Deleuze 1990

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Deleuze, Gilles. Logic of Sense. Trans. by Mark Lester with Charles Stivale. Ed. by Constantin V. Boundas. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1990.

First Series of Paradoxes of Pure Becoming

Paragraph 1

introduces peculiarity to paradoxes

  • any phrase of becoming is pointing in two directions at once:

to say that Alice becomes larger is to say that she is becoming smaller than she will be

  • it IS just a verbal game, but a verbal game we can't think around
  • we don't have any capability of thinking of the world OUTSIDE this game
"SENSE" --> wants to connect to a directionality; we talk about things as having "sense" when they point in one direction for comparison or change

-- "Good sense affirms that in all things there is a determinable sense or direction (sens); but paradox is the affirmation of both sense or directions at the same time."

Paragraph 2

connects this to Plato, who helps us see these events of becoming

  • Plato and Socrates as founding a defense of the life of the mind, "philosophy" as a discipline
  • quotes from Philebus and Parmenides, aporetic dialogues (dialogues in which paradoxes presented are not resolved) --> Plato acknowledges problems but doesn't deal with them

Paragraph 3

suggests Plato was aware that strange events of becoming have connection to language

  • paradoxes resist theory of Forms; is there a Form for hotter, colder? verbs? -- hotter is something that an individual JUDGES; how does that match the theory of Forms?
  • see Sophist 235-6
  • see pg 256 in Deleuze
  • perhaps act as two languages; or two dimensions in language in general, only one of which Plato focused on
  • true proportions of the object, but don't correspond to what we see
  • Plato distinguishing betwee true objects and claimants, false reproductions (philosopher vs. sophist)

Paragraph 4

Lewis Carroll helps us see these paradoxes

  • paradox of pure becoming goes in two directions at once;
  • Deleuze wants to call this paradox of infinite identity: identity as sameness, but infinite in that it continues/persists in sameness
  • Sorites paradox: when does a pile of pebbles become a heap? --> a heap is a LINGUISTIC thing, at which language assigns limits;
  • but language also transcends limits "and restores them to the infinite equivalence of an unlimited becoming" (3)
  • "infinite equivalence" -- "hotter" & "colder" are equivalent in some sense, but at the same time cannot be

Paragraph 5

undercuts common sense

  • "infinite identity" vs. "personal identity"
  • infinitives vs. substantives

Second Series of Paradoxes of Surface Effects

moves to a new dualism:

Stoic distinction between bodies and events

  • Stoics are trying to reconfigure the field in which things can be thought

broken down into three parts, four paragraphs each

1-4: moves from Platonic dualism to Stoic dualism; 5-8: drawing out implications of Stoic dualism for philosophy (9-12: echo of that in Lewis Carroll)

Paragraphs 1-4

straight reading of Stoicism


STOICS: distinction bw bodies (para 1) and events (para 2) implications for understanding of matter, causality, time

1. materialism:

  • Stoics claim that all that exist are bodies;
  • bodies that we see are mixtures of elements;
  • Deleuze says we can refer to a particular arrangement of bodies (state of affairs)
  • overall "State of Affairs" is arrangement of bodies as a whole

2. causality:

  • when we say body A has causal relationship with body B;
  • can only talk about causes, not effects;

3. time:

  • from the point of view of bodies, there is only one present;
  • from a divine perspective, there is only one present;
  • time as unwinding of a rope (Cicero) -- Cicero's notion of fate == Deleuze's use of the term Destiny -- events have different relationship to time

Stoic map of reality;

distinction between existence [BODIES] and subsistence [EVENTS]; ex. Mickey Mouse / centaurs / etc. have different form of Being than real person; Mickey Mouse has no body; someone with a body can dress up as Mickey Mouse, but it isn't Mickey Mouse


effects, events don't exist but SUBSIST or INHERE; they're verbs, INFINITIVES

not just INDICATED by verbs, but ARE verbs -- pure verbs, which we don't speak in, vs. conjugated verbs

series of presents; only the present exists in time only the past and future SUBSIST, dividing time simultaneously


event is being cut; there are bodies involved (person, knife) -- but cutting is event this is INCORPOREAL

effects don't happen bw bodies -- you can say a body is cut, but the being cut is not a body

void is not a body, and a sayable is not a body; Deleuze is primary interested in incorporals that are "sayables"


more summary of points made above

Paragraphs 5-8

what difference does this make for how philosophy operates?


if causes are only happening in the realm of bodies, you can't have effects in that register; causes only concern events, and events are not bodies;

freedom -- Stoics preserve freedom in both registers (events and bodies), in the realm of bodies: thru co-fatedness, con-causality; in the realm of events: by not assigning causes

in Homeric epics, there is certain fated events, but many paths to that one fate; Stoics say no, there must be a chain of causes; this leads to understanding that all things are fatalistically determined

see Cicero, "On fate" -- Chryssipus argues that this kind of fatalism can be remedied by splitting events into simple vs. complex; complex events are "co-fated": two things must be fated together for it to happen -- nexus of causalities allows you to act like there's freedom, even though everythign is fated; con-fatality

[this is different from the Atomists, w/clinamen or "swerve"]


Stoics have category "something", biggest genus , with "bodies" as subspecies

reversing Platonism (see appendix)


important dualism in Plato is not form and image, but form and copy;

for the Stoics, this no longer matters -- Stoics "discovered surface effects" (7), recovering common sense from Platonism;

the things that Plato wanted to attribute to Ideas all migrate into events in Stoic philosophy; stripping apart Plato and porting them to a different register


