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Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 or 1964?

Asking people around here in Brazil what was worse for the country, 1964 or 2016. Folks who were alive and grown enough around 1964 are mostly depressed and discouraged - most of them say that 2016 was worse. Of course, these are people I know, and of course are mostly commies or otherwise anarchists or lefties. But this is what matters in my question which can be formulated like this: for those who were utterly aghast and outraged by 1964, how does 2016 feel. One of the reasons why 2016 was worse is that in 1964 there were right-wingers against the coup. In 16 we had none of that. Such polarization left the country without common principles around which to fight and no institutional common denominators. To be sure, it is too soon to make a comparison. But it does feel pretty bleak around here now.

The future of the left in plantationscene viewed from the neo-plantation

Brazil is quickly turning back into a plantation. The open scars of Latin America carry on being wide open and infected. It has always been also a lab for other endeavors of power elsewhere - it will continue like this.

What is the way out? I've been taken by Pasolini last texts (at around 1974/5). In his last text, a discourse that was meant for a Radical Party convention, he distinguishes between communism and extremism. The latter is the goal of expanding the form of life of the white (male, heterossexual) borgeoisie to the subaltern classes because the privileged know better, live better, plan better, feel better and think better. As Pasolini says in his Unhappy Youngsters, the idea is that poverty (and deprivation of bougi goods) are the worse of all possible evils. Since his death, as he feared, the left became more and more extremist (cultural wars, political correctness in language) and with extremism the left discourse and gesture became tamed. Everyone was invited (or forced) to become law-abiding citizens with their claws polished (the nigger, the dyke, the faggot, the bitch, the witch, the weirdo, the beggar, the worker) and then they lost their bite. The left ceased to be a project of difference (or of antagonism).

What will happen to this Latin American continent after its (various shades of) pink wave? Left to the rest of the world own devices and to most of its white-and-rich adoring elites (and a lot of its conformist and media-hypnotized deprived population) it will continue as a plantation until the end of the species. Resistance can only happen outside the framework of extremism. Antagonism and difference will have to be asserted as such: no more claw-clipping. I've been exploring the chances of animism: the idea of creating networks beyond the species. Animism, as I understand and advocate, should be non-extremist: it should be about constant denaturalization. I take denaturalization is an anticolonial enterprise. It is about finding ways to stop seeing being as a resource. I defend (in my Linhas de Animismo Futuro forthcoming) that the alternative to taking things as resources is not to let them be what they (as what they are) are but rather to strengthen the ever-re-articulating co-existence ties between them. That means: more social interactions (or intra-actions) with what there is, more trust-building, more interruptions, more chances for less conditioned hospitality. How is my version of animism anti-extremist? Well, there are many social relations to be maintained with what there is. To make them like us or for us (the two social relations that colonialism favors) are not to be the ones defended or implemented by an animist, anti-extremist left.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Presenting BUG in the Logic in the Plane group in Brasilia

The hand-out of my presentation:

