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(Dastur 2007: 113; my translation)Deleuze seems to use the expression ‘un air du temps’ in a verysimilar way to this Heideggerian notion ofStimmung, as a mannerof doing philosophy in tune with its contemporary times. As Dasturquotes from Heidegger’s first lectures on Nietzsche, ‘Stimmungisprecisely the fundamental manner according to which we are exteriorto ourselves’ (Dastur 2007: 117; my translation). It is this spiritof the time that shatters the constituted subject and presents thepossibilitytoindividuate,tocomposewiththeworldaspsycho-collective individuations. For both Heidegger and Deleuze,Stimmungandair du tempsare ontological formations rather than psychologicalperceptions. For both, yet very differently, an image of thought reflects apresent, challenging all forms of doing philosophy by inscribing in thema political imperative, and opening thoughts and politics to other realmsas the means to a process of transindividuation.7In short, thinking isa dangerous and a transformative activity. In order to bring to thefore the political elements contained in this untimely question ‘whatis called thinking?’, it is necessary to think the present against eternaland ahistorical truths. As we may recall here, Foucault claimed that thisthought of actuality was first expressed in modern times by Kant, inWhat Is Enlightenment?as an attempt to answer the question: ‘what isit in the present that currently has meaning for philosophical reflection?’
What Is Called Thinking? Deleuze on Heideggerian Paths255(Foucault 2010: 12). Before coming back to the historical determinationof thinking (especially in relation to nihilism), we should first turn tothe question of the role of signs in shaping the involuntary practice ofthinking.II. The Thinking Path: A Typology of Signs and Thinking asan Involuntary PracticeOne of the key themes running throughout Heidegger’s lectures onthinking is the process of learning. The emphasis on learning is crucialto understanding the objectives of the book, and as the translator notesin his introduction, Heidegger’s 1951–2 lectures onWhat Is CalledThinking?were the first he had been allowed to deliver since hissuspension in 1944 for his involvement with the Nazi regime (GlennGray in Heidegger 1968: xviii). Here, Heidegger claims thatin order to be capable of thinking, we need to learn it first. What islearning? . . . We learn to think by giving our mind to what there is to thinkabout . . . Everything thought-provoking gives us to think . . . [What is] [most]thought-provoking is that we are still not thinking. (Heidegger 1968: 4;original emphasis)This last sentence is referred to again and again by Deleuze. ForHeidegger, if thinking is a human faculty, it does not mean that we arecurrently thinking. This is the first argument Heidegger presents, thatthinking is not an innate faculty but a process to be acquired over time,through a process of learning. In fact, one cannot find what thinking isor what there is to think if one does not attempt to find the ‘path’ tothinking (Heidegger 1969: 23).