One way to look at the history of philosophy is as a series of creative acts, or as the history of the simultaneous creation of problems and solutions. Randall Collins, in his hefty The Sociology of Philosophies, offers such an account. As Collins puts it:
The crucial feature of creativity is to identify an unsolved problem, and to convince one’s peers of the importance of solving it. It is typical for intellectuals to create problems at the very moment they solve them. In India the issue of how to escape from the bonds of Karma did not exist until the Buddhists proposed a means of escape. Epicurus made fear of the gods an issue at the same time he propounded a solution to these fears. Kant discovered that science was threatened when he announced a Copernican revolution to end the threat. (p. 80).
I wonder to what extent philosophers in general would accept Collins’ claim, and if so what other examples one could give. Regardless, it would appear, on the surface at least, that Deleuze would second Collins’ approach, for he too spoke of “a history of philosophy that would list only the new concepts created by a great philosopher,” (Empiricism and Subjectivity, ix) these concepts themselves being “connected to problems without which they would have no meaning and which can themselves only be isolated or understood as the solution emerges.” (What is Philosophy? p. 16). Despite this similarity, there is a crucial difference in how they understand the relationship between problems and solutions.
If philosophy is paradoxical by nature, this is not because it sides with the least plausible opinion or because it maintains contradictory opinions but rather because it uses sentences of a standard language to express something that does not belong to the order of opinion or even of the proposition. The concept is indeed a solution, but the problem to which it corresponds lies in its intensional conditions of consistency and not, as in science, in the conditions of reference of extensional propositions. (What is Philosophy? P. 80).
Philosophical solutions, therefore, are not characterized by their extensive relationships to other propositions, but rather as concepts that get their meaning relative to the problems themselves. As Deleuze and Guattari famously put it, problems are “undiscussible” and thus “Every philosopher runs away when he or she hears someone say, ‘Let’s discuss this.’” (What is Philosophy?, p. 28). Thus, far from providing a basis for Collins’ sociological understanding of philosophy as built upon the interaction ritual chains and the emotional energy such chains produce during face-to-face discussions, the theory of concepts Deleuze and Guattari set forth undermines Collins’ approach, or perhaps to state it more accurately, it renders his account largely irrelevant. “Communication,” Deleuze and Guattari argue, “always comes too early or too late, and when it comes to creating, conversation is always superfluous.” (What is Philosophy? p. 28).