---- by James Williams
  The distinction drawn between immanence and transcendence is allimportant to Deleuze's philosophy. It characterises his opposition to many metaphysical positions - criticised as philosophies of transcendence. It also aligns his philosophy with philosophies of immanence, most notably Baruch Spinoza.
  Immanence and transcendence are terms about the relations that hold at the heart of different metaphysics. Are the privileged relations in a philosophy of the form of a relation 'to' something, or of a relation 'in' something? If it is 'to' then it is philosophy of transcendence. If it is 'in' then it is immanence. Deleuze is radical about immanence, that is, his philosophy is to be thought strictly in terms of relations 'in'.
  In the history of philosophy, relations of transcendence can be traced back to theological roots, where a lower realm is related to a higher one: ('Everything down here is related to and acquires values through its relation to God.'). For example, in René Descartes, relations of transcendence hold from body to mind and from created substance to God. Mind is independent of body and yet body is secondary to mind and in its grasp. God is independent of his creation, yet the creation must be referred to God, for example, where he acts a guarantor for the validity of clear and distinct perception.
  The objection to relations of transcendence is that they involve founding negations (for example, that mind is completely separate from body). Such negations are the grounds for negative valuations, both in the sense of a 'lower' realm finding its value or redemption in a 'higher' one, and in the sense of the lower realm depending on the higher one for its definition.
  For example, if the human realm is seen as transcended by God, then definitions of human essence may be turned towards that higher realm and away from a purely human one. The human body and mind will be turned away from itself and devalued in the light, for instance, of a transcendent soul. This leads to an interesting concern in Deleuze with notions of eternity that resist definitions in terms of transcendence. We are not immortal in the way we can rise to a different realm (of God or of Platonic Ideas), but in the way we participate in eternal processes.
  This explains Deleuze's appeals to, and deep interpretation of, Friedrich Nietzsche's doctrine of eternal return (in Nietzsche and Philosophy and Difference and Repetition, among others). Eternal return is an immanent process that brings differentiating and identifying processes together. In eternal return, difference returns to transform identities (the same). This is why Deleuze always insists that only difference returns and not the same.
  Deleuze's philosophy of immanence emphasises connections over forms of separation. But this connection must itself be a connectivity between relations and not between different identities. This is because an external principle would be needed to ground those identities (for example, identity depended on the human mind - thereby setting it up as transcendent).
  In his Nietzsche and Philosophy, Deleuze turns on one of the main targets of his philosophy of immanence through a critique of Hegelian dialectics, where a principle of negation itself becomes that which transcends. In contrast, Nietzsche's idea of affirmation emerges out of processes of negation but frees itself from them. A creative relation of affirmation does not depend on negating things, though it may emerge out of past negations.
  In Difference and Repetition, the philosophy of immanence is set out in ontological terms through a succession of arguments from Duns Scotus, through Spinoza, to Nietzsche. In these arguments, the difficulties in developing a philosophy of pure immanence become apparent, as Scotus then Spinoza are shown still to depend on some forms of transcendence. Only Nietzsche's doctrine of the eternal return of pure differences allows for a full immanent ontology, because all things, whether identifiable or not, are posited as complete only through their relation to an immanent transcendental field of pure differences (Deleuze's 'virtual').
  It is important to note that these claims on immanence and the distinction between actual and virtual are a key place for criticisms of Deleuze, notably by Alain Badiou. His critical claim rests on the idea that the virtual itself is a transcendent realm. But this is to miss the necessary interrelation of virtual and actual through a reciprocal determination. Neither is independent of the other and cannot therefore be said to enter into a relation of transcendence.
   § virtual / virtuality

The Deleuze Dictionary. Revised Edition. . 2015.


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