Algumas observações sobre a metafísica da contingência

O problema de Xandoca: Pode haver a metafísica tratar da contingência? Ou esta seria apenas uma metafísica negativa no sentido de que ela não trataria da contingência (a contingência é o que é deixado de lado pela metafísica)? Um tratamento metafísico da contingência não a tornaria não-contingente?
O problema da metafísica com a contingência:
1. (Aristoteles) A metafísica procura encontrar conexões necessárias no concreto (no sensível). O conhecimento (metafísico) é conhecimento do necessário (e do permanente).
2. (Heráclito/Platão/Hume) Pode ser que não haja conexões necessárias no concreto (ou não haja conexões necessárias que possam ser detectadas, ou nenhuma conexão necessária dê forma ao concreto).
Uma conclusão: (Kant) A metafísica deve procurar conexões necessárias em algum outro lugar (por exemplo, entre normas transcendentais ou regras semânticas).
Outra conclusão: A metafísica deve focar no concreto mesmo que nele não haja conexões necessárias.
Problema: Pode o não-necessário ser conhecido (ou tratado, ou entendido)?
Esquema de resposta: O efeito Doppler modal (o temporário em contraste com o necessário – o contingente em contraste com o necessário).
Que contraste? Lógica/a posteriori (Hume), suprasensível/sensível (Platão), princípio da razão insuficiente/facticidade (Meillassoux), substancial/acidental (Aristoteles).
De qual lado do contraste? Necessidade que explica contingência (biologia ou geologia, princípio da razão insuficiente), contingência que explica necessidade (empirismos radicais, pluralismos de necessidades).
A tese: (BUG) Sumbebeka prota ton onton; uma metafísica é um mapa de uma realidade onde a contingência é a peça principal (mas não o constituinte último de tudo).
Dois sentidos de contingência:
1. O oposto de compulsório (algo então pode ser físicamente contingente mas biologicamente necessário etc). Leibniz.
2. O oposto de determinado (algo pode ser determinado e contingente, sem ser compulsório). Meillassoux.
Contingência e contingentismo: uma metafísica da contingência não precisa ser nem Miller-contingentista (Kristie Miller: algumas teses metafísicas não são necessárias) e nem Williamson-contingentista (Tim Williamson: a tese de que tudo é necessariamente alguma coisa é falsa).
Contingência e alteração: ser contingente é poder ser outro (o parricidio), ser impermanente e também não estar sob nenhum jugo determinante. Outros eventos, outros pensamentos, outros agentes. Do ponto de vista de quem é, poder ser alterado (interrompido) por um mundo externo, por seus próprios estados internos, por outros existentes. O problema da contingência e o problema do outro.
BUG: O contraste entre contingência e necessidade preferencialmente do ponto de vista da contingência. Anarqueologia: o estudo do desgovernado, do acidental, do que está aberto, do que pode ser alterado.
Três modos de alteração (três ontoscopias): uma monadologia de fragmentos, uma ontologia da dúvida, uma ontologia orientada à ritmos.
Monadologia dos fragmentos: Leibniz e a contingência determinada, neo-monadologias (Gabriel Tarde, Alfred Whitehead, Bruno Latour), pluralismo sem atomismo.
Agência e filosofia do processo: se há apenas contingência no concreto (Meillassoux) não há agência – um agente é um comandante, um gerador de necessidade.
Características gerais de uma monadologia:
0. Nenhuma entidade básica concreta é igual a nenhuma outra.
1. O princípio ontológico: sem entidades (agentes) não há explicação.
2. Ontologia plana.
3. Tudo percebe (esse est percipi & percipere).
4. Não há substratos.
5. Não há atualidades vácuas.
Outras dimensões: Williamson-contingentismo, niilismo de prioridade, anti-haecceitismo…
Três modos de existência: fragmentos, composições, compositores.
Ontologia da dúvida: razão insuficiente na indeterminação, o exercício da dúvida, a epokhé. Neopirronismo e o renegado Enesidemo: como suspender o juízo acerca das determinações.
O tabuleiro das dúvidas e das determinações: dobradiças, o fundamento da dúvida, Wittgenstein-Davidson, dúvidas requerem determinações.
Examinar o conhecimento do contingente através do exercício da dúvida: o trabalho da suspensão do juízo, a dúvida alcançada ou como tarefa. (Uma epistemologia da dúvida e o realismo sobre as indeterminações.)
Ontologia orientada à ritmos: uma metafísica de eventos co-existentes e contemporâneos, Carol Cleland: mudança de estado em uma propriedade determinável.
Eventos como batidas: a precedência do relógio sobre o tempo, a repetição (que altera alguma coisa no olho de quem a contempla), simultaneidade como constituinte do tempo, time e timing.
Contágio: o modo de alteração de um evento por meio de outro (que não está conectado necessariamente ao primeiro).
Galáxias: Pluralidade e contingência.
Fixar aquilo que não se altera: Em uma lógica, há o inalterável e o contingente. Se a lógica é ela mesma alterável (e não há uma superlógica que coordene as alterações), então tudo é alterável, há uma prevalência da contingência.
Porém não se trata de uma prevalência em que tudo é contingente.
Efeito Doppler outra vez: Porém se não há nada de fixo, nenhuma alteração pode ser percebida; é apenas através de algum fixo que é possível conceber a alteração.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Substance, substratum, substantive

