by Beth Metcalf
(Difference & Repetition 35-36) There has only ever been one ontological proposition: Being is univocal ..A single voice raises the clamour of being ..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 ..We must add that being, this common designated, in so far as it expresses itself, is said in turn in a single and same sense of all the numerically distinct designators and expressors. 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 ..In effect, the essential in univocity is not that Being is said in a single and same sense, but that it is said, in a single and same sense, of all its individuating differences or intrinsic modalities. Being is the same for all these modalities, but these modalities are not the same. It is equal for all, but they themselves are not equal. It is said of all in a single sense, but they themselves do not have the same sense .
This is a much-quoted passage where Deleuze describes Univocity. However, is it much-understood? If we merely appropriate this passage by way of the common sense Representational forces of traditional philosophy, we will not understand Deleuzes Spinozist sense. Deleuzes Univocity is Spinozas Univocity. However, Deleuzes reading of Spinoza is not that of the common sense appropriation by traditional Representational forces. Deleuze sees something new in Spinoza.
We will not begin to understand Deleuzes Spinozist Univocity until we understand that Univocity is Multiplicity. Deleuze tells us that Multiplicity has nothing to do with the Many in relation to the One. (D&R p.182) multiplicity must not designate a combination of the many and the one, but rather an organization belonging to the many as such, which has no need whatsoever of unity in order to form a system. The one and the many are concepts of the understanding which make up the overly loose mesh of a distorted dialectic which proceeds by opposition. Any One/Many relation never reaches the Multiplicity of Univocity.
For example, if we think that Univocity is the One and that Multiplicity is the Many, then we do not begin to understand what Deleuze means by Univocity or Multiplicity. Or, if we think that Univocal Being means that Being is the One or that Being has a common, unitary ground to which the Many beings are identical, then we are still talking about the One/Many that never reaches the Multiplicity of Univocity. If we think that Spinozas Substance is the One that unifies the Many really distinct differences, then we do not reach the Multiplicity of Univocity. If we think that there is Unitary Being that is immanent to its diverse manifestations, then we are still in the Representational transcendence of the One Essence with its Many Appearances.
Whenever we think about any combination of the One and the Many, then we are thinking Representationally. Representation is the two forms of the negative----Opposition and Limitation. (D&R203) It is the notion of multiplicity which denounces simultaneously One and the many, the limitation of the One by the many and the opposition of the many to the One. When we reach the Multiplicity of Univocity, we see that there is not the One in any relation to the Many.
Therefore, there is not one world, nor are there many worlds. There is the multiplicity of really distinct worlds that are designated as ontologically single. But what does it mean to be really distinct and ontologically single? (Expressionism in Philosophy p. 35) Two things are really distinct when they are so conceived - that is, one without the aid of the other, in such a way that we conceive one while denying everything belonging to the concept of the other. There are worlds individuated with rhythms of real distinction. Each is conceived without the aid of the other. Each denies everything belonging to the concept of another. However, there is no numerical distinction of substances at all. Multiplicity is real distinction without the numerical distinction of substances. There is not numerically one substance or many substances. With Univocity (EiP34) Numerical distinction is never real .real distinction is never numerical. Univocity says being in one sense (without numerical distinction), and that of which it is said is difference (real distinction). This is in contrast to the Representation of being said in Many numerically distinct senses, while that of which it is said is the One conceptual identity without real distinction.
This means that when Spinoza talks about One Substance, he is not talking about One Substance that totalizes the Many modes. Nor is he talking about Many modes as modifications of One Substance. Spinoza does not mean that Substance is One Unitary ground of the Many modes. Rather, Spinoza is talking about qualified Substance said in one sense. All qualified Substance is all real distinction. This is not the Many/One. Rather, it is the One All (DR37). That is, Univocity is all really different events in ontologically single Event.
When it is said that several formally distinct senses refer to being as if to a single designated entity, ontologically one, this does not mean that Many senses refer to a Substance that is numerically One. When it is said that Substance is qualified as real distinction, this does not mean that One Substance is distributed sedentarily among the numerical distinctions of Many. Univocity does not talk about any numerical distinction of substances at all. Rather, Univocity sees all Substance, qualified as really distinct in the attributes, as ontological singularity.
And when it is added that this common designated .is said in turn in a single and same sense of all the numerically distinct designators and expressors .. it means that not only is Being said in a single sense, but it is said in a single sense of all the individuating differences of the numerically distinct modes. Numerical distinction is modal, not substantial. This means that modes are intensive degrees of Substance that SAY the whole of being in ontologically singular sense. Each is an intensive degree of Substance, ontologically singular. All modes in whatever degree of intensity say the whole of ontologically singular Substance in one sense. This means that Substance fills space to modal degrees of intensity. All the numerically distinct modes, in whatever degree, say the whole of Being in one sense. However, even the numerically distinct modes are not numerically one or many. (EiP203) .number never adequately expresses the nature of modes .number is .only .an abstract way of thinking of modes .Then being is quantitative rather than numerical, strictly speaking.
We see that this Univocity (which is multiplicity) nomadically distributes beings into an open space. Things/Ideas are distributed into the whole of undistributed Being. Every nomadic distribution is really different from any other, but all say the whole of Being in one sense. Because they are all degrees of ontologically single Substance said in one sense, they distribute the open space of the whole of undistributed Being. All formal and real difference remains in open communication with all others, because they all share the same ontologically single Substance. They ARE the same Substance ontologically. Substance in-itself is singular, intensive degrees of real difference. Therefore, we see that, instead of sedentarily distributing things within a closed space, there is now a nomadic distribution of things into an open space.
Substance has infinite attributes in that the attributes of
thought and extension (not to be confused with categories or
properties of Representational thought) may be coupled in an
infinity of ways (because there is no prior image to tell us how
they must be coupled). These intensive disparate couplings
(see D&R 222) all qualify Substance. Substance is
qualified in an infinity of ways in the attributes. But
each of these qualified Substances are the whole of Being each
time, SAID as same even though they are really distinct. Real
distinction of ontological singularity is multiplicity. It
is not one qualitative form of diversity. Nor is it many
substances. The many/one opposition is a structure
of genus and species that is not the ontological univocity of one-all.
Every disparate coupling --- a mode in the attribute of thought
coupled with a mode in the attribute of extension --- is really
distinct. Any intensity of thought may be coupled with any
intensity of extension --- because there is no prior image to
limit how they can be coupled. But they are ontologically
one modification of substance each time --- said as same
ontologically --- a new modification of substance each time there
is a new intensive coupling. Every coupling of really
distinct modes, in whatever degree of intensity, is ontologically
When we reach this Spinozist Univocity which is Multiplicity, we reach those forces of the virtual-real which are actualized with real difference. These forces of multiplicity have nothing to do with the realization of the possible (i.e., the possible forces of negation---the possibilities of many/one). This is Deleuzes Spinozist Expressionism. There are not Many numerically distinct substances which could share One common attribute. Rather, attributes are univocal or common forms in Substance (whose essence they constitute qualitatively) and modes (whose essences they contain quantitatively). But it is because attributes are these common forms that the essence of Substance and the essences of modes now find real difference that escapes the analogy of Representational thought. Univocal attributes as common forms are ontologically the same for qualitatively distinct senses. But we must add that they are also ontologically the same for numerically distinct individuating modes. Being is the same for all these modalities, but these modalities are not the same. It is equal for all, but they themselves are not equal. It is said of all in a single sense, but they themselves do not have the same sense . This means that there is the expression of real difference attributed to ontologically single Substance. Whereas the Many in relation to the One merely makes the modes turn around Substance, Multiplicity makes Substance turn around the modes.