nows. While for Merleau-Ponty our temporal moments are organically integrated with each other, for Deleuze time is composed of a series of caesuras which are like the Dedekind cuts that constitute a numerical continuity. We will examine (1) how Merleau-Ponty’s organic temporality arises from a subject’s continuously integrated personal identity and (2) how in contrast for Deleuze a continuously disjunctive temporality is produced by the personal non-identity of a differentially composed subject. We then evaluate by asking, which model be er explains the phenomenon of selfhood, that is, the appearing of oneself to oneself? Building from Deleuze’s elaborations and examples, we conclude that we appear to ourselves most phenomenally when we experience differences in ourselves, like when upon looking in a mirror, we become shocked by an abruptly noticed sign of age that makes us for a moment unable to recognize ourselves.