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‘A theory is exactly like a box of tools. It has nothing to do with the signifier. It must be useful. It must function.’

Giles Deleuze, Intellectuals & Power, 1972




  1. Introduction
  2. THE DELEUZIAN TOOL KIT: Establishing some Deleuzian Concepts
  3. SPINOZA BECOMES PRACTICAL: Deleuzian Spinoza’s Concepts
  4. USING Nietzsche’s Hammer: Deleuzian Nietzsche’s Concepts
  5. ADAPTED NATURE: Criticism of Deleuze’s Spinoza
  6. REWORDING WILL: Criticism of Deleuze’s Nietzsche
  7. Conclusion

1: Introduction


It was the shared rejection of freedom of will that first brought Spinoza and Nietzsche together for me. Spinoza, with his geometrical, rhetorical consistency, gracefully and methodically traces our intellect and mind to Nature, the all-encompassing thing that we are in, undeniable and ruthless with its dominating forces and rules. Any freedom we have is an illusionary bi-product of our intellect making up for contingency. Spinoza answered questions that had unsettled so many and it seems that Nietzsche and Deleuze were warmed by his words. Nietzsche started, like so many do, being enchanted by Spinoza. In this old philosopher he found someone who was on the same lines as he was; freedom was illusionary, intellect is something quite different to the will and both were aware of the intrinsically fragmented element to most human investigation. But there was well over a century between Spinoza and Nietzsche and there differences have been blamed due to their separate societies, technologies and times. Nietzsche lost his affection for Spinoza and condemned reason as a form of ressentiment.

Nearly a century later, Deleuze saw a rift between the two philosophers that with some gentle repair work he thought he would manage to fix. Deleuze worked his way with what he calls a ‘useful perspective: one reads backwards from Nietzsche through Man to Spinoza, and God is Naturalized… one reads forwards from Spinoza through man to Nietzsche, and the Overman is naturalized’ (Practical Philosophy, 4). Deleuze unifies these two philosophers into a Cartesian Circle on which he assumes the role of translator, transformer and inventor. I am interested in the fundamental structure on which Deleuze weaves in Spinoza and Nietzsche; the metaphysical essence between the two that binds them together and on which Deleuze was to found his own philosophical systems, which can be seen in his work Difference and Repetition.

 Throughout my work I shall examine Deleuze’s view on both philosophers, analyzing the connections that he makes to fulfill the circle. I will also spend two chapters analyzing the criticism of the Deleuzian Nietzsche and Spinoza, to examine where the theories split and cohere. From this I believe I will see exactly where Deleuze has manipulated their differences to create a coherent whole and also highlight how the changes have retrospectively adapted the positive and negative readings of the two philosophers.

In the first chapter of my work I will be examining Deleuzian metaphysics, specifically regarding the Deleuzian concepts of the virtual and the actual to shed light on the role it plays in his philosophy and how his concept of the virtual/actual dichotomy is transferable through to his reading of Spinoza’s substance/attribute. It will be here that I will introduce other concepts from Deleuze, such as the individual and becoming to set a backdrop against which I will introduce and study how Deleuze’s reading of Spinoza and Nietzsche gave influence to his own metaphysical concepts.

I will then move on to examining Spinoza: Practical Philosophy, to excavate the metaphysics that Deleuze is using from Spinoza. The text concentrates on Spinoza’s Ethics, a correspondence with Blyenbergh and part of the Treatise on The Intellect. The Deleuzian index to the main concepts in Ethics, of which will be used in conjunction with my reading of Spinoza’s works, will shed light on the way Deleuze has used Spinoza as a tool, regenerating him, not deforming him. It is precisely the transferral of the fundamental ideas from Spinoza that allow for Deleuze to prove Spinoza as a great theoriser; his concepts can be used as a tool. In just the same way Deleuze regenerates Spinoza; he turns his powers to Nietzsche in Nietzsche and Philosophy. In this text, Deleuze explores the work of Nietzsche, starting with the ideas founded in existence and cause that correlate with the work of Spinoza. I will use the whole of Spinoza’s work as a point of reference, but it is The Ethics that I am specifically interested in. In this work, Spinoza introduces five treatises, in which he argues of the existence of a causal realm of which we are modal parts. Spinoza believes that truth in itself is possible as nature, for it is infinite, its own cause. He also sets an argument for the adequate idea, being an idea that relates to the thing in the clearest way.

For Nietzsche I will also be looking at a range of his works that a questioned by Deleuze, but shall be focusing on the Genealogy of Morality. In this text, Nietzsche presents his history of morality in respect to the history of the concepts of good, bad and evil. Nietzsche describes how we are wrong to affirm ‘good’ as good for its usefulness to the receiver, but instead, good comes from a self-positing in relation to ‘the other’. Here we see the split between noble and common, and in the case of the latter, there is an inversion of good and bad, for good and evil, the common positing themselves as good, and the noble as evil.

As mentioned, to start this enquiry I am focusing on what I mean by Deleuzian Lens, to introduce his powers of transformation. It is important to realise at this point the fluidity of Deleuzian philosophy. In this study I will begin by outlining the main concepts of Deleuze’s principles and methods, and as Keith Ansell Pearson expressed, attempt to tame the monster to make it work for me, for my small expedition of the fundamental, metaphysical affinities that I believe helped Deleuze formulate the complicated framework of his philosophy. And this is an exploration, in hope to find the inherent connections on a map that was plotted by Deleuze in analogies and laconic abstractions. As Pearson stated, ‘One will never find truth, one will never philosophize, if one knows in advance what one is looking for’ (Pearson, 3) and with that in mind, I am open to new connections that Deleuze’s verbosity may be hiding and open to the active and expressive side of philosophy he creates. By no means do I expect to find a definite answer from Deleuze. Rather, I hope that in the active philosophy of connecting and forgetting, of virtual and actual realities, I will be able to use his work as he uses others; as a tool to unite and examine the metaphysical affinities of Spinoza and Nietzsche.


2. THE DELEUZIAN TOOL KIT: Establishing some Deleuzian Concepts


The important change that Deleuze makes to his metaphysics is a reversal and adaption from the traditional western view of philosophy that generally states that identity takes precedence over difference. Deleuze believes that pure difference does not involve the difference that is formed from identity as seen in the like of Aristotle’s species, because pure difference for Deleuze is not directly the actual tangible differences of genre but is involved in the realm of what he calls ‘the virtual’; a realm of energy and difference. But he also wished to stay clear of the Platonic idea of forms where difference is ‘that which departs from an original’ (Williams, 55) because that ultimately leads to identity taking precedence over difference.

