Issue #61 April 2023

Deleuze’s “The Logic of Sense”, (Chapter 9, Ninth Series of the Problematic)

The ninth ‘series’ of Deleuze’s The Logic of Sense addresses the status of problems and their relationship to events. So far the event has been developed in its relationship to language, and sense: Deleuze has been tracing the border between words and things, propositions and states of affairs. Sense is located at this border as both the expressed of the proposition, and an attribute of the state of affairs: its dual character is captured by the category of the event. The event is both what happens within the state of affairs, and what is spoken of in propositions, what they express. Events accordingly have an ideal, but not for that reason subjective, status. What is the status of this ideal-yet-objective? Or, if events are not to be confused with the mixtures of objects within states of affairs, nor with our mere capacity to express what happens within the world within propositions (nor with a psychological subject), yet still be able to condition both of these as primary to them, what manner of thing are they? Deleuze holds that events are of the mode of the problematic.

For Deleuze, every event is a critical point in the development of a problem – thus problems themselves stand as primary to events. But the primacy is not as a cause to an effect – a problem is transformed by its critical points, by the events it engenders, and becomes more fully determined as a problem. Think of the classic philosophical, or Aristotelian, procedure: one approaches a vague problem by first collecting the doxa pertaining to it, the ‘what is said concerning x‘. Then, one demonstrates, dialectically and Socraticly, how these doxa produce further problems; contradictions and absurdities. Finally, one begins defining terms, genus and species, necessary and sufficient, causal and transcendental and logical conditions, allowing one to pose the problem clearly in these or those terms. These processes are not so much a mere approximating or clarification of the problem, though the events here can be characterized in this way, but they are just as much a development of the problem itself. The problem now developed in this way, the manner in which it conditions the events composing its solution, the sense of the propositions that are constructed adjacent to it, and the way the world becomes clarified and filtered by degrees by this posing, becomes clear. It shows us that asking for a philosopher’s solutions should amount to asking for what critical events they passed the problem that animated them through.

Credits: Video editing and soundtrack by John C. Brady.


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Deleuze's "The Logic of Sense", (Chapter 9, Ninth Series of the Problematic)