Reading ‘The Logic of sense’: Series 2

morrrigan+silkscreen+closeup_33875125(A slightly delayed note on the second Series due to preparations for the Volcanic Lines conference we held last week on Kant and Deleuze, a report of which is over here).

One of the most fascinating lines here in this Series is the following: “For this reason the stoics can oppose destiny and necessity” (LOS:6). A footnote follows which refers to Cicero’s De Fato. A comparison with the Epicureans immediately follows this.

What is crucial, at this point, is the way in which it is the causal relation, the cause-effect couple, which prompts these claims about the conceptualisation of necessity within the Stoics and Epicureans. The reference to Cicero is a peculiarity. I am currently reading Kant’s Logic at the same time as Deleuze’s LOS and a comment Kant makes there about Cicero offers a curious complication to Deleuze’s account. Kant claims that “Cicero was in speculative philosophy a disciple of Plato, in morality a Stoic” (Logic: Introduction, S4; 35). The complication in reading Deleuze seems to be that he is advanced as an example of the Stoic account of necessity, yet precisely in line with Kant’s characterization of him as a ’Stoic in morality’. It is not a logical account of necessity that Deleuze is focussing on, though in later sections he will refer to a notion of ’modality’, but rather the moral dimension of necessity which is tangled into the concept of ’destiny’. We might want to ask whether Deleuze too, like Cicero, might be classed as a Platonic in speculation and a Stoic in morality. There seem at least some who might want to assert just such a claim, at least in part – Badiou, for example, seems to claim a level of Platonism can be found within Deleuze’s philosophy of the virtual / actual distinction.

What happens in this 2nd Series of LOS, however, is a kind of philosophical-historical conceptual topography. Deleuze brings to the foreground the concept of the ’event’ which is plainly of central importance to the whole project of LOS. In the first Series he had indicated the role of the ’depth’ of ’mad becoming’ that was incapable of being contained within a model of knowledge. The motor force of the problematic relation to identity is found in what Deleuze names there as the ’paradox of infinite identity’ which is caused by a di-directionality of couples such as cause-effect (LOS:2). The name, that which “is guaranteed by the permanence of savoir“, is that which is lost in Alice’s adventures in the realm of becoming. The name is lost within the event and yet the event is communicated through language.

This problematic relation to language and sense, the problem of the expression of the event, is what appears as the primary problem of LOS, at least at this point.

The problematic of the expression of sense is thus what is being explored through the philosophical-historical conceptual topography. We begin with the distinction from Plato between simulacra and copy, between “that which receives the action of the Idea and that which eludes it” (LOS:2). The second Series then begins by claiming that, as well as Plato, “the Stoics also distinguish two kinds of things” (LOS:4), these being ’states of affairs’ (henceforth, SOA) and ’events’. SOA are the ’mixtures’ of bodies which constitute, it would seem, something like the crude concept of matter as ’stuff’. There is no time in the realm of the bodies, the SOA. The totality or ’unity as Deleuze calls it, of the SOA constitute a ’cosmic present’ which he names ’Destiny’. Rightly or wrongly this intuitively seems close to the notion of a ’Space-Time’ which is effectively all present in one chunk simultaneously. The events, in contrast to the SOA, have no existence as ’present’ but rather ’inhere or subsist’, which Deleuze defines as “(having this minimum of being which is appropriate to that which is not a thing, a nonexisting entity)” (LOS:5). SOA are named by substantives and adjectives, whereas events are expressed by verbs. Events are not part of the present, either, but are the bi-directionality of the future and past. Events are like a surface effect, which at this point seems close to something like an ’epiphenomalist’ account.

Having established this duality that derives from Stoic terminology, however, Deleuze moves to try and establish a conceptual lesson to be drawn from the philosophical-historical situation. The event is rhetorically suggested to be ’essential’ to bodies…it is not that events are little more than a surface effect, an epiphenomena of little central worth, but rather they indicate the arrival of a new conceptual distinction. “The Stoics are in the process of tracing out and forming a frontier where there had not been one before…they are in the process of bringing about, first, an entirely new cleavage of the causal relation” (LOS:6). This is clearly the crucial conceptual moment that Deleuze wants to motivate with his philosophical-historical account. The ’topography’ of the concept of causality is such that more than one land is brought to our attention, more than one institution of causality can be drawn from philosophy. One, the dominant institution, runs through the central line of philosophical history, from Plato, via Aristotle and Kant. In this institution of causality the Idea is dominant. To this extent Deleuze agrees with Heidegger, who defines metaphysics as precisely the tradition in which the ’Idea’ became dominant through the process he calls “the collapse of unconcealment” (ITM: 204) and in so doing distorted the relationship to Being. In the other thread of thought, that instituted by the Stoics according to Deleuze, we find the first ’reversal of Platonism’ because the Idea is not a body but an event – ” the ideational or the incorporeal can no longer be anything other than an ’effect’ ” (LOS:7).

This is a peculiar kind of ’reversal’ of Platonism. The first distinction Deleuze adduced – from Plato – was between that which is a result of the Idea and that which wasn’t but which seemed to be (the simulacra). Copy (legitimate) and Simulacra (illegitimate) are the crucial terms marking a distinction between that which can be known and that which only appears as knowledge. That which is known results from the power of the Idea. We ’know’ by establishing a justified lineage between the instance and the general, the copy and the Idea. This instance of truth in front of me is a ’real’ truth because it is a legitimate instance of the Idea whereas that over there is a false pretender, nothing more than a mere opinion with no connection to any Idea. The Idea is posed as a Royal Line, each instance or encounter always an encounter with a copy (a child) of this Royal Line, the prime task of the philosopher to identify the legitimate from the illegitimate. Philosophy becomes something like a paternity suit, a court of justice (an image that is of course absolutely central to Kant’s later ’revolution’). The second distinction, however, now finds the Idea on the side of the effect – the Idea is the child of the State of Affairs. Yet, Deleuze’s curious twist (“what is more intimate or essential to bodies than events” LOS:5) offers the possibility that the child (the Idea) is now that which is most essential and the Idea has once again become the most essential, though the causal relation has altered – the Idea is no longer the most important point of being of the instance of the actual because it is the productive ground of the actual but rather because it is the essential effect of the actual.

The tension in Deleuze’s reading is what is fascinating in these first two Series. The tension, for example, between the two series which is indicated by the first line of the second Series in which an ’also’ refers to the first Series. The tension, for example, between a kind of ’reversal’ of Platonism and a curious mobility of the ’Idea’ which leaves it seemingly still the most crucial moment for thought. The tension between the ’ontological’ way in which these various topographies are posed and yet the curious centrality of ’readings’ (“there are not three successive dimensions [of time] but two simultaneous readings” (LOS:5). As these notes progress the aim will be not to dissolve these tensions but to push them until they begin to strain and reveal the grounds on which each point locates itself, in so doing hopefully revealing some of the core base of the ’logic of sense’ proposed by Deleuze.



Kant – Logic, trans. Hartman and Schwarz, Dover 1988

Heidegger – Introduction to metaphysics, trans. Fried and Polt, Yale 2000

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philosopher and filmmaker from brighton, currently teaching philosophy at the Free University of Brighton

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