Immanence

Immanence – Wikipedia has an article on this, and the first paragraph of it is pretty much how I read “immanence” in philosophy in general, if “divine” is changed to “real/Being/truth.” I think this article misunderstands the whole issue, however, restricting a search for an immanent/material basis for everything into a mere theological debate. But, hey, it’s a pretty good start:

Immanence refers to philosophical and metaphysical theories of divine presence, in which the divine [truth] is seen to be manifested in or encompassing the material world. It is often contrasted with theories of transcendence, in which the divine [truth] is seen to be outside the material world [or after it].

Also, there is Deleuze’s whole oeuvre, which I don’t pretend to understand as a whole, though I think I get the “feel” of Deleuzian immanence/surface/sign (math; sex as literal fact, as energy), opposed to classical metaphysics’ transcendent telos/signified (God)/signifier (Freudian reading of sexuality). Here’s Standford’s take (#2, Deleuze on Kant/immanence/identity), my emphasis:

Deleuze attacks Hegel and others in the identitarian tradition first of all by means of a radicalized reading of Kant, whose genius, as Deleuze explains in Kant’s Critical Philosophy (1963), was to have conceived of a purely immanent critique of reason—a critique that did not seek “errors” of reason produced by external causes, but rather “illusions” that arise from within reason itself by the illegitimate (transcendent) uses of the syntheses of consciousness. Deleuze characterized his own work as a philosophy of immanence, arguing that Kant himself had failed to realize fully the ambitions of his critique, for at least two reasons.

First, Kant made the field of consciousness immanent to a transcendental subject, thereby reintroducing an element of identity that is transcendent (that is, external) to the field itself, and reserving all power of synthesis (that is, identity-formation) in the field to the activity of the always already unified and transcendent subject. (Deleuze was influenced in this regard by his reading of Sartre’s 1937 essay “The Transcendence of the Ego.”) Already in his Hume book, Empiricism and Subjectivity (1953), Deleuze had pointed to an empiricist reversal of Kant. Where Kant’s question had been “How can the given be given to a subject?” Hume’s question had been “How is the subject (human nature) constituted within the given?”

In his mature work, Deleuze argues for an “impersonal and pre-individual” transcendental field in which the subject as identity pole which produces empirical identities by active synthesis is itself the result or product of differential passive syntheses (for instance, in what Deleuze calls the syntheses of habit, we find bodily, desiring, and unconscious “contractions” which unify a series of experiences, extracting that which it to be retained in the habit and allowing the rest to be “forgotten”). The passive syntheses responsible for subject formation must be qualified as “differential,” for three reasons. Each passive synthesis is serial, never singular (there is never one synthesis by itself, but always a series of “contractions,” that is to say, experience is ongoing and so our habits require constant “updating”); each series is related to other series in the same body (at the most basic level, for instance, the series of taste contractions is related to those of smell, sight, touch, hearing and proprioception); and each body is related to other bodies, which are themselves similarly differential (the series of syntheses of bodies can resonate or clash). Together the passive syntheses at all these levels form a differential field within which subject formation takes place as an integration or resolution of that field; in other words, subjects are roughly speaking the patterns of these multiple and serial syntheses which fold in on themselves producing a site of self-awareness.

Meaning the position of “subject” does not appeal to a transcendent, unified, singular identity; “subject” is always contingent.

This is in keeping with D&G’s analysis of psychoanalysis and capitalism vis-á-vis one another; capitalism perfects the movement of desire (energy, libido) by internalizing the signifier, effectively eliminating “out-there” transcendence (since each of us produces our own transcendent Oedipal “father”/capitalist) and keeping all desire immanent at every point, fungible (as capital) with everything. Immanence here provides a double opportunity for capitalism to exploit us and for humanity to push capitalism to its breaking point (“schizophrenia”), leaving us ultimately in control of our own immanence, free of transcendence (telos/God/the Father). The challenge then becomes to rid ourselves of our individual transcendences, to stop “realizing” God is dead and simply move on.

Also, Stanford has an article on causation that is at times brutally/hilariously simple (though also restricted to a very specific question), my emphasis of the first sentence:

The main argument for immanence is that only immanent entities can interact. This argument is nicely summarized by one of its opponents, Bennett: “Some people have objected that facts are not the sort of item that can cause anything. A fact is a true proposition (they say); it is not something in the world but is rather something about the world, which makes it categorically wrong for the role of a puller and shover and twister and bender.” (1988, p. 22; see also Hausman 1998) According to the pushing argument, only concrete spatiotemporal entities can be causes and effects.

Also, here’s a quotation from my favorite Bataille text that gets at immanence vis-á-vis technics:

Within the limits of continuity, everything is spiritual; there is no opposition of the mind and the body. But the positing of world of mythical spirits and the supreme value it receives are naturally linked to the definition of the mortal body as being opposed to the mind.

The difference between the mind and the body is by no means the same as that between continuity (immanence) and the object. In the first immanence, no difference is possible before the positing of the manufactured tool. Likewise, with the positing of the subject on the plane of objects (of the subject–object), the mind is not yet distinct from the body.

Only starting from the mythical representation of autonomous spirits does the body find itself on the side of things, insofar as it is not present in sovereign spirits. The real world remains as a residuum of the birth of the divine world: real animals and plants separated from their spiritual truth slowly rejoin the empty objectivity of tools; the mortal body is gradually assimilated to the mass of things.

Insofar as it is spirit, the human reality is holy, but it is profane insofar as it is real. Animals, plants, tools, and other controllable things form a real world with the bodies that control them, a world subject to and traversed by divine forces, but fallen. (38)

—Georges Bataille, Theory of Religion.

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