being, flaw, impossibility, knowledge, language, machine, message, metaphysics, ontology, trace, truth

Mind

Where is truth — in knowledge or learning? If truth is processual, it is therefore also non-definitional; if it therefore exceeds classification, it annihilates a priori any possibility of its subtraction or division as such. Hence truth is impossible; yet this “impossible” subtraction of truth from an inconsistency, once postulated, nonetheless functions, it even begins to produce something, the impossible even becomes possible — and so perhaps produces everything. Thus the question remains, like a bone in our throat: how?

Just as it is the subtlety of silence to express that which language cannot, it is the very non-being of truth which is the origin of being. This answer may sound like madness, but it is actually a calm and clear way of speaking: behind both the world and the word, a silence lingers. And just as the voice emerges from a background of noise, from sublime meaninglessness the truth is subtracted. It traverses the warp of both language and experience. Knowledge bursts along particular lines, through circuits of learning which are in no way arbitrary and contingent, but rather the expansionary fault-lines of history, the exposure or blistering of time itself which results from precisely this trace of impossibility exuded by the irreversible relation: a pure non-functioning, a subtraction and division of an irreversible flow, a growth which is only as biological as technological.

The machine is again the proper metaphor here, and yet it is not even a metaphor: against time itself, learning struggles to function, and functions only so long as it does not understand — hence this struggle is not a spirit but a trace of the spirit, a flaw in the univocal sense of Being, a break in the signal which itself signals. Like a halo, the flaw is a messenger, a fragment which doesn’t belong and never did, and is included only by being excluded. From this inconsistency the wor(l)d inevitably and irrepressibly flows.

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being, heidegger, ontology, science

Ontology and Science

We could say that Heidegger’s introduction to Being and Time is rigorous and formalized to the extreme, like any other great (self-satisfied) German philosopher. Yet Heidegger also denounces any smack of self-satisfaction that would creep up in a philosophico-ontological investigation. What I want to do here in this short essay is to illuminate how Heidegger formulates the question of Being through Dasein, what this has to do with the ontological tradition and its destruction, and also what Heidegger thinks this has to do with the foundations of any science whatsoever. Due to the shortness of this essay, I will attempt to articulate these concerns simultaneously (bear with me).

Heidegger mentions that the structure of an explicit questioning does not become explicit until all the constitutive factors have become transparent (5). It is in this sense that Heidegger analyzes the Being of Dasein insofar as the latter is equivalent with the inquirer par excellence. Thus the elucidation of Being requires that the entity with a pre-ontological understanding of Being (Dasein) be analyzed explicitly. Heidegger will also talk about this as the existential analytic of Dasein or as the hermeneutic of Dasein, since this hermeneutic is the possibility for any ontology or any analytic of the existentiality of existence (38).

However, this question cannot become explicit until a few fundamental concerns are addressed. For example, Dasein’s pre-ontological understanding of Being is only possible because of the former’s being-in-the-world. In other words, for the existential analytic of existence to become fully transparent, Dasein’s ontical constitution (i.e. it’s being in a world) must be taken as the standpoint from which any ontological relevance is to be fathomed. This is why he claims that the roots of the existential analytic of Dasein are existentiell/ontical. Only through existence itself (our existentiell belonging to a world) can existentiality be analyzed into existential data (suitable for the foundation of a real ontology).

Some of Heidegger’s claims become more understandable when we present them in this way. For example, he argues that this analytic of Dasein is only possible through a “radicalization…of the pre-ontological understanding of Being” (15). In other words, since the world is reflected ontologically in Dasein, the latter’s everyday experiences in the former (its ontical constitution) must be taken as data from which to set out upon our quest to rigorously found an ontology. Another way of saying this is to claim that the question of Being must become historiological (42).

