ON THE PREFACE TO LOGIC OF SENSE (1): intuitive logic and its figurations


Deleuze as a philosopher is interested in the new and in the creation of concepts. So we can know from the title of LOGIC OF SENSE that in this book Deleuze will be proposing a new concept of logic, or a new philosophical logic, and a new concept of sense. The logic will be a non-standard logic suspending or relativising some or all of the rules of classical logic, and sense will be developed outside the familiar philosophical and logical schemas. Both logic and concept will be paradox-based: sense is a paradoxical « non-existent » entity, requiring a paradoxical logic


LOGIC OF SENSE is composed of thirty-four chapters, or « series of paradoxes » (and five appendices). These chapters correspond to roughly the number of classes in a weekly seminar over an academic year, and so the book expresses an « ideal seminar » (to cite Badiou’s term for the succession of chapters in his THEORY OF THE SUBJECT), irrespective of whether the chapters were delivered as actual lessons or not.


Deleuze’s method in LOGIC OF SENSE is that of dramatisation, the telling of dramatised stories in which conceptual characters (here called « figures ») are involved in logical and topological, rather than historical or personalistic, dramas: 

« Thus to each series there correspond figures which are not only historical, but topological and logical as well ».

The « points » (or singularities) in one figure’s series refer to (literally « send back to », a back and forth movement, including future reference, is meant) the points in another figure’s series, repeating not the content but the logical and topological form, leaping over the merely chronological distances:

« As on a pure surface, certain points of one figure in a series refer to the points of another figure ».


The Preface is titled « From Lewis Carroll to the Stoics », and it contains the first iteration of this back and forth movement, which becomes even more explicit in Series 01 « the paradoxes of pure becoming ». The move involves a leap back to Lewis Carroll. Given his interest in the new, this means that Deleuze considers that Carroll has introduced a new logical and conceptual formalism that he is going to make explicit.

Deleuze then leaps from Lewis Carroll to the Stoics, by way of Plato, Socrates, and the Pre-socratics. The Stoics provide us with the philosophical means to formalise what is implicitly at stake in Carroll’s novels. Historically separated, the Stoics and Carroll are logically and topologically related in virtue of the theory and practice of the paradoxes of sense. They « resonate » with each other across the temporal gap, their relation is « untimely » in Deleuze’s sense.


For Heidegger The Germans are the « metaphysical people » as were the Ancient Greeks before them. He leaps back to Holderlin and the Pre-Socratics, whereas Deleuze is less concerned with a grand narrative of decline. He leaps back to Lewis Carroll for « the first great account…of the paradoxes of sense », that is first great inventory of these paradoxes. He then proceeds to the second leap, this time within the history of philosophy, to the Stoics, for having been the first to propose « the paradoxical constitution of a theory of sense ». The Stoics provide the explicitating theory of what is at work in Carroll’s literary practice.

In both cases, Deleuze and Heidegger, the leap back in to the past is in favour of a futural thought, of a logic that it yet to come to full articulation. It is a paradoxical leap that can be expressed in the formula « back to the future ».


Deleuze is ready to follow his paradoxical logic of events and becomings on a pure surface wherever it takes him., in view of explicating the play of sense and non-sense, a chaos-cosmos ». To each fine-tuned and orderly cosmos there corresponds its own deviant and disorderly « chaos », its particular « shadow » cosmos,

For Deleuze the superiority of Anglo-American literature over French literature lies in its espousal of  becomings, just as English humour, in particular as expressed in children’s tales and nonsense, is the art of events, and the Stoics save us from the exclusivity of the pre-Socratic depths and the Platonic heights by means of their logic of the surface.

In other words, « incipience » and « futurality » are not to be found in a great Heideggerian leap back to the origins, but in a series of untimely leaps into the ever-co-present counter-traditions that insist within our history.


In the preface, Deleuze praises Carroll’s « logical and linguistic formalism » and endorses its exemplarity. As in the case of Carroll’s novels, Deleuze’s creative repetition of Carroll and the Stoics does not give us a fully explicit formalisation of the logic immanent to their works. In his LOGIC OF SENSE Deleuze provides us with a philosophical « making it explicit » (in Robert Brandom’s sense) of a mostly implicit, immanent logical formalism. Deleuze too is constantly giving logical and linguistic indications in his texts, and we can see his implicit conceptual formalism at work throughout his oeuvre.


Deleuze in accordance with his method of dramatisation seeks first a literary presentation of the themes that he considers important for his contemporary context and problem situation. Surrounded by new perspectives in ethnology, linguistics, psychoanalysis, literature, painting, cinema, militancy Deleuze makes an intemporal, « untimely », leap back to Lewis Carroll, where he finds

« the first great mise en scène [dramatisation] of the paradoxes of sense ».

By appealing to Lewis Carroll’s novels Deleuze is implicitly telling us that the logic he is seeking to make explicit is both an imaginative logic and a logic of the image. LOGIC OF SENSE prefigures not only the imaginal style of ANTI-OEDIPUS but also the image-encounters of his two CINEMA books. For Deleuze philosophy is not about finding illustrations and applications of its theses and ideas from other domains, but about « encounters » – and it must be kept clearly in mind that these encounters are noetic.


The philosopher is embarked on an experimental creation of concepts. An essential part of this conceptual (but also affective and perceptual) experimentation is the creation of a problematic field within which noetic encounters are possible and deploy their sense. Deleuze encounters Carroll’s literary experimentation as a series of (non-)logical investigations of the paradoxes of sense, and so seeks a way of approaching these paradoxes through the means appropriate to philosophy.

Note: I use the word « (non-)logical » to indicate both the continuity (logical) and the difference (non-logical) of Deleuze’s new logic with traditional logic, on the analogy of non-Euclidean geometry.

Deleuze ties his investigation to a new, i.e. non-standard logic that he finds in at work in Carroll and theorised in the Stoics. He does not expound this logic in the form of an explicit logical or mathematical formalism, but chooses to tell a story, to express his new logic in intuitive form, as a « logical and psychoanalytical novel ».

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