Total Pageviews

Sunday, 25 January 2015

On "être est entente"

Been thinking a bit about this idea that came to me lecturing on Whitehead last year: to be is to be part of a current agreement ("être est entente"- call it "EEE"). Sponsoring something is a way to make something exist as the agreement has to be enough to make something come into being (or bring something about, or "instaurer"). I hope to soon spell out details of a sponsoring account of truth, that is part of the broader EEE thesis, in terms of contributors as articulators of truth-makers. I also hope to soon articulate EEE in terms of the structure of a proposition, and adopt a Whiteheadian take on it by considering the subject and the supraject (and how they have meet up in some sort of copula). EEE is an ontological thesis that fleshes out the idea that to exist is more like being part of a crowd - where nothing subsists on its own - than to have a property of existence - that could be reached by being for instance the most perfect - or to have be a predicate of position - or an indexical. (To be sure, the Lewisian indexical view can be put together with the EEE conception that to exist is to co-exist: a possible world could be like a crowd, to be in a possible world is to be with a collection of other denizens of the world, to exist in the actual world is to be with a collection of other denizens of *this particular* world.) In any case, EEE holds that existence is somehow related to a critical mass, in the sense that coming to existence is never made justice by (at least ontological) monism. For what does it mean to become existent if there is nothing else that exists?

But in the last few days I was somehow focused on the politics of EEE. I've been teaching a small course on Amazonian politics (and its relation to ontology) based on remarks made by anthropologists Pierre Clastres and Philippe Descola and Yanomami shaman Davi Kopenawa. The idea of a society against the state and the idea of aanimist shamanism, where non-humans are endowed with interiority, point towards the idea that nothing can come to social existence (including our ecological relations with the non-human) without negotiation. It is as if the political power - and Modern naturalism - comes to displace a diplomatic generalized endeavor where everything has to be negotiated in a case-by-case basis. Hence, the war chief has to negotiate peace of war within the limits of his/her community as there is no political power that makes agreement come without saying. There is no state mechanism to make people fight or stop fighting. Similarly, the shaman has to negotiate with animals what is about to happen in the upcoming hunt. Game is not simply at our mercy but rather its availability results from the capacity to craft alliances. This diplomatic power requires presence - this is why the shaman's knowledge is like a technique that cannot be trusted to a treatise or a report for it is, more than knowledge about how things are, something like a know-how, a craft, a capacity to deal with alliances and to negotiate. Political power crafts its own alliances and ententes, but case-by-case negotiation is circumvented by a shortcut that makes the sovereign force prevail - a society with state. Political power makes the non-human out of reach for negotiation; apart from technology, which is not very thought through, the Moderns have no tools to negotiate beyond their human boundaries. Negotiation got limited to the devices of political power (and the devices of capital).

What is still unclear is exactly how this political dimension of EEE fits in. Maybe I want to say that negotiations are always present - even covered up by a political state (or by the capital, or by technology that makes the non-human somehow in touch with us). Maybe rather that we are somehow ontologically alienated of the entente character of being by whatever makes some agreements invisible or impossible. In any case, if politics is just ontology of the whos - or the agents - than it is not more normative than politics. If it is so, I can just preach: craft alliances, let things be.

No comments:

Post a Comment