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What is a Logic of Sense? Deleuze with Frege, Carnap and Quine


Speaker: Paul Livingston , UNM, Department of Philosophy

When: Mar 23, 2018 - 02:00pm - 04:00pm

Where: Mitchell Hall, room 122



Abstract: In the opening sections of his 1969 The Logic of Sense, Gilles Deleuze argues for a theory of the sense of propositions as the underlying and necessarily presupposed substratum of their objective reference, their inferential or deductive significance within a language as a whole, and their expressive meaning or intentionality when uttered or asserted by a speaker.  On Deleuze’s argument, sense, as thus understood, must be liminal in that it cannot be attributed simply either to language or to extra-linguistic reality, differential in that it accounts for the identity and stability of meaning only on the basis of a prior structure of difference, self-presuppositional in that it is always-already “there” prior to any act of conventional institution or stipulation of meaning, and finally ontologically paradoxical: a “nonexisting entity” logically occupying the essentially contradictory space of the ontico-ontological differentiation between being and things.  Deleuze’s arguments for each of these features turn essentially on the elaboration of a series of essential paradoxes of signification or meaning which thereby comprise, as he argues, a comprehensive, positive, and paradoxical theory of sense.  As I argue, each of these paradoxes is at least implicit in Frege’s original 1892 account of the sense and reference of linguistic expressions, and several of them subsequently play an essential and explicit role in the motivation of Carnap’s account of linguistic sense as founded in conventions of logical syntax, as well as the development of Quine’s increasingly radical critique of that view.  This points, as I argue, to the hitherto unexamined possibility of a positive theory that takes fully into account Quine’s arguments against Frege’s and Carnap’s views of sense, while nevertheless providing a more realist alternative to his own ontological and explanatory eliminativism about it.