---- by Jonathan Roffe
  In his 1990 'Preface' to Clet-Martin's book on his work, Deleuze states that the concept of 'simulacrum' was never an essential part of his philosophy. However, it does offer one of the strongest forms of his critique of identity, and the affirmation of a world populated by differences-inthemselves which are not copies of any prior model.
  Simply put, 'simulacrum' means 'copy'. It is in Deleuze's discussion of Plato in The Logic of Sense that simulacra are most closely discussed. Plato offers a three-level hierarchy of the model, the copy, and the copy of the copy which is the simulacrum. The real concern for Plato is that, being a step removed from the model, the simulacrum is inaccurate and betrays the model. He uses this hierarchy in a number of places, and in each case it is a matter of distinguishing the 'false pretender' or simulacrum. For example, in the Sophist, Socrates discusses the means with which we might distinguish between the philosopher (the good copy), who is in search of the Good (the model), and the sophist (the simulacrum of the philosopher - the bad copy), who uses the same skills as the philosopher in search of profit or fame.
  Deleuze notes that while the distinction between the model and the copy seems the most important one for Plato, it is rather the distinction between the true and the false copies which is at the heart of Platonism. The copy of the copy, cut off from reference to a model, puts into question the modelcopy system as a whole, and confronts it with a world of pure simulacrum. This reveals, for Deleuze, the moral nature of Plato's system, which fundamentally values identity, order, and the stable reference to a model over the groundless movements of simulacra. This does not mean that Deleuze considers the world to be made up of appearances, 'simulations' of a real world that has now vanished. It is the sense of the word 'appearances' itself that is in question. Simulacra do not refer to anything behind or beyond the world - they make up the world. So what is being undermined by Deleuze here is a representational understanding of existence, and the moral interpretation of existence that goes along with it. Furthermore, this understanding embodies a certain negativity that is also problematic. For a copy to be a copy of any kind it must have reference to something it is not - a copy stands in for something that is not present. It requires this other thing (what linguistics would call the 'referent') to give it sense and importance.
  The simulacrum, on the other hand, breaking with this picture, does not rely upon something beyond it for its force, but is itself force or power; able to do things and not merely represent. It is as a result of this positive power that simulacra can produce identities from within the world, and without reference to a model, by entering into concrete relations - in this case, the philosopher is not the one searching for the Good, but the one who is able to create new concepts from the material available in the world; concepts which will do something. We can see here a hint of the understanding of the world as a productive-machine that will emerge in AntiOedipus and A Thousand Plateaus.
  Deleuze also connects the thought of the simulacrum to that of the eternal return. As Deleuze frequently argues, we must understand the eternal return in terms of the return and affirmation of the different, and not of the Same. Rather than distinguishing between good and bad copies, the eternal return rejects the whole model/copy picture - which is grounded on the value of the Same and infuses negativity into the world in favour of the productive power of the simulacra themselves.
   § difference
   § Plato

The Deleuze Dictionary. Revised Edition. . 2015.

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