I was reading an article called Two’s A Crowd in Aeon magazine online, and came across this passage:

Instead of treating different fields of enquiry as cut off from one another, Deleuze and Guattari tried to show where one discipline seeps into another, challenging the centrality of any one of them. Ultimately, they aimed to open thought onto its outside, pushing against the tendency for theoretical work to close in on itself.

I’m having trouble understanding the part in bold. Specifically, the part that says “to open thought onto its outside pushing against the tendency for theoretical work to close in on itself”is confusing to me. When I looked up the keywords in the dictionary, I saw it means to reverse open the thought pushing against the espoused interpretation by philosophers who favour obscurity over clarity that the theoretical work close in on itself and with it our comprehension of the topic at hand ,sorry for going adrift but that’s it it is the oddity of philosophy for all of us who enjoy reading yet grappling with the language of which we are non natives . but I still am getting confused.

I don’t get the meaning of this text; could anybody explain please?

  • 2
    What exactly about the sentence don't you understand? Is it any of the individual words, or what the subject is, or something else? Without knowing what's confusing you, it's hard to know how to answer.
    – stangdon
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 20:53
  • Ahmad, please read the comment left by stangdon very carefully. This kind of question is not acceptable here. Please also read the site’s Details, please meta post, which give more helpful tips for asking questions. At the very least, you should (a) give more information regarding what is confusing you, (b) provide a bigger excerpt from the original article to provide more context, and (c) give a title that offers more focus on the crux of the question.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 10, 2018 at 21:44
  • Also, you need to do a better job formatting your questions. I’ve made some edits to this one to help get you pointed in the right direction (but you should complete the edit by filling in the blanks).
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 10, 2018 at 22:03
  • Thank’s so much all of you and in particular J.R for his edition of how to posit the question in an obvious and proper well received way . Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 13:08

1 Answer 1


This article is about philosophy. Philosophers are notorious for using standard English words and phrases in nonstandard ways that are familiar only to those in their discipline or that are unique to their writing. Not being able to make sense of this doesn't imply that you have problems understanding English, but that you don't have a strong background in this type of writing.

OK, so let's try to dissect this as well as we can:

...pushing against the tendency for theoretical work to close in on itself.

The writers in question (and the author) suggest that theoretical work in one area has a tendency to become separated from the other disciplines and presumably from practical application. That's the context.

...they aimed to open thought onto its outside...

Taken literally, this is nonsense. I can understand why you can't understand it. In context, we interpret it to mean that it was their objective do to theoretical work that connected the apparently separated and self-absorbed theoretical disciplines to each other and to the rest of the world outside of their spheres of thought.

The author of this article is expressing himself in lofty and literary ways. There's going to be a lot in there that is difficult for a person to make sense of, regardless of their mastery of the English language. This is especially true if we look at individual sentences without their surrounding context.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .