March 24, 2006

Deleuze & Guattari's Mystical Atheism

In Stephen Zepke's book Art as Abstract Machine: Ontology and Aesthetics in Deleuze & Guattari there is the following provocative statement concerning the nature of their philosophical practice:

'Mystical atheism is the real condition of Deleuze & Guattari's pragmatic philosophy. Mysticism is the experience of immanence, of the construction/expression of the at once infinite and finite material plane on which everything happens. Thus, mysticism as an experience of immanence is necessarily atheist, because it cannot involve transcendence of any kind (where to?). Atheist mysticism replaces transcendence with construction/expression, first of all as a construction of the body – atheism against asceticism, Mysticism is a physical practice: how do you make yourself a body without organs? Furthermore, mysticism is a creative practice that, whether in the realm of philosophy, art, or somewhere else, is inseparable from affirmation.' (pp. 6–7)

Zepke's view is derived in part from Deleuze's remarks on Spinoza's 'mystical atheism' in Seminar Session on Spinoza, 24 January 1978. Here, according to Zepke, Spinoza's univocal and immanent ontology implies the mystical possibility of knowing God as God knows itself, and is the condition for what Deleuze himself calls 'a kind of mystical atheist experience proper to Spinoza'.

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