Univocal Ontology

Being, according to Deleuze, is univocal. Taken in this strict sense, what is conceived as diverse individuating differences in the world are in fact mere modes of a single and same being. As Deleuze argues, “Being is the same for all these modalities, but these modalities are not the same” (Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, p. 36). The essence of univocal being, as such, does not change in spite of the extrinsic individualities it includes. What is more, the univocity of being is not posited in spite of these differences but is precisely these differences. Or what is the same thing, being is difference.

Difference, in this case, is essentially and directly present in all things. By this Deleuze does not mean that everything participates the same way in being but, what is more profound, that being resides equally in all things. The univocity of being, furthermore, implies that the distribution of difference is not received by analogy but is wholly integral to and acts within all things as a transcendental principle. Particular existents, consequently, are animated only insofar as this life-giving force exists within them, but the clamor of being is just as likely to sustain actual entities as it is to liquefy them.

As Deleuze puts it, the univocity of being, which is directly associated with difference itself, acts “as a plastic, anarchic and nomadic principle, contemporaneous with the process of individuation, no less capable of dissolving and destroying individuals than of constituting them temporarily” (p. 38). So while the originary intensive depth of difference is the necessary condition for different modalities of being to come to be at all, it is also the tumultuous and restless power underneath all perceptible calm that overwhelms existent entities beyond the threshold of equilibrium and into oblivion.

Unique individual differences, in sum, are modes of a single, universal and infinite substance. This transcendental principle or univocal being is not re-present-able as such, but continually circulates and communicates as a virtual force within and beneath all apparent forms and matters. Univocal being is, in effect, “indifferent to the distinction between the finite and the infinite, the singular and the universal, the created and the uncreated” (p. 39). That is to say, the ground and the grounded, the condition and the conditioned, the determination and the determined, are all enveloped in a unique singular univocal being.

Of all places, The Economist recently published an article outlining some contemporary research being done on this very notion of univocal being. In contrast to the now commonsensical wisdom “that the universe popped out of nowhere about 13.7 billion years ago”, and more popularly known in theological circles as creatio ex nihilo, some scientists are now arguing that there is no single or originary beginning, but an indeterminate amount of beginnings or becomings.

Roger Penrose, of Oxford University, believes that the Big Bang in which the visible universe began was not actually the beginning of everything. It was merely the latest example of a series of such bangs that renew reality when it is getting tired out. More importantly, he thinks that the pre-Big Bang past has left an imprint on the present that can be detected and analysed, and that he and a colleague in Armenia have found it.

The full article can be found on The Economist’s website here.

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One response to “Univocal Ontology”

  1. Viro de Graphe-Matician says :

    From Akhenaton declaring the sun to be the one God Aton, via Plato’s crypto-monotheism of the Allegory of the Cave, Zoroastrianism’s prayers to the god Ahura Mazda in the presence of the one sun, Hebrew’s God as the sun and the shield, the face of Jesus shining like a sun, and therefrom on and on. So many philosophers included.

    Admiring your blog and your writings, I will still ask you a question: would all here mentioned, Spinoza and Deleuze included, contend the one, the indivisible, and the univocal, if, by chance, we had two or more visible suns? After all, a great many stars are part of multiple star system, with two or more stars serving as suns to any planets in the system. Should one not ponder such a simple, but, in my opinion, highly effective problem?

    Best,
    Viro de Graphe-Matician

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