"becoming unlimited"

Paragraphs 9-12

paradoxes of Stoics, entirely new way of thinking about paradoxes

"Paradox appears as a dismissal of depth, a display of events at the surface, and a deployment of language along this limit." (9)

many critics say these paradoxes are NONSENSE by changing the REFERENT; Deleuze interested in peculiarity of language in paradox

there are dialectics of events, but not of bodies -- bodies just proliferate in materiality; there's no pressure on the world to solve this paradox (the way there is in Hegel); maintains separation between bodies and effects -- affirmation of the nonrepresentational

Third Series of the Proposition

use the previous dualisms outlined to get to the question of sense

Part 1

summary of what Deleuze claims are three different relations within a proposition


  • (a) relates to: "an external state of affairs"
  • (b) functions through: "association of the words themselves with particular images which out to 'represent' the state of affairs"
  • (c) expressed by: "formal particulars" (13) such as "it" and "that"
  • (d) values: "true and false"; dealt with as true or false expressions


  • (a) relates to: "the person who speaks and expresses himself"; "presented as a statement of desires and beliefs"
    • desires --> wanting a pony; doesn't really mean pony is there
    • beliefs --> wanting causes something to happen
  • (b) functions through: "causal inferences, not associations."
  • (c) expressed by: manifesters, "I","you","tomorrow"
  • (d) values: "veracity and illusion"
if we didn't have something like manifestation, there would just be isolated individuals saying things (denotations); only understand articulations through part of a whole, sense of a whole -- have to understand others as saying something in approaching the world as a whole


  • (a) relates to: "universal or general concepts, and of syntactic connections to the implications of the concept"
  • (b) functions through: demonstrations
  • (c) expressed by: premises and conclusions
  • (d) values: condition of truth vs. absurdity; possibility for error

Part 2

arguing/asserting that we need to add a fourth dimension/perspective, sense

  • from standpoint of speech: manifestation is primary (speech vs. language -- Saussurian distinction)
  • from the standpoint of language (considered as a system): signification is primary and provides basis for manifestation

no proposition has its meaning independently; don't just denote something, but can only denote in relation to other propositions; i.e., propositions are only possible by signifying concepts prior to the thinking subject, so that spoken words relate to concepts necessarily (necessary constancy; pg. 16)

however, if we understand language as a system, there are going to be some terms that are taken to ground the system (even though they don't necessarily) --> e.g. God, world, "language"

this undercuts our solution: we can't even see signification as primary, since significatino requires denotation; it has to link back to the world at some point

signification doesn't make any committment to states of affairs (purely formal); but if signification is primary, it's not clear how the link back to denotation operates; e.g., how to tie signification back into the world?

[possible third perspective: denotation as primary?]

for Deleuze, we have to add a FOURTH dimension/perspective

movement from signification to manifestation to denotation carries us in a circle;

not going to be able to point to or outline its structure the way we could with the other three; "sense" cannot make language impossible -- has to still allow for everything we see in language; can we have a language that resists all three other dimensions?

this is not a NECESSARY condition of possibility, but nothing in our experience that precludes or disproves it: a false proposition still has SENSE


"Is there something, aliquid, which emrges neither with the proposition or with the terms of the proposition, nor with the object or with the state of affairs which the proposition denotes, neither with the "lived," or representation or the mental activity of the person who expresses herself in the proposition, nor with concepts or even signified essences?" (19)
"Sense is the fourth dimension of the proposition." (19)

sense transcends the three dimensions of denotation, manifestation, signification even as it is the "fourth dimension"

  • "irreducible to individual states of affairs, particular images, personal beliefs, and universal or general concepts" (19)
  • "neither word nor body, neither sensible representation nor rational representation" (19)
  • "'neutral', altogether indifferent to both particular and general, singular and universal, personal and impersonal" (19)
  • "It would be of an entirely different nature" (19)
  • "we may not even say that sense exists either in things or in the mind; it has neither physical nor mental existence" (20)
  • "endowed with an inefficacious, impassive, and sterile splendor" (20)

like Carroll's Snark hunt -- "perhaps the dimension is the hunt itself, and sense is the Snark" (20)

"This is why we said that in fact we can only infer it indirectly, on the basis of the circle where the ordinary dimensions of the proposition lead us. It is only by breaking open the circle, as in the case of the Mobius strip, by unfolding and untwisting it, that the dimension of sense appears for itself, in its irreducibility, and also in its genetic power as it animates an a priori internal model of the proposition." (20)

connects it to empiricism: "The logic of sense is inspired in its entirety by empiricism. Only empiricism knows how to transcend the experiential dimensions of the visible without falling into Ideas" (20)

TRANSCENDENTAL --> interested in "conditions of possibility"

transcendental empiricism": transcendental, not idealism; but still about discovering conditions of possibility

Part 3

discussion of philosophers who have recognized this dimension (stoics, phenomenology)

  • Husserl, "noema"
  • "Could phenomenology be this rigorous science of surface effects?" (21)

trying to create a lineage people who recognized this, even though they might not have recognized it

