Deleuze and the Passions

Annual National Deleuze Scholarship Conference #3
Erasmus University Rotterdam, 16 May 2014

Keynote speaker: Jason Read

In recent years the humanities, neuroscience and the social sciences have witnessed an ‘affective turn’, especially in discourses around post-Fordist labour, the economic and ecological crisis, populism and political sentiments, cultural identity, mental health, citizenship, agency and political struggle, contemporary artistic practice, and new configurations of bodies and technologies. While no one quite agrees what affect is, this new awareness of affect would be unthinkable without the pioneering work of Gilles Deleuze, who defined affects as pre- and transindividual becomings,
i.e. processes or passages that augment or diminish our capacity to act and engage with others and that are therefore primordial to, albeit inseparable from, sensations, emotions, feelings, tastes, perceptions, meanings and all other, ‘higher’ forms of cognition. Working along the naturalist axis of Lucretius-Spinoza-Nietzsche, Deleuze famously replaced judgment with affect as the very material movement of thought. Besides entirely active affects, the highest practice of thought, there is no thought without passive affects or passions. According to his magnum opus Difference and Repetition, thought finds its own necessity in ‘isolated and passionate cries’ that deny what everybody knows and what nobody can deny : ‘every true thought is an aggression’. More concretely speaking, whether we are dealing with emotions in psychology and sociology, sensation in art, passion in theology, or the struggle with opinion in philosophy, the aim of thought is always to denounce the sad passions, their causes, and those who derive their power from them. Sad passions are affects that join desire to the illusions of consciousness and separate us from our power to act. While joyful passions increase our power, sad passions enslave us. The essential problem of politics, according to Deleuze, is the ‘tyrants’ and ‘priests’ who inspire sad passions in us. His work can thus be read as a critical and clinical encyclopedia of the sad passions that constitute the affective infrastructure of contemporary capitalism: illness, shame, spitefulness, guilt, bad conscience, stupidity, neurosis, mistrust, weariness, fatigue, fatalism, cynicism, ignorance, hope, anguish, disgust, contempt, cowardice,
hatred, laziness, avidity, regret, despair, mockery, malversation, and self-abasement.

We invite papers of 20 minutes that deal with the question of the passions in the work of Deleuze. Please send a 300 words abstract with your name, keywords, contact information and a short biography to Monique Goense,, before 15 March 2014.

This one-day symposium will consist of three panels each of which features three speakers, one keynote address, a catered lunch and a concluding reception.

Scientific committee: Rosi Braidotti, Rick Dolphijn, Andrej Radman, Sjoerd van Tuinen

This symposium is organized by Sjoerd van Tuinen ( and the Centre for Art and Philosophy (CAP, with the financial support of the Netherlands Scientific Research Organisation (NWO) and the
Trust Fund foundation.