Introduction   Spinoza and the problem of expressionThe reading of Spinoza that Gilles Deleuze presents in Expressionism i...
2                              The Logic of Expression    In ‘Spinoza et la méthode de Gueroult’, when reviewing Gueroult’...
Spinoza and the problem of expression                           3the erudite historian, but as interlocutors’ directly imp...
4                               The Logic of ExpressionHegel or a Hegelian Deleuze,17 or, on the contrary, claiming that ‘...
Spinoza and the problem of expression                             5working in the field of Spinoza studies by tracing an a...
6                              The Logic of ExpressionCartesian and Hegelian point of view, to that of a more Scotist and ...
Spinoza and the problem of expression                           7how such a power to act is implicated in the transformati...
8                              The Logic of Expressiondifferent/ciation in Expressionism in Philosophy, but also involves ...
Spinoza and the problem of expression                          9of different/ciation is explicated in the text of Expressi...
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  1. 1. Introduction Spinoza and the problem of expressionThe reading of Spinoza that Gilles Deleuze presents in Expressionism inPhilosophy1 is both challenging and controversial: challenging from the point ofview of the complexity with which it engages the ideas of Spinoza; andcontroversial from the point of view of the extent to which it serves to redeploySpinoza within the context of Deleuze’s own philosophical project. While closelyexamining his reading of Spinoza, the present work focuses on the morecontroversial issue of Deleuze’s Spinozism, or the way in which Deleuze redeploysSpinoza, or the Spinozist concepts that he extracts from Spinoza’s philosophy, inhis project of constructing a philosophy of difference. Deleuze’s Spinozism isexamined in relation to both Expressionism in Philosophy and Difference andRepetition,2 and to the seminars that Deleuze gave on Spinoza.3 What is proposedtherefore is a Deleuzian reading of Expressionism in Philosophy that positionsitself within the trajectory of the development of Deleuze’s philosophy. Deleuze’s reading of Spinoza is explicated within the context of contemporaryFrench Spinoza studies, particularly in relation to the work of Martial Gueroult andPierre Macherey. However, it is in relation to Hegel’s interpretation of Spinoza andthe position that Hegel assigns to Spinoza in both the dialectical progression of thehistory of philosophy and the development of his dialectical logic that Deleuzestrategically redeploys Spinoza. The process of actualization determined by theHegelian dialectical logic in relation to the history of philosophy is determinatelylinear and progressive, insofar as it is predominantly preoccupied with overcomingmoments of discontinuity, an example of which would be the system of thephilosophy of Spinoza, each of which is ‘at the centre of the necessity of anevolutionary process’, which determines ‘the continuation of “history”’.4 1 Gilles Deleuze, Expressionism in Philosophy, Spinoza, trans. M. Joughin (NewYork, 1992). 2 Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, trans. P. Patton (New York, 1994). 3 Gilles Deleuze’s seminars on Spinoza, entitled ‘sur Spinoza’, given between 1971and 1987 at the Université Paris VIII Vincennes and Vincennes St-Denis, have beenpublished on the internet at URL <>. 4 Juliette Simont, Essai sur la quantité, la qualité, la relation chez Kant, Hegel,Deleuze. Les ‘fleurs noires’ de la logique philosophique (Paris, 1997), p. 230. Simont alsowrites that ‘the continuity of history is the form or the method of deciphering the actual
  2. 2. 2 The Logic of Expression In ‘Spinoza et la méthode de Gueroult’, when reviewing Gueroult’s two-volume study of Spinoza,5 Deleuze details those elements of Gueroult’s method ofengagement with Spinoza that he considers to have had a profound effect both oncontemporary Spinoza studies, and also on the role of the history of philosophy inthe contemporary practice of philosophy in general. He argues that ‘Gueroultrenewed the history of philosophy by a structural–genetic method, which he hadelaborated well before structuralism imposed itself in other domains. Such astructure is defined by an order of reasons, the reasons being differential andgenerative elements of the corresponding system, veritable philosophemes whichonly exist in their relations with each other’.6 ‘Gueroult’s admirable book’, hecontinues, ‘has a double importance, both from the point of view of the generalmethod that it puts to work, and from the point of view of his Spinozism, whichdoes not represent one application of this method among others but ratherconstitutes the most adequate, the most saturated, the most exhaustive term orobject concluding the series on Descartes, Malebranche and Leibniz. This