Immanence and the Vertigo of Philosophy: From Kant to Deleuze

Immanence and the Vertigo of Philosophy: From Kant to Deleuze

Immanence and the Vertigo of Philosophy: From Kant to Deleuze

Immanence and the Vertigo of Philosophy: From Kant to Deleuze

Synopsis

One of the terminological constants in the philosophical work of Gilles Deleuze is the word 'immanence', and it has therefore become a foothold for those wishing to understand exactly what 'Deleuzian philosophy' is. Deleuze's philosophy of immanence is held to be fundamentally characterised by its opposition to all philosophies of 'transcendence'. On that basis, it is widely believed that Deleuze's project is premised on a return to a materialist metaphysics. Christian Kerslake arguesthat such an interpretation is fundamentally misconceived, and has led to misunderstandings of Deleuze's philosophy, which is rather one of the latest heirs to the post-Kantian tradition of thought about immanence. This will be the first book to assess Deleuze's relationship to Kantian epistemology and post-Kantian philosophy, and will attempt to make Deleuze's philosophy intelligible to students working within that tradition. But it also attempts to reconstruct our image of the post-Kantian tradition, isolating a lineage that takes shape in the work of Schelling and Wronski, and which is developed in the twentieth century by Bergson, Warrain and Deleuze.

Excerpt

One of the terminological constants in Deleuze’s philosophical work is the word ‘immanence’. That this ancient and well-travelled notion of immanence is held to have been given new life and new meaning by Gilles Deleuˇe is evidenced in much recent secondary literature on continental philosophy, as well as in recent key texts on political philosophy, such as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s turn of the millennium tome Empire, which takes up and deploys the Deleuzian theme of ‘the plane of immanence’ as a means for thinking outside of the distorted norms of contemporary capitalist society. in the rare explicit directions Deleuze gives for reading his philosophy, he often focuses on the theme of ‘immanence’. For instance, in a 1988 interview with Raymond Bellour and François Ewald, he says that ‘setting out a plane [plan] of immanence, tracing out a field of immanence, is something all the authors I’ve worked on have done, even Kant – by denouncing any transcendent application of the syntheses of the imagination’ (N 144). in Spinoza and the Problem of Expression (translated as Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza, we read how a ‘specifically philosophical concept of immanence … insinuates itself among the transcendent concepts of emanative or creationist theology’, with its own ‘specifically philosophical “danger”: pantheism or immanence’ (EPS 322). in their final major work, What Is Philosophy?, Deleuze and Guattari proclaim enigmatically that ‘it is a plane of immanence that constitutes the absolute ground of philosophy, its earth or deterritorialization, the foundation upon which it creates its concepts’ (WP 41); moreover ‘freedom exists only within immanence’ (ibid. 48). So what is ‘immanence’? What could it mean to ‘set out a plane of immanence’?

Understanding what Deleuze might mean in his uses of the term ‘immanence’ is by no means simple. On closer inspection both into this literature and into Deleuze’s writings, it becomes clear that what is at stake in Deleuze’s contribution to this term’s history is . . .

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