What does historicity/historiology imply though? In a sense, if historicality is the basis of any history whatsoever, historiology is involved with the way in which history is passed down through tradition along with the way in which this passing becomes concealed or self-evident in its movement from generation to generation. This is precisely where the question of the destruction of the ontological tradition comes to bear its philosophical fruits. For example, when Heidegger claims that ontology must be self-critical, he is not saying this in an arbitrary way, but he means that for any science whatsoever to evolve in its field, it must takes its problematic historiologically, i.e. it must become suspicious about the traditions that promote it so as not to lose sight of the fundamental question of Being that gets so easily concealed (36). Another example—which is really not an example but a way of reading Heidegger’s project through his reading of others, here Kant—becomes more clear when we read that Heidegger faults Kant for merely presupposing the relations between time and the “I think,” which he has inherited from Descartes. Kant’s procedure is not historiological since it doesn’t question the sources from which he obtains his arguments about the subject, nor does he make Being into a question (this is obvious). Where we see Heidegger actually formulating his own project is when he argues: “[Kant] failed to provide an ontology with Dasein as its theme or (to put this in Kantian language) to give a preliminary ontological analytic of the subjectivity of the subject” (24). If we look at the Kantian exposition of Heidegger’s task, we will see that he relates the problem at hand as one of the analytic of the subjectivity of the subject. This may be another reason why Heidegger begins with being-in-the-world.

What does this tell us about Heidegger’s stance on science? When we quoted the passage where he claims ontology must be self-critical, we were not arbitrarily providing an assertion out of context. Heidegger argues that the basic concepts undergirding any science whatsoever have to be taken as clues from which these sciences can be founded. He argues that the “real ‘movement’” of the sciences is determined by “how far it is capable of a crisis in its basic concepts” (9). It is in this strict sense that Heidegger envisions the destruction of the ontological tradition to be productive and positive, not simply negative. For as a science, ontology must be able to treat its own fundamental concepts—res cogitans, cogito ergo sum, etc.—as material to be reworked in order to make the real problem of Being transparent. It is also in this vein that Heidegger asserts that “ontological science is primary to ontical science” (11). This is why he claims that ontology is fundamental, whereas physics or biology deal with regional, ontical questions, i.e. questions concerning particular entities. However, since the Being of these entities has not become transparent until the advent of universal phenomenological ontology, science has to be subordinated to philosophy (in Heidegger’s view of things). My question is: does this not perpetuate the perennial struggle between science and philosophy? How is it that philosophy can have the pretentiousness to claim to ground real science, when, from the scientists’ point of view, philosophy is the mere recycling of concepts that do not have any factual basis in scientific inquiry? In other words, Heidegger continues the war between science and philosophy, even if he claims the latter is the most universal of sciences. How can we introduce democracy into thought and put science and philosophy on the same footing without claiming to give one or the other any sort of precedence? How can we break down the hierarchy that establishes itself in thought, i.e. how do we establish a peace treaty between philosophy and science, especially from the former to the latter?

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being, communication, Deleuze, immanence, language, Laruelle, naivete, paradox, philosophy

Laruelle

Notes on the Preface of Laruelle’s Critique of Deleuze

“There is reason to revolt against the philosophers,” this is where philosophy, in its greatest triumph, only further encourages itself. This is the moment, when philosophy perhaps no longer recognizes the autonomy of science and art, that it denies their autonomy, and with the utmost subtlety.
Francois Laruelle, “I, the Philosopher, Am Lying: A Response to Deleuze”

Deleuze has discovered a secret — the secret or the property of philosophy, a secret which gives us the impression that it is very old and that it has been lost. He discovers the philosophical idiom, which now becomes alien to itself, but which remains an idiom precisely because it has become the language of the infinite. The language of the good news is absolutely private and absolutely universal. Their coincidence is the peak of the self-contemplation of the philosophical community. Hence the horror displayed towards transcendent artifacts like consensus and communication.

Laruelle, ibid.

