---- by Claire Colebrook
  According to one of Deleuze's most important critics, Alain Badiou, 'univocity' is the central concept of Deleuze's project. In Difference and Repetition, Deleuze describes an alternative history of philosophy comprising those philosophers daring enough to think of being as univocal: John Duns Scotus, Baruch Spinoza and Friedrich Nietzsche. If philosophy has been dominated by Platonism, this is because being has been deemed to be equivocal: only one being truly is, while other beings are dependent, secondary, either not truly substances or different types of substance. Mind is elevated above matter; original is elevated above copy; the actual is the privileged and proper locus of the potential; only the actual is real or proper being, while the potential cannot be said to be in the same sense. Against this equivocity, Deleuze argues for univocity: no event or phenomenon is more real than any other. There is only one being: perceptions, anticipations, memories and fictions are as real as atoms, universals, concepts or bodies. From his history of univocal philosophers, Deleuze emphasises three revolutionary ideas.
  From Duns Scotus, Deleuze insists that only with univocity can there be real difference. If there is only one being then we cannot relate differences - say, differences of colour - as differences of some grounding neutral being, a being which is, and which then has secondary or less real qualities. Rather, each difference is fully real: each shade of a colour, each fleck of light, each sound or affect is fully real and therefore different in itself, not merely a different way in which some other subtending being is grasped. From Spinoza's univocity, Deleuze articulates the concept of immanence. If there is only one substance then there cannot be a creating God outside creation; the divine is nothing outside its expression. Mind and matter are, accordingly, not two distinct substances; nor does one depend on or derive from the other. Mind and matter are attributes of the one divine substance and each body - such as a human body - is just one expression or mode of the attribute of mind and the attribute of matter.
  There is not some transcendent being which then creates or grounds different beings, beings that can be said to be only by analogy. Each being is fully real and is so because it just is the expression of the divine substance, which is nothing outside its expressions. Immanence follows from univocity precisely because the commitment to one substance precludes any point outside being; everything that is is equally, possessing full reality.
  From Nietzsche, Deleuze's favoured philosopher of univocity, Deleuze affirms the concept of 'eternal return'. There is only one being but this does not mean that there cannot be radically new events and futures. On the contrary, eternal return and univocity preclude the idea that a state of completion or rest will ever come about.We should neither wait nor hope for a better world, nor should we imagine an apocalyptic break with this world in order to achieve a radical future. If there is only one being then all life, all futures, all events, will be actualisations of this immanent life, which in all its virtual power can continually create and differentiate new experiences. Eternal return describes a future that is positive because it repeats and affirms this life. There are two ways in which this one immanent life can be affirmed univocally. The first would be a biologist or vitalist account, whereby life could be identified with the actual, material being that already exists - nature as it is commonly understood; if this were so then futures, events and becomings would already exist in potential and would then unfold. So we could say, for example, that the potential that created William Shakespeare would, eventually, produce another Shakespeare. After all, there is only one life, and all potential would eventually be repeated. But this is where Deleuze's conception of life differs from a grounding on actual life. Imagine that we were to find some of Shakespeare's DNA and were to clone Shakespeare; we would not have a Renaissance bard who would then write Hamlet. Why? Because this would only be possible in an equivocal life, one where life in all its becoming and difference was submitted to pre-given forms, 'a Shakespeare' would have had to emerge. But because life is univocal, because there is no form, idea or principle that governs or grounds life, all we have is the potential for difference and variation. Cloning would not produce life's effects; indeed really to repeat life is to repeat creation, difference. By life Deleuze refers not to what actually is, but the virtual power from which life is unfolded. The potential that produced Shakespeare would, if it were repeated, produce as much difference and variation as the 'original'. And this is because the original life was not an actuality - something that simply was, and then had to go through time and alteration - but a 'prepersonal singularity', a power of variation that is singular because it is radically different from the stable, definable and general forms it effects. Only if we see repetition as a pale copy or resemblance do we need to think of the radically new as other than this already full life. If, however, we grasp each repetition of the world's virtual power as thoroughly new we will recognise that univocity - one life, one being yielding infinite difference - is also difference and futurity.
   § immanence

The Deleuze dictionary. . 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Univocal — U*niv o*cal, a. [L. univocus; unus one + vox, vocis, a voice, word. See {One}, and {Voice}.] 1. Having one meaning only; contrasted with {equivocal}. [1913 Webster] 2. Having unison of sound, as the octave in music. See {Unison}, n., 2. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Univocal — U*niv o*cal, n. 1. (Aristotelian Logic) A generic term, or a term applicable in the same sense to all the species it embraces. [1913 Webster] 2. A word having but one meaning. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • univocal — index definite, unambiguous Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • univocal — 1540s, from L. univocus, from uni (see UNI (Cf. uni )) + vox (see VOICE (Cf. voice)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • univocal — [yo͞o niv′ə kəl] adj. having a single, sharply defined sense or nature; unambiguous …   English World dictionary

  • univocal —    by Claire Colebrook   According to one of Deleuze s most important critics, Alain Badiou, univocity is the central concept of Deleuze s project. In Difference and Repetition, Deleuze describes an alternative history of philosophy comprising… …   The Deleuze dictionary

  • univocal — adjective /juːˈnɪvək(ə)l,ˌjuːnɪˈvoʊkəl,ˌjuːnɪˈvəʊk(ə)l/ a) Having only one possible meaning. There was really little room for debate, with a statement as univocal as that. b) Containing only one vowel. A man, a plan, a canal, Panama. contains… …   Wiktionary

  • univocal — adjective Etymology: Late Latin univocus, from Latin uni + voc , vox voice more at voice Date: 1599 1. having one meaning only 2. unambiguous < in search of a morally univocal answer > • univocally adverb …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • univocal — adj. & n. adj. (of a word etc.) having only one proper meaning. n. a univocal word. Derivatives: univocality n. univocally adv …   Useful english dictionary

  • univocal — univocally, adv. /yooh niv euh keuhl, yooh neuh voh /, adj. having only one meaning; unambiguous. [1535 45; < LL univoc(us) (uni UNI + vocus, adj. deriv. of vox, s. voc , VOICE) + AL1] * * * …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.