bookfounds the veritable scientific study of Spinozism’.7 This characterization of the method of Gueroult actually outlines Deleuze’sown philosophical project in Expressionism in Philosophy. It is there that Deleuzeundertakes the project of renewing the history of philosophy in relation to Spinoza.The structural–genetic criteria that Deleuze deploys are determined according to alogic of expression, which is elaborated in Difference and Repetition in relation tothe differential calculus as a logic of different/ciation. The ‘differential andgenerative elements’ of this logic exist solely in the differential relations that theyhave with each other. Expressionism in Philosophy is also doubly important, notonly insofar as it too advocates the ‘scientific study of Spinozism’, in particularSpinoza’s relation to mathematics and the differential calculus of Leibniz, but alsoinsofar as it is the final text of a series of works on figures in the history ofphilosophy: Hume, Nietzsche, Bergson,8 which constitutes Deleuze’s project ofrenewing the history of philosophy by constructing an alternative lineage in thehistory of philosophy. With this series of texts Deleuze proposes a new way ofreading the figures of the history of philosophy, ‘neither as the possessors of a truthwhose reactualization is being attempted, nor as the objects of an infinite“deconstruction”, nor as the occupants of a privileged enclave accessible only toconnections of the historian’s reading, the individuation of the systems of which is thematerial or the discontinuous content’ (p. 231). All citations quoted from French languagetexts are my translations, unless otherwise indicated. 5 Martial Gueroult, Spinoza (t. I–II, Paris, 1968–74). 6 Deleuze, ‘Spinoza et la méthode générale de Gueroult’, Revue de Métaphysique etde Morale, 74 (1969), p. 426. 7 Ibid., p. 437. 8 Deleuze later returns to this series with a text on Leibniz.
  3. 3. Spinoza and the problem of expression 3the erudite historian, but as interlocutors’ directly implicated in ‘the constructionand experimentation of new [modes] of thought’.9 In ‘The encounter with Spinoza’, Macherey critiques Deleuze’s reading ofSpinoza by questioning whether it is ‘consistent with the original sense of the workhe purports to analyze, or does it rather misrepresent Spinoza’s philosophy’.10Macherey maintains that Deleuze attempts to ‘introduce a new version ofSpinozism that [is] at variance, if not completely at odds, with the model ofdemonstrative rationality explicitly adopted by Spinoza himself’.11 Macherey is oneof the most respected of contemporary Spinoza scholars in France, whose five-volume study of the Ethics, entitled Introduction à l’Ethique de Spinoza,12attempts, by extracting the persistent difficulties of Spinozism, to establish aninternal coherence to the system of the text. However, it is in relation to Hegel’sinterpretation of Spinoza that Macherey first distinguished himself as a Spinozascholar of repute. Chapter 1 examines his first major work on Spinoza, Hegel ouSpinoza,13 which challenges the influence of Hegel’s reading of Spinoza bystressing the degree to which Spinoza eludes the grasp of the Hegelian dialecticalprogression of the history of philosophy. Macherey argues that Hegel provides adefensive misreading of Spinoza, and that he had to ‘misread him’ in order tomaintain his teleological subjective idealism. The suggestion being that Spinoza’sphilosophy represents, not a moment that can be simply sublated and subsumedwithin the dialectical progression of the history of philosophy, but rather analternative point of view for the development of a philosophy that overcomesHegelian idealism. Deleuze also considers Spinoza’s philosophy to resist the totalizing effects ofthe dialectic. Indeed, Deleuze demonstrates, by means of Spinoza, that a morecomplex philosophy antedates Hegel’s which cannot be supplanted by it. Spinozatherefore becomes a significant figure in Deleuze’s project of tracing an alternativelineage in the history of philosophy, which, by distancing itself from Hegelianidealism, culminates in the construction of a philosophy of difference. Rather thanattempting to determine the elements of Deleuze already in Hegel,14 or theadequacy of the Hegelian elements in Deleuze,15 or elaborating a Deleuzian 9 Manola Antonioli, Deleuze et l’histoire de la philosophie (Paris, 1999), p. 10. 10 Pierre Macherey, ‘The encounter with Spinoza’, trans. M. Joughin, in Paul Patton(ed.), Deleuze, A Critical Reader (Oxford and Cambridge, 1996), p. 142. 11 Ibid., p. 141. 12 Pierre Macherey, Introduction à l’Ethique de Spinoza (t. I–V, Paris, 1994–98). 13 Pierre Macherey, Hegel ou Spinoza (Paris, 1979). 14 Pierre Verstraten recognizes in ‘the thought of Hegel … an unexpected premonitionof that of Deleuze’, see ‘La question du negative chez Deleuze’, Gilles Deleuze (Paris,1998), p. 176. 15 Is Deleuze’s Hegel perhaps too Kojèvian? See Simont, p. 276.
