king’s lead hat

One reason why I’m having trouble making sense of The Logic of Sense has to do with the fact that Deleuze doesn’t seem to be following one argument through this text; rather, each successive chapter seems to build on the logic of the prior chapter in a way that recalls the denotative series that Deleuze writes about in the Fifth Series: “In short, given a proposition which denotes a state of affairs, one may always take its sense as that which another proposition denotes” (29). I’m not sure that recognizing this has helped me make better sense of the text, but I did want to note that I see the structure at work all the same.

That said, I want to devote some energy to trying to make sense of Deleuze by situating him into some of our other readings, in particular, I want to try and see where Deleuze might work as a way to think through Plato’s and Socrates’s relationship to the sophists.

Plainly, Deleuze has some reservations about Platonism, esp. its emphasis on ideal forms and the forms’ relationship to truth; at one point, he offers a critique of “depressive Platonism: the Good is reached only as the object of a reminiscence, uncovered as essentially veiled; the One gives only what it does not have, since it is superior to what it gives, withdrawn into its height” (191). What I find interesting, though, is his response to these misgivings; rather than an outright dismissal of Platonism, Deleuze can be seen to work toward a conflation of Platonic, pre-Soractic, and Stoic philosophy. For Deleuze, this work takes the effect of drawing attention away from the Platonic fixation on height and depth and instead insisting on the transcendental surface; depth becomes of interest primarily “by means of its power to organize surfaces and to envelop itself within surfaces” (124). While it might be easy to dismiss this as a philosophical response to the reality of biological development (in which membranes are formed outside and then folded inside the increasingly complex organism), Deleuze insists on the contiguous relationship between physical and metaphysical surfaces: “And, to the physics of surfaces a metaphysical surface necessarily corresponds. Metaphysical surface (transcendental field) is the name that will be given to the frontier established, on the one hand, between bodies taken together as a whole and inside the limits which envelop them, and on the other, propositions in general” (125). Deleuze flattens to a single surface the Platonic cosmogony of bodies and forms; in Deleuze, bodies are not imperfect realizations of an abstract Idea(l) but are rather the actualizations of their own potential forms as events and singularities.

For me, then, this leaves Deleuze in the space of recuperating Isocrates’s philosophy-rhetoric. Deleuze notes that “the pre-Socratic philosopher does not leave the cave; on the contrary, he thinks that we are not involved enough or sufficiently engulfed therein” (128). In other words, we need to be more involved with the shadows and surfaces that flit before us in the cave; if we are to make them productive and useful for the definition of our own characters, Deleuze seems to suggest, we must ignore the Platonic voice at the mouth of the cave, calling us outward. We must instead recognize our own shadow-surface and make what we can of that.

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