Stoic Univocity

by Beth Metcalf


In ‘The Logic of Sense’ Deleuze describes Stoicism as two readings of time.  There is the time of the usual games with which we are acquainted.  These games have pre-existing rules and sedentary distributions.  The throws of the dice are numerically distinct.  This is the time of the corporeal unity of the present with its bodies and causal mixtures.  It is the encasing of pasts and futures into a cosmic present (Chronos). 


In contrast to those games with which we are acquainted, Deleuze describes the dice game of Univocity.  This game has no pre-existing rules.  All throws affirm chance and endlessly ramify it.  Throws of the dice are not numerically distinct.  They affirm all qualitatively and formally distinct throws, but they are ontologically one throw.  “Each” non-numerically distinct throw is a series formally distinct from any other, but all these events are ontologically one Event (not numerically distinct).  “Each” formally distinct throw is a series of singular points in a time smaller than the minimum of continuous thinkable time (the instant of Aion that eludes the present).  But as ontologically one Event, these throws are the unique cast included in a paradoxical element endlessly displaced throughout all series in a time greater than the maximum of continuous, thinkable time (the whole line of Aion that flies in both past and future directions at once).  This is the nomadic distribution in an open space causing series to communicate, resonate, and ramify endlessly.  It is the external relation of sense/nonsense.


Therefore in ‘The Logic of Sense’, Deleuze says that the Stoics made the distinction between, on the one hand, corporeal causes among themselves and, on the other hand, the incorporeal effects of those corporeal causes.  The former is the present unity of bodies in space and time (Chronos).  The latter eludes the present by flying in both past and future directions at once (Aion).  The incorporeal effects of Aion are not related causally.  They have a relation of “quasi-cause” among themselves.  Therefore, Stoicism overturns the relation of necessitating causality.  On the one hand, there is the relation of interior corporeal causes among themselves (destiny).  On the other hand, there is an incorporeal relation of exteriority (as quasi-causal surface events-effects).

Chronos and Aion are the two readings of time.  Chronos is the time of actions and passions of bodies in the corporeal mixtures of relative presents.  Each encasement of a present refers to a relatively more vast present in which past and future are absorbed.  Aion is the incorporeal event-effect.  Aion is the “already happened” and the “not-yet happening”.  Aion is the pure empty (incorporeal) form of time.  Aion separates seeing from saying.  It makes language possible.  It allows sounds to escape their corporeal causes in order to acquire incorporeal sense.  With Aion, only past and future subsist in time.  The instant is endlessly subdivided in past and future directions at once.  On the line of Aion, the present instant is without corporeal extension.  It is the “empty form of time”.  It is the externality of paradoxical relations.


Whereas Chronos is the contracting present that encompasses pasts and futures of partial systems in good sense and common sense, Aion is the nomadic distribution of singularities in both directions at once.  Aion sub-divides the instant without thickness.  Chronos alone would give us merely a totalizing ground.  However, the paradox of Aion overthrows good sense and common sense and opens the subversive depths of Chronos.  Aion creates new realizations of corporeal mixtures and systems on the line of Chronos. 


Therefore, corporeal causes/incorporeal effects (Diagram 1) constitute the first duality of Stoicism.  But events-effects do not exist outside the proposition that expresses them.  Therefore, the first duality is prolonged in the duality of things/propositions, bodies/language (Diagram 2).  Together, the two dualities give us four combinations; the incorporeal proposition (IP), the incorporeal thing (IT), the corporeal proposition (CP), and the corporeal thing (CT).

Therefore, Deleuze sees the Stoic splitting of the causal relation.  Causes have ontological unity (destiny) in the depth of the corporeal thing (CT).  Effects are the incorporeal quasi-causes at the surface (IT).  They are formally-really distinct but ontologically single.  The two readings of time are different in nature.  Incorporeal effects affirm destiny but escape necessity.  Physical causes have interiority among themselves, but there is exteriority of relations among quasi-causes (surface effects).  Incorporeal surface effects are expressions of corporeal causes.  But surface events-effects have, as ideational quasi-causes, only a relation of expression (IP) among themselves. 


