Gilles Deleuze The Logic of Sense: The Paradox of Regress

5 Aug

Sense being one of the main discussions in Deleuze’s book Logic of Sense, the fifth series talks about sense and why it is more than the presuppositions it leads to on a daily basis. This series in Deleuze’s book has a few paradoxes of sense in it. One being the paradox of regress. This series has difficulty in coming to understand it because of how Deleuze believes the sense to regress.

But I am all about paradoxes and understanding them.

“…I never state the sense of what I am saying. But on the other hand, I can always take the sense of what I say as the object of another proposition whose sense, in turn, I cannot state. I thus enter into the infinite regress of that which is presupposed” (Deleuze).  Deleuze state the sense to be not which is discussed out in front, but it is what is presupposed in any discussion on any issue. The sense that is used in any proposition/statement is not needed to be brought into discussion even if it is dominant in everything. Because the sense is so widespread, the sense of one proposition reaches the boundaries of other propositions, although the sense of this proposition is different and cannot be stated because of the fact that it is a different sphere of knowledge and propositions. Because of how the sense is presupposed in all propositions, it becomes ambiguous (?) creating the inability to actually state the sense of the other propositions that the sense for the discussed proposition had also.  “This regress testifies both to the great impotence of the speaker and to the highest power of language…” (Deleuze).  I state this quote because the high power of language contributes to this infinite regress of the sense, and the infinite regress of the sense causes a lot of the impotence of the speaker. “In short, given a proposition which denotes a state of affairs, one may always take its sense as that which another proposition denotes.” (Deleuze).  I quote Deleuze so much in this writing because no one can put this infinite regress better than he did. Deleuze states this paradox to be Frege’s paradox (other writings on Frege on this website, not on language but on logic in the ~F Logic page found in the above right). Deleuze again refers to Alice to exemplify in a real example this infinite regression.  Alice speaks with the Knight about a song he intends to sing. He states the name of the song to be Haddock’s Eyes,  where the Knight responds by saying that that is what the name of the song is called. With more discussion, the name of the song is called The Aged Aged Man. The song is then said to be ‘called’  The Ways and Means. With more discussion, the song ‘is’ A sitting on a Gate. The names (Aged Aged Man, Ways and Means, A sitting on a Gate, and Haddock’s Eyes) vary about the same song because of sense and how it reaches from statement to statement while ambiguously varying. One name is ‘what the song is called’, another is ‘what the name of the song is called’, another is what the song ‘is’. The same song being discussed is presupposed to have one name, but it has many different names when it is concerned what of the song is discussed. The talking between Alice and the Knight is stated by Deleuze to not be the infinite regression discussed, but it is finite in the fact that they get to understanding what the song is. Infinite regression (could even happen with the song, Alice and the Knight’s discussion could go on forever if they keep bringing up propositions about the same song varying because of the same sense that occurs in all of them) occurs when you do not come to a finite conclusion because different aspects of the same thing bring up different propositions because of the ambiguous outsretching sense that occurs in everything in existence. Sense cannot be defined and stated outright in a single proposition because it is not a state of affairs or an object, it is a quality and a feature that occurs in all states of affairs and objects because of the sense humans have. I explain this detailedly because I think (Deleuze also thought) that this infinite regression of sense being from our perception is a part of the power of language and contributes to the fact that language is not advanced enough to represent and state wholly our thoughts and ideas. This infinite regression is the clear reason for the faults language has when comparing it to our thoughts, and is the reason for the (unfortunate) enormous power language has over all. If sense was more simple and fathomable philosophy and linguistics would not be necessary (much science wouldn’t be necessary either) because we would easily be able to understand the world around us. I believe that God intentionally made sense this way so that we would seek him out and trust him with our lives, and so that we would know that we have to wait to get to Heaven to understand God’s works and everything else. Sense not having this infinite regression would defeat the purpose of our lives because of the fact that our purpose of life is to find the Lord and to seek salvation in him. If we knew everything we would all be  followers of the Lord which would be against what God wants for this world and His followers. We are all here together to sort through the nonsense of this world and find Him. There are reasons we are not able to know some of the things around us. God made it that way so that we would seek something to trust in. People respond to this worldly ambiguity by seeking God, atheism/agnosticism, solipsism/neutral monism, and other things. Solipsism and neutral monism (by Wittgenstein) are obviously (as stated in previous writings on this website), not the way to seek truth in the world. We can seek truth in the world, but we must know that we cannot know everything, and we must turn to faith for the rest.

If you feel anything I said above is wrong/fallacious, @reply on Twitter, email at, or comment below.

Thanks for the support.


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