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The virtual, the actual, and the intensive: contentions, reflections and interpretations

Deleuze Studies Volume 11, Issue 2

Edited by Sean Bowden, Dale Clisby


Examining the core concepts of Deleuze and the surrounding literature, this Deleuze Studies Special Issue problematizes our ordinary understanding of the sense and status of the concepts of the virtual, the actual and the intensive.

As Deleuze scholars, or as philosophers seeking to apply his philosophical insights in various domains, we sometimes speak and write as though Deleuze’s concepts were well understood. When we examine the literature, however, we find a surprising lack of consensus regarding the sense of his core concepts, even those as central as the virtual, the actual and the intensive. To take the concept of intensity as a significant example, commentators seem to be divided as to: whether the intensive is virtual in nature or whether it constitutes a third ontological realm; the proximity of the philosophical conception of intensity to the scientific one; the philosophical work which this concept is tasked with at different points in Deleuze’s oeuvre; and who the key thinkers are without whom Deleuze would not have been able to articulate his conception(s) of intensity. It is with an eye to these discordances that the present special issue has been assembled. We have not proposed to resolve them. Quite the contrary, we have wished to emphasize them. Each of the authors contributing to this special issue thus problematize in novel ways our ordinary understanding of the sense and status of the concepts of the virtual, the actual and the intensive, and collectively open up a problematic space in which we might think them anew.

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  1. Dale Clisby and Sean Bowden, ‘Introduction: The Virtual, the Actual, and the Intensive: Contentions, Reflections and Interpretations’.

  2. Daniela Voss, ‘Intensity and the Missing Virtual: Deleuze's Reading of Spinoza’.

  3. Craig Lundy, ‘Tracking the Triple Form of Difference: Deleuze's Bergsonism and the Asymmetrical Synthesis of the Sensible'.

  4. Jeffrey A. Bell, ‘Are We Mad? Intensity and the Problems of Modern Philosophy'.

  5. Sean Bowden, ‘The Intensive Expression of the Virtual: Revisiting the Relation of Expression in Difference and Repetition'.

  6. Dale Clisby, ‘Intensity in Context: Thermodynamics and Transcendental Philosophy'.

  7. Mary Beth Mader, 'Philosophical and Scientific Intensity in the Thought of Gilles Deleuze'.

  8. Jon Roffe, 'Deleuze's Concept of Quasi-cause'.

About the Author

Sean Bowden is an Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Deakin University, Australia. He is the author of The Priority of Events: Deleuze’s Logic of Sense (Edinburgh University Press, 2011), and has published a number of articles and book chapters on Badiou, Deleuze and Simondon.

Dale Clisby is a Scholarship Holder at Deakin University and the author of 'Deleuze's secret dualism? competing accounts of the relationship between the virtual and the actual'.

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