LES COURS DE GILLES DELEUZE
Traducteur : Timothy S. Murphy
…we find ourselves faced with Blyenbergh’s two objections. The first concerns the point of
view of nature in general. It comes down to saying to Spinoza that it’s very nice to explain
that every time a body encounters another there are relations that combine and relations
that decompose, sometimes to the advantage of one of the two bodies, sometimes to the
advantage of the other body. But nature itself combines all the relations at once. Thus in
nature in general what doesn’t stop is the fact that all the time there are compositions and
decompositions of relations, all the time since, ultimately, the decompositions are like the other
side of the compositions. But there is no reason to privilege the composition of relations over
the decomposition since the two always go together.
For example: I eat. I compose the relation with the food I absorb. But this is done by decomposing
the food’s own relations. Another example: I am poisoned. Arsenic decomposes my relation,
okay, but it composes its own relation with the new relations into which the parts of my body
enter under the action of the arsenic. Thus there is always composition and decomposition at
once. Thus nature, says Blyenbergh, nature such as you conceive it is nothing but an immense
Under the objection Spinoza wavers.
Spinoza sees no difficulty and his reply is very clear. He says that it is not so for a simple
reason: it’s that from the point of view of the whole of nature, one cannot say that there is
composition and decomposition at once since, from the point of view of the whole of nature,
there are only compositions. There are only compositions of relations. It’s really from the point
of view of our understanding [entendement] that we say that such and such relations combine
to the detriment of another such relation, which must decompose so that the two others can
combine. But it’s because we isolate a part of Nature. From the point of view of the complete
whole of Nature, there is never anything but relations that combine with each other.
I like this reply very much: the decomposition of relations does not exist from the point of view of
the whole of nature since the whole of nature embraces all relations. Thus there are inevitably
compositions, and that is all [un point c’est tout].
This very simple, very clear, very beautiful reply sets up another difficulty. It refers to
Blyenbergh’s second objection. Let us suppose, at the limit, that he concedes the point on the
problem of the whole of nature, so then let’s approach the other aspect, a particular point of
view, my particular point of view, that is to say the point of view of a precise and fixed relation.
Actually, what I call ME [Moi] is a set of precise and fixed relations which constitute me. From