DeLanda’s Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy

Manuel DeLanda
Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory

•    Not a direct interpretation of Deleuze’s work, but a reconstruction
o    Robust to changes in theoretical assumptions and strategies
•    Three types of ontological commitments:
o    “For some philosophers reality has no existence independently from the human mind that perceives it, so their ontology consists mostly of mental entities, whether these are thought as transcendent objects or, on the contrary, as linguistic representations or social conventions.  Other philosophers grant to the objects of everyday experience a mind-independent existence, but remaining unconvinced that theoretical entities, whether unobservable relations such as physical causes, or unobservable entities such as electrons, possess such an ontological autonomy.  Finally, there are philosophers who grant reality full autonomy from the human mind, disregarding the difference between the observable and the unobservable, and the anthropocentrism this distinction implies.  These philosophers are said to have a realist ontology.”
•    Essence: a core set of properties that defines what these objects are
•    Importance and relevance – not truth – are the key concepts in Deleuze’s epistemology
From the Wiki:
•    Process-based realist philosophy
•    Deleuze’s realist philosophies don’t rely on essences
o    In the virtual, essences are replaced with multiplicities
•    Multiplicities: concrete sets of singularities or attractions
•    Deleuze’s time – heterochronous
o    “series of nested presents” (coupling of multiplicities)
•    Minor v. Royal science
o    M: pragmatic, laboratory science (more importance on well-formed problems then generalized solutions)
o    R: prestigious, proscriptive science
•    Seven core ontological components
* The (abstract) depth or spatium in which intensities are organised. Deleuzian synonyms: ‘machinic phylum’, ‘plane of consistency’, ‘Body without Organs’.
* The disparate series (multiplicities) these form and the fields of individuation they outline. Deleuzian synonyms: ‘vague essences’, ‘becomings’, ‘partial objects’, ‘concepts’.
* The ‘dark precursor’ (line of flight) which causes them to communicate. Deleuzian synonyms: ‘aleatory or paradoxical point’, ‘desiring machine’, ‘nonsense’, ‘object=x’, ‘quasi-cause’, ‘conceptual personae’.
* The linkages, resonances and movements which result (the dynamism of this system). Deleuzian synonyms: ‘convergence and divergence’, ‘forced movement’.
* The constitution of ‘passive selves’ in the system, and the formation of pure spatio-temporal dynamisms (the intensive). Deleuzian synonyms: ‘intensive individuals’, ‘larval subjects’, ‘monads (from Leibniz).
* The qualities and extensions differentiated into (the actual/extensive). Deleuzian synonyms: ‘forms and substances’
* The centres of envelopment. Deleuzian synonyms: ‘codes’.
From Bogard’s Review:
•    DeLanda defies the actual as metric space and linear time
o    How the actual emerges from the virtual as an immanent casual
•    “Whereas the actual is extended and differentiated in space and time, the virtual is intensive and formless.”
o    Science of the virtual must be one of the intensities, not extensities
•    Detailed descriptions of becoming-actual, but less time on the problem of becoming-virtual, or how the actual becomes virtual
2: “His depiction of the virtual is approached via several interrelated problems:  in terms of how multiplicities arise and differentiate themselves within virtual space, in terms of how phenomena that comprise the virtual must be characterized as “pre-individualized,” non-personal, impassive and abstract, how the virtual is a formless plane (of consistency, immanence, etc.) upon which singularities are distributed, extended and serialized into ordinary points, and so on.  The virtual, De Landa notes, has corporeal causes, i.e., it is produced by actual material processes, but is itself incorporeal and autonomous from those causes (in De Landa’s words, its dynamics are abstract and “mechanism independent”), and the relations that form between virtual multiplicities are “quasi-causal” or, as Foucault would characterize it, relations among effects of effects.”


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