Rather for Deleuze, difference takes precedence over identity, in so far as it is through the realm of the virtual that identity is created. By making the virtual take precedence over the actual – the actual is subordinated to the virtual. The virtual realm is the realm of pure difference, a flux of energy. In the realm of the virtual are problem ideas, which are constantly trying to be resolved. For example, the chef trying to make the perfect soufflé – in trying to resolve this problem the chef has to rectify her environment to come close to this idea, and through intensities of heat, of difference in the chemical reactions of the ingredients, the form of the chefs soufflé is given.

An identity is created when we try to resolve ‘problem-ideas’ which is how we perceive this difference with form and illusionary fixity. When we attempt to resolve a problem idea, we solidify it with an identity, an identity that seems immutable, solid and actual. For example, a mountain is actually pure difference, or a series of processes.  But it is in the mountains attempt to resolve its own problem ideas (its need to overcome wind factors, expanding ice etc.) that its form is given, and from this form we have the illusion of fixity, of a solid object. A steady state occurs in which we can call it a Mountain; give it an identity, formed on this pure difference out of a realm of the Virtual. Our thought gives the illusion of the mountain as a fixed thing, but to truly see the mountain we would have to see it for all it’s possible becoming, its potential to crumble or its potential to grow, its potential to be hard, etc.

Every finite thing has a beginning, middle and end, the middle being change or becoming. Intrinsic to this change is pure difference, which expresses itself in a multiplicity of ways. In these expressions of difference repetition and patterns occur. Out of the unground or the domain of difference, come these ephemeral patterns that form things. What truly exists fundamentally is pure difference, which expresses itself in actual things that are really patterned processes, and to answer why this pure difference express itself in these patterned forms Deleuze needs The Problem Idea. It gives form to actual things but not through Plato’s copying, the actual thing does not resemble the problem idea that gives rise to it, but there must be individuating factors that cause pure difference to express itself in pattered ways. We can gain insight to these if we think about what problems form the pattern of a plant. Problems are shared, (need for water, need for light) and give pattern plants. That they are shared shows that they are eternal, each plant will always have to deal with need for light and water, but these problem ideas cannot be soluble or the world would become fixed – there would be no need for movement anymore if every problem idea was achieved.

Problem Ideas give form to the becoming or series of processes that are your life, in so far as it gives us the things we reach towards and move away from. It gives shape and form to the actual object, give its present state the identity of mountain, of steep, but the stability that we give it is illusionary because in the true sense the mountain is not immutable but a set of processes. This structure is created out of the framework he borrowed and adapted from different philosophers, and with in his idiosyncratic readings it is possible to pick out what he found useful from them in creating his own ideas.

So for Deleuze, philosophy is a construction of concepts. James Williams calls Difference and Repetition the keystone for Deleuze’s work. It is here that Deleuze integrates all the influences and aggravations, pushes and pulls from the likes of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Bergson, Heidegger and Sartre, to form a philosophy very much his own. Deleuze has been famously quoted as describing his reworking of philosophers’ ideas as enculage, reproducing a new and often called monstrously different child that at the same time shows obvious paternity in its originators. Deleuze manipulates and procreates to form his own framework, a framework he transfers to metaphysics, the history of philosophy, literature and the arts. As stated in the epigraph Deleuze believes that a concept should be used like a tool, and he definitely does this. His enculage creates a functional, active philosophy that can be used on everything from Freud to film, capitalism to consciousness.

I have split the chapter into the three following sections in order to detail the fundamental concepts from Deleuze’s own philosophy, of which the foundations can be seen in his readings of Spinoza and Nietzsche that we will explore further in later chapters. The following sections explain the Deleuzian concepts of the virtual and the actual, pure difference and problem ideas, consecutively. To allow for difference to take precedence over identity, Deleuze needed these three pillars in his philosophy. It is with the addition of the problem idea that Deleuze can find a resolution for similarity and pattern in difference, without letting identity take precedence. With the incorporation of the problem idea, Deleuze can state that pure difference is the core concern in all things and gives rise to identity and form. Pure difference is inherent in all things, and in the attempt to resolve the problem idea, identity and form are created. In order to more understand ourselves, we must look at the problem ideas that form our lives, to understand ourselves as expressions of difference, as James Williams notes, ‘experiment with your body and hence your mind in order to live intensely’ (Williams, 10).

  1. The Virtual and The Actual

For Deleuze, reality exists in two ways, the virtual and the actual. The actual realm is that of tangible objects, such as an actual desk. The virtual is the realm of pure difference, energy or flux. The virtual desk would be all the difference that is expressed by it, for example, the difference of the light refracting from the sun, off it and in to the eye, the difference of gravity and up thrust acting in it. William’s notes that in true Deleuzian terms, it does not make sense to talk of the actual without the virtual and visa versa, showing that ‘the structure describes a dynamic relation’ (Williams, 8) but although the two forms of reality may run parallel during events and connect through their reliance one each other, they do not work under the same rules. Actual things can be placed in sections that relate to species or family, but these categories fail to work for the virtual aspect. The virtual thing is to be thought of as ‘expressions of virtual intensities and ideas’ (Williams, 9). The desk is intrinsically a series of processes, it’s form created from resolutions of problem ideas within this series, or flow of difference. It is through the virtual realm of difference that our perspective can see these true expressions.

Deleuze started this framework in his reading of Spinoza’s Ethics. We will see how Deleuze built this idea of the virtual through his reading of Spinoza’s concept of God or Nature in the following chapter, as well as seeing how his idiosyncratic reading of modes and attributes is set up for being interpreted as the actual. In his reading of Spinoza that we will later study, it is obvious to see that Deleuze was intentionally setting the foundations of this concept, in order to make his own philosophical structure.

  1. Pure Difference

For Deleuze, pure difference is the fundamental energy and flux that gives form to objects. We can quite easily use energy as a metaphor for Deleuzian difference; it is the constant movement of energy that is fundamental to all things. His approach to difference alters from the common western philosophical view as we have seen previously, by giving precedence to difference over identity. Difference for Deleuze is rather the inherent force that is in all things. It is the circumstance that creates movement and reorganization in objects that also in turn gives these objects form. Studying the change of form in actual objects can therefore lead to establishing an understanding of its expression of difference. For example, if we think of a cheek blushing, the colour change is signifier of the reorganisation of difference with in the cheek, ‘that the shade of pink has changed is in an identifiable way is not all-important. It is that the change is a sign of a re-arrangement of an infinity of other actual virtual relations’ (Williams, 27).