1.
Francois Laruelle opens the preface of his remarks on Gilles Deleuze by stating that it is necessary to thank Deleuze for having said so clearly that philosophical discussion is neither interesting, or perhaps even possible, unless it is directed towards an outside of thought.

This praise should be read with more than a slight nuance. For Laruelle goes on to argue that the authors of What is Philosophy? have another interest than directing thought towards an outside: namely, in what Laruelle distinguishes as “laying claim to philosophical naivete.” [Laruelle, “I, the Philosopher, Am Lying: A Response to Deleuze” 1] Laruelle declares the object of such naivete to be to force us in the corner, figuratively speaking — to make us give up the secret to our tricks. They do it so well, it works.

The effect is generic, perhaps even all-too-human: through its innocent provocation, the laying-claim to “philosophical naivete” itself inevitably calls for the clarification of anyone else’s ultimate presuppositions as regards their own relationship to philosophy. Laruelle calls this “innocent” laying-claim a paradox — Deleuze abandons disputation, while succumbing to the worst excesses of communication.

It would still be wholly necessary, notes Laruelle, to explain the reasons for abandoning communication, and precisely in terms of the reality of thought. Laruelle notes Deleuze’s behavior in this case is symptomatic: the ashes of a critique of communication end up communicating only the reasons for abandoning communication.

2.

Laruelle is rigorous on this point in particular: philosophy, if it it is able to pass for the paragon of dogmatism, the most complete form, is also that which inscribes communication, “relation,” into the essence of Being.

Here we are asked to consider Leibniz, and his concept and practice of communication. They are dogmatic and destroy themselves, Laruelle says, for they are communicated from his philosophy itself.

But what about Deleuze? It is the same paradox in reverse which affects Deleuze’s philosophy, Laruelle argues. A great deal is communicated, little understood — and even less utilized. And so perhaps, Laruelle continues, the problem is undecidable, at least in philosophical terms, since each philosophy defines for itself a concept of “communication.”

By doing so, they scramble any codes which would allow an “objective” evaluation of both communicational and non-communicational powers.

The combination of these powers, along with the power of miscommunication, defines the philosophical, according to Laruelle.

3.

This book, What is Philosophy?, is highly anticipated, critically acclaimed, and widely successful — in short, completely assured of its own force. It makes the affect of the philosophical depend upon science and art, but not “themselves” or practically, rather upon the philosophical concept of science or art. Not upon geology, but the philosophical concept of geology; not upon x, but the philosophical concept of x. Philosophy denies the autonomy of science and art, declares their immanent practices without concepts to be heretical.

This is the point, precisely, where philosophy encourages itself to deny the autonomy of art and science with even more subtlety: Laruelle observes the “concordant” style of the work, its “local” style of reciprocal respect. He grants this is undoubtedly that within it which is opposed to communication — but is it not, he declares, also its most unapparent ruse, its greatest danger, and also the remedy itself for whoever knows how to identify in it — this last sleight of hand?

4.
The self-affirmation of philosophy does nothing but trouble other philosophers.

Laruelle wonders: how do we make this immaculate book into a problem — a new type of problem, since it’s already the solution to the problem of what a problem is?

Suppose there is a book, Laruelle says, and that it is called What is Philosophy? Suppose further that it claims to respond to this question, and through its own existence, in its very manifestation.

It would therefore be impossible to discuss the book, because it would be at the very center of philosophy, and philosophy would be at the very center of this book. Because one does not converse with God, one does not communicate with natural phenomena.

One does not argue with Spinoza.

This book is absolute, Laruelle writes.

It has written, spoken, and made itself into a response to this question: ‘what can a book do — what can a philosophy book do, especially?’

In other words, it can do nothing but auto-write, write itself right in front of you.

And so, Laruelle asks, what could readers do — but get off on a philosophy being done without them?

Laruelle admits he can no longer give in to the tone of Deleuze’s voice, that is: if it is indeed a question of doing what they’ve done, rather than saying what they’ve said.

