- ---- by James WilliamsDeleuze subverts the concept 'real' through his distinction drawn between the 'actual' and the 'virtual'. For him, the actual is more like what we would ordinarily understand as the real, that is, a realm of things that exist independently of our ways of thinking about them and perceiving them. Whereas the virtual is the realm of transcendental conditions for the actual, that is, things that we have to presuppose for there to be actual things at all.More seriously, with respect to any discussion of his work in terms of realism, Deleuze denies any priority accorded to human subjects, to their minds, ideas, perceptual apparatuses or linguistic capacities. If we traditionally frame the opposition between real and unreal through the distinction drawn between a thing that is dependent on us (the chair I dream of, or imagine) and an independent existent (the real chair), then we shall have started with a conceptual framework that does not fit Deleuze's philosophy well at all.Rather, Deleuze provides us with critical angles against traditional realism and a new metaphysical framework for developing a concept of the real. According to this concept the real is the virtual and the actual. It is hence better to think of real things in terms more of complete things rather than independent ones. Note that this commits Deleuze to degrees of reality and unreality or illusion.We should not say real or unreal, but more or less real, meaning a more or less complete expression of the thing.It is questionable whether we can say that a thing is completely real, in Deleuze's work, other than the metaphysical statement that the real is all of the actual and of the virtual. Whenever we give an expression of a thing it will be under an individual form of expression that allows for further completion. More importantly, that completion will involve a synthetic alteration of the components of any earlier reality, to the point where no component can be claimed to be finally real or complete.For example, for Deleuze, a mountain exists as real with all the ways it has been painted, sensed, written about and walked over. It also exists with all the virtual conditions for them, such as ideas and different intensities of sensations. The real mountain changes completely when it is painted and sensed anew: when its name changes, when it is mined, or moved through differently.This means that traditional forms of realism are completely at odds with Deleuze's philosophy, since the notion that the real stands in opposition to something unreal or imaginary already sets the real as something incomplete. So to speak of the real chair as if it could be identified independently of our ideas about it is a mistake concerning the significance of things. Reality goes hand in hand with ideal and emotional effects, rather than being free of them.Does this mean that Deleuze is an idealist, denying the existence of an independent external reality and bringing all things into the mind? Deleuze's philosophy is beyond the idealist and realist distinction. There are actual things and we should pay attention to them. Without them it does not make sense to speak of virtual ideas or intensities. But, reciprocally, it makes no sense to speak of real or actual things as if they could be abstracted from the ideal and emotional fields that make them live for us.Connectives§ virtual / virtuality
The Deleuze dictionary. Revised Edition Edited by Adrian Parr . 2010.