As we previously mentioned, Deleuze interprets Spinoza’s God or Nature as the virtual. If God or nature is the virtual, then it goes to say that Deleuze interprets pure difference to be the substance that is this God or Nature. He is fitting the pieces of his own metaphysical structure into his reading of both Spinoza and Nietzsche; we will see later how he reads Nietzsche’s will to power as pure difference and also, the inherent force that gives form to all things. This is one of the ways he bridged the gap between the two philosophers, adapting them and making them more powerful with his personal 21st century upgrade. In order to unite difference and identity, virtual and actual, Deleuze needed the following concept of the problem idea.

  1. Problem Ideas

We can give an example of problem ideas if we look our every day life. We can relate problem ideas to the moments that cause us to act or change. Love is a problem idea, in so far as it can make us act or not act in certain ways, as is hate or fear. A flower bending towards light on a window still can explain it’s bad posture due to the problem ideas that it has encountered. The flowers form is so because of its personal expression of difference under these problem ideas. The problem idea takes pure difference and turns it in to form; it is the unachievable attractor that forms the processes of your life, like the chef and the perfect soufflé. Trying to cope with these problem ideas gives form to the inherent difference; allowing the difference to be expressed and ‘connects things to their conditions, both actual and virtual’ (Williams, 131). These problem ideas are reoccurring and eternal, although the bodies are finite. The connect difference and form though its essential ‘series of tensions that must be met with a constructive act. Something like a way of living with the problem, rather than solving it’, these problem ideas are precisely insoluble, because if they were not, there would be no movement and no change in the world (Williams, 57).

Deleuze created this concept from the tools he took from Plato and Kant. From Plato, Deleuze adapted the idea as the form-giving thing with Kant’s regulative idea. For Kant, the idea of the whole world or universe did not make sense, and believed that an idea gives form to our exploratory, scientific nature. This distracts us from an image of the totality of all cause and effects, but this was not empirical reality for Kant as you can’t experience it. Instead, it are three ideas, the world the soul and god, and these regulative ideas are which our movement or activity tends towards or is pulled towards, ‘Kant’s account, at least in the way Deleuze has characterized it, associates the indeterminate with the idea alone’ (Williams, 142), Deleuze wanted to unveil the multiplicity of problem ideas that can be seen in every aspect of our life.


3. SPINOZA BECOMES PRACTICAL: Deleuzian Spinoza’s Concepts


Deleuze is aware of his influence on Spinoza and never claims that his is the final word on the matter, rather sees his work as an engineering of previous visions. Commenting on Spinoza he states that the purpose ‘is not to command or even to convince, but only to shape the glass or polish the lens for this inspired free vision’ (Practical Philosophy, 14). This ideology opens Spinoza’s work to a new level of creativity in the rethinking and adaptation of his previous lens.  In Spinoza: Practical Philosophy, Deleuze introduces the philosophy of Benedictus De Spinoza as a philosophy fundamentally residing in action. As such perhaps philosophy is an arguable word to use since Deleuze describes Spinoza’s Geometric Method of The Ethics as ceasing to ‘be a method of intellectual exposition; it is no longer a means of professorial presentation but rather a method of invention’ (Practical Philosophy, 13).

This creative, positive philosophy is the foundation to Spinoza’s natural world, but it is the practical, tangible and active side to Spinoza that Deleuze wished to infiltrate (and perhaps even manipulate). Howie claims that ‘although echoing Nietzsche’s distaste for systems and systematisers… Deleuze was inspired by Spinoza’s rationalist system’ (Howie, 6). He understood that Spinoza immersed himself within his philosophy, that he ‘feels, experiences, that he is eternal’ (Practical Philosophy, 13) and saw himself as an eternal mode of the all-encompassing Nature. The underlying tone for Deleuze is not thought or power, but ‘life, that encompasses thought’ (Practical Philosophy, 14).

Life and all it’s movement and undertakings becomes the principle element of Spinoza’s work for Deleuze. Using this framework he believed Spinoza is able to introduce us to man’s interaction in nature (and from man to Nietzsche, Nietzsche to Man as we previously mentioned).  To introduce the metaphysical structure of Deleuze’s Spinoza I have structured this chapter in to three subsequent parts; i: God and Nature, ii: Attributes, Substances, Modes, and Essences, iii: Beings and Bodies.

i. God and Nature

Deleuze’s Spinoza’s metaphysical base is situated within ‘Nature’ of which he uses synonymously with God. In Practical Philosophy, God or Nature is the cause of all things, the eminent plane one which all else exists. Nothing can possibly exist elsewhere because Nature/God is fundamentally all that there is. In this natural realm there is cause and effect, and Spinoza, in an inversion of the traditional idea of a first cause makes ‘cause of itself the archetype of all causality, its originative and exhaustive meaning’ (Practical Philosophy, 53), i.e. God, or Nature. God is not to be mistaken with the typical theological personified God, but instead should be seen as an all-encompassing entity that produced ‘the form in which he understands himself and understands all things’ (Practical Philosophy, 79). Deleuze interprets this God/Nature as differential energy, in conjunction to his idea of pure difference.

ii. Attributes, Essences, Substances and Modes

If Nature/God is all encompassing then Spinoza believes that everything that we know to exist exists as a modal expression of Nature/God’s imminent plane. Substances are the modes in themselves, they can be ‘conceived of without the modes’ (Practical Philosophy, 64) whereas modes need substance to be conceived and to be. These substances have idiosyncratic essences and attributes. As Deleuze quotes in ‘Chapter Four: Index of the Main Concepts of The Ethics’, attribute is “what the intellect perceives of substance, as constituting its essence” (Practical Philosophy, 51). It is the attribute that connects the essence to the substance and ‘it is this immanent relation that the intellect grasps’ (Practical Philosophy, 51) and therefore can begin to comprehend it.  If we use the example of a wheel; it’s essence is of moving, it’s attribute is its relation to movement, its roundness, and it is the fact that roundness relates to the wheels movement that the intellect grasps it as a wheel. Deleuze states that there cannot be ‘several substances of the same attribute’ (Practical Philosophy, 64), four wheels do not share the same attribute of roundness, and each of their attributes is a relation of itself to itself and to the other wheels and it’s environment.