Part 4

concludes with claim that stoic "event" is equivalent to what he's calling sense

  • sense does not exist but "inheres or subsists"
  • yet doesn't merge with the proposition
  • is attributed to the proposition, but is not the attribute of the proposition
  • rather, is the attribute of the thing or state of affairs (21)

seems circular; but not a circle, "rather the coexistence of two sides without thickness, such that we pass from one to the other by following their length" (22)

"Sense is both the expressible or the expressed of the proposition, and the attribute of the state of affairs." (22)
"It is exactly the boundary between propositions and things." (22)

can't think of sense as something that has its own existence outside the proposition

"the event is sense itself" (22)

Fourth Series of Dualities

outlines a series of dualities that he claims develop, and which we need to take into account to talk about the fourth dimension of the proposition

Duality of Causes/Effects

duality of corporal things and incorporeal events

Duality of Bodies/Language

duality of things and propositions; to eat/to speak; prolongs duality of corporeal things and incorporeal events

ingestion of food -- mixing of one kind of body into another kind of body; to eat and to be eaten; to eat what is presented to you, or to be presented to what you eat

speaking -- gaffe/stuttering -- crossing the duality

"To speak, though is the movement of the surface, and of ideational attributes or incorporeal events. What is more serious: to speak of food or to eat word?" (23)

speaking of food -- using language to refer to bodies [gaffe] eating words -- bodies dominate language [stuttering]

spoken words going awry, accompanied by verbal hallucinations (23-4); language disorders, stuttering:

  • lateral movement
  • saying the same syllable repeated
  • moving out along a line


  • contrasts with stuttering
  • deep play on meaning, a vertical move
"We bring bodies to the surface, as we deprive them of their former depth, even if we place the entire language through this challenge in a situation of risk." (24)

bodies rising to the surface; surface rising to the bodies

"The event subsists in language, but it happens to things. Things and propositions are less in a situation of radical duality and more on the two sides of a frontier represented by sense." (24)


  • frontier
  • "mist rising over the prairie" (24)
  • juncture of things and propositions" (24)
  • Humpty-Dumpty's "impenetrability" (25)
  • two sides of a mirror (25)

duality "reflected from both sides and in each of the two terms" (24)

  • on one side: physical qualities, real relations, states of affairs; logical attributes indicating incorporeal events
  • on the other side: names and adjectives denoting states of affairs, verbs expressing logical attributes
"On the one hand, there are singular proper names, substantives, and general adjectives which indicate limits, pauses, rests, and presences; on the other, there are verbs carrying off with them becoming and its train of reversible events and infinitely dividing their present into past and future." (24)

Humpty-Dumpty: opposes "the impassibility of events to the actions and passions of bodies, the non-consumable nature of sense to the edible nature of things" (25)

i.e., Deleuze is joining dualities; not to produce monism, tho

  • duality between two dimensions of the proposition -- denotation and expression, or "between the denotation of things and the expression of sense" (25)
"To pass to the other side of the mirror is to pass from the relation of denotation to the relation of expression -- without pausing at the intermediaries, namely, at manifestation and signification. It is to reach a region where language no longer has any relation to that which it denotes, but only to that which it expresses, that is, to sense. This is the final displacement of the duality: it has now moved inside the proposition." (25)

sense is attributed to states of affairs, but not to the same proposition that stated it; not circular; doesn't manifest states of affair and doesn't signify them

leads to a kind of Ur-duality;

transcendental: outlining conditions of possibility

Fifth Series of Sense

third chapter he's outlined paradoxes (First and Second Series) begins by saying that these sense paradoxes are "now internal" (28)

for Deleuze, paradox undercuts both GOOD sense (unidirectionality) and COMMON sense (fixed identity)

sence is "the frontier, the cutting edge, or the articulation of the difference between two terms" (28)

Paradox of Regress

always speaking within sense; "sense is like the sphere in which I am already established in order to enact possible denotations, and even to think their conditions" (28)

can never state sense directly, except as the object of another proposition, whose sense, in turn, I cannot state; switching back and forth between meaning and naming

"I never state the sense of what I'm saying." (28)

"I thus enter into the infinite regress of that which is presupposed." (28)

regress testifies to:

  • great impotence of the speaker and
  • the highest power of language (29)
"my impotence to state the sense of what I say, to say tat the same time something and its meaning; but also the infinite power of language to speak about words" (29)

Frege's paradox; Carroll's paradox

infinite regress: "the alternation of a real name and a name which designates this reality" (30)

Paradox of Sterile Division

to avoid the regress, must "fix the proposition, to immobilize it, just long enough to extract from it its sense -- the thin film at the limit of things and words." (31)

this is a peculiar act, though; you've only got "a neutralized double of the proposition" (31)

sterility of the sense-event --> only an effect, never a cause --> doesn't bring about an event in the world; "only bodies act and suffer, not the incorporeal entities, which are the mere results of actions and passions" (31-2)

  • this is the Stoics' paradox

sterility not necessarily a bad thing; stopping the infinite regress forces us to recognize the sterility -- > REVEALS sterility, doesn't render sterile

these two paradoxes are two alternatives of each other, & "represent the essential forms of stuttering"

Paradox of Neutrality

terms used to describe different forms of the proposition:

  • quality: affirmation or negation;
    • sense as sterile;
    • sense as "God-to be" --> neither affirmed nor negated
  • quantity: term "man" has the same sense no matter what quantity is being discussed
  • relation: sense always the same in inverse relations; pointing in both directions at once
  • modality

