acceleration, becoming, exhaustion, labyrinth, metaphysics, ontology, potentiality

Exology of the City

How to think the infinity of the city, where all is fire and shadow? How could we hope to see into its opaque and terrible darkness; or hope to enjoy a view unblinded by its brilliant light? A city explodes into a world; perhaps under the tension of this polar opposition — fragments under the weight of its multiplicity — becomes a cosmos, all streams of flowing light and immense structuring voids…

The dromology at the heart of the city is a politics of speed at once micro- and cosmopolitical — exposing the shocking noological paucity of the city, the blank and empty image of thought which powers urban modernity; it perhaps allows us to take stark measures of the stakes, to grasp the violence which had to be done to thought to permit this way of life. The “noology” of the city is, shockingly and even obscenely, the pious ontology of the void, at once theological and capitalistic — empty schemata, a form without shape, living without ideation.

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desire, existence, history, idealism, micro-politics, morality, reality, truth

Pathways

Joel Isaacson, James Joyce (1998)
Joel Isaacson, James Joyce (1998)

War on Information. Idealism begins with the proposition that life is futurity, yet attempts to halt before the inevitable futility this produces, the cancerous desires which follow, not from “particular” notions, but precisely from the incorporation of Truth into life, that is, the incorporation of a point of ideality into the social diagrammatics of thought. A bad conscience, alienation, a nullity or ‘nihilism,’ is the necessary counterpart to this process of internalization of the infinite (or at least a “point at infinity”) into the collective machines through which the world is enunciated. Existence as the stability of identity is the absolutely firm foundation upon which all idealism has hitherto constructed its watchtowers and fortresses.

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decision, Deleuze, mathematics, Nietzsche, nihilism, non-philosophy

Supplements

 

Philosopher (Dali)

 

Is mathematics discovered or invented? But what if we have misplaced the scent from the start; in other words what if this clear distinction elides the process itself, if the particular and immanent relation between invention and discovery forms the basis of the ‘singularizing’ expression involved in a new mathematical proof? But a rigorous diagram of novelty itself, of the Event, seems to escape the boundaries of mathematical thought. Ontology is not the royal road to reality, any more than dreams are a singular road the unconscious. In a way, it does not even seem to get us very far at all; at least in terms of understanding “truth,” that exceptional ontogenesis of knowledge and/or being, which after all constitutes what philosophers have so far approached as the ideal “problem” according to which all others are to be modeled, and to which the creation of any new concepts must invariably be induced to correspond.

Risk. The utter annihilation of the soul is an unavoidable stage of becoming human. The human soul is restless, without certainties — at least until it has finally inoculated itself to the world, jamming any channels still open to the outside.

Nihil. Philosophy is a whirlwind from which very little can escape; the breaks are not always where they appear to be! A pure negation of philosophy remains pure philosophy; it is coded in the same semiotic, an inverse. Even suspending this decision (to separate essence from appearance) is still a philosophical position. Finally, even if we manage to truly escape philosophy and found a new science which could in turn truly take the “human” science of philosophy and grasp it as raw experimental material, the risks of a new asceticism corresponding to this “higher” rigor are nearly unavoidable. All these risks are not unlike those Nietzsche or Deleuze are continually warning us about. The worst consequence of nihilism is not necessarily that of forgetting our philosophy in our despair; rather there is a stranger, more uncanny possibility — that the pious suspension of philosophy would be capable of sweeping reality away along with it, abandoning us in some non-human plane of transcendent nullity, enslaved to transparent emptiness and arcane jargon. Nonetheless, a positive “nihilism” undoubtedly constitutes an ideal space for the creation of a new kind of science capable of grasping in turn any human science, and even philosophy itself.

 

Supplements. What is true cannot change; what changes cannot be truth — is this not the miserable dream in which too many have diffused their cleverness?

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badiou, becoming, difference, force, function, metaphysics, ontology, virus

Other

immortal-technique

A science of being is not enough. This subtraction which purifies, this selection and division which makes holy, which ‘invents’ and ‘discovers’ truth — how could ontology do anything but give us theories of the One, of the Law, of the Real, of the existing-as-such? How could it do anything but carefully induce multiplicity to subtract itself into unified theory, divide itself into functions and axioms; endlessly seduce differences into homogeneity, and minorities into conformity; plumb the depths only in order to reproduce an absolute height for an absolute voice?

Ontology is always the political ontology of Power, taken to the absolute point of dispersion where nothing remains, everything is subtracted, except for forces and matter — only functions, pure functions, and even concepts are now only seen in terms of effects, the site they create, “their” ontology. Ontology as both lens and situation, a regime where truths are always the same, is insufficient as long as it remains without a phenomenology of becoming, the concept as event, coming from outside of being which throws existence into doubt.

Multiplicity is first apprehended as risk, as danger; this much seems to be always already understood. The ontological question is how much can we take, what can be subtracted — from the situation, in short from life. Life as subtraction and transubstantiation. The holiness of being should not be misunderstood, for we encounter the most peculiar bifurcation precisely here, the curvature of space itself, the uncanny pull of the invisible — the Other, a zone which implies another reality — where being merges with non-being. The fold between us.

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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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badiou, godel, logic, mathematics, metamathematics, ontology

Badiou on Logic

Stellar cartographies has translated two different selections of course notes from Badiou’s lectures circa 1980-82 here and here. This translation is short, but extremely concise, so there’s a lot of material to absorb. In particular, the notes help to explain Godel’s achievement and his theorem and offers good insight into Badiou’s own mathematico-ontological project. Definitely check it out for a quick read on a slightly neglected aspect of this philosopher’s expanding corpus. Also be sure to check out his other posts on Deleuze/Meinong, Heidegger/Lucretius, and an extremely hilarious link to Simon Critchley’s musical side project.

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