Each mode of substance can pertain only one essence, and only one substance per attribute. But one is not adequate because as Deleuze states, ‘a numerical distinction is never real, conversely a real distinction is never numerical’ it is a personal and instantaneous connection of at once the one substance for the attributes, and one nature for all individuals, the numerical distinction is an abstract expression for the imagination only (Practical Philosophy, 122).  In the practical active manner that Deleuze transfers on to Spinoza he notes how ‘[e]xplication is always a self-explication, a development, an unfolding, a dynamism: the thing explains itself. Substance is explained in the attributes, the attributes explain substance; and they in turn are explained in the modes, the modes explain the attributes’ (Practical Philosophy, 68).

This unfolding and explanation is the active tangible side to Spinoza’s metaphysics and is the beginning of the problem idea concept, explanation is self-expression, siding in action and relations of substances and modes. The substance’s and attributes of the Deleuzian substance and attribute map on to Deleuze’s own virtual / actual dichotomy that we previously mentioned. He manipulates Spinoza’s monism to precisely shift his philosophy in to that of an all-encompassing force/energy, which helps build his own philosophy of difference. To read Spinoza in such away benefits his own work. In the Deleuzian reading of Spinoza god or nature is being expressed as bodies and thoughts, as mentality and extension. God or nature is the realm of the Deleuzian virtual, it’s substance being difference or force and modes and attributes are expressions of this difference.

  1. Beings and Bodies

For the Deleuzian Spinoza then, there are three fundamental parts to each of us as beings which are ‘1) our singular eternal essence; 2) our characteristic relations (of motion and rest)… 3) the extensive parts, which define our existence and duration, and which pertain to our essence in so far as they realize this or that relation of ours’ (Practical Philosophy, 41). The singular eternal essence refers to us as a modal translation of Nature or God, our characteristic relations are the actions that we have internally and externally, and it is the affections of these extensive parts that shape our own internal relations and in doing so shape our form.

Our eternal essence is the modal rendering of God and Nature that is expressed through our actions by our external parts. Our external parts take their form through our personal translation of this eternal essence. Our external parts shape our characteristic relations insofar as they diminish or increase our ability to act – sadness and joy respectively. Our legs, in so far as they work, give us joy by increasing our ability of movement and action. They get cut off, decrease our ability to act, and sadness is consequent. We are fitted with prosthetics, increasing our ability of action again, and once again feel joy, then perhaps get cancer, which diminishes our relations so severely we die. As bodies we are ‘composed of infinite number of particles… [and we] affect other bodies, or [are] affected by other bodies’ (Practical Philosophy, 123). It is the kinetic relation between our internal particles, ‘the relations of motion and rest, of speeds and slowness’ that gives us our definition as a body, and our dynamic relation with other bodies defines our individual.

The Deleuzian reading of Spinoza takes ‘life both as thinking and as embodied, with neither attribute being less important or subordinated to the other’ just as we saw with the virtual and actual (where we encounter metaphysical difficulties when talking of one without the other), for ‘what occurs as matter – certain physiological responses – can be lived at the level of the mind; neither can be reduced to the other, for life of the mind is of the same substance as life considered as matter’ (Colebrook, 136-7). The life that Colebrook is mentioning here can be read as the difference or force of life that is inherent to Deleuze’s reading of Spinoza. Seeing everything as a modal expression of the Spinozist monism, Colebrook notes that it allows for there to be ‘no substance or life other than this one expressive life that we live’, that we are all expressions of difference allows for Deleuze to reduce this difference as the base of all things (Colebrook, 137).

Connecting mind and body is the thesis that mind is ‘the idea of the corresponding body’ (Practical Philosophy, 86). They work in synchronization and present identical succession of relationships under their personal set of laws. But for the Deleuzian Spinoza it is not enough to say that only we are a body and a mind, ‘[e]ach thing is at once body and mind, thing and idea; it is in this essence that all individuals are animata…’ (Practical Philosophy, 86). On the more practical, human level of this metaphysics, Deleuze realizes that the parallelism between Spinoza’s mind and body is effective precisely in ‘the reversal of the traditional principle on which Morality was founded as an enterprise of domination of the passions by consciousness’ (Practical Philosophy, 18). This metaphysical ontology refuses to allow mind to dominate body or body to dominate mind which no longer means mind, or consciousness (of which Spinoza rejects), has the higher ground than the body and stops any theory of morality that comes from a ‘mind over matter’ ideology being formed.  As Deleuze points out, ‘[a]ccording to the Ethics, on the contrary, what is an action in the mind is necessarily an action in the body as well, and what is a passion in the body necessarily a passion in the mind’ (Practical Philosophy, 18).

It is important at this point to make sure we are fully aware of what Deleuze and Deleuze’s Spinoza means by the dialect they use. Deleuze notes the importance of difference between consciousness and thought. For Spinoza, consciousness is the part of our mind that creates the illusion of free choice, the illusion of final causes and the theological illusion. It ‘registers effects, but knows nothing of causes’ (Practical Philosophy, 19). Consciousness is the triple illusion just mentioned and ‘will satisfy its ignorance by reversing the order of things, by taking effects for causes… [and]  …take[s] itself for the first cause and will invoke its power over the body’ (Practical Philosophy, 20). This is why the body mind parallelism is so important for Spinoza; the body and the mind are inherently linked and by studying the body we will be able to understand mind par consciousness. As Deleuze explains, ‘mind is not a separate substance that determines the world, nor is matter some separate and lifeless stuff given form by the mind; mind and matter are attributes of one dynamic life, with these attributes being expressed as modes’ (Practical Philosophy, 136).

As the body is in the realm of nature, it will therefore act according to natural laws, and our mind par consciousness will ‘enter into composition with and decompose’ with our body ‘according to complex laws’ of nature (Practical Philosophy, 19). For Deleuze, this explains how we grow or how we die, things that are in sympathy with our nature enter in to composition with us allowing us to form a superior totality encompassing both the thing and us. If something that challenges or opposes us tries to enter in to composition with us it decomposes us, divides us like the cancer we previously spoke about that ‘in the extreme case, enter in to relations that are incompatible with …[our]… constitutive relation’ (Practical Philosophy, 21) (our death). It is these internal relations that give the body it’s identity so if the ‘body remains continuous when the internal relation of motion and rest remain constant’ (Howie, 103) we have life and form. To continue this idea of the ontological relation on mind and body, Deleuze focuses his attention towards a series of correspondences between Spinoza and Blyenbergh, a curious grain broker that sparked a debate on evil. The reason Deleuze focuses on these eight letters is because it is here that Spinoza sheds light on the decompositions and compositions that stand for our body. Spinoza’s body is made up of a multiplicity of parts, each part standing in relation to the other, and these relations constitute the body’s form. This goes for the body’s interaction with other bodies and objects and so ‘beings [should] be defined by their capacity for being affected’ (Practical Philosophy, 45).

