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The Force of the Virtual

Deleuze, Science, and Philosophy

Peter Gaffney

Publication Year: 2010

Gilles Deleuze once claimed that “modern science has not found its metaphysics, the metaphysics it needs.” The Force of the Virtual responds to this need by investigating the consequences of the philosopher’s interest in (and appeal to) “the exact sciences.” In exploring the problematic relationship between the philosophy of 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.
 
All of the essays work through Deleuze’s understanding of the virtual—a force of qualitative change that is ontologically primary to the exact, measurable relations that can be found in and among the objects of science. By adopting such a methodology, this collection generates significant new insights, especially regarding the notion of scientific laws, and compels the rethinking of such ideas as reproducibility, the unity of science, and the scientific observer.
 
Contributors: Manola Antonioli, Collège International de Philosophie (Paris); Clark Bailey; Rosi Braidotti, Utrecht U; Manuel DeLanda, U of Pennsylvania; Aden Evens, Dartmouth U; Gregory Flaxman, U of North Carolina; Thomas Kelso; Andrew Murphie, U of New South Wales; Patricia Pisters, U of Amsterdam; Arkady Plotnitsky, Purdue U; Steven Shaviro, Wayne State U; Arnaud Villani, Première Supérieure au Lycée Masséna de Nice.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Preface

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pp. vii-viii

The idea to make a book of this kind began at the annual meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association in 2006 at a panel discussion organized by Catherine Liu, “Individuals, Groups, Multiplicities: Humans and Others.” The question was raised whether something on the order of definitions is disturbed, if somebody somewhere ought to take offense, ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

This project has come a long way since our initial conversations on the topic, and its final format is more extensive than I had originally planned. It has involved a number of people, both scientists and nonscientists, to whom I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude. ...

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Introduction. Science in the Gap

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pp. 1-66

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 ...

I. The Virtual in Time and Space

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1. The Insistence of the Virtual in Science and the History of Philosophy

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pp. 69-86

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, ...

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2. Superposing Images: Deleuze and the Virtual after Bergson’s Critique of Science

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pp. 87-118

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 ...

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3. The Intense Space(s) of Gilles Deleuze

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pp. 119-130

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 ...

II. Science and Process

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4. Interstitial Life: Remarks on Causality and Purpose in Biology

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pp. 133-146

The question of purpose has 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 book Natural Theology (1802). ...

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5. Digital Ontology and Example

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pp. 147-168

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: ...

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6. Virtual Architecture

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pp. 169-188

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, ...

III. Science and Subjectivity

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7. The Subject of Chaos

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pp. 191-210

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. ...

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8. Elemental Complexity and Relational Vitality: The Relevance of Nomadic Thought for Contemporary Science

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pp. 211-228

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, ...

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9. Numbers and Fractals: Neuroaesthetics and the Scientific Subject

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pp. 229-252

The popularity of mathematics and scientific reasoning in contemporary culture is evident from popular television series such as Numb3rs (CBS, since 2005) and Hollywood films about mathematicians such as Good Will Hunting (Gus van Sant, 1997), A Beautiful Mind (Ron Howard, 2000), and Proof ( John Madden, 2005). ...

IV. Science and the Brain

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10. The Image of Thought and the Sciences of the Brain after What Is Philosophy?

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pp. 255-276

In their What Is Philosophy? Deleuze and Guattari define thought as a confrontation with chaos. It is their concept and part of their image 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. ...

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11. Deleuze, Guattari, and Neuroscience

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pp. 277-300

The celebration of the brain forms a surprising conclusion to Deleuze and Guattari’s writing together at the end of What 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. ...

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12. Mammalian Mathematicians

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pp. 301-324

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; ...

Afterword. The Metaphysics of Science: An Interview with Manuel DeLanda

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pp. 325-332

Notes

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pp. 333-378

Contributors

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pp. 379-382

Index

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pp. 383-393


E-ISBN-13: 9780816673568
E-ISBN-10: 081667356X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816665983

Page Count: 416
Publication Year: 2010