(in Kant, become judgments of propositions; taking terms from scholastic philosophy)

these qualities affect denotation, and its actualization or fulfillment in a state of affairs; but sense doesn't allow itself to be parsed into any of these forms of the proposition

(d'Autrecourt's medieval paradox)

Paradox of the Absurd

"their denotation ... cannot at all be fulfilled", nor do they have a signification

Sixth Series on Serialization

series items in an infinite regress are not progressively more superior in degree, but alternates between sense / expression / sense / expression

i.e., not homogeneous, but heterogeneous: 'the serial form is necessarily realized in the simultaneity of at least two series" (36); i.e., for every homogeneous series, there is another series related but differing in nature

  • "the serial form is thus essentially multi-serial" (37)

"the serial form thus refers to already described paradoxes of duality"

  • can always look at two series in many different ways; these variations are "degrees of freedom in the organization of heterogeneous series"
  • duality is always there, either between events and states of affairs (outside the series), between propositions and denoted objects (at the surface of the series), or between expressions and denotations within the proposition

two simultaneous series are never equal:

  • one is the signifier, "any sign which presents in itself an aspect of sense" (37)
  • one is the signified, "that which serves as the correlative to this aspect of sense, that is, that which is defined in a duality relative to this aspect" (37)

sense itself is never signifed; rather, signified is the concept, or "any thing which may be defined on the basis of the distinction that a certain aspect of sense establishes with this thing" (37); signified can be manifestation, denotation, even signification -- i.e., signfied "is the proposition insofar as sense, or that which is expressed, is distinguished from it" (38)

signifier as the event, a state of affairs with its qualities and real relations; signifier as the "sole dimension of expression", since "sense as expressed does not exist outside of the expression" (38);

in two series, one is always signifier, the other signified

three characteristics permit specifying the relation and distribution of series:

  • terms of series in "perpetual relative displacement" in relation to the other
    • "essential lack of correspondence"
    • "double sliding of one series over or under the other" (40)
  • this disequilibrium "must itself be oriented"
    • "blurred excess of signifier"
  • paradoxical case of an element that can't be reducible to either series or its relation
  • it "circulates without end in both series"
    • "it is the mirror" (40)

Seventh Series of Esoteric Words

Contracting Words

type of synthesis: connection (metonymy?)

Circulating Words

type of syntehsis: conjunction (metaphor?)

Portmanteau Words

type of synthesis: disjunction (irony?

Eight Series of Structure

Robinson's paradox:

"Robinson, on his desert island, could reconstruct an analogue of society only by giving himself, all at once, all the rules and laws which are reciprocally implicated, even when they still have no objects" (49) --> yet conquest of nature is "progressive, partial, and advances step by step"

society gives all its rules at once, but the conquest of nature, on which society is founded, is only achieved "progressively, from one source of energy to another" (49)

Revolutions made possible by this disequilibrium, "this gap between the two series, which solicits realignments of the economic and political totality in relation to the parts of the technical progress" (49)

minimal conditions for STRUCTURE:

1) at least two heterogeneous series, signifying and signified

2) each series constituted by relation between each other

--> to these relations, there are "very particular events, that is, singularities which are assignable within the structure"

"sense is not to be confused with signification; it is rather what is attributed in such a way that it determines both the signifier and the signified as such" (51)

no structure without series, without relations bw the terms of series, or w/o singular points corresponding to these relations; "there is no structure without the empty square, which makes everything function"

Ninth Series of the Problematic

[less argumentative structure than other series]

Paragraph 1

--> singularities

singularity is NEUTRAL, not ORDINARY point of inflection, as in mathematics [point where line changes from concavity to convexity] point of qualitative change

Paragraph 2

--> Peguy

influence on Deleuze and Latour's thought

events vs. Event (53)

Paragraph 3

going back to Second Series (pg 5)

--> distinction bw unlimited Aion and Chronos; taking it from Stoics

--> distinction between EVENT [ideals] and STATES OF AFFAIRS [accidents]

"To reverse Platonism is first and foremost to remove essences and to substitute events in their place, as jets of singularities." (53)

Paragraph 4

"MODE of the event" --> modalities: something that could be the case, something that must be the case; // apodictic, asotoric, problematic

wants to expand the notion of what "problematic" means --> think about it in terms of math: problems as setting out conditions for something -- series of steps taken in order to produce solutions

Proclus: theorematic vs. problematic

problem as condition of possibility -- field of a problem [leaf itself] solutions as accidents [seeing the leaf]

"problem always finds the solution it merits, according to the conditions which determine it as a problem" (54)

we think of problematic as subjective knowledge [apodictic, asotoric, problematic] -- it's an empirical moment that allows us to determine its truth by checking against states of affairs BUT problematic is "both an objective category of knowledge and a perfectly objectie kind of being" (54)

knowledge as both subjective and objective: something OBJECTIVE in our SUBJECTIVE knowing

Kant first to notice problematic as "very object of the Idea" --> phenomenon, how the world is sensed and structured; --> noumenon, problematic proposition that might exist; no way of knowing whether it is or isn't true; have to take it as problematic and stick with that to make our experience make sense --> i.e., certain things have to be kept as problematic [e.g. God's existence] in order t ounderstand how experience is possible: a PERPETUAL CONDITION rather than FLEETING UNCERTAINTY

Paragraph 5

"relation between mathematics and man"