It is also here that we can see the importance of the metaphysical elements of Spinoza’s work; they can be seen to affect Spinoza’s ethical view by domino effect. There is nature, we are in this nature and therefore we act according to natural laws.

There is no evil (in itself), but there is that which is bad (for me)… Every object whose relation agrees with mine (convenientia) will be called good; every object, whose relation decomposes mine, even though it agrees with other relations, will be called bad. (disconvenientia) (Practical Philosophy, 33)

Because off his metaphysical viewpoint Spinoza believes there are only actions and is able to reverse the traditional idea of ethical behavior, focusing on the destruction of relations as bad. He resides in action, so it is the action that is bad, ‘with the act of killing, I destroy the characteristic relation of another human body’ (Practical Philosophy, 34).

But is not enough to say that the action alone is bad. This is where the Deleuzian Spinoza integrates body and mind, nature and thought. It is precisely when we associate the action with the ‘image of a thing whose relation is decomposed by that very act’ (Practical Philosophy, 35). (This also relates to Deleuze’s Nietzsche that we will see the following chapter, in so far as it is the act of separating an active force from what it can do.)  The example Deleuze gives to explain this is a hammering action. If I relate the action, the movement of my arm going up and down to a hammer, the relations agree in composition with each other, whereas if I relate the action of my arm pumping up and down and my fist hitting someone’s face, the relation is decomposed by that act, and therefore we call it bad.

Deleuze’s Spinoza is concluded in this laying out of a common plane of immanence on which he has succeed in creating the frame work of denouncing consciousness, values, and giving precedence to action and the body that we are able to so neatly step over to Deleuze’s Nietzsche.

4: USING Nietzsche’s Hammer: Deleuzian Nietzsche’s Concepts


Deleuze finds in Nietzsche, just as it was for Spinoza, that his philosophy is too one of action. The will to power is the essence of forces that when in a relationship with other forces give form to things. The willing then, as Deleuze formulates is a creative process, an active force. The will in Nietzsche’s philosophy is important for Deleuze because it can map on to his own philosophical structure of pure difference, and help in his operation of difference over identity.  In Nietzsche and Philosophy Deleuze focuses on this will, and the active force form lives, ‘all life is action and reaction, a creative force or becoming without a transcendent truth’ (Colebrook, 141-2), willing is precisely the active force that creates ‘new values’ which will be capable of destroying and superseding the traditional metaphysical structures (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 78-9).

The will to power, as Deleuzian difference, is to affirm its difference, and this expression of differences and relations of forces form bodies. This is eternally returning process of becoming active, where the problem idea is reoccurring and ‘the attempt to deny difference is a part of the more general enterprise of denying life, depreciating existence and promising it a death’ (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 4) for without the will to power, or difference, everything would cease to change. In order to fully explain the Nietzschean concepts that Deleuze interprets I have split this chapter in to the following four sections; i. Will to Power, ii. Force, iii. Essences and Values and iv. The Eternal Return.

i. Will to Power

As we have previously seen, Deleuze has a predetermined metaphysical framework that he is using with both Spinoza and Nietzsche. In his reading of Nietzsche’s will to power, he makes it explicit that the will to power is in relation to his concept of pure difference.  Just as pure difference is the inherent forces that give motion and form to all things, Deleuze reads the will to power as ‘the differential element of force’ (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 6). In the image of his own concept, will to power is responsible for creating identity and form in things, for producing ‘the differences in quantity …[and it]… produces the quality’ in certain objects (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 49). Will strives to assert its pure difference in these quantitative and qualitative ways and in doing so expresses the difference, or ‘chance’ (that can also be read as potential) which keeps the object malleable. Because the will to power regulates relationships between forces, Deleuze says that ‘the will to power must therefore manifest itself in force as such’ (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 57) claiming that the will to power must base itself in force, and must inherently be a union of forces. Deleuze also notes that ‘the will to power cannot be separate from force without falling into metaphysical abstraction’ (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 47) a reliance that we have seen before in his work with Spinoza. The nature of the will to power is what Deleuze calls ‘the synthesis of forces’ and is inseparable from ‘particular determined forces, from their quantities, qualities and directions’ (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 46-7).

So Deleuze makes the claim that the will to power is impute to force inherently he states that it is both a ‘complement of force and something internal to it’ (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 46). The connection of force and will to power is one that relates to the Deleuzian idea of the virtual and the actual, the will to power being the virtual, and force being the expressed difference in the actual, ‘force is what can, will to power is what wills’ (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 47).  Deleuze needs this reliance from one to the other, because will in itself is incapable of acting on material objects and is only capable of getting in to relations of different degrees with other wills. Forces are controlled and directed through the will to power, so the will to power then is both the ‘genetic element of force and the principle of synthesis of forces’  (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 47).

ii. Forces


The will to power must be thought of as the originating and differential component in force, as we previously quoted ‘force is what can, will to power is what wills’ (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 47). Force itself is always in consideration with other forces, it is in this relation of forces that their measurable difference is communicated as these forces’ conditions. Deleuze notes that the forces’ quantitative difference then, ‘necessarily reflects a differential element of related forces’ which he calls the genetic element of the qualities of each force (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 46).   The quantitative difference of force is its difference from other forces, which makes up the forces essence, and the essence is expressed through the quality of the force. Bodies are created from these relations of forces, and for the Deleuzian Nietzsche, these bodies can be ‘chemical, biological, social or political’ (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 37).

As we saw of Deleuze’s own philosophy, the form of a body arises from force, and in his reading of Nietzsche form is the assertion of forces, and as forces can not really be spoken of in the singular as they are always acting with other forces, bodies are necessarily a ‘multiple phenomenon’, they are composed of a multiplicity of forces that are in specific relationships with each other (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 37). Deleuze sews together the idea of Nietzsche’s bodies, with Spinoza’s modes and attributes, both he reads as being an expression of the difference, will to power, or god/ nature; ‘a thing is sometimes this, sometimes that, sometimes something more complicated – depending on the forces (the gods) which take possession of it’ (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 4) the forces, gods, nature and will are intrinsically connected and powerful for Deleuze. In Nietzsche, Deleuze concentrates on the plurality of the relations of forces in bodies to account for a this modal existence of objects, because it is precisely this that allows for Deleuze to state that it is difference that forms identity and not the other way round. He defines the relationships of forces as either ‘dominant or dominated’ according to the quantitative differences within the relationships, and this difference in turn applies to the qualitative difference of force; it is the difference in the quality of forces that the terms ‘active and reactive’ apply (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 49). A body is explained by the domination and dominating of forces in certain relationships, and the qualities of these forces are defined by their active and reactive applications towards the body as a composition of these forces.

iii. Essence and Values

Every body has a multiplicity of essences precisely because it has a multiplicity of relationships of forces internal to it, although the essence of a body will be determined by the force with which it is most closely related, or one that dominates the most. A body’s essence will be ‘defined as the one, among all the senses of a thing, which gives it the force with which it has the most affinity’ (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 4). This in turn means that an object is never detached, but is created on the obeying and dominated forces that give it its form.

