, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 5–14 | Cite as

How can we tell the Dancer from the Dance?: The Subject of Dance and the Subject of Philosophy



One of the most important aspects of Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy is his criticism of the traditional concept of praxis. In Aristotelian philosophy praxis is properly oriented towards some end, and in the case of human action the ends of praxis are oriented towards the agent’s good life. Human goods are, for both Aristotle and contemporary neo-Aristotelians, determined by the potentials of human life such as rationality, communality, and speech. Deleuze’s account of action, by contrast, liberates movement from an external end. In his books on cinema Deleuze argues that we need to think of events in terms of their power, and not as movements within an already determined image of life. In order to think events as such we need to confront the power of the virtual. This is achieved by a philosophy of life in which becoming is not a means towards the realisation of some end. Rather, becomings are best seen as counter-actualisations: ways in which the already-constituted actual world always bears a power to become other than it already is. If we consider dance in this new context, then dance is neither expressive of an already existing life, nor a pure act that is self-sufficient and self-constituting. Rather, dance is a confrontation with life as a plane of open and divergent becomings.


Virtual Power Human Good Classical Dance Incorporeal Event Physical Life 
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© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of English LiteratureUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUnited Kingdom

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