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Althusser with Deleuze: How to think immanent causality?

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In the 1960s Althusser put the problem of immanent causality at the centre of his operation to render Marxs thought philosophically precise by separating it from its evolutionistic, anthropocentric and speculative elements. In my paper, I suggest that the question of immanent causality remains to be, until the late writings, a site of fracture in Althussers thought, one marked by unstable and changing terminology. By reading Althusser with Deleuze, I attempt at showing both the theoretical wager and the inconsistencies characterising Althussers understanding of the immanent cause in Spinoza. Althusser and Deleuze agree on the hypothesis that the question of immanence cannot be posed by simply opposing immanence to transcendence, but hinges on examining how quasi-transcendent questions about the event, the excess of being, the difference between reproductive and productive repetition can be thought immanently. It is a matter of grasping a kind of transimmanence in immanent terms. Doing so, Althusser and Deleuze exclude four operations: to think immanence as something or the One (substantialisation); to make it immanent to a thing or a subject (deification of man, labour or revolution); to let it become absolutely reflexive (interiorising movement of a self-unfolding whole); or as in left-Heideggerianism to retain transcendence in terms of a space left vacant after the retreat of all first principles. For both authors, the significance of Spinoza is based on the rigour with which he made clear that immanence is only immanent to itself. By further tracing Althusser and Deleuzes reading of Spinoza, I attempt at pinpointing the residual Hegelianisms characterising the idea of structural causality and overdetermined contradiction in For Marx and Reading Capital, a criticism already offered by Hyppolite and Macherey in the 1960s. I will then develop in how far Althusser never stopped to oscillate between two divergent models of causality, between Spinozas immanent cause and Lacans absent cause. Ultimately, in Althussers late writings an existential-ontological concept of the event collides with a Deleuzian concept of the event. In the first case, the event represents an exception from the laws of becoming, a suspension in ontological groundlessness. In the second, the event expresses torsions or critical points in becoming. The principle of causality is not discarded, but supplemented with the principle of expression. By reading Epicurus with Heidegger, the late Althusser aims to free materialist thought from the principle of sufficient reason, while Deleuze writes a materialist metaphysics that wrests from this principle an anomalous turn. If to ground means to determine the indeterminate, Deleuze searches for a

type of determination which is not opposed to the indeterminate and does not limit it. By thinking determination in terms of intensive individuation, Deleuze pinpoints pivotal elements in Spinozas model of causality ignored by Althusser, in particular the idea of creative determination, transindividual expression of the infinite in the finite and intensive differentiation.