In the IEP entry on Deluze, there is the following:

Commenting on Lucretius, Deleuze makes the following, extremely similar, remark:

"The speculative object and the practical object of philosophy as Naturalism, science and pleasure, coincide on this point: it is always a matter of denouncing the illusion, the false infinite, the infinity of religion and all of the theologico-erotic-oneiric myths in which it is expressed. To the question ‘what is the use of philosophy?’ the answer must be: what other object would have an interest in holding forth the image of a free man, and in denouncing all of the forces which need myth and troubled spirit in order to establish their power?" (The Logic of Sense)

Deleuze’s philosophical naturalism is thus critical, Spinozist and Nietzschean

I can see how Nietzsche fits into this picture, but how does Spinoza? In his works, for example his Ethics his cosmology is firmly based on the idea of God:

By God, I mean a being absolutely infinite--that is, a substance consisting in infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality.

This does not sound as though it is dismissing the 'false infinite', but anchoring his conception of God in the infinite.

How does one resolve this inconsistency?

Earlier in the article, it says:

Indeed, for Deleuze, Spinoza combines the two things into one movement: a rejection of the transcendental in the action of creating a plane of absolute immanence upon which all that exists situate themselves.

The transcendental, seems here to be that beyond the universe, and having no connection with it; whereas making the world immanent in a neccessary substance, as Spinoza did, appears to be here Deluzes reason to regard his theory anti-transcendetal.

But, this seems to me to injure Spinozas thought in a sense, and also that much maligned word transcendetal; if only two of the infinitely many modes of the neccessary substance is cognisant to us - thought & extension; it appears then that infinitely many must be uncognisable by us in any way - if we could they would return to thought or to extension. Of course, here, one should not understand infinite in a mathematical way - as this makes the infinite cognisible, and again returning it to thought, at least in some sense.

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    Without knowing half of a single thing about Spinoza, I would draw your attention to the phrases "the false infinite" and "the infinity of religion" -- neither of which necessarily suggests that there is no true infinity. I don't know Deleuze well but I get the sense that he would have condoned a conception of the infinite as (potentially) infinite differentiation. – senderle May 28 '14 at 22:30
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    @senderle: do you say that? I suspect that it is along the right lines - can one have an infinite without differentiation? One could, I think, if one goes back to Parmenides One. – Mozibur Ullah May 28 '14 at 23:15
  • @Senderle: that should be - why do you say that? But then Deleuze is the theoretician of la differance. I suppose that ight explain his interest in the differential calculus, except that understanding is analytic; whereas the modern understanding is synthetic - ie differential geometry - aka the tangent bundle and its development. – Mozibur Ullah May 28 '14 at 23:49
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    @MoziburUllah, I'm afraid it's only a vague intuition, but I am thinking of Difference and Repetition, which I read ages and ages ago and only really half remember. – senderle May 28 '14 at 23:57
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    Your description of oega is fine as a defiition, but to find it, one requires the first axiom of infinity. Otherwise, at least formally, one cannot prove that exists. – Mozibur Ullah May 29 '14 at 10:41

Spinoza's treatment of cosmology and theology is unique in the philosophical tradition. It is certainly true that God plays an essential role throughout Spinoza's thought. He always appears, however, in the very strange form signaled by Spinoza's recurrent phrase, "God, or nature."

For Spinoza, only what is capable of independent being and cognition counts as a substance, and only the entirety of nature in its interconnections is independent in this way. He equates this infinite substance with God - all extension is the extension of God, thus the equation signaled by the phrase, “God, or nature.”

There are definitely great differences between Deleuze's thought and Spinoza's, but the affinity which is a continual source of inspiration for Deleuze is what the latter sees as a profound immanence in Spinoza's thought. God is not separate from this world and there is no separate realm to speak of.

Nonetheless, I think Deleuze plays a bit fast and loose with the history of philosophy. This one aspect of Spinoza’s thought is what he refers to when he speaks of Spinoza and Nietzsche as precursors to his philosophy of radical immanence. Of course, there are enormous differences between those two philosophers and between each of them and Deleuze. Deleuze is not making a micrological analysis of either - at least where this comparison is concerned. He is interested only in this one aspect (which is certainly a far-reaching one).

You raise an interesting point by suggesting that infinite modes could represent a kind of transcendence. It would not be the sort of transcendence which Deleuze is separating himself from here, however. Many things, according to Spinoza, are beyond the capacities of a finite creature like the individual human. Nonetheless, nothing is beyond God, and his reality is the same reality as that which contains all finite creatures (whether we know of them or not) - his substance is the same infinite substance we all are part of. There are many interesting differences one could find between Spinoza and Deleuze, but his focus is narrow when he declares himself an inheritor of Spinozistic thought.

  • Jonathan, Your grasp of the detail and relevance of Spinoza's thinking on Divinity is quite impressive. And your take on Deleuze confirms my suspicion that while he is quite capable and admirable as a thinker, somehow, something is amiss. [my take not yours]. @Jonthan Basile, regards, Charles M Saunders – Charles M Saunders Mar 31 at 14:08
  • One, typically offered definition of transcendent involves a belief or proposition which stands outside the bounds of human understanding. This appears to be Deleuze take on it and why he suggests Spinoza's 'plane of immanence'. For Spinoza virtually everything imaginable 'enfolds' into the being of god, including god. There is nothing outside of god's essence and existence. @ Mozibur Ullah CS – Charles M Saunders Apr 5 at 23:28

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