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The Force of the Virtual

The Force of the Virtual: Deleuze, Science, and Philosophy

Peter Gaffney Editor
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 408
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  • Book Info
    The Force of the Virtual
    Book Description:

    The Force of the Virtual explores the problematic relationship between the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and science. The original essays gathered here examine how science functions in respect to Deleuze’s concepts of time and space, how science accounts for processes of qualitative change, how science actively participates in the production of subjectivity, and how Deleuze’s thinking engages neuroscience.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7356-8
    Subjects: General Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. INTRODUCTION. Science in the Gap
    (pp. 1-66)
    Peter Gaffney

    In what is philosophy? Deleuze and Guattari introduce a paradoxical gap in the order of becoming that rules out any straightforward reading of the opposition between the actual and the virtual: “The actual is not what we are but, rather, what we become, what we are in the process of becoming—that is to say, the Other, our becoming-other.”¹ They draw on various constructions of history, by Péguy, Nietzsche, and Foucault (to whom Deleuze and Guattari attribute this definition), to show how thought emerges not from the actualorthe virtual, but from a process of actualization that joins the...

  6. I. The Virtual in Time and Space

    • CHAPTER 1 The Insistence of the Virtual in Science and the History of Philosophy
      (pp. 69-86)
      Arnaud Villani

      That the virtual plays a strategic role in Deleuze’s conceptual apparatus is not at first clear, and it is difficult to see how it would alter his interpretations of philosophy, the history of philosophy, and science. In this article, I would like to broaden the scope of the investigation, beginning with the nonmodal character of the virtual, continuing with the notion of the “broken totality,” and finishing with an examination of the virtual as irrational cut (coupure irrationnelle). I hope in this way to show that the impact of the concept of the virtual on philosophy’s relationship with itself and...

    • CHAPTER 2 Superposing Images: Deleuze and the Virtual after Bergson’s Critique of Science
      (pp. 87-118)
      Peter Gaffney

      In the exact sciences, “repeatability” and “reproducibility” refer to the validity of experimental findings with regard to successive attempts to create the same results under identical (or at least similar) circumstances.¹ This gives scientists a standard for the production of knowledge based on patterns that are conventionally believed to inhere to the object itself and that are broadly conceived as natural laws or universal constants. It also shows how efforts on the part of scientists to understand the world result in a virtual image or representation that develops over time, approximating the actual world with increasing detail and accuracy. (We...

    • CHAPTER 3 The Intense Space(s) of Gilles Deleuze
      (pp. 119-130)
      Thomas Kelso

      Deterritorialization can be identified as the most famous spatial concept invented by Gilles Deleuze, but his work is full of many more ideas about space: plateaus, the fold, smooth and striated space, the cartography/tracing opposition,l’éspace quelconque[any kind of space whatsoever], nomadology, and many others.¹ It is my contention that Deleuze’s reconceptualizations of space—in philosophy, in war, in cinema, in art, and in science—all derive fromDifference and Repetition, which claims that intensity should be seen as more fundamental for thinking about space than the Cartesian notion of extension. Deleuze’s intense spaces are much more interesting than...

  7. II. Science and Process

    • CHAPTER 4 Interstitial Life: Remarks on Causality and Purpose in Biology
      (pp. 133-146)
      Steven Shaviro

      The question ofpurposehas long haunted biology. Darwin’s explanation of evolution by means of natural selection was intended, among other things, to get rid of teleological explanations of living things. Darwin explicitly answered the “argument from design” invoked most prominently in the nineteenth century by William Paley in his once-famous bookNatural Theology(1802). Recapitulating what was already an old argument, Paley said that living organisms were so intricately structured that they could not have arisen at random; they must have been produced by the deliberate actions of some Designer. The evident purposiveness and organized complexity of living things...

    • CHAPTER 5 Digital Ontology and Example
      (pp. 147-168)
      Aden Evens

      This chapter presents two incompatible ontologies of the digital. The first ontology contrasts the digital with Deleuze’s notion of the virtual: whereas the virtual is creative and fecund, the digital is sterile and hermetic, precluding creativity. The second ontology describes how the digital is (nevertheless) creative: by virtue of thefoldin the digital, a subtle but crucial feature of digital ontology, the digital reaches beyond its flat plane to connect to the human world. In the fold, described by way of an extended example, the digital and the virtual thus overlap. These two ontologies are both essential to the...

    • CHAPTER 6 Virtual Architecture
      (pp. 169-188)
      Manola Antonioli

      Compared to the wealth and complexity of analyses that Deleuze and Guattari devote to painting, cinema, literature, theater, and music, the place accorded to architecture seems extremely meager, indeed “minor.” But we know that the “minor,” in all its forms, plays an essential role in their philosophy, which is why we will not be overly surprised to read inWhat Is Philosophy? that “Art begins not with flesh but with the house. That is why architecture is the first of the arts.”¹ Architecture makes its first appearance in the last chapter ofWhat Is Philosophy? following long analyses devoted to...

