Kant: mysticism and
The previous chapter identified and analysed a phenomenon which I called 'the economy of mysticism'. I was concerned there to see in what ways deconstruction could illuminate the workings of mystical discourse. Rather than being a restricted economy framed by positive theology, negative theology is, I argued, also a general economy which underwrites positive theology. At the beginning of my discussion, however, I suggested that deconstruction could clarify how negative theology works within philosophy; and this suggestion answers to a more commonly acknowledged framing of mysticism as philosophy's 'other'. We could doubtless trace this framing of mysticism back past Russell and Wittgenstein to Leibniz and indeed back to a certain layer of Plato's text; but I wish instead to examine the point at which the full force of this distinction is felt, and that requires us to dwell upon the thought of Immanuel Kant.
Our examination will proceed along two lines, for we cannot discuss the distinction between philosophy and mysticism in any detail without also considering the economy of mysticism. So far I have considered this economy at work in theological discourse; now, though, I shall trace its more covert operations in Kant's philosophy. Whatever else it does, the Kantian transcendental consciousness performs a hermeneutic function of great force and consequence: it interprets representations according to its own rules, leaving the realm of presence outside hermeneutic inquiry. With respect to both philosophy and religion this hermeneutic systematically relegates mystical experience, as Kant conceives it, to a marginal position. Yet this exclusion, I shall argue, has a peculiar effect upon Kant's system. In denying mystical experience Kant's hermeneutic simultane-