Intensive Magnitudes in the Metaphysics of Gilles Deleuze

Geoffrey Robert Engel, Fordham University


The aim of this dissertation is threefold: to determine, in chapters 1 and 2, why intensity is a primitive ontological term in Gilles Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition, to determine, in chapter 3, the meaning, being, or fundamental attributes of intensity, and to determine, in chapter 4, the processual nature of intensity and how it relates to the other metaphysical elements of in Deleuze’s metaphysics. In chapter 1, we argue that Deleuze’s commitment to the ontological proposition of univocity, and critique of representational metaphysics, leads him to view intensity as the term for being in itself insofar as intensity is the material expression of the eternal return of pure difference. In chapter 2, we argue, through an analysis of the three syntheses of time, that intensity is the physical manifestation of the process of time differing from itself. Regarding the being of intensity itself, in chapter 3 we defend the thesis that intensities are generative, implicated multiplicities characterized by immediacy, inequality, difference, and intensive distance. Implication, or the infolding of intensity, we contend, expresses the continuity of nonrepresentational gradients and the temporality of materially heterogeneous, open- ended processes. Finally, in chapter 4 we argue that the essential role or activity of intensity is the process of individuation. The most heterodox but, we believe, innovative aspect of our argument is the manner in which we situate intensity vis-à-vis virtual Ideas and actualized products. If Deleuze’s philosophy is a continuous meditation on being or Nature as a creative process, then, we argue, the nonrepresentational process of individuation is the ‘middle’ or ‘heart’ of this process of time continuously differing from itself in novel ways, or only dividing by changing in nature, whereas the virtual dimension of Ideas, on the one hand, and the representational structures of quality and materially extended quantity, on the other hand, are the extremities of the intensive process. It is intensity which brings these extremities into relation with one another.

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Recommended Citation

Engel, Geoffrey Robert, "Intensive Magnitudes in the Metaphysics of Gilles Deleuze" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28644314.