Deleuze on the Differential Syntheses that leads to the Subject
In his mature work, Deleuze argues for an “impersonal and pre-individual” transcendental field in which the subject as identity pole which produces empirical identities by active synthesis is itself the result or product of differential passive syntheses (for instance, in what Deleuze calls the syntheses of habit, we find bodily, desiring, and unconscious “contractions” which unify a series of experiences, extracting that which it to be retained in the habit and allowing the rest to be “forgotten”). The passive syntheses responsible for subject formation must be qualified as “differential,” for three reasons. Each passive synthesis is serial, never singular (there is never one synthesis by itself, but always a series of “contractions,” that is to say, experience is ongoing and so our habits require constant “updating”); each series is related to other series in the same body (at the most basic level, for instance, the series of taste contractions is related to those of smell, sight, touch, hearing and proprioception); and each body is related to other bodies, which are themselves similarly differential (the series of syntheses of bodies can resonate or clash). Together the passive syntheses at all these levels form a differential field within which subject formation takes place as an integration or resolution of that field; in other words, subjects are roughly speaking the patterns of these multiple and serial syntheses which fold in on themselves producing a site of self-awareness.