According to the SEP:

he tries to develop a metaphysics adequate to contemporary mathematics and science—a metaphysics in which the concept of multiplicity replaces that of substance, event replaces essence and virtuality replaces possibility.

Multiplicity & Virtuality seem to be the new notions introduced here by Deleuze, the others have antecedents.

Both substance & essence goes back to Aristotle.

  1. Where does Event originate from? How should one understand it? I've traced to at least some work by Derrida.

  2. Similarly for possibility; I don't recognise this as a philosophical term at all. Where should I look?

  • I mean none of this is pure Deleuze, right? It strikes me that additional context/reading up on Deleuze's own sources (Lautman, Ruyer, Simondon) might help clarify some of this.
    – Joseph Weissman
    Dec 13, 2013 at 22:28
  • Are you saying that Multilpcity & Virtuality is not a Deleuzian invention? Dec 15, 2013 at 20:32
  • It depends exactly what you mean; all I'm saying is that reading (about) Ruyer and Simondon might help provide context for this
    – Joseph Weissman
    Dec 15, 2013 at 21:09
  • Just in passing, it would seem to me that Deleuze rarely invents words, but rather borrows them where necessary from philosophy and science (and arts, not to mention 'pure' maths); for instance -- and I feel like we've possibly discussed this on the site before? -- the idea of multiplicities/assemblages are tied up with Riemannian surfaces. Similarly I think discussion of the 'virtual' goes back in philosophical terminology some centuries, for some reason I'm thinking to Leibniz, but perhaps I am mistaken about this.
    – Joseph Weissman
    Dec 17, 2013 at 0:12
  • 1
    Zourabichvilli's Deleuze: Philosophy of the Event might be helpful here too! I'm really enjoying it so far anyway :)
    – Joseph Weissman
    Dec 23, 2013 at 22:41

1 Answer 1


Not sure this will be an answer per se, more of a long comment.

Re (1) Zourabichvilli (whose book is excellent) ties the concept of event back to Hegel and Heidegger (whom Deleuze mentions in conjunction with DR). Some of what Deleuze is picking up on can be found in Heidegger's "The Question Concerning Technology," i.e., the event as epoch-defining. A key version of what the event is Nietzsche's mad man who declares the death of God (in which connection aside from the obvious Deleuzian texts, one might also look at Heideggers "Nietzsche's Word: God is Dead" as well as §125 of Nietzsche's The Gay Science). This filters through to Deleuze's "third synthesis" in the "Repetition for Itself" chapter of Difference and Repetition, i.e., the event is not something that happens, but has already happened.

Re (2) "possibility" derives from Aristotle's works on logic (collectively known as the Organon), in particular, his Prior Analytics and On Interpretation. Since you're referencing the SEP article, it may be helpful to look at Smith's "The Concept of the New," which was published in Deleuze Studies and which looks at, inter alia, what possibility is and how Deleuze changes it.

Note that virtuality (since that doesn't seem to have been addressed by this question or the other linked one) is a term Deleuze's picks up from Bergson, in particular from Bergson's Matter and Memory. (Bergson is quite readable on his own, but you could also look at Deleuze's Bergsonism)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .