Logic of Sense
by Beth Metcalf

[Within these articles, I have always tried to indicate a distinction between Representational thought which is opposed to Univocity, and the actualized representations of Univocity. I indicate this distinction by using the upper-case ‘R’ for the Representation of the dogmatic image of thought opposed to Univocity. I use the lower-case ‘r’ for the actualized representations of Univocity. I ask the reader to keep this convention in mind.]

The logic of sense is the logic of expressive Univocity. It is not to be confused with the Representational logic of a general, universal, and abstract Signification. Sense is the transcendental-empirical field beneath representation. It is that which is presupposed by all significations of representation. Therefore, sense is not to be confused with signification. Signification is actualized in the proposition. It is the conditional meaning which presupposes the sense by which it is conditioned. However, sense does not represent. Rather, it is the expressed of the proposition. It expresses an event. Whereas signification is the equivocity of nouns, sense is the Univocity of the infinitive verb. Sense expresses all real-formal distinction of events in one ontological Event. (Difference & Repetition 35) "What is important is that we can conceive of several formally distinct senses which none the less refer to being as if to a single designated entity, ontologically one." The Univocity of sense (as real-formal distinction ontologically single) actualizes representational significations which cannot be totalized into any general language of Representation. Sense/event is that transcendental-empirical field by which the conditions of all actualized significations (Logic of Sense 144-147 “uses” of representation) are conditioned.

Deleuze continues (DR35-36), “In the ontological proposition, not only is that which is designated ontologically the same for qualitatively distinct senses, but also the sense is ontologically the same for individuating modes, for numerically distinct designators or expressors…” It is because being is the same for all these modes that they can now be really different. It is because being is said of all modes in a single sense that these modalities do not have the same sense.

Within Univocity’s logic of sense, there is no oppositional sense/reference split. That is, senses are not correlated with referents. Such a correlation confuses sense with signification. Signification is in correlation with denoted referents only within an actualized frame of reference. However, there is no generalizing or universalizing correspondence between sense and reference as there is in Representational thought. There is no totalizing reference frame. There is not even an infinitely varied one. That is, there is no infinite Representation of the identity of conceptual Signification. A correspondence between signification and denoted referents is actualized only at the level of “uses” of representation within Univocity.

Deleuze says, (LoS 68) "...what would be the purpose of rising from the domain of truth to the domain of sense, if it were only to find between sense and nonsense a relation analogous to that of the true and the false? We have already seen that it is futile to go from the conditioned to the condition in order to think of the condition in the image of the conditioned as the simple form of possibility. The condition cannot have with its negative the same kind of relation that the conditioned has with its negative. The logic of sense is necessarily determined to posit between sense and nonsense an original type of intrinsic relation, a mode of co-presence." Sense is the transcendental-empirical field that does not resemble the conditioned significations that it conditions.

Sense is the frontier and the articulation of difference between things and propositions, substantives and verbs, denotations and expressions. Sense inheres in the proposition, but is attributed to things. Therefore, one can never denote the sense of a proposition. Sense has neutrality and sterility. It is extra-propositional condition of fragile surface effects. (DR155) “...significaiton refers only to concepts and the manner in which they relate to the objects conditioned by a given field of representation; whereas sense is like the Idea which is developed in the sub-representative determinations. It is not surprising that it should be easier to say what sense is not than to say what it is. In effect, we can never formulate simultaneously both a proposition and its sense; we can never say what is the sense of what we say.”

Sense is independent of the proposition. At the level of the proposition (with its actualization in state of affairs), there is opposition from the point of view of quality, quantity, relation, and modality. However, sense is at the level of the sub-representative and extra-propositional. There is no opposition. The neutrality of sense is not affected by the modes of the proposition. Sense, in its neutrality, is indifferent to all opposition, such as universal/singular, general/particular, personal/collective, affirmation/negation. All appearances of opposition belong to the actualized aspects of the proposition (denotation, manifestation, and signification). But sense is extra-being---the being of the sensible. It is the transcendental-empirical field. It is that by which the conditions of the proposition are conditioned.

With Univocity, Being is Saying. Being of the event is the saying of sense. Being is said in one and the same sense of everything about which it is said. But that of which it is said is not the same. This is the disjunctive synthesis that is not mediated by the oppositions of the proposition. It is the eternal return---the ideal dice game---the affirmation of chance. Univocity of Being is the unique event in which all events communicate. Univocity is both what occurs and what is said. The noematic attribute of all states of affairs (event) is the expressible (sense) of every proposition. Univocity is the identity of event and sense. It articulates sense with event at the frontier. And since sense is at the sub-representative level of singularity, the expression of any degree of sense can articulate difference of content of any degree of event. Univocity unites all events in one with the expression in nonsense of all senses in one. Singular difference is articulated each time.

