- differentiation / differenciation
- ---- by Adrian ParrThe concepts of 'differentiation' and 'differenciation' are primarily elucidated by Deleuze in Bergsonism (D 1988a: 96-8) and Difference and Repetition (D 1994: 208-14) and the distinction he forms between the two is an important ingredient of his differential ontology. To begin with he appeals to the mathematical concept of differentiation in order to unlock his understanding of the Whole as a unified system, preferring instead to think of open wholes that continually produce new directions and connections. In effect, what are differentiated are intensities and heterogeneous qualities and this is what makes the virtual real but not actual. In short, differentiation in the way Deleuze intends it happens only in the virtual realm. Continually dividing and combining, differentiation can be likened to a zone of divergence and as such it is fundamentally a creative movement, or ﬂow, that conditions a whole in all its provisional consistency.Meanwhile, what is differenciated is the heterogeneous series of virtual differentiation. In Bergsonism Deleuze points out that differenciation is an actualisation of the virtual. Actualisation can be either conceptual or material such as an 'eye' which Deleuze describes in Difference and Repetition as a 'differenciated organ' (D 1994: 211). The problem this poses, given that Deleuze is not a representational thinker, is how difference differenciates without itself turning into a system of representation? That is to say, if differenciation is the process of actualising the virtual how does this avoid the representational trap of similitude and identity? Why isn't differenciation similar to, or a version of, the virtual it differenciates?For Deleuze, the actualised differences of differenciation do not enjoy a privileged point of view over the differences making up the ﬂow of differentiation, nor is differenciation a process that unifies heterogeneous qualities; rather it simply affirms these qualities and intensities without completely halting the ﬂow in its tracks. The actualisation that differenciation produces is not 'like' differentiation, as this would imply that the differentiation it is like is in itself a fixed subject more than an intensive system continually undergoing change. Put simply, what this means is that the process of differenciation is a question of variation more than identity and resemblance because Deleuze prefers to think of it as a dynamic movement that brings differences into relation with one another.Overall, Deleuze considers actualisation in terms of creativity, whereby the process does not simply mark a change into what was possible in the first instance. To be truly creative, differenciation needs to be understood as something new instead of something that resembles virtuality. Carrying on from here he outlines that the virtual differenciates itself; without this the virtual could not be actualised because there would be no lines of differenciation that could enable actualisation to happen (D 1988a: 97).Connectives§ virtual / virtuality
The Deleuze dictionary. Revised Edition Edited by Adrian Parr . 2010.