Het spatium: Leibniz en Deleuze over ruimte en uitgebreidheid


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Abstract
This paper aims to show that Deleuze’s ideas on space and extension are heavily in debt to Leibniz. The focus is on chapter five, ‘the Asymmetrical Synthesis of the Sensible’, of Difference and Repetition. Concepts such as ‘intensive magnitude’, ‘distance’, ‘order’ and most importantly ‘spatium’ are shown to have their origin in Leibniz’s philosophy. In order to do so, the article starts with Leibniz’s critique on Cartesian mechanics and how this leads Leibniz to a conception of space that goes beyond the Cartesian concept of extension. The latter lacks difference, potentiality and individuality. Leibniz argues that the Cartesian homogeneous plenum should therefore be grounded in a deeper more substantial space: the spatium. Understood as such, space is not an absolute substance but a structure of relations between substances. Although Leibniz’s texts offer enough to understand this spatium, they do not explain how the genesis of extension out of space should be understood. It is on this point that Deleuze offers a fruitful interpretation of Leibniz by conceptualizing such a genesis in terms of difference. Extension is understood as a homogenization and externalization of the internal and pure differences in space. In the end, Leibniz helps us to understand Deleuze’s theory, while Deleuze offers us an enriching interpretation of Leibniz that succeeds where authors such as Yvon Belaval and Martial Gueroult have failed.
Keywords Leibniz  Deleuze  intensive magnitude  quality  quantity  distance  space  extension
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