Univocity versus Phenomenology 


by Beth Metcalf


“It is not enough to say that consciousness is consciousness of something: it is the double of this something, and everything is consciousness because it possesses a double, even if it is far off and very foreign.”  (Deleuze, Difference and Repetition 220)


When Deleuze says that consciousness is not consciousness of something, he is telling us that his univocity is not the intentionality of phenomenology.  When he says that consciousness is double, he means that there is no consciousness prior to a doubling of content (visible) and expression (articulable).  In order to have conscious experience there must be a prior doubling of something.  But this something is far off and very foreign.  It is not the phenomenological doubling of intentionality. Deleuze says we must reach a sub-representative Outside of structure.  But this ‘outside’ is not just an outside of the structure of consciousness --- that is, it is not just the outside of an inside --- it is not in oppositional relation to a structure of consciousness and language.  An outside in opposition to an inside could never escape a prior concept of structure. 


What is ‘sense’ according to Deleuze’s univocity?  (Logic of Sense 21-2.)  ‘Sense’ inheres in the proposition.  Sense does not exist outside the proposition which expresses it.  However, sense does not merge with the proposition either.  The expressed sense has no resemblance to the expression.  Sense is attributive, but it is not the attribute of the proposition.  Sense is attributed to the thing.  It is the event expressed by the verb.  Sense is not a quality of the thing, because it does not exist outside the proposition.  Sense, then, is not consciousness of some thing.   


In contrast, what is ‘sense’ according to phenomenological intentionality?  For phenomenology, the perceived (noema) is an intentional correlate of the act of perceiving (noesis).  And, like the ‘sense’ of univocity, this correlate does not exist outside the proposition which expresses it.  With the phenomenological reduction, the noematic attribute is not a sensible quality outside the proposition.  However, the intentional correlate of phenomenology does merge with the proposition.  The intentional correlate that inheres in the expression of the proposition merges with the expressed.  Seeing and speaking are homogeneous.  Their intentional correlate merges with propositional signification.  The intentional attribute of phenomenology is still a predicate of the proposition.  It still is a correlate of conceptual generality.  Its transcendental field of intentional consciousness (merging with the proposition) still resembles the extra-propositional empirical field.  It never reaches the singularity of the event.  If phenomenology really puts things in brackets it ought to question, not only an extra-propositional reality, but also the merging with the proposition. 


For Deleuze’s univocity (Logic of Sense 241), “Aion or empty form and pure Infinitive is the line traced by this [aleatory] point, that is, a cerebral crack at the limits of which the event appears; and the event taken in the univocity of this infinitive is distributed in the two series of amplitude which constitute the metaphysical surface.  The event is related to one of these series as a noematic attribute and to the other as a noetic sense, so that both series, to eat/to speak, form the disjunct for an affirmative synthesis, or the equivocity of what there is for and in univocal Being…”  Therefore, for Deleuze’s univocity, the noematic and noetic series are not derived from a transcendental correlation of intentional perception and perceiving that can only be a sedentary tracing of the empirical.  Rather, for Deleuze, noema and noesis are nomadically distributed in the univocity of the empty form of time.  With this distribution of univocity, we can find a transcendental field that never resembles the empirical actualizations.  Sense never resembles noematic denotation, noetic manifestation, or a correlative signification.


Deleuze sees in Foucault an illustration of the doubling that avoids phenomenology.  According to Deleuze-Foucault, ‘knowledge’ is the doubling of statements and visibilities.  But this doubling must presuppose something that prevents it from merging with the proposition.  That is, it must presuppose something far off and foreign.  ‘Knowledge’ must presuppose power-relations between forces.  But ‘power’ is not a form.  Power is always already a relation between intensive forces.  Power is the transversal diagram of coupling (see DR222) of intensive forces that open all forms.  Power is not a property but a strategy---a functioning.  Power is a strategy that distributes relations between discursive forms of expression and non-discursive forms of content.  Power is a transversal across all forms of content and forms of expression to make them function in new ways.  Power is an immanent field with no transcendent unification.  So, I take ‘power’ to be that which distributes the force relations (sense) of ‘statements’.  The force relations (sense) distributed in statements inhere in propositions, but do not merge with them.  Power is that empty form of time that distributes sense (intensive relations of events).  However for Foucault, the ‘sense’ that inheres in the proposition without merging with it, is not attributed to things (visibilities).  Rather, visibilities have their own autonomous form which battles with the form of statements. 


The statement (sense) must not be confused with signification of propositions or denotations of words or phrases.  It is not the vertical proposition.  It is not the lateral phrases or words.  The statement (sense) inheres in the proposition but does not merge with it.  It is the transversal that cuts across all systems. (Foucault 5) “A statement operates neither laterally nor vertically but transversally, and its rules are to be found on the same level as itself.” 


Deleuze sees Foucault’s ‘statement’ as the distribution of sense.  For example (Foucault 10-11), ‘species evolve’ is a statement that says form of the visible and form of the articulable in the same sense.  However, the statement (multiplicity of sense) is repetition with difference on each stratum.  That is, the statement on the stratum of eighteenth century natural history is not the same statement as used on the stratum of nineteenth-century biology.  The statement is said in the same sense.  But it is said of different units, distances, distributions, and institutions.  This is in contrast to the context of a system of propositions, wherein one system has many contexts of reference. 


There is nothing behind or prior to knowledge or consciousness.  There is no ‘pre-predicative’ understanding.  There is no ‘savage experience’.  However, there is something outside knowledge or consciousness.  Statements and visibilities may be revealed or hidden depending on strategic forms distributed by power relations.  (Foucault 10-12) Phrases may be re-evoked.  Propositions may be re-actualized.  However, it is only the statement that has the real conditions of repetition.  The statement is linked with something (power-relations of intensive forces) that is flush with the real.   Deleuze says of this ‘something’ (Foucault 11-12), “…almost inevitably it is something foreign, something outside [emphasis added].”  It is “something….far off and very foreign”.  The power-relation (intensive forces of the real) is that ‘something’ farther than external objects.  It is that being of the sensible which can only be sensed.  It can never be remembered, thought, or perceived. It is that ‘something’ presupposed by consciousness (memories, thoughts, and perceptions).  Power relations distribute the forms of exteriority in their “distributive unity” and “temporal dispersion” (like Deleuze’s distribution of intensive forces of the event through the ‘empty form of time’ or ‘Aion’). 


Deleuze says, (Foucault 109) “But if phenomenology ‘places things in parenthesis’, as it claims to do, this ought to push it beyond words and phrases towards statements, and beyond things and states of things towards visibilities….‘there is’ light, and ‘there is’ language.  All intentionality collapses in the gap that opens up between these two monads, or in the ‘non-relation’ between seeing and speaking.”  Statements refer only to a ‘language-being’.  Visibilities refer only to ‘light-being’ free of intentional gaze.  There is no ‘pre-predicative’ consciousness prior to statements.  There is no ‘savage experience’ of the thing prior to visibilities.  There is no intentional relation of homogeneity between statements and visibilities.  That is, there is no isomorphism* between visibilities and statements.  We do not see what we say or speak about what we see. 


Foucault’s reaction against phenomenology can be seen in the primacy of the statement (Foucault 49-50).  The statement has primacy, but visibility has its own autonomous laws.  The visible battles the statement with its own form.  The visible is determined by the statement, because the statement is the ‘sense’ that inheres in the proposition.  But this determination is not a reduction that would make the sense merge with the propositional signification.  That is, statements are determining discursive formations.  Visibilities are the form of the determinable that are not reduced to a form of determination.  The discursive object (of the statement) is not isomorphic* with the visible object.  The doubling of two halves is a problematic relation.  There is a disjunction between seeing and speaking that is a re-linking over an irrational gap.  There is no isomorphism* between the two forms which do battle with each other.  The condition of power does not contain the conditioned knowledge, but is its space of dispersion under different conditions of visibility and language.  But the statement has primacy by the spontaneity of its conditions (language) which give it a determining form.  Visibility (receptivity of its conditions – light) has the form of the determinable.  Statements reveal, but they reveal other than what they say.


Therefore, ‘categories’ are no longer representational concepts said of every possible object of experience.  Rather, ‘categories’ are an open list of variables expressing relations between intensive forces.  There are open categories of power that are not the representational categories of possible experience.  The category of power is the diagram.  The statement actualizes virtual power relations among intensive forces.  (Foucault 77) “Formed substances are revealed by visibility, while formalized or finalized functions are revealed by statement.  There is no confusion, therefore, between the affective categories of power….and the formal categories of knowledge….the latter passing through seeing and speaking in order to actualize the former…”  There is a virtual-actual doubling.


But phenomenology itself went beyond the intentionality between consciousness and its object.  Phenomenology became an ontology that the fold of Being makes with beings.  However, this phenomenological fold still assumes one homogeneous world of seeing and speaking.  The phenomenological forms of speaking (that inhere in the proposition) merge with forms of seeing.  The two forms are isomorphic.  The phenomenological fold went beyond intentionality only to have it reappear in a new dimension.  There is still an intentional correspondence.  (Foucault 111) “….the [phenomenological] fold will constitute the Self-seeing element of sight only if it also constitutes the Self-speaking element of language, to the point where it is the same world that speaks itself in language and sees itself in sight.” 

However, for Deleuze-Foucault, there is a non-relation between two forms that is not an intentional correlate.  There is a battle between the two forms that is a strategy of interlacing.  It is a strategy of power relations that interlace the two forms of exteriority (seeing and speaking).  ‘Power’ is open to the unformed outside in changing relations of forces.  Power is the double folding of inside and outside.  Power nomadically distributes statements that inhere in the proposition but do not merge with it.  Power is the doubling of an unformed outside with a new inside, each time.  The fold of the outside constitutes its own inside, each time.  The outside/inside doubling is the fold of its own subjectivation, each time.  Consciousness is constituted by the folding (doubling) of the outside that is its own inside.  This means that the visible and the articulable are not intentions of a phenomenology, but forms of an epistemology.

As Deleuze says (Foucault 111), “If knowledge is constituted by two forms, how could a subject display any intentionality towards one object, since each form has its own objects and subjects?  Yet it must be able to ascribe a relation to the two forms which emerges from their ‘non-relation’.”  Power-relations are strategies that distribute two different forms of exteriority (visible and articulable).  But power-relations also double the outside element of intensive forces with its own inside each time.  This inside/outside doubling is that ‘something’ that is presupposed by consciousness (the fold of subjectivation that interlaces the visible and articulable), each time.  (Foucault 114)  “…the fold of the outside constitutes a Self, while the outside itself forms a coextensive inside.  Only through a stratico-strategic interlocking [a knowledge-power doubling] do we reach the ontological fold.” 


So, when Deleuze says that consciousness is the doubling of something, he reads Foucault as an illustration of this doubling.  Deleuze-Foucault sees consciousness (knowledge) as not merely the consciousness of something (an intentional correlate).  Rather, doubling opens the statement (sense) to an outside farther than the external to reach an inside closer than the internal.  The statement is the doubling (repetition of ‘sense’ with difference).  It is repetition with difference of changing power-relations.  Consciousness is the double of that ‘something’ (sense open to an outside).  Consciousness is the folding or doubling of an outside with its own inside that reveals a new subjectivation (interlacing new forms of visibile and articulable), each time.


Therefore, the outside is the something that is “far off and very foreign” that is doubled by its own inside.  Deleuze says (Foucault 117), “What the dice-throw represents is that thinking [consciousness] always comes from the outside….a thought which comes from an outside that is farther away than any external world, and hence closer than any internal world.”  Thought is the relation (or non-relation) with the outside.  The outside folds an inside (the inside of an outside).  The inside is a fold (doubling) of the outside.  It is the ‘something’ that is doubled in consciousness.  But this is not an interiorization of the outside.  It is not a doubling of the one (emanation).  But it is a redoubling of the Other (repetition of the different).  Therefore, Deleuze-Foucault is not describing a phenomenological intentionality.  Consciousness is not internal consciousness of something.  It is a doubling of intensive forces that folds an outside that is its own inside, each time.  In the double folding of power-knowledge, we fold a new ontology---a new subject of consciousness, each time.  Thought thinks its past in order to become free of its present thinking.  This freeing allows new thought of the future---a new subjectivation is the interior of an exterior, folded in the pure empty form of time (Aion).


