Reading notes: Deleuze’s Empiricism and Subjectivity, Chapter 4

Religion brings together everything we have outlined about general rules. Four kinds of general rules: extensive and corrective rules of passions and knowledge.

Two poles of “religious feeling” (source in passions but is not itself a passion)

Pole                 Source
polytheism       qualities of passions: diverse and irreducible
theism               modes of association: unity of nature
(which resemblance/causality guarantee)

Religion is, in each of these cases, a system of extensive rules; not naturally determined but a subject of historical study. Polytheistic gods: extension/reflection of passions; their heaven is our imagination…this is characteristic of extensive rule b/c it confuses essential and accidental. Such confusion defines superstition and idolatry.

Idolaters: people of artificial lives, making essence out of extraordinary – “Such souls throw themselves voluntarily into criminal adventures, because their common denominator is that moral acts are not enough for them. Morality is joyless – after all, morality is not picturesque; prestige belongs to vice…” (74).

Theism: also system of extensive rules, but extension is an affair of knowledge; religion is an overstride of the imagination/fiction/simulacrum of belief. Repetition via language (not observation), proof of God based on analogy or causality (all of which is fictitious). Remedies lack by invoking unknown effects, future life especially.

No physical objects or objects of repetition except in the world: the world as such is Unique; a fiction of the imagination, never an object of understanding. Theory of causality: there are determinations of the conditions of legitimate exercise in relation to experience, and critique of illegitimate exercise outside experience (75).

What about correction in religion? Miracle subordinated to knowledge (testimony for and against). But in moral/cultural world, corrective rules recognize exceptions and include them. Example of suicide as a power which should be used in exceptional circumstances.

In religion, is there anything left after correction? Nothing is left of miracle when it turns into knowledge. Cultural/moral elements (extensions) – commerce, art, etc. – have own positivity reinforced by corrections. But H seems to exclude religion from culture. In religion, words consecrate object, but in social/cultural world, words change nature of actions related to other objects.

In terms of passions, religion keeps only frivolity at the expense of seriousness (no established associations but instead pure fancy). Religion is only fanciful usage of association, resemblance, and causality.

Still, is there anything left? “To believe in miracles is a false belief, but it also a true miracle” (76) – “a determination to belief what is contrary to custom and experience” (H’s words). SO religion is justified, outside of culture and knowledge. Philosophy has nothing to say about the creation of the principles, those are of God (Nature?), so we can not use them to interrogate world as divine creation. So in this sense, theism is valid and purpose exists. Purpose: “the original agreement between the principles of human nature and nature itself” (77).

Purpose as originary unity of origin and qualification…all knowledge thereof is mutilated parts of this whole. It cannot be reduced to intention.

Already seen two fictitious uses of principle of causality:

  1. repetitions that do not proceed from experience (but language, for example)
  2. a particular object (the world) which cannot be repeated

There is also a third:

  1. fictitious/excessive manifested on the belief in distinct/continuous bodies

On one hand: We attribute continuous existence via a causality grounded in coherence of certain impressions (even though they are discontinuous). A fictional inference w/ causal reasoning that is extensive (meaning that it pushes perception forward). “[I] confer to the object more coherence and regularity than what I find in my perception” (78).

On the other: distinct existence rests on equally false (fictitious, contradictory) use of causality. We affirm casual relation btwn obj and our perception thereof, forgetting that causality is legitimized when experience reveals conjunction of two entities. So both continuity and distinctness are fictions/illusions of the imagination since they involve what cannot be offered to possible experience (via senses or understanding).

Imagination always uses contiguity, resemblance, causality (principles which fix it)…so coherence of changes causes it to “feign yet more coherence” (79) in continuous existence vs. perceptions that resemble one another…as opposed to general rules, it cannot and should not be corrected.

Extensive rules distinguished from belief in existence of bodies by two characteristics:

  1. object of extensive rules is a particular determination to which imagination confers value of a law. Imagination does not present continuous or distinct existence as object of possible experience; nor does understanding denounce its use by imagination as object of false experience.
  2. Fiction becomes a principle of human nature. Principles transform multiplicity into a system of knowledge and its objects. But this requires perceptions to be regarded as separate from mind, and objects to have their own independent (from perception) existence. So principles of association, vividness of impressions, and belief do not suffice to make up for an interruption.

System is completed w/ identity between system and the world, but system is product of principles of nature, and world is a fiction (a necessary one, a principle too).

  1. in case of general rules, fiction’s origin and force are in imagination
  2. in terms of belief of continuity, fiction is force of a principle

With the notion of the World, the imagination has become constitutive and creative – World is an idea. The principle here is belief in the existence of bodies. It has several moments (81). But continuous existence is easily reconciled w/ discontinuity of appearances. The attribution of continuous existence hides illegitimate use of principles and this opposition is at the center of the imagination.

It is established btwn extension/reflection, imagination/reason, sense/understanding. What was opposition becomes contradiction. Imagination as a principle is opposed to the principles which fix it and functions that correct it.

As a principle it cannot be included, corrected, or eliminated…we need a new relation btwn extension and reflection, a philosophy that “affirms distinct and independent existences” (82).

This is not reconciliation, but persistence of contradiction. It is delirium …w/ fiction as a principle, reflection cannot correct and “is thus thrown into delirious compromises” (83).

Now, from perspective of philosophy, mind is essentially delirium and madness. The analytical choice is not between principles of association or fiction, but both: we either get false reason or none at all – this is the state of madness. We cannot separate reason from the delirium that underpins it. Understanding is therefore exclusively corrective, correcting its corrections…all certainty, even practical certainty is compromised/lost.

So indifference/fancy are proper states of mind. Madness is contradiction between its principles which affect it and affirm it as principle. Delirium is system of fictional reconciliations between principles (of assoc) and fiction. Only positivity is moral practice (integration) and the practice of understanding. Must descend to madness and correct. “In short, there is no science of life except at the level of general rules and belief” (84).

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