Saturday, August 8, 2009

Aimless Reading: The D's, Part 16.2 (Gilles Deleuze)

Deleuze, Gilles
Expressionism
in Philosophy: Spinoza


Purchased used, for $8.50, most likely at Rust Belt Books, though I have no way to be sure. I read this book purely for pleasure, over the summer, I think, or in between semesters, when I was in graduate school. This is probably my favorite book by Deleuze, or if not my absolute favorite, it shares the honor with Nietzsche & Philosophy.

In the previous note on Bergson, I mentioned that my memory of reading Deleuze about Bergson is much stronger than my memory of reading Bergson. After reading Expressionism in Philosophy, which is mostly a reading of Spinoza's Ethics, I ran out and bought a copy of the latter, which to this day I find completely unreadable. In other words, all I know about Spinoza is what Deluze says about Spinoza, which is fine--I happen to like what Deleuze says about Spinoza.

To think about infinity, which, regardless of whether it is called "infinity," or a "plane of immanence," or "God," cannot ever be visualized, and yet trying to visualize it, and having one's visualizations collapse in upon themselves, to completely fail to render anything approaching the concept itself in any kind of comprehensive way, I find very pleasing. Every time I read a book by Deleuze, or, say Borges, I discover this pleasure again.

I would like to fly on a plane of immanence.

I would like to walk across a plain of imminence.

Something is bound to happen.

from Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza:

The significance of Spinozism seems to me this: it asserts immanence as a principle and frees expression from any subordination to emanative or exemplary causality. Expression itself no longer emanates, no longer resembles anything. And such a result can be obtained only within a perspective of univocity. God is cause of all things in the same sense that he is cause of himself; he produces as he formally exists, or as he objectively understands himself. He thus produces things in the very forms that constitute his own essence. But the same attributes that formally constitute God's essence contain all the formal essences of modes, and the idea of God's essence comprehends all objective essences, or all ideas. Things in general are modes of divine being, that is, they implicate the same attributes that constitute the nature of this being. Thus all likeness is univocal, defined by the presence in both cause and effect of a common property. The things that are produced are not imitations any more than their ideas are models. There is nothing exemplary even in the idea of God, since this is itself, in its formal being, also produced. Nor conversely do ideas imitate things. In their formal being they follow from the attribute of thought; and if they are representative, they are so only to the extent that they participate in an absolute power of thinking which is in itself equal to the absolute power of producing or acting. Thus all imitative or exemplary likeness is excluded from the relation of expression. God expresses himself in the forms that constitute his essence, as in the idea that reflects it. Expression characterizes both being and knowing. But only univocal being, only univocal consciousness, are expressive. Substance and modes, cause and effects, only have being and are only known through common forms that actually constitute the essence of the one, and actually contain the essence of the others.

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