Deleuze God


What does God, or rather the idea of God, look like in Deleuze’s system of philosophy? Mostly like nothing at all. God doesn’t appear in the main body of the book on Foucault. Instead, God appears in the appendix which is a historical survey. As described in Foucault, the force of infinity, the classical, 17th century idea of God is the “unfold” of human finitude. All the human forces are raised to infinity, allowing the human person to emerge “only between categories of infinity” (p.73).

 “Unfold” is a peculiar usage for Deleuze. His thought has as its focus “the fold,” not “the unfold.” God would be the unfolding of the human person, leaving the latter lost and tossed about in infinity, trying to find a place, the place of an inside, the finite inside or the other side of the infinite outside. In the 17th century conception, the more perfect power will pass through the human element. The forces within “man” carry over into a relation with “forces from the outside.” (p.100) The baroque God is described as “the universal explanation and supreme unfolding.” (p.101)

Not-metaphysical, this outside is the outside of an inside, or rather the other side of the same single line, or plane of immanence. This idea is indebted as much to Feuerbach as to Spinoza.  It is the former about whom Deleuze says he owes the idea that “God has never been anything but the unfold of man,” and also the consequent idea that “man must fold and refold God” (p.103).

Deleuze calls these ideas “classical,” but he means the 17th century, which means baroque. The degree to which they might be our own depends upon the degree to which our own age is ne0-baroque. Ultimately this means deciding the difference between the substance monism of Spinoza and the substance pluralism of Leibniz. What I love about Deleuze is that he always give you something with which to work.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
This entry was posted in uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Deleuze God

  1. dmf says:

    some thoughts by a student of Deleuze’s on recent theological speculations:

  2. Dean says:

    Would you be able to draw some similarities or differences between Deleuze and Rosenzweig? I’ve been trying to locate a venn diagram of sorts with regard to their metaphysics these days, but I’m working with pretty choppy material having been knee-deep in other research.

    • zjb says:

      hi Dean: i’ve been thinking a little about Deleuze and Buber, setting them as polar opposites. my bet is that Deleuze and Rosenzweig are as wel pretty antithetical. Rosenzweig’s an acosmic and theocentric thinker. i think the most serious point of convergence would be around the time image discussed by Deleuze in Cinema 2. for my money, the best book on Deleuze and revelation would be Gail Hamner’s book on religion and film, which build off Deleuze in very important ways.

      • Dean says:

        Hello! Thanks a lot for your reply. If you’ve got the time, I might press you a bit, only because my knowledge of both of them is just limited enough to be dangerously wrong. I’m personally attracted to both Deleuze and Rosenzweig. Difference and Repetition seems to be not too far off the mark of the kind of ontology Rosenzweig is after. I say that keeping in mind the commitments of Rosenzweig to a kind of vision of the world that is an amalgamation of total singularities (maybe a bit like Liebniz?). I’m getting that picture of Rosenzweig from the User’s Guide to the Star of Redemption by Samuelson. Granted, at bottom, there are severe differences–Deleuze will always be working from a plane of immanence while Rosenzweig appears to be dead set on a kind of transcendence, so there will of course be a necessarily creative reappropriation on one side or the other, but because I’m so attracted to both of them I’m set on trying to integrate them into something workable. And because I’m so committed to Kierkegaard in the end (he’s where I’m coming from), I retain these sneaking suspicions that a common soil like Kierkegaard (and Nietzsche) would allow for some interesting parallels.

        Of course, like I said, I know just enough to be dangerously wrong–and I very well might be. What do you think?

Leave a Reply