EITHER --> you can quantify/measure human properties [the way social scientists do] -- problematizing human events -- the writing of human history; --> "The Tangled Tale"; allegories, anthropomorphizing; humans incarnating mathematical problems; humans as bearers of math OR --> developing as various human eents the conditions of a problem -- writing of some kinds of literature, using characters in order to develop conditions of a problem --> "The Dynamics of a Par-ti-cle"; math as bearing some human qualities; not proper to humans any more than it is proper to math

Paragraph 6

aleatory point

esoteric words


problem: defines a series question: defines conjunction of a multiple series

Tenth Series of the Ideal Game

playing a game requires: 1) preexisting rules 2) the rules form hypotheses of chance 3) these hypotheses organize the game 4) the consequences of how the hypotheses play out equate with victory or defeat


limiting the role of chance

not recovering community; things that flee community

1) qualitative forms of a single cast 2) aleatory point, in ta time greater than the maximum of continuous thinkable time eternity --> where do you want to set the boundaries?

on break that is happening; the abstract turning point at which everything changes --> only one abstract point that keeps getting displaced --> one ideal Event --> point where everythign changes

games 'retain chance only at certain points, leaving the remainder to the mechanical development of consequences or to skill" (59)

Kantian sublime -- thinkable but not quite imaginable

IDEAL GAME: negation of all four things; no rules; everything changes at each point; no winner, no loser; no responsibility

not like Pascal's wager or Leibniz's best of all possible worlds can't come up with an example from philosophy -- has to go to Lewis Carroll or Borges



Sorites paradox;

when does a group of marbles become a heap?

Chronos: the bodies rather than the expressions; literally speaking, no point at which marbles become a heap; no point in trying to determine when it becomes a heap; analog; breaking apart of Hegel --> separate out quantitative and qualitative levels -- deals with the realization of the event; determining weights, setting boundaries of what makes a heap example of death: can be measured by cell reproduction, heartbeat, etc. "It is in this sense that events are signs."

Aion: our description of that -- products of language; incorporeal; internal infinitive would be to make a heap out of something; digital; flip of a switch -- suddenly becomes heap example of death: flip into death -- loss of thought, no measurement of point

ideal event, pure event: any point at which something changes

sensation -- human sensorium understood in terms of chronos, but don't make qualitative distinctions; perception qualitative distinguishes

novella ex. on 63: followed up in novella chapter of ATP

"living present" --> BECOMING present

big-E "Event"

there's only ever one break, but the break moves; each break is a distribution or emphasis

only one point -- aleatory point -- pure event

Aion -- only ever incorporal -- SENSE Chronos -- only ever corporal -- UNINTERESTED MOVEMENT OF BODIES; no meaning attributed to it yet

Eleventh Series of Nonsense

faced with "two dissymmetrial halves of an ultimate instance"

blank word (and esoteric words of the first order): coordinates two heterogeneous series

First Figure of Nonsense

  • at once word and thing
  • "both the blank word denoting it and the esoteric word denoting the blank word have the function to express the thing. It is a word that denotes exactly what it exprseses and expresses what it denotes" (67)
  • "it expresses its denotatum and designates its own sense. It says something, but at the same time it says the sense of what it says: it says its own sense." (67)
  • is completely abnormal, since normally sense is only denoted by another name (infinite regress)
  • name saying its own sense is nonsense
"Nonsense is of a piece with the word "nonsense," and the word "nonsense" is of a piece with words which have no sense, that is, with the conventional words that we use to denote it." (67)

Second Figure of Nonsense

  • portmanteau word: each part says the sense of the other or expresses the other part, which in turn denotes it
  • therefore portmanteau words express their own sense and are therefore nonsense
"Nonsense thus has two sides, one corresponding to the regressive synthesis, the other to the disjunctive synthesis." (67)

this is not simply a play on words -- i.e., not saying that the sense of nonsense is that it has no sense; rather, moving from the domain of true/false to the domain of sense/nonsense

"The logic of sense is necessarily determined to posit between sense and nonsense an original type of intrinsic relation, a mode of co-presence. For the time being, we may only hint at this mode by dealing with nonsense as a word which says its own sense." (68)

"normal laws" are not opposed to these two figures; rather, the two figures subsume normal words (e.g. "frumious" subsumes "fuming' and "furious"), and have sense under the laws which don't apply to them

regressive law: the sense of a name must be denoted by another name, these names of different degrees refer to classes or properties of different "types"

  • the set of all sets
  • confusion of formal levels in the regressive synthesis

disjunctive law: a determination of signification states that the property or the term in relation to which a classification is made cannot belong to any of the groups of the same type which are classified in relation to it

  • "barber of the regiment" (Russell's paradox)
  • vicious circle in the disjunctive synthesis

e.g., insofar as names are endowed with sense, they receive determinations of signification

  • the law is derived from the determination of signification, relating words/propositions to concepts/properties/classes
  • element cannot be part of its own subset;
  • every property belongs to a type higher than that over which it presides; etc. (68-9)
  • (Russell's paradoxes -- of self-references)

two forms of the absurd corresponding to two figures of nonsense; they are stripped of signification and constitute paradoxes:

  1. a set included in itself as a member
  2. the member dividing the set which it presupposes
"The absurd then is sometimes a confusion of formal levels in the regressive synthesis, sometimes a vicious circle in the disjunctive synthesis." (69)

nonsense enacts a donation of sense; sense is "inseparable from a new kind of paradoxes which mark the presence of nonsense within sense, just as the preceding paradoxes marked the presence of nonsense within signification" (70)