Therefore, sense is the level at which all events, even contraries, are compatible. It is the singularity of sense/event that is compatible with any other singularity. (LoS p.177) “Incompatibility is born only with individuals, persons, and worlds in which events are actualized, but not between events themselves or between their a-cosmic, impersonal, and pre-individual singularities.” At the level of sense there is universal communication of events. It is the level at which all real distinction of events are the ontological singularity of the Event. Sense is event. It is the strange ideal game of Univocity. It is the eternal return which affirms the distance of every sense/event. This is the Univocity of the disjunctive synthesis. But this disjunctive synthesis is not to be confused with the exclusive disjunctions of Representational thought. The disjunctions of Univocity are inclusive of the real, the possible, and the impossible since all events are compatible at the level of their intensive singularity. (LoS180) “[U]nivocity of Being has three determinations: one single event for all events; one and the same aliquid for that which happens and that which is said; and one and the same Being for the impossible, the possible, and the real.” Objects which are impossible from the point of view of prior signification, are not impossible within the domain of sense.

Univocity is the pure empty form of time (Aion). Sense is on the plane of Aion, that pure instant which divides every present into both future and past directions at once. There is no best direction of “good sense”. It is the external relation of things and propositions. Sense is the frontier between propositions and things that articulates difference. Sense inheres in the proposition but is attributable to things. There is no oppositional relation. All real distinction of overlapping and interpenetrating singularity is ontologically one sense. All really distinct singularity is ontologically one. It is the All-One that is not to be confused with any One/Multiple opposition. Therefore, sense is multiplicity. Any singularity can be compatible with any other singularity at the level of sense. This is the communication of all sense/events in ontologically singular Event. But each really distinct singularity of sense/event can become actualized in the form of the proposition (denotation, manifestation, and signification) on another plane. At this level of actualization, a use of incompatibility is born.

Therefore, with Univocity, we reach the plane of pre-individual, impersonal, and a-conceptual singularities from which actualization is generated. However, if we do not first reach the plane of singular sense/event, then we cannot reach the actualization of the event either. If we do not reach the sub-representative and extra-propositional level, then we merely confuse the virtual with the possible. We, then, remain trapped in the Representational possibilities of conceptual identity. We, then, merely confuse sense with signification. When we take sense to be synonymous with signified meaning, we do not reach that transcendental-empirical plane of singular sense. We do not reach that plane from which all concepts and perceptions are actualized. If we mistake sense to be signification, then we do not reach the multiplicity/Univocity of the logic of sense. There can be no real difference at all. We do not escape tracing the transcendental from the empirical. And, even when denotation is arbitrary, there can still be Representational despotism of the overcoded Signifier.

When we reach the Univocity of sense---the logic of sense---then, we have reached a plane from which there can be the genesis of really different actualizations. When we reach the plane of singular sense/event, then the actualization of the event is real difference, each time. Each actualized individuated world has real difference from any other, because each is the actualization of a really distinct singularity. All actualization is the eternal return of real difference, because there is a newly created singularity of sense that is being actualized each time. Actualized worlds cannot be totalized by any Representational Signifier.

For Univocity, at the level of sense, there are no individuals or forms that share things in common, because we are at the level of pre-individual and a-conceptual singularity. There is no ‘common sense’ or ‘common nature’. There are no numerically distinct substances which could share a common attribute. There can be no ‘common sense’ from which could be actualized some ‘common nature’. Each individual or individuated world is the actualization of a unique degree of singularity (really distinct but ontologically one).

The ‘vice-diction’ of Deleuze reaches a pre-individual level of singularity.  It reaches the domain of alogical compatibility.  All events are compatible.  Propositional possibilities of compatibility or incompatibility occur only when events are actualized into convergent or divergent individual worlds.  That is, representation occurs at the level of individual worlds which actualize events as compatible or incompatible.  Vice-diction actualizes new individual worlds of really different identities and really different oppositions each time.

Therefore, for Univocity, there is a pre-individual transcendental field of sense from which propositional truth is actualized in really different worlds each time. This means that there can be no universalizing, general Truth of Representation. There is no totalizable Truth. Nor are there relative truths in opposition to some Absolute Unifying Truth. That would still be the Many/One opposition that does not reach multiplicity. Univocity shows us the sufficient reason for the singular-universal truth of each actualized world. Univocity shows us a multiplicity of worlds individuated differently yet ontologically single. Each world reveals truth as a really different actualization incommensuarable with any other. Therefore, Univocity is the truth of the relative, not the relativity of Truth.

Expressionism in Philsoophy 335, “In short, what is expressed everywhere intervenes as a third term that transforms dualities. Beyond real causality, beyond ideal [R]epresentation, what is expressed is discovered as a third term that makes distinctions infinitely more real and identity infinitely better thought. What is expressed is sense: deeper that the relation of causality, deeper than the relation of representation.”

Deleuze’s logic of sub-representative sense constructs percept and concept together (in each disparate degree of intensity) to be actualized with real difference (each time) into sense perceptions and corresponding cognitive conceptions that “make sense” (signification) on a plane of reference.  But there is no universal generality of common sense or good sense.

Return to Home Page