  4. 4. 4 The Logic of ExpressionHegel or a Hegelian Deleuze,17 or, on the contrary, claiming that ‘no encounter is 16possible’,18 an alternative approach to the determination of the relation betweenDeleuze and Hegel is to read their respective interpretations of Spinoza, and therole that they each assign to Spinoza in the development of their respectivephilosophical projects, together, alongside of each other, and also in direct relationto each other. This strategy entails examining those points of convergence betweenthe elements of their respective interpretations of Spinoza, in order then todetermine what sets them radically apart. It is in the logic of the relationsestablished between the elements of their respective interpretations of Spinoza thatthis radical difference is manifested, and it is by means of the determination of thisdifference in logic between their respective interpretations of Spinoza that thedifference in the logic of their respective philosophical projects in general isdetermined. Spinoza’s role in this strategy is demonstrated in chapter 2 by differentiatingDeleuze’s interpretation of the geometrical example of Spinoza’s Letter XII (on theproblem of the infinite) from that which Hegel presents in the Science of Logic.19Both Hegel and Deleuze each position the geometrical example at different stagesin the early development of the differential calculus. By demonstrating the relationbetween ‘the differential point of view of the infinitesimal calculus’ and thedifferential calculus of contemporary mathematics, it is argued in chapter 3 thatDeleuze effectively bypasses the methods of the differential calculus which Hegeluses to support the development of the dialectical logic. By exploiting theimplications of the differential point of view of the infinitesimal calculus in hisinterpretation of the physics of bodies in the second part of the Ethics, Deleuze isable to read the system of the Ethics as a whole as determined according to thelogic of different/ciation. The explication of this reading strategy is whatconstitutes the Deleuzian reading of Expressionism in Philosophy that isundertaken in the present work. This strategy of reading the Ethics as determinedaccording to a logic of different/ciation marks not only the originality of Deleuze’sinterpretation of Spinoza, but also one of the points where Deleuze can beconsidered to depart from the Cartesian and Hegelian Spinoza familiar to scholars 16 Juliette Simont actually argues that Deleuze’s Hegel is perhaps too ‘Hegelian’, ‘aterribly Hegelian Hegel’, and proposes instead another Hegel, ‘the other Hegel’, who ‘isperhaps too Deleuzian, or is only possible when read across Deleuze’ (Ibid., p. 297). 17 Catherine Malabou, in ‘Who’s afraid of Hegelian Wolves?’ (Patton, Deleuze, ACritical Reader), argues that ‘doing justice to Deleuze’s finely wrought thinking concerningaffirmation implies, in my opinion, affirming Hegel’s role in it’ (p. 136). 18 Manola Antonioli, in Deleuze et l’histoire de la philosophie, argues that ‘with Hegel… no encounter is possible: the recourse to the negative and to contradiction isirreconcilable with the affirmative presuppositions of the Deleuzian philosophy, there isnothing “to put together” between Deleuze and Hegel’ (p. 80). 19 G.W.F. Hegel, Hegel’s Science of Logic, trans. A.V. Miller (London, 1969), p. 251.
  5. 5. Spinoza and the problem of expression 5working in the field of Spinoza studies by tracing an alternative lineage in thehistory of philosophy between Spinoza’s ontology and the mathematics of Leibniz.One of the recurring critiques of Deleuze’s reading of Spinoza in Expressionism inPhilosophy is that the Deleuzian concepts inspired by Spinozist ideas are nowhereto be found in the text of the Ethics. Macherey conducts his critique ofExpressionism in Philosophy in ‘The encounter with Spinoza’ by disputing suchDeleuzian concepts, in particular the concept of ‘joyful passive affections’, whichis addressed in chapter 7, and the concept of ‘expression’, which is addressed inchapter 10. In quality and quantity in the philosophy of Spinoza, Charles Ramonddisputes Deleuze’s use of the concept of ‘intensive quantity’ in Expressionism inPhilosophy. He argues that ‘we can … only be surprised to see Deleuze make thenotion of “intensive quantity” the foundation of his interpretation of Spinoza’stheory of the essence of singular things, as if Spinoza had effectively supportedsuch a position’. In relation to the concept of ‘intensity’ and to that of ‘intensiveparts’ Ramond argues that: ‘According to Deleuze, Spinoza locates, by using thenotion of “intensity”, “a long Scholastic tradition”, of which only “Scotism”,without more precision, is evoked’; and that ‘When Deleuze … declares that, inSpinoza, “modal essences are … intensive parts”, he utters an assertion strictlyincomprehensible within the framework of Spinozism’.20 However, theseDeleuzian concepts are, more often than not, considered and criticized forthemselves, independently of the context which supports their exposition becauseof its extremely technical character. It is by means of these concepts inExpressionism in Philosophy that Deleuze shifts the reading of the philosophy ofSpinoza onto an entirely different terrain. Rather than reading the philosophy ofSpinoza either solely in relation to Descartes, or simply as one stage in thedialectical progression of the history of philosophy, Deleuze reads the philosophyof Spinoza insofar as it contributes to the construction of an alternative lineage inthe history of philosophy, which features the work of Duns Scotus, in particular theconcept of formal distinction, the concept of the univocity of being and the conceptof individuality. Deleuze does not read Spinoza as a Scotist, but rather, by readingScotus alongside of Spinoza, he examines Spinoza’s reformulation of these Scotistconcepts in order to develop those aspects of Spinoza’s philosophy that arespecifically Anticartesian. The mechanism by means of which Deleuze does this iselaborated in chapter 4. This Anticartesian reading of Spinoza provides theframework for the development of a reading of Spinoza that challenges theHegelian concept of the dialectical progression of the history of philosophy. TheDeleuzian domain of engagement with Spinoza is determined therefore bydeterritorializing a fairly traditional reading of Spinoza from a particularly 20 Charles Ramond, qualité et quantité dans la philosophie de Spinoza (Paris, 1995), p.201.
  6. 6. 6 The Logic of ExpressionCartesian and Hegelian point of view, to that of a more Scotist and even Leibnizianpoint of view, thereby determining an alternative lineage in the history ofphilosophy. Deleuze considers Spinoza’s Ethics to have given expression to the concept ofindividuality, whose themes can be found scattered among several other authors ofthe seventeenth century: for Deleuze’s purposes most notably in the work of DunsScotus. In relation to the concept of individuality, the Hegelian categories ofquantity, quality and relation, which articulate differences in the distances ordimensions of things (quantity), in their nature (quality), and in their order(relation), are considered by Deleuze to be antedated by the three differentdimensions of the individual as presented by Spinoza, namely relation, power(quantity), and mode (quality). The individual is characterized as relation insofar asthere is a composition of individuals in relation to one another, or amongstthemselves. In chapter 2 it is argued that the infinitesimal calculus puts into play acertain type of relation for Deleuze – the differential relation – which ischaracteristic of the compositional relations between individuals. Thecharacterization of the individual as power (potentia) indicates the individual’scapacity to compose new relations with other individuals. The concept of potentia,which is translated by the concept of power as force or capacity, is different to thatof potestas, which is translated by power in the juridico–political sense of theterm,21 insofar as it expresses that which an individual body can do, and which isverified by joy. Composition therefore refers not only to the characteristic relationsbetween individuals, but also to the capacity or potential to create these kinds ofrelations, the mechanism of which is determined as operating according to the logicof different/ciation, and is elaborated in chapter 3. The third dimension of theindividual is characterized as mode, which Deleuze considers to be expressive ofthe Scotist concept of an ‘intrinsic mode’. Deleuze’s characterization of the‘intrinsic mode’ of an individual as the ‘intensive part’, or singular modal essence,of an individual, or of its corresponding finite existing mode, is elaborated inchapter 4. The mechanism by means of which intensive parts are distinguished notonly from one another, but also from the extensive parts corresponding to them, isdetermined as operating according to the logic of different/ciation. The question ofhow the intensive parts of different individuals are differentiated from one anotheras more or less powerful is then investigated in chapter 5. Chapter 6 raises thequestion of whether the power, or capacity, of an individual, which Deleuzecharacterizes as its power to act, should be understood to be fixed or variable, and 21 Eugene Holland notes that Martial Gueroult, in his two-volume study of Spinoza, isone of the first to demonstrate the importance of the distinction between potentia andpotestas in Spinoza (Holland, ‘Spinoza and Marx’, Cultural Logic, 2.1 (Fall, 1998), §29).For a thorough examination of the social and political implications of this distinction inrelation to Spinoza see Antonio Negri, The Savage Anomaly: the power of Spinoza’smetaphysics and politics, trans. M. Hardt (Minneapolis, 1991).
  7. 7. Spinoza and the problem of expression 7how such a power to act is implicated in the transformations of the characteristicrelations determinative of an individual. Deleuze’s disputed distinction of passionsinto joyful passive affections and sad passive affections is elaborated in chapter 7,as is the manner by means of which joyful passive affections are pivotal indetermining the transition from inadequate ideas of the imagination to adequateideas of reason. Chapter 8 investigates in detail the mechanism by means of whichjoyful passive affections are implicated in the dynamic changes or transformationsof the characteristic relations determinative of an individual by mapping themathematical concept of accumulation onto the ontological concept of theaccumulation of joyful passive affections, such that there are ‘correspondenceswithout resemblance’ that ‘are of a structural–genetic nature’22 between them, thatis, insofar as both are determined as operating according to the logic ofdifferent/ciation. The distinction between the duration of an individual, or of its finite modalexistence, and its eternity is investigated in chapter 9, where the thesis thatoccupies the fifth part of the Ethics which deals with the relation between death andthe eternity of the soul according to the third kind of knowledge, and which is oftenmistaken for a discussion advocating the immortality of the soul, is developed. Thatwhich concerns the concept of eternity in the Ethics has interested scholars andcommentators since the earliest interpretations of Spinoza, which were used eitherto reinforce piety by espousing one’s opposition to Spinoza’s atheism, or, on thecontrary, and more rarely, to justify one’s pantheism by defending Spinozism.23These studies often took the form of demonstrating that the thesis on eternity inpart five was incoherent with that of the preceding parts of the Ethics, notably withthe principle of parallelism. This aspect of the Ethics is still widely disputed amongscholars working in the field of Spinoza studies. My contention is that Deleuze’sargument from powers, which is explicated in chapter 9 according to the logic ofdifferent/ciation, demonstrates an alternative approach that allows a bettercomprehension of the coherence between the different parts of the Ethics. The logicof different/ciation is therefore determinative not only of the mechanism by meansof which joyful passive affections operate in Deleuze’s reading of the Ethics, but itis also the logic that is determinative of Deleuze’s reading of the system of theEthics as a whole.The project of the present work is to develop an understanding of Deleuze’sSpinoza by providing a Deleuzian reading of Expressionism in Philosophy, whichinvolves not only determining the mechanism of operation of the logic of 22 Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, p. 184. 23 For an account of the multiple conflicting readings of Spinoza’s early interpreterssee Frederick C. Beiser, The fate of reason: German philosophy from Kant to Fichte(Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1987).
  8. 8. 8 The Logic of Expressiondifferent/ciation in Expressionism in Philosophy, but also involves positioningDeleuze’s Spinoza, and the logic with which it is explicated, within the context ofthe development of Deleuze’s wider philosophical project. Such a Deleuzianreading of Expressionism in Philosophy is therefore important for thedetermination of the way in which Spinoza becomes for Deleuze a significantfigure in his project of tracing an alternative lineage in the history of philosophy,and serves well to situate Expressionism in Philosophy within the context ofDeleuze’s project of constructing a philosophy of difference. The context of thisdual Deleuzian project is explicated in chapter 10 in relation to Deleuze’s othermajor text from the same period, Difference and Repetition. It is in Difference and Repetition, in relation to the Scotist concept of theunivocity of being, that Deleuze specifically positions Spinoza as a significantfigure in the project of tracing an alternative lineage in the history of philosophy.He argues that there are ‘three principal moments in the history of thephilosophical elaboration of the univocity of being’,24 which he locatesrespectively in the work of Scotus, Spinoza and Nietzsche. My argument in chapter10 is that this alternative lineage in the history of philosophy only makes sense inrelation to the demands of a concept of temporality that is determined according tothe logic of different/ciation. In What is Philosophy?, Deleuze claims that ‘philosophy is the discipline thatinvolves creating concepts’.25 The manner by means of which concepts are createdis determined by the encounters between the concepts belonging to philosophies ofthe past which generate the problems of which the new concepts are the solution.The concepts of philosophies of the past, to which Deleuze refers, are determinedin relation to the history of philosophy and include, for example, the Scotistconcept of univocity, the Spinozist concept of Substance as immanent cause, andthe Nietzschean concept of the eternal return. It is by means of the encountersbetween these concepts (of the past) that, on the one hand, new concepts arecreated, and that, on the other hand, the problem, onto which each of theseconcepts (of the past) is grafted, is generated. The determination of these concepts(of the past) and of the manner by means of which the encounters between themcreate new concepts and generate problems is explicated in chapter 10 according tothe logic of different/ciation. The concept of expression and the concept of intensity are two other conceptswhose explication is pivotal in determining the manner by means of which Deleuzereads the Ethics in Expressionism in Philosophy. What is expression? And what isthe relation between Spinoza’s Ethics and the concept of expression explicated byDeleuze in Expressionism in Philosophy? These questions are addressed in chapter10 where I contend that it is in relation to the concept of expression that the logic 24 Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, p. 39. 25 Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, What is Philosophy?, trans. H. Tomlinson and G.Burchell (New York, 1994), p. 5.
  9. 9. Spinoza and the problem of expression 9of different/ciation is explicated in the text of Expressionism in Philosophy as alogic of expression. It is according to the logic of expression that the Spinozistconcept of Substance as immanent cause and the Nietzschean concept of theeternal return are problematized in relation to one another in Difference andRepetition, thereby creating the Deleuzian concept of intensity. It is by means ofthe development of the problematic relation between the Deleuzian concept ofintensity, which is determined according to the logic of expression, and the conceptof intensity determined rather by the Hegelian dialectical logic, that the logic ofexpression is determined as an alternative to the Hegelian dialectical logic. Insofaras the logic of expression is determined as the logic according to which thephilosophy of difference is constructed, it functions not only as an alternative tothe Hegelian dialectical logic, but it is also determined as the logic according towhich the philosophy of difference functions as an alternative to the dialecticalphilosophy determined by the Hegelian dialectical logic. Deleuze’s reading ofSpinoza in Expressionism in Philosophy therefore redeploys Spinoza in relation toan alternative lineage in the history of philosophy in order to mobilize hisphilosophy of difference as an alternative to the dialectical philosophy determinedby the Hegelian dialectical logic. While acknowledging some of the problematical elements of Deleuze’schallenging interpretation of Spinoza, the central focus of the work remains anexamination of the manner by means of which Spinoza is mobilized by Deleuze inhis project of constructing a philosophy of difference. The reading of Deleuze’sphilosophy that is presented in the present work is therefore resolutely partial.Neither the implications of Deleuze’s Spinozism for understanding his other works,nor the extent to which these are influenced by his Spinozism is treated in any greatdetail. Indeed when certain of these texts are nevertheless referred to, it is solely inorder to better determine the schema of problematization associated with thedevelopment of the logic of expression in Expressionism in Philosophy, or servesmerely to suggest the implications of such a development for Deleuze’s subsequentworks. As for the latter, rather than suggesting in detail the full range of potentialimplications, that which is suggested is solely the manner by means of which theseimplications are determined, that is, that they too are determinable according to thelogic of expression. For example, the present work concludes by suggesting theimplications of the logic of expression for determining an understanding of therelation between, what Deleuze and Guattari refer to in What is Philosophy? as, aphilosophy’s plane of immanence, and the concepts created by this philosophy thatare distributed over this plane.