A lot of the metaphysical development since Descartes can be expressed in terms of the Aristotelian notion of substance. Descartes showed that substances could be conceived without ousia prote, without substratum - nothing is beyond the predication associated to it. So, the thinking substance is nothing beyond thought. Leibniz drawn on that to postulate infinite substratum-free substances and proposing what became known as the law of Leibniz. Each simple substance is just its predicates, nothing beyond it, no underlying substratum that would hold together all the predications. If we take (some) developments in process philosophy to be neo-monadological in the sense that Leibniz is a key influence, we can see how, for example, Whitehead's actual entities (which are not substances) are also substratum-free: they are individuated and identified by their relations, perceptions and concrescence - roughly by their predications. (In contrast, we can posit substance-less substrata that would be like pure haecceities )

In De l'existence à l'existant, Levinas speaks few times about a substance that is related to the solitude of the agent (and of the existent). Whitehead considers cartesian substances also in terms of a solitude - nothing can interfere with res cogitans or res extensa (they cannot interfere in one another) apart from God. Levinas' solitude is quite different, it is about the impossibility of interaction but about the attachment to what one is (and how one acts). One's predication is owned. As Levinas says towards the end of the book, the true substantiality is substantivity: an existent is a substantive, predication is allotted to a substantive. Yet, this is not (necessarily) an appeal to substrata because the existent is not defined by this solitude - Leibniz's law could still be valid and an existent is dependent on all the other existents to be what it is. Still, it is solitary in its allotment of predication. Levinas understands substantivity as the personal in being ("dans l'être il y a des étants.", is how he closes the book). Substantivity is what makes (individualized) entities among what there is. Substantivity is somehow missing in a monadological approach for monads are individuals and therefore are attached to their predication by a relation of substantivity that is not first substantiality (substantives are not substrata).

The idea of a universal metaphysics

In his Mathematical Review piece on my paper with Alexandre and Edelcio on galaxies that appeared in Studies in Universal Logic in 2015, Andrzej Indrzejczac briefly analyses the content of the paper and diagnoses it as "no more than a manifesto". I guess the paper is a manifesto and we need then whenever new directions are possible or required. We sensed that the research in universal logic was unknown to those doing metaphysics in a (broadly Lewisian) framework of possible worlds and that state of affairs could and should be remedied. Our paper intends to set the stage for a possible metaphysics that considers possible worlds together with logical diversity. It offers a programme and start implementing it. The idea that a logic can be given by pointing at a set of possible worlds - which is proposed but not developed - is itself a glance in the power of diversity in logical systems. In that first paper we wanted to present the idea: that a metaphysics could be informed by universal logic and that such an endeavor would have classical metaphysics as a special case.

I take the opportunity to say something about our work on galaxies since the paper. It's been a rigged road: bouts of intense fermentation followed by long interruptions. The last interruption had to do with the definition of galaxy collapsing into that of valuation spaces given by Hardegree and Dunn and used by James Trafford recently. Our work now, together with Rodrigo Freire, revolves around the consequences of an existing Galois connection between G and L (the class of all galaxies and the class of all logics). The initial paper, as well as Trafford's work, sets the stage for many directions of development. For instance, we believe we can now make precise the idea that we can give a logic by pointing at a class of possible worlds; it is clear now that not all classes of possible worlds can be galaxies and therefore logics in the sense that they could be expressed in languages. There are constellations - general classes of possible worlds - that are not galaxies. They cna be logics, but not in the sense of linguistically expressible devices

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

The right of hospitality

Thinking about communities like those of Cádiz or Saint Josse in Brussels and many others that cannot exercise hospitality because of national borders. They right as communities (and as households) are severed if they cannot decide about their guests. They become like confined and controlled societies within their national borders - they cannot decide who they are going to host. They are confined because they are under surveillance, forced to have a lower intensity agency.

No time for accelerationism

Three years after this post and the discussion on Optimaes I realize how much I changed my views on the topic. I do tend to believe in agents although they ought to be infinitely responsible. I still believe erosion is the way to go but suspect capitalism has always been reactionary. I now tend to grant more force to the second alternative among the three I sketched. Still, there are many things I still agree. In the meantime (and I guess ever since the crisis of 2008) the devastating, totalitarian, conformist and hypocritical nature of capitalism has been more disclosed. Here is the 2013 response to Phil in Optimaes:


Interesting way of putting things. Now, Phil and I in conversation considered responses to the (pro-capitalist, maybe libertarian) challenge that can be expressed like this: “to be against capitalism is to be a conservative”. This challenge can responded in three different ways that we can sketch like this:

Bite the bullet and embrace a conservative discourse (trying to preserve the institutions that capitalism chews up, or the planet as we suppose it was before the arrival of Mr K.) This would amount to say that there is nothing wrong about conservatism provided that we are defending conservation of what is worth conserving.

