More reflection on Deleuze and multiplicity of Ideas

My tutor suggested to read the essay by John Protevi, an esssay that the author called a ‘Preparing to learn’.

Most of the aspects explored in the essay are not new to me and are a comprehensive summary of Deleuze Difference and Repetition.

However, there were two points that seem to me important to capture:

  1. The underlying concept of multiplicity of Ideas
  2. Application of Deleuze in practice of ball games.

1. Ideas:

According to Deleuze ideas are constituted of three main elements: they must be undetermineddeterminable and bearing an ideal of determination. Ideas are only determinable in relation to objects of experience, and they have an ideal of determination only in relation to concepts of the understanding. The idea is virtual and consists of differential elements, relationships, and ‘singularities‘ (unique systems as thresholds).

The element of singularities is a bit hard to understand. Deleuze makes the distinction between singular and ordinary points in dividing important from not important points. Important points are those that make the system to ‘change behavior patterns’ against those ordinary points where the system keeps continuing with an established pattern. In the language of Bergons, the distinction is made between a difference in kind and a difference of degree. Idead that change behavioral patterns are determined through bodies. For Deleuze these are ‘solutions’ to the ‘problematic’. Ideas alone cannot be experienced, but they are allowing a ‘genesis’ of real objects.

What looks rather theoretical and beyond a practical use is illustrated by the Protevi with the Idea of ball games.

2.  Ballgame as Idea:

Starting point: one genesis of an idea = American Football

  1. The differential elements:  the players, the field, and the ball as defined by their relation to each other.
  2. The differential relations:  what the players are able to do with ball and each other (moving, advancing, retreating).
  3. Singularities: a distinction of important from ordinary points, relations when the ball moves between players across a certain threshold of the field, a touchdown or field goal is scored.

The idea is actualized in American football only as one reality. Changes in the elements, relations and singularities will change the game. American Football will become Rugby (forbidden forward pass and blocking), Soccer (changing the shape of the goal and the field, with a penalty area around the goal), Handball (moving to an inside court and require dribbling, but max three times), or Basketball (elevation of the goal, circular, and allowing much dribbling).

I found this example very persuasive and illustrates nicely the conception of elements, relationships, and singularities. What is different in this approach is a rejection of describing a set of conditions what American Football is. It is more a play with possibilities and variants of elements that eventually describe a ballgame we call American Football.

Protevi made another comparision on the distinction between important and ordinary points by stating that since the sprint successed of Usain Bolt, the height of the sprinter became an important point in evauation potential sprinters (Bolt is 6′ 5″/1.96m, before the max. height for being effectice was considered at 6′ 2″/1.88m)

I can relate to this approach as a basic set of creative and innovative thought. It enables to overcome internal barriers and helps to see possibilities as intrinsic to the available set of multiplicity. But for me it looks rather opposite to Deleuze’s conception of solutions to the problematic: not the virtuality of ideas are the problematic, but the defined genesis (American Football) is the problem for finding other possibilities when considered as one and only identity. The restriction on one solution hinders us to see all other sorts of possible solutions.


  • Protevi, J. (2010) ‘Preparing to learn from Difference and Repetition DRAFT’, in: Journal of Philosophy: A Cross-Disciplinary Inquiry. [Online]. 5(11, Winter 2010),  pp. 35-45,  Available from: [accessed 27 Sep 2017].

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