Values for Deleuze and Nietzsche are fabricated posterior to the difference expressing itself through an object forms, values are derivatives of the differential element of things, and Deleuze critiques the Nietzschean terms of ‘high and low; noble and base …[not as values but they]… represent the differential element from which the value of values themselves derives’ that the ‘differential element is both a critique of the values of values and the positive element for a creation’ it is an action that the difference allows us to be creative or critique ideas concept or things, because we are able to measure the relation of forces through their expressions of difference and therefore create our conception of values.

iv. Eternal Return

It is the eternal return that gives rise to Deleuze and Nietzsche both rejecting thermodynamics because for both philosophers, difference, will or force, as part of the eternal return, can’t cancel itself out, and if it did, the universe would become cemented. For Deleuze, the problem idea takes pure difference and turns it in to form. Will to power is the domain of pure difference, eternal return is the constant return of pure difference, for Deleuze believes that there must continue to be pure difference in order for there to be things. The concept of Deleuze’s problem idea, which he adapted from Kant and Plato, gives form to the energy differentials but this form is temporary because you never cease facing new problem ideas. Deleuze noticed that out of the domain of the unground, which is the domain of pure difference, ephemeral patterns keep reoccurring. The patterned form comes from the problem idea, the fact that they are shared shows that they are eternal.

Out of the unground, or the domain of pure difference, are little emergent ephemeral patterns, pure difference expresses itself in patterned forms because of this problem idea. The Eternal return is the return of the idea. The problems ideas that create the form of a flower are shared with other flowers; needing sun, water, light etc., and they give pattern to all things. Problems ideas must be eternally reoccurring ideas because other they are shared and when a new flower is grown, it will experience something like these problem ideas that the first flower, and any flower has experienced before– these problems cannot be solved because that would stop the movement, the forces and everything would be fixed. It gives form to the becoming of our life. Deleuze describes the nature of the will to power as the synthesis of the difference and reproduction of forces and details the eternal return as ‘the synthesis which has at its principle the will to power’ (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 46). The eternal return is the return of the problem idea, it is not the return of actual things but the return of an idea, it is the ‘expression of a principle which series an explanation of diversity and its reproduction, of difference and repetition’ (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 45).  This expression shows itself in what Deleuze calls a selection from ‘the activity of force and the affirmation of the will’ (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 63), just as the problem idea creates ephemeral but eternally reoccurring patterns that in turn give form to all things, Deleuze reads Nietzsche’s eternal return as the synthesis of the will to power and force, and principle in the problem idea. This selection allows for the will and the force to be expressed in form, it gives a creativity to the will, without the eternal return the will to power would not be capable of manifesting itself as form.

In Deleuze’s reading of Nietzsche’s eternal return, we can see directly how he already has a predetermined plan to make his metaphysical framework of difference take precedence over identity, he believed that ‘we fail to understand the eternal return if we do not oppose it to identity in a particular way. The eternal return is not the permanence of the same… the resting place of the identical… but return is itself the one which ought to belong to diversity and to that which differs’ (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 43) he explicitly makes clear that his reading of the eternal return is the return of difference, the return of becoming, and the return of patterns in these relations of forces. It is important to note that the eternal return is a return of becoming active and not a return of the reactive forces themselves, Deleuze states that the ‘eternal return, as a physical doctrine, affirms the being of becoming. But, as selective ontology, it affirms this being of becoming as the ‘self-affirming’ of becoming-active’ (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 67).

5: ADAPTED NATURE: Criticism of Deleuze’s Spinoza

As we previously mentioned Deleuze is famous for his rather unconventional readings of other philosophers and not everyone agrees with the way he uses his lens. I believe that it is important to remember that Deleuze had a philosophical aim in his readings; that aim was to set up the framework of difference and repetition that we have previously studied. His manipulations of Spinoza are in order to create a framework that will aid him in the future, but such motives for a reading of Spinoza have come under scrutiny.

In Deleuze and Spinoza: Aura of Expressionism, Gillian Howie argues that there are a ‘number of key philosophical problems’ with Deleuze’s reading, being ‘inconsistent claims regarding representation and behaviour, a tendency towards the elimination of mind at odds with the ethical theory and contradictory arguments concerning identity’ (Howie, 6). I believe that Deleuze’s reading of Spinoza (and Nietzsche) must be read in account of Deleuze’s own metaphysical principles; he was finding the areas that were similar or related to his own thoughts, that with a little bit of adjustment would conceptually work for him. In Spinoza par Deleuze, Bennett mentions that there is no obvious answer to Spinoza ‘regarding causal necessity a stronger than it really is’ (Bennett, 61), but Deleuze steps in and implies the necessity of modes and attributes of his difference.

Bennett notes that in Spinoza, there are two main questions that his metaphysics was attempting to answer, that are ‘what material substances are there’ and what is systematically happening between the worlds mental and material aspects (Bennett, 62-3). To understand the criticism of Deleuze I have split this chapter up in to the following two sections of i. Mind and Body and ii. Attributes and Modes, as it is in relation to Deleuze’s interpretation of these concepts that criticism of his work has been raised.

i. Mind and Body

One criticism of Deleuze is his connection of mind and body. For Deleuze’s Spinoza we have seen that body and mind are intrinsically connected, and any thing that exists must exist as a body and a mind. Howie asks the following three questions, ‘If the mind and body are really distinct, irreducible, then what explains their union? If they are knitted together by conceptual necessity then how can they be diverse? If they express the same thing then how can they be conceived separately?’ (Howie 99), In answer to these questions, the union of mind and body is, as we have see, the idea of the corresponding body, and as long as we keep in mind that difference is what has given form to these bodies, and the identity of these bodies is corresponding to the difference, then the mind body and idea and form concepts can follow in geometric steps.