Dissolve the challenge by saying that there is not a single-track road, and to fight against the erosion of institutions by capital is not necessarily to preserve these institutions but rather to defend changing them in a different way. Religion and community institutions do certainly need to be reformed, but not simply bought up by capital. In other words, it is not about opting only between going either one way or the other in a single given line (or faster or slower) but rather to choose which road to go through – in which line to proceed. Otherwise, one just buy into the single-track vision that makes capitalism always win.

To accept the challenge and respond to it by conceiving an anticapitalism that is not conservative, but rather erodes institutions faster and better than Mr K. Such a New Eroder would attack not only the institutions that capitalism attacks but also the ones that capitalism explicitly or implicitly has to defend in order to proceed in its (eroding) business. Capitalism consumes institutions but do so by being itself conservative of some other institutions it has to hold on to in order to make sure its flows. One then can defend a non-conservative anticapitalism where more institutions are being eroded (eroded in the very same sense that capitalist erodes) and more inconvenient (oppressive, unfair, suspicious or undesirable) institutions are being eroded instead (say private property, centripetal economic units, individuals understood as pockets with reliability etc.).

I think accelerationism is in the third way to react to the challenge.

But a proviso is needed from the start. Different layers of acceleration can produce different results. So, erosion of institutions leaving behind impoverished masses and greedy concentrating corporations could be a result of a level of acceleration (call it the K level). So, more acceleration doesn’t mean bringing up more destruction. Destruction could be a product of the individuals (or pockets) that are left conserved by K-level acceleration. A K+n acceleration level, in contrast, could bring up the erosion of individuals in favor of singularities (where there is no continuity in time, no mnemonic devices, no forced reliability). It could bring a different system altogether. So, to hold on to a non-conservative anticapitalism like accelerationism is not necessarily to expect more of the same, different acceleration levels could bring something altogether different.

This leaves open the path for a Noys-like criticism: accelerationism buys into the ontology of capitalism: production, registration, flows etc. This could be the case – maybe even there is no way to get rid of these things if alternative 3 above is chosen. But perhaps the capitalist terms are also terms that make sense given the K-level of acceleration. In any case, the accelerationist can argue that these terms are probably the best ones to analyze and forge the way out of capitalism. Not that a capitalist ontology has to be embraced, but rather that it ought to be embraced to fight capitalism.

And finally, something about dividuals. I believe the individuals are the ultimate territory to be preserved by capitalism. (I’m not convinced that the oedipal structures are ultimately dispensable for K either, but let us assume familism can be eroded by a surviving capitalism.) What do I take to be individuals? Basically, individuals are pockets with a credit (that is, they are pockets capable of making promises). They have to hold on to some accountable future – and to some responsibility for their past. They are not just nodes in a network, they are credible units that, say, don’t just swallow money but produce something out of it.

Individuals are, therefore, workers in a very general sense. Proletarians are individuals that input money and output an appropriate (or inappropriate) amount of labor because there is nothing else they can output. In a sense, most people are in these condition, especially if we consider how work can be extended to most of what humans live these days. Now, dividuals, whatever they are, can be individuals if that microstructure recapitulated the macrostructure they constitute. They can be credible units, workers. But these dividuals won’t erode individuals, they would rather multiply them. What can erode individuals is something akin to Simondon’s singularities (and also close to Deleuze’s singularities). These are not workers, not credible units, not pockets capable of promises but rather just glimpses of action, gestures, operations: a bath in the river, a look through the window, a chewing of a plum etc. They are maybe like patterns. Anticapitalism should try and come up with an economic structure that afford these gestures and operations that stabilize human life (or something broader). An economic system that doesn’t operate in terms of whos that are fixed, but rather in terms of mobile, flexible, nomadic agents that could be bunches of people or parts of a person but not individuals. I believe here lies (in a sketch) a genuine possibility of erosion of capital. After all, anticapitalism is supposed to be able to provide a revolution (in the sense that capital revolutionizes) against capital.