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Thursday, 23 August 2018

Der Spruch des Anaxagoras

Starting my lectures on metaphysics ans speculation on tree-like and other graph structures of connection between Same and Other. I started with one and many and the different ways to see how they relate. To the idea of an arché which is origin and government expressed in the thoughts of Anaximander, I contrasted the idea of an assemblage or a composition from different things. I dwelt in the contrast between Anaximander and Anaxagoras I drawed in a now six years old paper on the idea of horizon in Anaxagoras and Anaximander. In fact, Anaximander can be read as suggesting a very different project, different from the ones reducing the different to the same, the multiple to the unity. Reality is composed of multiple elements and not constituted from one or few ingredients. There is no foundation or ground, there is just composition, assemblage; he states that "[f]or none of the other things either is like any Other. And these things being so, we must hold that all things are in the whole." (fr.4) It is the origin of a non-standard conception where reality is tied to difference coming together. