Thoughts on Deleuze’s Logic of Sense
I must first clarify that this essay requires revision though it will not get any such thing. I will wait until I actually get the book before I return to Logic of Sense. I recommend taking what I say in this essay with a grain of salt — which is what I would do — but then again, see what you can get from it.
Paradox is initially that which destroys good sense as the only direction, but it is also that which destroys common sense as the assignation of fixed identities. (3)
The logocentric predicament demonstrates that logic is infinitely regressive and viciously circular, and, in begging the question, logic becomes illogical. This is the fundamental paradox of philosophy — it is the first and last proposition of philosophy, the alpha and the omega. One could argue that a solution through logic could be argued. The issue with this is that presupposition is necessary and therefore logic collapses under its own weight. The only argument that could get around the logocentric predicament is that argument that seeks not to solve the logocentric predicament but rather to transform it into a proof for logic. This is found in Robert Hanna’s notion of the theoretical primitive whose justificatory conditions are that it is itself — analyticity pokes its sweet face out here — which is to say the justificatory conditions of the theoretical primitive is that it is presupposed by everything. So, our movement of presupposing the theoretical primitive is no longer an issue due to its justificatory conditions. But, then again, this does not go over the theoretical primitive’s explanatory conditions, but that is not something we are to go over in this essay.
Signification is defined by this order of conceptual implication where the proposition under consideration intervenes only as an element of a “demonstration,” in the most general sense of the word, that is, either as premise or as conclusion. “Implication” is the sign which defines the realtion between premises and conclusion; “therefore” is the sign of assertion, which defines the possibility of affirming the conclusion itself as the outcome of implications. (14)
Thus, ironically, Deleuze recognizes that justification is rational justification based on the movement that is an inference from implication.
Signification does not establish the truth without also establishing the possibility of error. For this reason, the condition of truth is not opposed to the false, but to the absurd: that which is without signification or that which may be neither true nor false. (14–15)
Here, Deleuze seems to accept bivalent truth-functionality… interesting.
Deleuze then forwards Carroll’s Tortoise regress problem: “We are then sent back to the circle and led back to Carroll’s paradox, in which signification can never exercise its role of last foundation, since it presupposes an irreducible denotation” (18). Deleuze says something which is of profound importance: “It is undeniable that all denotation presupposes sense, and that we position ourselves straight away within sense whenever we denote” (17). Sense then becomes that supposed basis for not falling into logical predicaments such as Carroll’s paradox (though this would not solve the logocentric predicament). But the identification of sense with signification only returns us to the paradox as Deleuze has already recognized. So, we must therefore decouple sense from signification:
One is perpetually referred from the conditioned to the condition, and also from the condition to the conditioned. For the condition of truth to avoid this defect, it ought to have an element of its own, distinct from the form of the conditioned. It ought to have something unconditioned capable of assuring a real genesis of denotation and of the other dimensions of the proposition. Thus the condition of truth would be defined no longer as the form of conceptual possibility, but rather as ideational material or “stratum,” that is to say, no longer as signification, but rather as sense. Sense is the fourth dimension of the proposition. The Stoics discovered it along with the event: sense, the expressed of the proposition, is an incorporeal, complex, and irreducible entity, at the surface of things, a pure event which inheres or subsists in the proposition. (19)
Sense for Deleuze is “that which is expressed by the proposition” and is “irreducible to individual states of affairs, particular images, personal beliefs, and universal or general concepts” (19).
It is difficult to respond to those who wish to be satisfied with words, things, images, and ideas. For we may not eve say that sense exists either in things or in the mind; it has neither physical nor mental existence. Shall we at least say that it is useful, and that it is necessary to admit it for its utility. (20)
Obviously, sense then is beginning to look somewhat like a theoretical primitive. Deleuze claims that “[i]t is only by breaking open the circle [of circular reasoning demonstrated by Carroll’s paradox], as in the case of the Möbious strip, by unfolding and untwisting it, that the dimension of sense appears for itself” (20). Contention first arises here: first, we will analyze the notion of sense as that which escapes Carroll’s paradox in a moment, second, how does sense escape the logocentric predicament, third, how does sense escape the issue of logic’s epistemic status, which is the issue of how can we known knowledge is possible without first supposing knowledge is possible, and, fourth, how does sense escape from Quine’s Predicament, is sense not just like logic, unrevisable? One could argue, because of the fact that “[t]he logic of sense is inspired in tis entirety by empiricism,” that sense gets arround the issue of logic’s epistemic status, but again, this then rests on ontological, ontic, and epistemic presuppositions, which seem to then lead to a circle, as to justify them would sense not have to be employed?