Therefore, Stoicism distinguishes between corporeal substances and incorporeal extra-being.  However, this duality is not a dualistic opposition between intelligible ideas and sensible bodies.  Rather, Stoicism sees Ideas as incorporeal things, or surfaces.  The Idea (sense) is never a term in a duality.  Sense, on the line of Aion, is the cutting edge that articulates endless difference between terms of a duality (things/propositions).  It is the “abstract machine” that deterritorializes series to cut out new surfaces.  It is the paradox of external relations that eludes the good sense and common sense of a closed Chronos.  It opens Chronos to new forms of actualization.  Every real distinction of form becomes possible.


Signification implies denotation only within the internal homogeneity of a propositional concept.  But the Stoics never mistook the concept for a general-universal ground.  Rather, a concept is an event.  It has sense only as a fragile surface effect.  Stoicism breaks the circle of the proposition in order to reach the neutral sense of Aion.  It articulates the external relations of sense.  It breaks any internal relation of a closed propositional system (CP with its correlate partition of objects CT on the corporeal line of Chronos) in order to bring any new relation of exteriority (relations of the paradoxical element on the incorporeal line of Aion) into continuity with new relations of expression.  The ‘Mobius Strip’ is this continuity of reverse and right sides. Deleuze sees Stoicism as having two poles of time.  Chronos (the corporeal mixtures of causes) is the pole of representation.  This first pole is the physical mixture of causes in the unity of a cosmic present.  The other pole is the time of Aion (the quasi-cause of events as incorporeal effects at the surface) that is the sub-representative pole.  This second pole is the expressive sense without present that endlessly subdivides the event into past and future.  Together these two poles are that Mobius Strip through which sense brings inside and outside together in different “uses” of representation each time. 


Therefore, there is no duality, but rather an incorporeal frontier that articulates difference between bodies (CT) and language (IP).  The incorporeal frontier (IT) is sense/event.  Sense/event is never a term in a duality.  Incorporeal Aion articulates the difference between being and saying at the frontier.  Incorporeal sense is neutral.  It is indifferent to all oppositions.  Even impossible objects, as incorporeal thing (IT) or extra-being, have sense as pure ideational events not realizable in corporeal states of affairs.


The paradoxical element traverses heterogeneous series to affirm them through their distance and their difference.  The paradoxical element is surface sense/nonsense that circulates throughout all series to make them resonate.  It is the refrain of all really distinct universes in a single ontological Event.  The paradoxical element, on the line of Aion, traces a frontier between things and propositions.  Language is articulated as sense inhering in the proposition and attributed to things.  The line of Aion is traced by a paradoxical element which endlessly displaces and subdivides the instant into past and future directions at once.  Therefore, we see that the paradoxical element articulates all formally distinct events in one single Event.  Being is saying.   The paradoxical element traverses heterogeneous series to ramify them endlessly.


This Stoic model (Diagram 2) opens the forms.  Substance is no longer a closed coupling of formed-matter.  Double articulation, through a paradoxical element, shows us the real difference of Substance ontologically single, but qualitatively-formally distinct.  


Husserl discovered the noematic ideational attribute.  Husserl discovered ‘sense’ as the intentional attribute of the incorporeal thing.  However, Husserl still sees the attribute as a predicate of the proposition and not as a verb.  That is, he sees it as a generalizing concept and not as an event.  This means that sense is still a type of generality.  Husserl’s logical attribute cannot escape common sense or good sense.  Therefore, Husserl never really escapes tracing the transcendental from the empirical.  In contrast, Stoic sense is not the attribute of the proposition.  Rather, sense/event is the attribute of the thing or state of affairs.  The attribute of the proposition is a predicate (for example, green) that is attributed to the subject of the proposition.  However, sense is the infinitive verb (to green).  In Stoic Univocity, the noematic attribute is the event expressed by the verb and attributed to things.  Sense (infinitive verb IT) inheres in the proposition (IP), but it does not merge with the proposition.  Sense/event (noematic attribute IT) is attributed to the state of affairs, but it does not merge with the corporeal state of affairs (CT). 


Sense, over the line of Aion, has two sides which correspond to the sides of the paradoxical element.  The paradoxical element circulates through two heterogeneous series (propositions and things).  It nomadically distributes all really distinct events in ontologically one Event.  Sense, as infinitive verb, inheres in the proposition, but it is attributed to states of affairs.  Sense is neither the proposition nor the thing, but it articulates them endlessly.  Every articulated sense is fragile surface effect.  Now, Chronos can no longer be realized as a closed structure of good sense or common sense.  Perversions of Aion open new subversive depths of Chronos.