  8. III. Science and Subjectivity

    • CHAPTER 7 The Subject of Chaos
      (pp. 191-210)
      Gregory Flaxman

      The relationship between science and philosophy constitutes one of the most difficult and perplexing aspects of Gilles Deleuze’s work. Both with and without Félix Guattari, Deleuze develops a notion of philosophy that draws upon the domain of science (as well as that of art) at the same time that he seems to draw abiding distinction between them.In What Is Philosophy? where the eponymous question demands their most explicit and enduring consideration of these three domains, Deleuze and Guattari insist that philosophy, science, and art achieve self-consistency by virtue of their respective problems and the modes of thought to which...

    • CHAPTER 8 Elemental Complexity and Relational Vitality: The Relevance of Nomadic Thought for Contemporary Science
      (pp. 211-228)
      Rosi Braidotti

      The theoretical core of nomadic thought consists in the rejection of the unitary vision of the subject as a self-regulating rationalist entity and of the traditional image of thought and of the scientific practices that rest upon it. These are traditionally expected to implement a number of Laws that discipline the practice of scientific research and police the borders of what counts as respectable, acceptable, and fundable science. In so doing, the Laws of scientific practice regulate what a mind is allowed to do, and thus they control the structures of our thinking. Foucault’sArchaeology of Knowledge(1966) is a...

    • CHAPTER 9 Numbers and Fractals: Neuroaesthetics and the Scientific Subject
      (pp. 229-252)
      Patricia Pisters

      The popularity of mathematics and scientific reasoning in contemporary culture is evident from popular television series such asNumb3rs(CBS, since 2005) and Hollywood films about mathematicians such asGood Will Hunting(Gus van Sant, 1997),A Beautiful Mind(Ron Howard, 2000), andProof(John Madden, 2005). Besides a general fascination for mathematics as principle underlying all kind of phenomena in our world, these films also indicate a particular interest in the brain, the mind of the scientist in particular. It is a classic trope to feature the scientist as a mad mind, but contemporary cinema shows that something else...

  9. IV. Science and the Brain

    • CHAPTER 10 The Image of Thought and the Sciences of the Brain after What Is Philosophy?
      (pp. 255-276)
      Arkady Plotnitsky

      In theirWhat Is Philosophy? Deleuze and Guattari define thought as a confrontation with chaos. It is their concept and part of theirimage of thought—“the image of thought that thought gives itself of what it means to think.”¹ The architecture of this concept and the lineaments of this image are multifaceted and complex. My aim here is to explore those facets of this concept and image that relate to the sciences of the brain—neurology, physiology, psychology, and others. I shall focus primarily on neuroscience, following Deleuze and Guattari’s argument in their conclusion toWhat Is Philosophy?...

    • CHAPTER 11 Deleuze, Guattari, and Neuroscience
      (pp. 277-300)
      Andrew Murphie

      The celebration of the brain forms a surprising conclusion to Deleuze and Guattari’s writing together at the end ofWhat Is Philosophy? Published at the beginning of the so-called “decade of the brain” of the 1990s,What Is Philosophy? is prescient concerning a series of contemporary questions regarding neuroscience in culture. InWhat Is Philosophy? the role of the brain sciences is clear. “It is up to science to make evident the chaos into which the brain itself, as subject of knowledge, plunges.”¹ For Deleuze and Guattari, this plunging into chaos is the brain’s strength. It allows the brain an...

    • CHAPTER 12 Mammalian Mathematicians
      (pp. 301-324)
      Clark Bailey

      Deleuze suggests that in order to understand a philosophy, in order to grasp the concepts it creates, we must return to the problem these concepts confront. In the case of Deleuze himself, Manuel DeLanda has proposed that the problem he confronts throughout his philosophy is one of avoiding essentialism; he tries to conceive our world without recourse to transcendent essences. There are a variety of ways of restating this—we could say that it is a question of pure immanence or the univocity of Being, or of creating a philosophy of self-organization and evolution—but I like to see it...

  10. AFTERWORD. The Metaphysics of Science: An Interview with Manuel DeLanda
    (pp. 325-332)
    Manuel DeLanda and Peter Gaffney

    Peter Gaffney:Deleuze once claimed that “modern science has not found its metaphysics, the metaphysics it needs.”¹ I would describe your work as such a metaphysics. In any case, I am aware of no other philosopher today who has done so much to show us what such a metaphysics would look like. Do you think science needs metaphysics, and do you view your own work as addressing this need?

    Manuel DeLanda: Yes, I do see my work as a contribution to a metaphysics of science. In a Deleuzian metaphysics, the most important thing is to get rid of the notion...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 333-378)
  12. Contributors
    (pp. 379-382)
  13. Index
    (pp. 383-393)