And perhaps, Laruelle quips, there still remains one last situation they have not foreseen: really doing what they have said they have done, or what they have only done by saying it, once again mixing doing and saying under the name of ‘creation’ — as all philosophers have.

It remains to do the immanence they say, Laruelle asserts. Laruelle is clear about the point here: not to comment on the work, not to make a problem of it, is “perhaps to no longer want to do something besides what they have done.”

Is it still perhaps possible, Laruelle asks, to really do what they have thought to do?

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being, cur(s)e, discovery, dust, fold, gift, knowledge, language, map, speed, spirit, Thought

Special Operators

How to begin to understand? Yet what is knowledge but the degeneration of learning? “Knowledgeable” thought waits, jealously, to snatch away our hard-won jewels of real experience — why this false patience, this impatience, this now-congenital haste? Thought and speed: thinking, the very light of speed in which all distinctions are blurred, internalized, folded — made significant again, logicized, facified. As though it lived only upon a vulnerable or delicate surface, in which it consumed itself in rapture; as though it perhaps experienced another thought within its detachment which, like the widening mouth of a bell, opens onto the world. Beyond time, the force of thought resonates with an irrevocable futurity: against the fold of the other, against the driving force of time itself, thought breaks free — hearkens and follows, a service without slavery. Thought specifies operations inflecting smooth space, the domain of an essential anti-principality: invention is discovery, a dangerous Gift. To estimate the spiritual progress of man: what else but this is Thinking, that dangerous remedy, the poison which, for a time, “cures” our illegibility? –We must not behave as though everything depends upon the existence or non-existence of an element, a relation, a system, even less a linguistic machine, to anchor thought. Stop interpreting and begin to think. Defy that cur(s)e which incurs, invokes, reverts: procure the logos wrapped within a mythology, unfolded only to become — ashes, a stone, nothingness. Dust. In the place of the sacred, we have substituted this heathen diagram; against the wall the burst recoiled — the remains, artifacts, lost or fallen: a coil of rope, a cross, a star. A map to dawn. Open thought to an outside, by any and all means available. Force your way free. Open the figure, draw without tracing. Begin, again.

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being, blanchot, ethics, event, exteriority, future, gleam, Hegel, history, infinity, judgment, levinas, peace, Politics, totality, vision

Notes on Totality and Infinity

Does objectivity, whose harshness and universal power is revealed in war, provide the unique and primordial form in which Being, when it is distinguished from image, dream and subjective abstraction, imposes itself on consciousness? Is the apprehension of an object equivalent to the very moment in which the bonds with truth are woven?

Levinas

I will not say that the disaster is absolute; on the contrary, it disorients the absolute. It comes and goes, errant disarray, and yet with the imperceptible but intense suddenness of the outside, as an irresistible or unforeseen resolve which would come to us from beyond the confines of decision.

Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster

Levinas begins the preface to Totality and Infinity by asking whether war is not the most serious objection to the lucidity — the sanity — of ethics. For war robs our institutions and obligations of their eternity; it is the concrete suspension of the ethical. In war morality vanishes. The violence of war does not only affect us as the most real, the most palpable fact, but as the very truth of the real. Thus it is not just one of the ordeals morality lives. War renders morality derisory, rescinding its imperatives for the interim. Politics, winning at any cost, is enjoined as the very exercise of reason itself — opposing itself to morality as philosophy to naivete.

Fragments of Heraclitus are unnecessary to show that being reveals itself as war to philosophical thought. Reality rends the words that dissimulate it. War is produced as the pure experience of being, cracking the veils which covered its nudity. The ontological event of war is mobilization, a casting-into-motion of beings once anchored in identity. The trial by force is the test of the real. Yet the violence of war does not consist so much in injuring and annihilating people, but in interrupting their continuity — forcing them to play roles in which they can no longer recognize themselves.