  • paradoxes of subdivision ad infinitum
  • paradoxes of the distribution of singularities

each term only has sense relative to other terms; but the relative position depends on the absolute position of each term relative to the instance = x, which is "determined as nonsense and circulates endlessly throughout the series" (70)

  • "sense is actually produced by this circulation as sense which affects both the signifier and the signified. In short, sense is always an effect." (70) -- like optical effect, sound effect, surface effect, position effect, language effect
    • not appearance or illusion, but "a product which spreads out over, or extends itself the length of, the surface" (70)
    • is "co-present to, and coextensive with, its own cause" (70)
    • the Chryssipus effect, the Carroll effect

structuralism celebrates this blank word, dummy, blind spot, floating signifier, since "structure is in fact a machine for the production of incorporeal sense" (71)

philosophy of nonsense is not a philosophy of the absurd, a la Camus, which simply opposes nonsense and sense in a simple relation of opposition

always too much sense in the structure -- "an excess produced and over-produced by nonsense as a lack of itself" (71);

"nonsense does not have any particular sense, but is opposed to the absence of sense rather than to the sense that it produces in excess -- without ever maintaining with its product the simple relation of exclusion to which some people would like to reduce them. Nonsense is that which has no sense, and that which, as such and as it enacts the donation of sense, is opposed to the absence of sense. This is what we must understand by "nonsense"." (71)

structuralism "displaces frontiers" (71)

Twelfth Series of the Paradox

paradoxes "inhere in language, and the whole problem is to know whether language would be able to function without bringing about the insistence of such entities" (74)

not contradictory; "rather allow us to be present at the genesis of the contradiction" (74)

Paradoxes of signification:

  • abnormal set: set which includes itself as a member; set of all sets, Russell's paradox
  • rebel element: forms part of a set whose existence it presupposes and belongs to two sub-sets which it determines; round square (two subsets: all squares that are round, all circles that are square)

Paradoxes of sense:

  • subdivision ad infinitum: time always passing into an infinitely subdivided past or moving into a to-be-divided future, but never present
  • nomadic distribution: distributing in an open, instead of closed, space; i.e., distribution determines an open space rather than filling a closed one -- yet, how can this be a "distribution" at all (since it doesn't define categories or distinct spaces)?
  • go in both directions at once
  • render identification impossible

good sense:

  • goes in one direction only, from most differentiated to the least differentiated
  • arrow of time: past always more differentiated, moving towards a more homogeneous future; always established in relation to a "present"
  • has foresight -- looks forward towards more undifferentiated future
  • "on one hand and on the other hand"
  • fixed, sedentary distribution
  • gives itself a singularity "in order to stretch it out over the whole line of ordinary and regular points which depend on it, but which also avert and dilute it" (76)
  • "combustive", "digestive"; "agrarian", "the establishment of enclosures" (76)

good sense "plays no role in the donation of sense" since it is always second, always "presupposes another distrubition" (i.e., problem of enclosure presupposes a free, opened, unlimited space to begin with) (76)

paradox is not following the opposite/other direction -- that would just be mind games -- but "showing that sense ... follows two directions at the same time" (77)


  • present which alone exists;
  • oriented towards two dimensions, past and future, moving from one into the other


  • past-future
  • "in an infinite subdivision of the abstract moment, [i] it endlessly decomposes itself in both directions at once and forever sidesteps the present" (77)

common sense:

  • sense no longer has a direction but becomes "an organ, a function, a faculty of identification that brings diversity in gernal to bear upon the form of the same" (77-8)
  • identifies, recognizes
  • pulls together differentiated organs/faculties of a body and makes them an "I"
  • i.e., subsumes diversity, gives it a unity
  • language is not possible without this "I" to manifest speech, or the objects to be spoken about

good sense and common sense are complementary

"Good sense could not fix any beginning, end, or direction, it could not distribute any diversity, if it did not transcend itself toward an instance capable of relating the diverse to the form of a subject's identity, or to the form of an object's or a world's permanence, which one assumes to be present from beginning to end. Conversely, this form of identity within common sense would remain empty if it did not transcend itself toward an instance capable of determining it by means of a particular diversity, which would begin her, end there, and which one would suppose to last as long as it is necessary to assure the equalization of its parts." (78)

paradox is reversal, simultaneously, of both good and common sense: two simultaneous directions, nonsense of lost identity

with loss of both good and common sense, language "seems impossible, having no subject which expresses or manifest itself in it, no object to denote, no classes and no properties to signify according to a fixed order" (79)

yet, "with the passion of the paradox, language attains its highest power" (79)

in the region which precedes all good and common sense, "the gift of meaning occurs" (79)

"We may therefore propose a table of the development of language at the surface and of the donation of sense at the frontier, between propositions and things." (80)
  • animated by the paradoxical element or aleatory point -- this is nonsense

Thirteenth Series of the Schizophrenic

clinical problem: "a problem of sliding from one organization to another, or a problem of the formation of a progressive and creative disorganization" (83); treating patients

problem of criticism: "the determination fo the differential levels at which nonsense changes shape" (83); making sense of something

Artaud's antipathy toward Carroll -- the schizophrenic as playing in depths, not at the surface of sense