Phenomenology still does not overcome the duality between consciousness and thing.  It still sees consciousness or spirit as light.  However, Deleuze says (Cinema 1, Chapter 4), that Bergson overcomes the duality of phenomenology.  Whereas Husserl saw consciousness as consciousness of something, Bergson says all consciousness is something.  There is no moving thing distinct from the perceived image of the thing.  The image is no longer in consciousness.  The in-itself of the movement-image is the flow of matter.  Image is movement, light, matter.  (p61)  "In short, it is not consciousness which is light, it is the set of images, or light, which is consciousness, immanent to matter."


(C1p64) "In short, things and perception of things are prehensions, but things are total objective prehensions [matter-flow acting and reacting in all facets and parts], and perception of things are incomplete….subjective prehensions [the thing minus what is not of interest to us].” And so we ask, when Deleuze says, “….everything is consciousness” is he espousing a kind of panpsychism, perhaps akin to that of Whitehead?  Everything is consciousness because there is no duality between consciousness and thing.  Consciousness and thing are the immanence of image and sign. 


Deleuze sees “everything” as consciousness, because everything is that folding or doubling of an outside.  There is no Being-in-itself.  There is no consciousness-for-itself.  Rather, the outside is difference-in-itself.  The inside is repetition-for-itself.  The double is the outside folding its own inside, and the empty form of time (subjectivation) distributes a new consciousness, each time.  The intensive distribution of power-relations is that doubling (folding) that opens the statement to ‘something’ farther than any external world, because the unformed ‘outside’ is so “far off and very foreign”.  However, “everything is consciousness” because the being of the sensible is closer than any internal subjectivity.  Doubling (folding) of an outside with its own inside reaches a consciousness where “everything” is pure immanence.



* Therefore, Deleuze sees in Foucault no isomorphism or correspondence between forms of content and forms of expression.  Why then do Deleuze and Guattari see in Hjelmslev an isomorphism without correspondence (see my article ‘Hjelmslev’s Univocity’)?  I believe Deleuze might explain this by seeing in Hjelmslev, the Spinozist, a provisional state of “dualism” that subsequently becomes a “monism” (see Foucault 83).  Two isomorphic series become one function of a distribution because Spinoza’s dualism is the heterogeneous real distinction of attributes and powers while his monism is their ontological singularity.  On the other hand, Foucault’s “dualism” is seen as a preliminary distribution at the heart of pluralism.  There is distribution into two forms that do battle with each other.  However, in contrast to both Foucault and Hjelmslev, phenomenology is homogeneous isomorphism with correspondence.


So why is Hjelmslev’s Spinozism an isomorphism without correspondence in contrast to Foucault’s no isomorphism or correspondence?  Deleuze reads Spinoza to say (Expressionism in Philosophy 104-111) that there is order in the expression of attributes.  The attributes (thought and extension as the only two we know) are two parallel series of modes.  The modes are brought into correspondence through this parallelism.  But these corresponding parallel series of modes have no relation of causality.  There is no prior concept of causal connection that would determine this order.  Also, there is equality of principle between attributes and powers (see EiP chapter 7 of which I write in my article ‘Parallelism and the Syntheses’).  The object (in extension) and the idea (in thought) do not merely refer to the attributes, but also to the two powers (the power of existing and acting, and the power of thinking and knowing).  This means that there are external relations where any intensive sign of epistemological parallelism (in the power of thinking and knowing) may be brought into correspondence with any intensive sign of ontological parallelism (in the power of existing and acting).  This is because objective formal distinction in the power of thinking corresponds to real formal distinction in the attribute of thought. 


Therefore, Spinoza’s “correspondence” is an identity of order and connection between modes differing in attribute.  Also, there is equality of principle in the two powers.  There is isomorphism, formally, in the real distinction of attributes that ontologically is one substance.  Also, the powers refer this isomorphism to the modes without any prior correspondence.  But this must not be confused with homogeneous isomorphism of thought that corresponds to a numerical distinction of substances.  Deleuze sees Spinoza’s univocal being as real distinction of isomorphic heterogeneity without corresponding numerically distinct substances.  


Return to Home Page