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Sunday, May 6, 2007

The virtual is ideal, but we don’t know it until it is actual

ktismatics Says: May 5th, 2007 at 3:13 pm So Deleuze proposes that creation is the actualization of a potential that already exists virtually. All conceivable potentialities exist virtually; a specific creative act brings just one of those potentialities from the virtual into the actual. The question that comes to mind is this: how is it possible to know that these countless virtual potentials are real? Does God know them? There was a 16th century Jesuit philosopher named Luis de Molina who proposed this idea about God’s omniscience. Molina contended that God knows all potential future worlds and what will happen if any one of them is actualized. But it’s man’s choice as to which future world gets actualized. Do you know Molina? Isn’t this similar to Deleuze’s idea of the virtual as a pre-existing set of all conceivable possibilities of which at most one can be actualized in human creation?
Anthony Paul Smith Says: May 5th, 2007 at 6:03 pm You’re confusing the terms here. It’s not that creation is the actualization of a potential that already exist virtually. Further it is not a question, in Deleuze’s philosophy at this stage, of how we know that the countless ‘virtual potentials’ (for there is no such thing) are real. Rather we know that the real is both actual and virtual. You’re confusing, I think, the possible with the virtual here. The virtual is ideal, but we don’t know it until it is actual, and further we have to say, both reasonably and sensibly, that the virtual, if it is not pregiven, is the response of life to matter in so far as non-organic life is held back by matter, or compromised. See the first part of this essay for this discussion.
So, again, it is not a question of whether or not the virtual is real, for it is real but not actual. Can we say that the virtual is in part then the limit of the actual? In that virtual, as a response to matter, takes the actual as far as it will go. Now there are resonances with what you are suggesting with regard to his relationship to Leibniz. But, I’m not really prepared to comment on them at length right now. Would you agree that your Jesuit sounds a good deal like Leibniz?

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