People are made to betray not only commitments but their own substance, and made to carry out actions that destroy every possibility for action. “Not only modern war but every war employs arms that turn against those who wield them.” War produces and establishes an order from which nothing and no one can keep their distance. Nothing remains outside. War does not manifest exteriority, the other as other; it destroys the identity of the same. The vision of being glimpsed in war is “totality,” a vision-in-one which dominates Western philosophy.

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being, event, face, gift, infinity, lacan, language, levinas, logic, machine, silence, turbulence, violence

Counter-mythology

Responsibility is what first enables one to catch sight of and conceive of value.
Levinas, Otherwise Than Being 123

Beyond the question of being and non-being, language is not the event — but rather a process of assembling unformed and unspecified elements, an abstract machinics which imagines new forms for itself by correlating the various distinct orders of reality with a plane of consistency in which a unified vision becomes possible — in short uncovering the infinite possibilities of the event. But this apparition of the event in its infinity would be only terror, the dark depth in which all mixtures are possible — and nothing is outlawed — were it not for the ambiguity of silence, the “not-yet” which the event, the “given” or gift, makes possible, and which makes possible the infinite time of cohumanity.

In speaking, reality opens itself up to an order without signification or concept, lost neither in the depths or heights but in the very shape of the world, the surface itself, a topological mode or order of being issuing neither in sound or light but in an idea given me by the other, the gift of language. In expression being can become free. Language is the discovery not only of novelty but justice itself; the enjoyment of discovery is essentially social. The event is not revelation but a secret apology, a map of the vortex. Turbulence is lucidity.

Black holes are everywhere, and this prohibited prohibition permits everything: the torsion of language disarticulates the tension of the soul. Beyond the face there is a paradoxical and two-sided barrier, an apparition which interrupts the symbolic order of discourse, as though by a lateral or diagonal movement between the signified and the non-signified. By an astounding finesse, speech uncovers the world as a lesson or donation.

Debt and faith are born simultaneously. Language is justice — a gift — only when it sheds its anonymity to become universal, not by inventing a world-beyond-the-world, but by reconciling us to one another. It calls us to hear a there-is rustling behind the void.

Hence the notion of event correlates at least three distinct orders of relationship between possibilities: a relative-absolute conjuncture uniting singular events and possible worlds; an absolute disjuncture prohibiting certain events from certain worlds; a trans-evental function sweeping up worlds and events.

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alterity, awareness, being, difference, inequality, inhumanity, language, levinas, love, metaphysics, Politics, reason, truth, tyranny, Uncategorized, violence

Outside

The relation between me and the other commences in the inequality of terms, transcendent to one another, where alterity does not determine the other in a formal sense… It is produced in multiple singularities and not in a being exterior to this number who would count the multiples. The inequality is in this impossibility of the exterior point of view, which alone could abolish it. The relationship that is established–the relationship of teaching, of mastery, of transitivity–is language, and is produced only in the speaker who, consequently, himself faces. Language is not added to the impersonal thought dominating the same and the other; impersonal thought is produced in the movement that proceeds from the same to the other, and consequently in the interpersonal and not only impersonal language. An order common to the interlocutors is established by the positive act of the one giving the world, his possession, to the other, or by the positive act of the one justifying himself in his freedom before the other, that is, by apology.

Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity 251, “Beyond the Face”

Levinas argues forcefully that the truth of our being is compromised when we submit to tyranny. It is neither suicide nor resignation to declare this truth, but rather love itself, revolted by the violence of reason. There is a plane of reality that must be indicated, whose very existence at once presupposes and transcends the revelation of the other, wherein the I bears itself beyond death.

Yet in this movement, where subjectivity itself is posited as a function, the I also recovers from its return to itself. This plane is certainly love: the other who faces us arouses an infinite desire, and reveals a mode of subjectivity which is the meaning of language, or justice, and which is the very actuality of love, living for others. The mere existence of this plane implies both separation and transcendence — a revolt against the violence of a “reason” that would reduce interpersonal discourse to silence.

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