The paradoxical element circulates sense (IT) throughout heterogeneous series (content of CT and expression of IP) and makes them resonate.  It brings about the convergence of series on the condition that it makes them endlessly diverge.  The paradoxical element traverses heterogeneous series to displace and differentiate.  The paradoxical element distributes sense throughout all series of really distinct events, in ontologically one Event.  But we see now that the constituted structure is no longer closed or totalizing.  Now, structure is involved in a process of creative genesis. 


But how can we say that sense (IT) both produces, and is produced by, corporeal things (CT)?  When we say that bodies (CT) produce sense (IT), it is not by a presupposed individuation.  Bodies are taken in their depth, in their power to organize surfaces.  On the other hand, sense (IT) produces bodies (CT).  Surface, in its neutrality, is the place of condensation, fusion, and distributions of singularities.  Individual bodies (CT) pre-suppose sense (IT).  Therefore, surface (IT) is the effect of deep mixtures (CT), but it is also quasi-cause of actualized spatio-temporal systems (CP) and their corresponding incarnations of things and states of affairs (CT).  Another problem arises of how there can be a passage from the sterile structure (impassibility and neutrality) to creative genesis.  The answer is that the logical noematic attribute must inhere in the proposition as an infinitive verb (not as a predicate).  Sense is not a universal generality.  Sense must be the power of genesis on the basis of a paradoxical element that nomadically distributes excess and lack to both sides (propositions and things).  Sense must be this neutralized double with genetic power.


The transcendental field (IT) is not individual, personal, or conceptual.  It is the pure unformed virtual.  The conditioned must not resemble the empirical condition.  The virtual-transcendental field must never resemble the proposition it actualizes.  The transcendental field does not resemble the empirical or any undifferentiated depth.  The transcendental-empirical field is the nomadic emission of singularities on an unconscious surface.  It is not a conscious unification of individuals or persons in resemblance to an empirical ground.  Sense/event is not a disjunction of consciousness.  Sense happens to bodies and insists in propositions at the frontier.  Sense is this doubling.  Doubling is the continuity of reverse and right sides that distributes sense to both sides without resemblance.  This is the Mobius Strip that brings reverse and right sides into continuity.  There is the doubling of sense (as the expressed subsisting in the proposition) and the event (attributed to things).  Any expression can correspond to any content at the surface.  The correspondence lasts for as long as the fragile surface holds.  There is genetic power in the nomadic distribution of singularities. 


Stoic Univocity is a logic of expression---a logic of sense.  Deleuze says in ‘Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza’ (EiP p. 62).  “Such a logic is the outcome of a long tradition, from the Stoics down through the Middle Ages.  One distinguishes in an expression (say, a proposition) what it expresses and what it designates.  What is expressed is, so to speak, a sense that has no existence outside the expression; it must thus be referred to an understanding that grasps it objectively, that is, ideally.  But it is predicated of the thing, and not of the expression itself; understanding relates it to the object designated, as the essence of that object……”  So, we see (Diagram 2) that the Stoics distinguish, in an expression (IP), that which the proposition expresses (IT) and that which it designates (CT).  What is expressed (IT) is sense that has no existence outside the expression (IP) in which it inheres.  It is because expression (IP) is attributed to the object designated (CT) that it must be (EiP p61-2) “referred to the understanding [sense] as to the only capacity for perceiving what is expressed.”  Sense (IT) is the double articulation between propositions and things.  Stoic expressionism, through the paradoxical element, articulates any corporeal mixture of things (CT) with any expression of sense (IP).  Being is saying.  The attributable to all things is the expressible of all propositions.  Stoic expressionism is Univocity.


So, expressionism is triadic.  It distinguishes what expresses itself (CT), the expression (IP), and what is expressed (IT).  (Eip p333), “The paradox is that “what is expressed” has no existence outside its expression, yet bears no resemblance to it, but relates essentially to what expresses itself as distinct from the expression itself.”  (p334), “This constant triadic character means that the concept of expression cannot be referred either to causality within Being or to representation in ideas, but goes beyond both…”  On the basis of this Stoic model, Deleuze brings in influences from Leibniz’s expression of the ‘event’.  For Leibniz, each individual monad is the expression of a world.  That is, the individual monad is the expression (IP) of the sense/event (world) that is expressed (IT).  The world that is expressed does not exist outside monads which express it.  But the expression is not the attribute of the expressive monad.  It is the attribute of corporeal thing (CT) in a world that expresses itself. 