Howie argues that this relationship ‘leads to an extreme form of materialism’ (Howie, 71), and although it is true that Deleuze bases his own philosophy and therefore his reading of Spinoza in this all encompassing difference, Howie must be careful not to read Deleuze’s work with identity reigning over difference. Howie denies the connection of mind body because she is taking identity as the dominant apparition, she believes that Deleuze ‘is unable to save this account of mind because he can only retain a notion of privacy or intentionality by invoking the identity thesis, which he is confused about’ (Howie 99), but rather than be confused, Deleuze denies the identity thesis as controller. For Deleuze identity is just the form that is given in the expression of Difference, bodies are an expression of reoccurring problem ideas. Our muscles form to solve the problem idea of our weight, gravity, disabilities etc. Bennett’s explanation of Spinoza’s metaphysics of mind and body is perhaps appropriate here:

My mind is a mode, my body is a mode, and my mind is my body, so the mode that is my mind is the mode that is my body, and so the “affection” or quality or state which, added to extension, yields the whole nature of my body is the very one which, added to thought, yields the whole nature of my mind. (Bennett 80)

Bennett writes on Spinoza par Deleuze and he reading can gives insight on the connection the Spinoza makes between the mind and body. Deleuze takes this mind body affinity, and latches it to his virtual/actual difference/form concepts.

i. Attributes and Modes

Howie also is against the reading Deleuze takes of Spinoza’s attributes and modes. Deleuze sees attributes and modes of god/nature as expressions of his own virtual and actual concepts. The virtual is god/nature, and the substance of god/nature is difference, force or will to power. The virtual expresses this difference, which is the relationship of different forces, as bodies, that are capable of changing because of the problem idea, which is an eternally reoccurring difference without which everything would become fixed. Howie argues that ‘Deleuze extracts the point that finite modes, in different attributes, are in the same order. This is obviously nonsense’ (Howie 74). But she is clearly reading Deleuze’s Spinoza without considering his concept of the problem idea or eternal return, which stop it seeming like such nonsense. It is not the finite modes come back in order, but it is the patterns, the idea, that returns and gives form. Howie reads Deleuze without letting go of the value of identity, which allows her to create such difficulties with Deleuze’s reading of Spinoza.

Howie asks ‘what guarantee can we have that the modes in each series can be mapped onto the modes in other series?’ (Howie, 75)  and Deleuze would answer they should not, for each expression of the difference is unique in its expression of the problem idea, it is not the mode that is repeated but the difference, difference takes precedence over identity. It is precisely because Howie goes against Deleuze’s warning of reading his work like a tool that she misses out on the contextual element of both the problem idea and the eternal return, stating in her introduction that she contends ‘that the concepts and ideas developed by Deleuze cannot be ‘euphemised’, they do not constitute a ‘toolbox’ – a reading encouraged by Deleuze – but fain their meaning in context’ (Howie, 6). Deleuze has given the rubric to understanding his text, and Howie has bypassed them in order to create fault and specifically bypass any context to Deleuze’s work.


6: REWORDING WILL: Criticism of Deleuze’s Nietzsche


As we have seen Deleuze employs his own metaphysical construct on to the reading of other philosophers and his reading of Nietzsche is no different. Deleuze reads in Nietzsche’s forces and will a pattern that coincides with his own philosophy of difference, with the goal always to make difference take precedence over identity. In Nietzsche, Deleuze sees this reversal of Platonism and western philosophical tradition of the hierarchy of difference and identity, but this reading has caused criticism, especially in the likes of Haar, who believes that Deleuze’s reading of this reversal in Nietzsche has two philosophical problems. He asks ‘first, what corresponds in Nietzsche’s text to the notion of simulacrum?’ (Haar, 55), that is, what in Nietzsche’s work creates appearance in a multiplicity of relating forces?  The answer again is the problem idea, and the ephemeral patterns in the eternal return of pure difference, another of the Deleuze/Nietzsche synthesises.

Haar’s following disagreement with Deleuze is related to Deleuze’s renouncement of the concept of the original.  He argues that ‘the fact that for Nietzsche there is no model for appearances in general does not mean that there is no origin,’(Haar, 56) which may be so for Nietzsche par Deleuze, but for Deleuze, it must be that there is no origin other than becoming and difference for there is only difference, of which has no beginning as it is eternally becoming. Deleuze talks of the origin of values as an inversion that starts the concepts of noble and good, in part 8 of the chapter ‘active and reactive’ in Nietzsche and Philosophy, but it is important to make sure that one reads the argument with difference taking precedence over identity as we shall see.  I have split this chapter in to the following two sections on i. Appearance and ii. The Original, in order to question and analyse the criticism of Deleuze’s reading.

i. Appearance

Haar, in objection to Deleuze’s reading of Nietzsche, stated that Deleuze was interpreting Nietzsche’s play of appearances as a ‘sort of black mass or witches’ Sabbath’ (Haar, 56). What Haar means by this, is that Deleuze’s interpretation of Nietzsche’s appearances is quite literally, the expression of these relations of forces, which belong to the virtual realm. Haar did not agree with Deleuze reading Nietzsche’s appearances as this simulation, but did note that with Deleuze’s interpretation, this ‘phantasm-appearance… escapes the opposition between the true and illusory worlds’ which is precisely what Deleuze’s aim was (Haar, 55). Haar argues that ‘we find in Nietzsche the idea of fiction… but we never find the idea of simulation’, and I wish to argue that the ‘fictitious identities’ are not fictitious but ephemeral, and the simulation that we can find in Nietzsche is precisely in the expression of the relation of forces, where as these expressions do not convey the idea of it, but express the idea, they are a simulation (Haar, 56).

Deleuze read’s Nietzsche’s theory of The Dionysian forces and the Apollonian forces as very much in tune with his own idea of the virtual and in the actual, where as the actual is given form by the virtual, the Dionysian forces are represented by the apollonian forces, the forces of difference and movement are represented in form by the concept of order. Pierre Klossowski makes use of the Deleuze’s Nietzschean concepts such as the phantasm appearances, another philosopher renowned for his idiosyncratic reading of Nietzsche. Deleuze may have introduces the notion of ‘phantasm’ inappropriately (Haar, 55), but it must be kept in mind when reading Deleuze that you are not just reading a work on Nietzsche, but a work made out of Nietzsche.

ii. Origin

The problem Haar has with the Deleuzian reading of Nietzsche’s concept of origin is that he cannot find a connection between the appearance of a thing and its origin as will to power. As we have seen, the will to power is the relation of forces that gives rise to the form of objects. The appearance of a thing is its measurable expression of difference. If we again look at the example of the flower on a windowsill bending towards the light we can see that the crooked form of the flower is due to its expression of difference under certain problem ideas.  If we were to spin the plant 180º so it no longer faced the sun the movement of the flower toward the sun again would be an example of showing how it’s appearance is a derivative of the attempted resolution of these problem ideas. That we see patterns in the forms of things is because of the patterns in the eternal return of these problem ideas. That there are multiple bent flowers, and that there will be bent flowers in the future, is because in this realm of difference, there are reoccurring patterns that may only last a short while, but exist in a pattern, so for Deleuze, if a flower exists, it will no doubt encounter problem idea’s that have been encountered by the flowers that have existed before it.

