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Metaphor and metamorphosis

Paul Ricoeur and Gilles Deleuze on the emergence of novelty
PhD ceremony:Mr M. Boven
When:December 22, 2016
Supervisors:prof. dr. B.P. (Barend) van Heusden, prof. G. Heiden, van der
Where:Academy building RUG
Metaphor and metamorphosis

This dissertation develops a new reading of the works of two French philosophers, Paul Ricoeur (1913-2005) and Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995). Both these philosophers dealt, in their own ways, with the question ‘how can thought renew itself?’  Ricoeur’s conception of novelty is understood in terms of a living metaphor. Take for instance the metaphor ‘time is a beggar.’ Two incompatible concepts are brought together in one image (‘time’ and ‘beggar’). This creates a semantic innovation in which reality is shown in a new light as a mixture in which aspects of a beggar are suddenly combined with aspects of time. Deleuze’s conception of novelty, on the other hand, is understood in terms of a mutual metamorphosis. Such a metamorphosis emerges when two bodies encounter each other, enter into an affective relation of some kind and start to change under each other’s influence. A literary example of this can be found in Franz Kafka’s story ‘A Report to an Academy” The ape Red Peter manages to find a way out of his captivity by bursting into speech. This becoming-human of Red Peter opens a zone of indistinction in between ape and human. Red Peter starts to incorporate aspects of humanity, without actually changing into a human being. At the same time, Red Peter’s teacher becomes involved in a becoming-ape. Both ape and human being are swept along in a process of mutual metamorphosis en start to change under each other’s pressure.