Louis Wolfson example: free-associating words from different languages

for schizophrenic, words are wounding -- sensations, bodily; "every word is physical, and immediately affects the body" (87)

"The procedure is this: a word, often of an alimentary nature, appears in capital letters, printed as in a collage which freezes it an strips it of its sense. But the moment that the pinned-down word loses its sense, it bursts into pieces; it is decomposed into syllables, letters, and above all into consonants which act directly on the body, penetrating and bruising it." (87)

passion words:

action words

Fourteenth Series of Double Causality

"incorporeal sense, as the result of the actions and the pasions of the body, may preserve its difference from actions and the paassions of the body, may preserve its difference from the corporeal cause only to the degree that it is linked, at the surface, to a quasi-cause which is itself incorporeal" (94)

aleatory point acts as a quasi-cause

Fifteenth Series of Singularities

"Neutrality, the impassibility of the event, its indifference to the determinations of the inside and the outside, to the individual and the collective, the particular and the general -- all these form a constant without which the event would not have eternal truth and could not be distinguished from its temporal actualization." (100)

battle as Event in essence; multiplicity, actualized in diverse manners at once, but each participant grasps it (at their own/different level)

  • "battle hovers over its own field, being neutral in relation to all of tis temporal actualizations" (100)
  • battle as "never present but always yet to come and already passed" (100)
  • graspable only y the will of anonymity, "of indifference"

independence of sense

"What is neither individual nor personal are, on the contrary, emissions of singularities insofar as they occur on an unconscious surface and possess a mobile, immanent principle of auto-unification through a nomadic distribution, radically distinct from fixed and sedentary distributions as conditions of the syntheses of consciousness. Singularities are the true transcendental events" (102)


  • "preside over the genesis of individuals and persons"
  • "are distributed in a "potential" which admits neither Self nor I, but which produces them by actualizing or realizing itself" (103)
  • "correspond to heterogeneous series which are organized into a system" that is "metastable" (103)
  • "possess a process of auto-unification, alawys mobile and displaced" (103)
  • "singularities or potentials haunt the surface" (103) -- membrains that "carry potentials and regenerate polarities" (103) -- see Simondon
  • locus of sense -- at the surface
  • problematic status
"Only when the world, teaming with anonymous and nomadic, impersonal and pre-individual singularities, opens up, do we tread at last on the field of the transcendental." (103)

not consciousness; "the error of all efforts to determine the transcendental as consciousness is that they think of the transcendental in the image of, and in the resemblance to, that which it is supposed to ground" (105)

  • sense is not "originary" or "ready-made"

metaphysics and transcendental philosophy impose false alternative: 1) either undifferentiated groundlessness, or 2) imprisoned singularities (106) -- makes it seem like nonsense/sense enter simple opposition, with sense as originary

Nietzche opens a new way, Dionysian, the wil to power, "a free and unbound energy" or "nomadic singularities which are no lnoger imprisoned within the fixed individuality of the infinit being (the notorious immutability of God), nor inside the sedentary boundaries of the finite subject (the notorious limits of knowledge)" (107)

"This is something neither individual nor persona, but rather singular. Being not an undifferentiated abyss, it leaps from one singularity to another, casting always the dice belonging to the same cast, always fragmented and formed again in each throw. It is a Dionysian sense-producing machine, in which nonsense and sense are no longer found in simple opposition, but are rather co-present to one another within a new discourse." (107)

Sixteenth Series of the Static Ontological Genesis

a world "is constituted on the condition that series converge" -- "already envelops an infinite system of singularities selected through convergence" (109)

individuals within this world envelop a finite number of singularities, combine them, then spread them out over their own ordinary lines

singularities actaulized both in the world and the individuals who make up / are part of the world

  • "to be actualized or to actualize onself means to extend over a series of ordinary points; to be selected according to a rule of convergence; to be incarnated in a body; to become the state of a body; and to be renewed locally for the sake of limited new actualizations and extensions" (110)
  • these characteristsics belong tot he individuated world and the individuals; which is "why actualization is always both collective and individual" (110)

convergence == compossibility of a world; synthesis

divergence == incompossibility; another world begins incompossible with the first

compossibility: "a continuum of singularities, whereby continuity has the convergence of series as its ideational criterion" (111); incompossibility is not contradiction

two stages of the passive genesis:

  1. "sense engenders a first field wherein it is actualized: the Unwelt whch organizes the singularities in circles of convergence; indivieuals which express these worlds; states of bodies; mixtures or aggregates of these individuals; analytic predicates which describe these states" (116)
  2. "a very different field appears, built upon the first: the Welt common to several or to all world; the persons who define this "something in common"; synthetic predicates which define these persons; and the classes and properties which derive from them" (116)

Seventeenth Series of the Static Logic Genesis

"Individuals are infinite analytic propositions." (118)

infinite as to what they express, but finite with repsect to their clear expression / their "corporeal zone of expression" (118)

"Persons are finite synthetic propositions: finite with respect to their definition, indefinite with respect to their application." (118)

"Individuals and persons are, in themselves, ontological propositions" (118)

sense as "double generative: engenders the logical proposition and its objective correlates (120)

"Sense is thus expressed as the problem to which propositions correspond insofar as they indicate particular responses, signify instances of a general solution, and manifest subjective acts of resolution" (121)

  • sense expressed as interrogative, rather than infinitive/participial
  • interrogative == PROBLEM

