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Deleuze and the three syntheses of time

By Keith W. Faulkner


The three syntheses of time are Deleuze’s response to Kant’s belief that time is synthesized by the unity o the “I think.” Deleuze believes that there is a prior synthesis of time in the unconscious. He calls this a “passive” synthesis of time. My thesis will seek to clarify Deleuze’s theory of the three syntheses of time by providing the background from which he derived his concepts. In chapter one I argue that the system of “signs” presented in Proust and Signs is the precursor to Deleuze’s three syntheses of time. I conclude that Worldy Signs correspond to synthesis of habit, Signs of Love correspond to the synthesis of memory, and Signs of Art correspond to the synthesis of the future. In chapter two I argue that the system of “series” presented in the second half of The Logic of Sense illustrates Deleuze’s conceptions of “resonance” and “forced movement” that are critical to understanding the three syntheses of time. I conclude that Deleuze’s conception of connective, conjunctive and disjunctive series are derived from Freud’s reading of libidinal stages in his Three Essays on The Theory of Sexuality. In chapter three I argue that chapter two of Difference and Repetition is based upon concepts derived from Freud’s Project for a Scientific Psychology. I conclude that the concepts of the Id, Ego and Superego each correspond to a synthesis of time and that these agencies are primarily based upon neurological processes. In chapter four I argue that the static repetitions are the means by which the three syntheses of time manifest themselves in our actions. I conclude that the Superego presents and forbids actions that constitute a “pure event” and that the psyche reacts by repetitive behaviours that correspond to the three static dimensions of time: the before, the during, and the after

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