3 Jan 2013

Pt2.Ch4 Somers-Hall’s Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. ‘The Virtual and the Actual.’ summary

Corry Shores
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[Note: All boldface and underlining is my own. It is intended for skimming purposes. Bracketed comments are also my own explanations or interpretations.]


Henry Somers-Hall


Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation.

Dialectics of Negation and Difference


Part 2: Responses to Representation

Chapter 4: The Virtual and the Actual

Brief Summary:

Deleuze uses Bergson’s continuously integrated heterogeneous multiplicity to characterize the Idea, the problem, and the concept. In all cases, they are terrains of virtual differential incompossibly-actualizeable paths of developmental explication.


In the previous chapter we examined Bergson’s continuously integrated heterogeneous multiplicity, which characterizes duration. Duration and matter (extension) are two ideal limits toward which duration can expand or contract. This multiplicity has non-spatialized parts, and it characterizes life processes.


In this chapter we examine Deleuze’s adoption and development of Bergson’s notion of multiplicity. We saw how Riemann space has a continuously heterogeneous metric, which means if we transpose a shape from one place to another, it changes distances between points and contours of lines. We can make diagrams of systems’ dynamic behavior by determining the trends in the development of the correlations between its variables. We can also render this space topographically, building from Riemann’s developments. We would then have a sort of terrain where attractor states to which systems tend would be like low regions on a surface where water flows to. These topologies can also characterize what Deleuze means by the Idea, because they are multidimensional, they are neither sensible nor conceptual [being instead virtual], and they are actualized in various spatio-temporal relationships. The Idea is understood not in terms of a logic of identity but rather using the logic of incompossibility, since it is composed of virtual trends of explication that are incompossible if all were actualized together. We can further describe this virtual aspect and its actualization with Merleau-Ponty’s aesthetic concept of depth. Here a line in a modern painting creates space as it moves, rather than moving through a precreated homogeneous space. The line’s continuous self-variation is an expression of its depth, which for Deleuze is virtual intensive implicit internal intrinsically-related differentiation in a heterogeneous space that is explicated into actual external extensive extrinsically-related discrete variations in a homogeneous space. The topographical phase portrait terrains also characterize Deleuze’s notion of what a problem is. A problem is not a series of propositions needing to be solved. Instead, it is a field of virtual tendencies for growth in some circumstance, like how humans developed eyes to perceive objects at a distance, and bats developed sonar. The value of the solution has more to do with the value of the problematic under analysis. We can also see Deleuze’s use of Bergson’s concept of generality in the idea of color. This allows Deleuze to explain general ideas not like Aristotle as being what is not-different among species, but rather as the organicism of the virtual variations making up some concept. In other words, the concept can be understood as the map or diagram of all incompossible explications of that concept.


Somers-Hall, Henry (2012) Hegel, Deleuze, and the Critique of Representation. Dialectics of Negation and Difference. Albany: SUNY.

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