In the 1st chapter of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s What is Philosophy? a discussion of the “other person” or autrui arises wherein it is assumed that the a priori notion of another person gives rise to:
1. The other person as Other (a subject that presents itself as an object) making the self and the Other two distinct components.
2. The other person as a special object that appears to the self.
3. The other person as another subject (self) which transforms me into a special object of the other self.
What follows is an answer to the question “What is the nature of the other person’s position that the other subject comes to ‘occupy’ only when it appears to me as a special object, and that I in turn come to occupy as special object when I appear to the other subject?” It is stated that:
1. The other person is not anyone—neither subject nor object.
2. Because there is the other person there are also several subjects.
3. The special object, the other subject, and the self are all derived components of the concept ‘other person’.
Does this mean that there are only ‘other people’ in the sense that I perceive them as special objects and in so doing am perceived by them as a special object in turn? Is the case simply an assumption we usually make about the selfhood of other people, i.e. by granting it to them because we are aware of our own selfhood? Is this what it means to treat another person as a ‘special object’, or an object that is also a subject, or an Other?
What is the case then? Is it that the concept of another person gives rise to these misconceptions about the reality they refer to? Answer no. 2 seems to suggest the multiplicity discussed earlier in the chapter. The concept of autrui is a multiplicity, the existence of several subjects, not just one subject and a corresponding Other.
Near the end of the chapter, during the segment on possible worlds, the Other Person becomes a delimiting device which prevents us from “running up against” things. The Other Person is “the condition for passing from one world to another” as each possible world expresses itself in a field of experience.
The multiplicity of the concept seems to be due to its correspondence with and presuppositions of concepts lying on other planes of immanence. The “bridges” and “zigzags” formed between concepts create possible worlds.
Is it correct to draw the inference that the Other Person is the expression of the multiplicity of concepts? If so, is it consistent to say that possible worlds express themselves due to the overlapping of planes? If we return to the prephilosophical plane (a trip that is said to be impossible in thought) do we no longer see the emergence of possible worlds, multiplicities, and the Other Person? Are we looking at the contours of the infinite, the rough folds and rifts that form in its diagrammatic movement?