"The problem is neutral with respect to every mode of the proposition." (123)

  • a circle-qua-circle is "a differential system to which an emission of singularities corresponds" (123)

dissociate notions of the double and of neutrality; "sense is neutral, but it is never the double of the propositions which express it, nor of the states of affairs in which it occurs and which are denoted by the propositions" (123)

  • break the circuit, unfold the Moebius strip -- only then can we get at sense

"purge the transcendental field of all resemblance" (123)

sense produced by bodies mixing -- not individuated bodies or measured mixtures, though, which already presupposes sense, but as "bodies taken in their undifferentiated depth and in their measureless pulsation" (124)

"The surface is neither active nor passive, it is the product of the actions and passions of mixed bodies." (124)

metaphysical surface (transcendental field): "the frontier established, on one hand, between bodies taken together as a whole and inside the limits which envelop them, and on the other, propositions in general" (125)

  • frontier is "not a separation, but rather the element of an articulation" (125)

"sense is a doubling up, and that the neutrality of sense is inseparable from its status as a double" (125)

"The surface is the transcendental field itself, and the locus of sense and expression." (125)

Eighteenth Series of the Three Images of Philosophers

FIRST IMAGE: philosopher as being ascents -- raising to the heights -- removing himself from the cave; Platonic diseases: idealism, Platonic mania, flight of ideas in dialectics

Kant, "Orientation in Thinking"

SECOND IMAGE: pre-Socratics didn't want to leave the cave but "thinks that we are not involved enough or sufficiently engulfed therein" (128); "the pre-Socratics placed thought inside the caverns and life, in the deep" -- "philosophical schizophrenia par excellence" (129)

Nietzsche, three essays on the methodology of Diogenes Laertius; Deleuze looking back to Nietzsche looking to Laertius

THIRD IMAGE: Megarians, Cynics, Stoics; "no longer depth or height" (130); "it is always a matter of unseating the Ideas, of showing that the incorporeal is not high above, but is rather at the surface, that it is not the highest cause but the superficial effectpar excellence, and that it is not Essence but event" (130); wrapped up in the surface (133)

all mixtures good on the whole view, but bad in the order of partial encounters (131)

Hercules as Stoic hero -- can ascend to heights, go down into the depths, but stays at the surface

positions/directions in philosophy only work to the extent that they guide thought in relation to events for individually modulated but communicating problems

philosophy produces images; image of the surface cancels dreams of abstract heights or empirically-driven depths

ticks, louses as operating on the surface

Nineteenth Series of Humor

irony: non-correspondence of two points of view

trying to counter the move from denotation to signification by moving from signification to denotation: Chrysippus "chariot" example

humor undercuts the ascent to the ideal

Socratic irony

constructing the ideal from examples, but certain examples always fit the list of characteristics necessary for the ideal, and yet are not the ideal (man is featherless biped; so is a plucked chicken); ascent to the heights of the idea

Classical irony

individual as speaker (137);

rationalized totalitynow that we have representations, how do we know that they correspond with the world?

Romantic irony

switch from the individual to the person who speakr=er

"it is defined by the coextensiveness of the I and representation" (138)

false alternative between groundlessness -- just bodies, no ground figure -- and ironic ascent to heights, where all we have is language

instead, surface: humor is the art of the surface; "deeper than any other ground is the surface and the skin" (141)

Twentieth Series on the Moral Problem in Stoic Philosophy

egg, Humpty Dumpty

"divination grounds ethics" -- looking into present signs to find out something about the future

"In the one case, we move from the cosmic present to the not-yet actualized event; i nthe other, we go from the pure event to its most limited present actualization

representation brings together past, present and future -- but it's not the only way

Twenty-First Series of the Event

actualization limits the pure event, fixes it; counter-actualization of the actor actualizes the event and militates against its limitations within a state of affairs

splendor: affect, non-content/form happening in the event

death; connected to contemporary conversations with Blanchot, Heidegger; pg 152, explicitly engaging with Heidegger

"This is why there are no private or collective events, no more than there are individuals and universals, particularities and generalities. Everything is singular, and thus both collective and private, particular and general, neither individual nor universal." (152)

Twenty-Second Series -- Porcelain and Volcano

crack -- way of naming the event; nomination of the event -- no particular physical cause, butr related back to quasi-cause; threshold named after-the-fact

  • material reality (actual crack) connected to event that changes (the Event crack)

alcoholism -- "process of demolition" (159, 160)

Event evades the present; alcoholism is a way of evading the present

Twenty-Third Series of the Aion


"only the present fills time"; "Chronos is an encasement, a coiling up of relative presents, with God as the extreme circle or the external envelope" (162)

"the regulated movement of vast and profound presents" (163);

"good Chronos" vs "bad Chronos" / mixtures; see also 18th Series (131)


immanent critique of notion of Chronos; Aion is a way of thinking distinctions within the total mass of the present

"Instead of a present which absorbs the past and future, a future and past divide the present at every instant and subdivide it ad infinitum into past and future, in both directions at once"; "instant without thickness and without extension" (164)

first two presents belong to Chronos; present of Aion "is not at all like the vast and deep present of Chronos: it is the present without thickness, the present of the actor, dancer, or mime -- the pure perverse "moment." It is the present of the pure operation" -- is counter-actualization (168)

counter-actualization -- mime; all art?