Haar states that the Deleuzian interpretation of ‘appearance refers to an originary productive power without correlation to an original. The Dionysian is the originary, or, if one prefers the originating, as the creative force, without however being the original of which there can be copies’ (Haar, 56). Haar believes, as we have previously seen, that the Dionysian is the originary, or the virtual power of will. If willing is creating then Dionysian force it its tool and energy, creating what Haar believes to be disconnected images with no relation to their own creation, when in fact Deleuze would answer that the identity of something is its expression of its inherent battle with difference and problem ideas, with the active and reactive forces that are in relation in everything an everyone.


7: Conclusion


The Deleuzian tool kit is a set of concepts that must be taken in to context when reading any of Deleuze’s works. It is not enough to read Deleuze’s Spinoza as a guidebook to Spinoza, but rather read it as Deleuzian philosophy through Spinoza. We expressed the three main concepts that hold true to the Deleuzian metaphysical framework of which he reads these other philosophers, those concepts being the virtual and the actual, pure difference and problem ideas. Pure difference is the substance of the realm of the virtual, it is the force inherent in all things that give form and motion to all things. It is the energy inherent to all things. In this realm of difference there are problem ideas, which, while a form may have to over come them, will change and grow in order to attempt to resolve these problem ideas, (that cant be resolved because if they were, there would be no need for change any more and the universe would presumably become solid).

James Williams also picks up on the principles that Deleuze registers in order to fully participate in his own philosophy, the connecting and forgetting we must do in order to life to our fullest. The two principles are there to ‘seek out as greater expression of intensities as possible whilst having to live with the restriction implied by the limitation of our actual bodies and minds’ that is connect with difference in order to change and be changed, and secondly we must forget, ‘without letting our fear of actual death restrict us, we must … learn to forget our attachments to any particular self and body’ (Williams 10).

With this framework in mind, it is possible to see in Deleuze’s reading of Spinoza, how he works his own philosophy in to the Ethics. But it is not that is has manipulated Spinoza so out of shape, merely Deleuze has found a philosopher that has set out some ground work that is similar enough to his own that he is able to develop it in such a way. Spinoza believed that all there possibly could be was God and Nature. He used the two synonymously, but for Spinoza, this was the fundamental substance of all things, in fact, Spinoza’s monism followed that all the tangible things that we see are but modal expressions of nature. No object can exist as other than as a modal expression of this nature. Deleuze connected to this concept the idea that this God or Nature must have as its substance pure difference, and that the modes and attributes must be expressions of this difference, hence being able to map on his virtual actual concepts that we have previously seen. Deleuze sees Spinoza’s philosophy as ‘a laying out of a common plane of immanence on which all bodies, all minds, and all individuals are situated… it is a plan in the geometric sense: a section, an intersection, a diagram’ (Practical Philosophy, 122); a diagram on to which Deleuze can draw his own concepts on top of, to create his own work of art. It is this level of idiosyncratic reading that has left Deleuze with a lot of confusion and criticism, much I believe is from the refusal of taking in to account the whole hidden agenda of Deleuze’s reading of other philosophers.

Gillian Howie believes that ‘Deleuze’s authorial voice appropriates or colonises that of Spinoza’ and argues that ‘we are presented not merely an expository work on Spinoza but Deleuze’s assertion of a philosophical system’ (Howie, 6). It is easy to understand how one could raise an argument with Deleuze’s work if they expected it to follow the traditions of most philosophy where when talking about a work, that work in subjection takes precedence. But, much like his own metaphysical construct, Deleuze is changing and augmenting Spinoza in order to build his own work. The identity of Spinoza’s work is merely and expression of an idea that Deleuze can express in another way, to keep in active and useful as a tool.

Just as we saw in Spinoza, Deleuze is reading Nietzsche with his own conquest in mind, and makes sure to sew in his concept of difference to that of the will to power. We noticed more in Nietzsche that Deleuze was able to explore the concepts of the relations of forces inside bodies, and how far these relationships are destructive or constructive to the body.  Deleuze himself regards his reading in the following outline.

This must be taken as a simple summary of texts … The relation of the two qualities of the will to power (negation and affirmation), the relation of the will to power itself within the eternal return, and the possibility of transmutation as a new way of feeling, thinking and above all being (the Overman). (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 66)

For Deleuze, Nietzsche’s philosophy provided the gateway to start this new way of feeling, this new philosophy that deals with the active, changing differential world that has a secondary problematic identity. In this philosopher he found the seeds of the problem idea through the eternal return, although as we previously mentioned, this Deleuzian concept also has Kant and Plato to credit as father. The criticism we have come across for Deleuze is criticism not of his philosophy but his reading of Nietzsche or Spinoza, when the point is it is not a reading, but a re-reading. In this revival of concepts, Deleuze is able to create a detailed network of concepts that start on this metaphysical level and can scope out to ethical consequences.

The relations of forces composing the body, in being positive to the body help to maintain it or give a positive growth, for example, the difference of red blood cells to white blood cells, in relation to specific problem ideas, such as a cut, can lead to me bleeding to death (negative) or scabbing and healing (positive). ‘Hence the battle cry that Deleuze borrows from Spinoza ‘we do not know what our bodies are capable of’ – that is, experiment with your body and hence your mind in order to live intensely’ (Williams, 10) quite literally, Deleuze can find a relation of virtual and actual through mind and body, and in testing out what your body can do, we can test out what our minds can do, what difference can do.  In Nietzsche, Deleuze finds the ethical structure through the eternal return; in this pattern he creates a humanist account that ‘whatever you will, will it in such a way that you also will its eternal return’ (Nietzsche and Philosophy, 63).

To say that Deleuze set out to make an ethical rulebook would be to miss the point of his work, he is directly addressing the philosophy of difference to take in to account the media res perception of life that he takes. Deleuze was renowned for his idiosyncratic readings and in this work I have highlight how Deleuze has his own philosophy active and on his mind at all times and has sewn his own metaphysical framework on to Nietzsche and Spinoza to express his own philosophy of difference.



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