The first level of actualization (individuation) proceeds according the principle of series convergence.  When infinitive predicates correspond to a world (as converging series of pre-individual singularities), there is no degree of generality.  Degree is singular and intensive variation.  Worlds are actualized when series of singularities converge.  This convergence is ‘compossibility’ as world synthesis.  There is no incompatibility at the level of singular events.  Singularity is pre-individual.  Incompatibility is actualized only on the level of individuals, persons, and worlds.  Contradiction derives from worlds that are actualized as incompatible, not the reverse. 


The second level is the actualization of personal worlds across divergent series.    It is the actualization of ego as knowing personal subject.  The personal ego is something that is identified across incompossible worlds of divergent series.  Whereas Leibniz excluded worlds on the basis of incompossibility, the Stoics open and affirm all divergence.  Incompossible (really distinct) singular worlds communicate and resonate in the ontologically singular Event.  The paradoxical element nomadically distributes really distinct events in ontologically single Event.  At the level of events, all events are compatible.  Divergence is affirmed.  The singular person is the synthetic predicate across divergent series.  All disjunction of series resonate in singular varieties.  The paradoxical element is the possibility of all positive distance where all divergence is affirmed. 


Then there is a third level of actualization.  Whereas the first two levels are ontological, the third engenders the logical dimensions of the proposition (denotation, manifestation, and signification) according to a problem.  The problem is not a subjective state of empirical knowledge.  Rather, it is the objective ideal-logical attribute (IT) of sense that is the transcendental ground of both knowledge and the empirically known (both sense of the proposition and its logical correlates in cases of solution).  Sense is the articulation of a problem.  The solution is engendered with the problem.  However, there is no resemblance between the condition (sense of the problem) and the conditioned (propositional solution with its dimensions).  I take this third level to be the realization (CP) of a possible (IP) constituted upon a prior actualization of the first two levels.


Then there is counter-actualization of the eternal return.  This is the intensive abstract machine of absolute deterritorialization on the line of Aion.  It is the formal transversal bridge between assemblages of content and assemblages of expression.  Since every incorporeal form is affirmation, every form is possible.  The transversal bridge (abstract machine) is the possible conjunction of all intensity (all incorporeal universes IT and their expression IP.)  This abstract machine is the interface of all possible (and impossible) universes.  This is the transversal bridge between all forms of expression (IP) and all forms of content (IT).  This deterritorializes all assemblages and cuts across all series to bring about creative conjunctions. 


Stoic sense is not general-universal Representation.  Stoic sense produces (‘Logic of Sense’ 144-7) “uses of representation” internal to expression.  Sense intervenes in representation.  Without this internal “use”, representation would have no sense.  But this “use” is not Representation that closes or totalizes.  Rather, with this “use of representation” produced on the line of Aion, Chronos can no longer be a closed structure of good sense and common sense.  Aion opens the forms to create new actualizations of the proposition (IP) and new realizations of Chronos (CP).  This use of representation is (EiP335) “located in a certain extrinsic relation of idea and object, where each enjoys an expressivity over and above representation.  In short, what is expressed everywhere intervenes as a third term that transforms dualities.  Beyond real causality, beyond ideal representation, 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 than the relation of causality, deeper than the relation of representation.”    


The Stoic sage understands the pure event (IT) apart from its spatio-temporal actualization (CP) and realization in states of affairs (CT). But at the same time, the sage wills the embodiment and actualization of the pure event in the state of affairs.  The quasi-cause wills what comes to pass as the “use” of representation intervenes.  The sage wills the embodiment of the event.  The incorporeal quasi-cause doubles the physical cause.  It embodies the event in the instant of Aion.  The sage wills the actualization of an incorporeal event in a corporeal state of affairs. 


The Stoic sage also understands the pure event apart from its spatio-temporal actualization.  The event is already past and yet to come as use of representation intervenes in counter-actualization.  It is to will the event as something yet to come in that which occurs.  The event, when willed, is the counter-actualization in the instance of Aion (empty form of time).  This affirms the eternal return of all distributions of singularity (all really distinct events in ontologically single Event).  This is to limit the actualization of the event in an incorporeal present without corporeal mixture.  This Ideal Game is the unconscious of pure thought affirming all chance.  It is the counter-actualization of univocity.


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