Sense is that which is expressed. (20)
On one hand, [sense] does not exist outside the proposition which expresses it; what is expressed does not exist outside its expression. This is why we cannot say that sense exists, but rather that it inheres or subsists. On the other hand, it does not merge at all with the proposition, for it has an objective which is quite distinct. What is expressed has no resemblance whatsoever to the expression. Sense is indeed attributed, but it is not at all the attribute of the proposition — it is rather the attribute of the thing or state of affairs. The attribute of the proposition is the predicate — a qualitative predicate like green, for example. It is attributed to the subject of the proposition. But the attribute of the thing is the verb: to green, for example, or rather the event expressed by this verb. It is attributed to the thing denoted by the subject, or to the state of affairs denoted by the entire proposition. Conversely, this logical attribute does not merge at all with the physical state of affairs, nor with a quality or relation of this state. The attribute is not a being and does not qualify a being; it is an extra-being … This attribute does not exist outside of the proposition which expresses it in denoting the thing. Here we return to our point of departure: sense does not exist outside of the proposition. (21)
How is this not circular? Deleuze attempts to answer:
But this is not a circle. It is rather the coexistence of two sides without thickness, such that we pass from one to the other by following their length. Sense is both the expressible or the expressed of the proposition, and the attribute of the state of affairs. It turns one side toward things and one side toward propositions. But it does not merge with the proposition which expresses it any more than with the state of affairs or th quality which the propositions denotes. It is exactly th boundary between propositions and things. (22)
P1: “[Sense] does not exist outside the proposition which expresses it.”
P2: “What is expressed does not exist outside the expression.”
C1: Therefore, “we cannot say that sense exists, but rather that it inheres or subsites [in the proposition].”
P3: “[Sense] does not merge at all with the proposition, for [sense] has an objective which is quite distinct”
P4: “What is expressed has no resemblance whatsoever to the expression.”
C2: “Sense is indeed attributed, but it is not at all the attribute of the propostion — it is rather the attribute of the thing or state of affairs.”
P5: “The attribute of the proposition is the predicate — a qualitative predicate like green, for example.”
P6: “[The predicate] is attributed to the subject of the proposition. But the attribute of the thing [sense] is the verb: to green, for example, or rather the event expressed by this verb.”
C3: “[Sense] is attributed to the thing denoted by the subject, or to the state of affairs denoted by the entire proposition.”
P7: “[Sense, or the attribute of the thing,] does not merge at all with the physical state of affairs, nor with a quality or relation of this state.”
P8: “[Sense] is not a being and does not qualify a being.”
C4: “[Sense] is an extra-being.”
P9: “‘Green’ designates a quality, a mixture of things, a mixture of tree and air where chlorophyll coexists with all parts of the leaf.”
P10: “‘To green,” on the contrary, is not a quality in the thing, but an attribute which is said of the thing.”
C5: “[Sense] does not exist outside of the proposition which expresses it in denoting the thing.”
So, let’s analyze this. Obviously, P1 and P3 are in direct contradiction with one another, as are P2 and P4. C1 and C2 are, therefore, because of the contradiction between their premises in contradiction, and, even independent of the premises, C1 and C2 are in direct contradiction with one another. P5 then says that the attribute of the proposition is the predicate, and, according to P6, is attributed to the subject of the proposition. The attribute of the thing however is not the predicate, but is rather the verb, following P6. The predicate is green, and the attribute of the thing, which sense is, is to green. C3 then states that the predicate itself becomes an attribute of the thing which is denoted by the subject, or of those states of affairs denoted by the entire proposition. So, again, the predicate subsists or inheres in the proposition itself, following P6, just as C1 purports. Therefore, following C1, there is no difference between sense and the predicate of the subject of a proposition, and this, part of P6, comes in direct contradiction with all those premises and conclusions which P1, P2, and C1 come into contradiction with. Following, P5, P6, and C3, we can say that sense is an attribute of the thing denoted by the subject (in fact Deleuze says this himself), which has the predicate already attributed to it. But, then, according to P7, P8, and C4, sense does not subsist in the thing which is denoted by the subject. But, P9, following from those premises about the predicate, and P10, following from those premises about sense as attributed to the thing which the subject denotes, lead to the conclusion that 1. [following from P10] sense is an attribute which is said of the thing and 2. to quote Deleuze himself, “[sense] does not exist outside of the proposition which expresses it in denoting the thing.” So, P1-C1 can be described as the proposition that sense is not outside of the proposition, whereas P3-C4 can be described as the proposition that sense is outside of the proposition.
P1: Sense is not outside of the proposition that it expresses.
P2: Sense is outside of the proposition that it expresses.
But then, P9-P10 conclude that because sense is the attribute of the thing which is denoted by the subject which is contained within the proposition to which the predicate is the attribute of, therefore means, following Deleuze’s own admission (C5), that sense is not outside of the proposition that it expresses. Therefore, the latter ten premises and five conclusion can be expressed syllogistically as:
P1: Sense is not outside of the proposition that it expresses. [P1-C1]
P2: Sense is outside of the proposition that it expresses. [P3-C4]
C1: Sense is not outside of the proposition that it expresses. [P9-C5]
So, formally, Deleuze is wrong, his notion of sense is circular.
In regards to his anticipated response to charges that his notion of sense is circular, he is using spatio-semantics which are faillible in the face of formal syllogisms. His anticipated response to charges that his notion of sense is circular actually contains a bigger problem for him: infinite regression and contradiction. First, it should be obvious that sense is contradictory in that it is “at once extra-Being and inherence”; second, in regards to infinite regression (22). Deleuze does not further develop sense in regards to the formal syllogistic explication of the notion sense, therefore, if his ultimate conclusion is that “Sense is both the expressible or the expressed of the proposition, and the attribute of the state of affairs,” then we can express his argument syllogistically once more:
P1: Sense is not outside of the proposition that it expresses. [P1-C1]
P2: Sense is outside of the proposition that it expresses. [P3-C4]
C1: Sense is both outside and not outside of the proposition that it expresses. [P9-C5 + anticipated response to charges of circularity (C6)]
So, infinite regression here occurs because begging the question occurs, “Why is sense both outside and not outside of the proposition that it expresses?” Deleuze responds, “Because 1. Sense is not outside of the proposition it expresses and 2. Sense is outside of the proposition it expresses.” P1 and P2 are only true in the case that C1 is true and C1 is true only in the case that P1 and P2 are true. If P1 and P2 are true then C1 is true; if C1 is true then P1 and P2 are true. To be honest, it is probably best to disregard this second point, or don’t see what you can get out of; it seems I cannot express what I am trying to say.
Let us also note that logic supersedes sense’s arbitration in that circularity is a threat to sense, per Deleuze’s inadvertant admission on page 22.
Deleuze’s proposition that “[sense] is exactly the boundary between propositions and things” seems to ameliorate any issue that was brought up in regards to circularity, but then again it also seems that this is not the case because the ambiguity with the word “boundary,” in the context of Deleuze’s admission that sense is both the expressed of the proposition and the attribute of the thing, makes an conclusion also ambiguous in its status. Things get continually more confused the more Deleuze talks: “sense does not exist outside of the proposition which expresses it, it is nevertheless the attribute of states of affairs and not the attribute of the proposition” (24).
Deleuze admits to the infinite regress that is a part of sense: “Sense is always presupposed as soon as I begin to speak; I would not be able to begin without this presuppositon. In other words, I never state the sense of what I am saying. But on the other hand, I can always take the sense of what I say as the object of another proposition whose sense, in turn, I cannot state. I thus enter into the infinite regress of that which is presupposed” (28). But, Deleuze also believes that sense can escape this infinite regress: “fix the proposition, to immobilize it, just long enough to xtract from it its sense” (31). Obviously, though, this could only solve the regress that occurs with Carroll’s song example he gives. In regards to sense being presupposed, Deleuze could not tell us otherwise; “Sense is always presupposed as soon as I begin to speak” (28). In a certain sense, ironically, sense then has its own predicament in that any attempt at justifying sense of ameliorating its contradictions and paradoxes supposes its employment and therefore too the assumption that it is free of that which one is trying to ameliorate it from, or worse, one does not have this assumption and admit that they are doing nothing but running in a circle. One can also say that logic also precedes sense in that sense is being regulated here by logic, the notion of paradox is itself logical, and therefore so is sense; I mean, after all, what this essay will terminate to is the proposition that this book is the Logic of Sense and not the Logic of Sense. Ultimately, if I were to ever become a Deleuzian (what ever that means) this book would be the one to convince me to do so. But, nevertheless, logic, reason, inference, rational justification, and sense itself are all supposed by Deleuze.
: It is ironic because I am using “Thus,” not for some other reason.