Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Multiplicity-Dialectic, Huh???

I am curious to know to what extent-- with what results and consequences-- conducting the GEDENKEN-EXPERIMENT of combining ( however and in however many ways,) the two terms highlighted below,yields understanding...

....In other words, I am curious to know what effect the combination-agencement of these two highlighted terms makes, or can be made to make, or if the combination-agencement of these terms can be made at all:


This isn’t thinkable, is it?

My opinion is that if one wishes to understand Gilles Deleuze’s antipathy to the dialectic and dialectical thinking, all one has to do is run this GEDENKEN-EXPERIMENT ( as many times and as many ways as one’s desire to understand dictates,) and record the results.

I think you can get a bookful-wealth of unfolding with this, (but I remain receptive to the experience of those who visit EU and are willing to share with me. What do you get?)


Blogger Orla Schantz said...

Hi Yusef,

Hier sind meine Gedanke:

Wow, this is quite a task. But thank you for bringing it up. That gives me a chance to clarify what has always been a bit hazy for me although it is arguably one of Deleuze’s most important concepts (and indeed the basis of the concept of concepts!)

This is how I understand it. A multiplicity is a complex structure that does not come from a prior unity. Consequently multiplicities are not parts of a greater whole that have been fragmented. So any situation is made up of different multiplicities that form a kind of ensemble without becoming a totality.

A multiplicity is characterized by its intensity, meaning that any alteration to an intensive multiplicity leads to a total change in its nature. So if a multiplicity comes into contact with others its very essence is always affected.

A multiplicity is practical and not transcendent. It is actual. When Deleuze talks of the “dialectics” !! (no, I guess he doesn’t) or the difference between virtual and actual multiplicities I get lost. Perhaps you could clear this up for me. I have a hard time with the relationship between the two.

Since we live among actual multiplicities (and are ourselves multiplicities) we are always elements and participants in the world.

Are we on the same page here, Yusef? – before we let out Gedanke fly?

All the best,


5:54 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

That's a beautiful little summary, and I plan to use it later, if that's okay with you, Orla.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Orla Schantz said...


But how do you define the difference between virtual and actual multiplicities?

I need help here.


5:17 AM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

Does this need to be more difficult than the difference between those connections which could be made, but haven't yet been, and those connections which, through desire, are now or have been in the past, put together? If so, why?

4:11 PM  
Blogger Orla Schantz said...

No, Yusef, it doesn't need to be difficult, but it is = if we want to go into an exegesis of Deleuzean terminology. A multiplicity does not make connections. Any situation is composed of different multiplicities that form a kind of patchwork WITHOUT becoming a totality.

I feel you might be thinking about the concept of the "machine". A machine is nothing more than its connections. It is not made by anything, is not for anything and has no closed identity.

I'm being too pedantic here, I know. Sorry about that. Bear with me.

But let's have a couple of examples:

A house is an ensemble or patchwork of concrete structures and habits. We can list all of those things, but we can never determine what the essence of a particular house is, because we cannot point to anything outside the housed to explain it or sum it up - it's just a patchwork. That's a description of multiplicities themselves.

A bicycle has no "end" or intention. It only works when it is connected with another "machine" such as the human body, and the "production" of these two machines can only be achieved through connection. The human body becomes a cyclist connecting with the machine, and the bicycle becomes a vehicle.


And we STILL haven't figured out the difference between virtual and actual multiplicities?

Let's get back to your Gedanken-Experiment.

Deleuze is a vitalist, not a logician. So naturally dialectics is out.

BUT he is deconstructing himself, locked as he is in binary thinking.

So, the answer to your question whether "it is thinkable" is a NO with a laughing shadow jester lip-synching a YES.



6:47 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

"I feel you might be thinking about the concept of the 'machine'. "

Yes, I am thinking of the concept of the machine to name or correspond with what you call an actual, or concrete, multiplicity. I am saying that a desiring machine is an actual multiplicity... these are synonyms. But a desiring machine is not a virtual multiplicity.

8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


In an earlier post you said,

I want to discuss other aspects of a renunciation of life which Kant builds into his answer to the question of what is enlightenment.


Do you still want to discuss that?

I am also curious to learn about your own GEDANKEN-EXPERIMENT on whether "Multiplicity-Dialectic" is thinkable or not.

Let's share some Gedanken on these two fascinating concepts of becoming.

All the best,


6:07 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

"When we employ the substantive multiplicity, we already indicate thereby that we have surpassed [dépassé] the opposition of predicates one/multiple, that we are already set up on a completely different terrain, and on this terrain we are necessarily led to distinguish types of multiplicity. In other words, the very notion of multiplicity taken as a substantive implies a displacement of all of thought: for the dialectical opposition of the one and the multiple, we substitute the typological difference between multiplicities. And this is exactly what Bergson does: throughout all his work he continually denounces the dialectic as an abstract thought, as a false movement that goes from one opposite to the other, from the one to the multiple and from the same to the one, but which thus always lets the essence of the thing escape, that is the how many, the poson [Greek term for “how much”]. That's why in chapter three of Creative Evolution he will reject the question: is élan vital one or multiple? For élan vital is like duration, it's neither one nor multiple, it's a type of multiplicity. Even further: the predicates one and multiple depend upon the notion of multiplicity, and only agree precisely with the other type of multiplicity, that is to say with the multiplicity that is distinguished from that of duration or élan vital: “Abstract unity and abstract multiplicity are determinations of space or categories of the understanding” (Creative Evolution 280-81)."- Gilles Deleuze, Theories of Multiplicity in Bergson, taken from a link of the latest post ( as of pm of 3/27/2007) over at the Philosophical Conversations blog.

11:31 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...


Do you still want to discuss that?"- Orla

You bet I do, Orla.

I held off on answering because I wanted to post " Black Milk of Enlightenment," which I think of as a contribution to the discussion you ask of.

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