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Deleuze's Logic of Sense

Lecturer: Jon Roffe

Originally Taught: Winter School 2019

This course will provide a thorough overview of one of Deleuze’s most enigmatic texts, Logique du sens (1969). While it touches on many of the themes explored in his other great works of the sixties, the Logic of Sense is also the book of Deleuze’s closest to psychoanalysis, and the one in which he develops his most extensive account of language. 

Course Schedule

Monday. Introduction. Bodies and events in the Stoics and Lewis Carroll.

After a general overview, we will introduce the broad ontology proposed in the Logic of Sense. To do so, we will draw, as Deleuze does, on the Stoic account of the relationship between bodies and events. We will also accent this account, as Deleuze also does, by introducing one of the three heroes of this ‘psychoanalytic novel’ (LS ix), Alice.

Tuesday. Five propositions on the event.

Drawing from a range of thinkers including Plato, Leibniz, and Nietzsche, Deleuze will take up and elaborate the Stoic distinction between bodies and events. We will present the outcome of this elaboration in the form of five propositions.

Wednesday. Sense and nonsense.

The third class will respond to an obvious question: what has any of this got to do with sense? Deleuze’s answer to this question will go by way of a daring interpretation of the Stoic theory of lekta or ‘sayables’.

Thursday. From the depths of the body to the surface of sense.

The first three classes present a summary of Deleuze’s ontological claims (taken in a very broad sense, as we will see). The fourth class will turn instead to the genetic moment in the analysis, and give a summary of how, for Deleuze, the capacity for meaningful speech arises from the noisy depths of the body of the infant.

Friday. An ethics of the event. Conclusion.

The final class will turn to the third main strand of the book’s argument – its ethics. While this ethics once again draws on the Stoics, its major figure is instead Joë Bousquet. A surrealist writer and poet who spent his adult life paralysed and in constant pain after suffering a spinal wound in the first world war, he nonetheless could wrote: ‘Become the man of your misfortunes; learn to embody their perfection and brilliance’. Central here, for Bousquet and for us all in Deleuze’s view, is the ethical work of counter-actualisation.

Readings: selections from the Logic of Sense will be set for each class, along with one additional secondary piece. All of these will be provided.

Difficulty level: intermediary to advanced. While the classes will not presuppose any particular knowledge about Deleuze or his influences, the material is of a challenging difficulty.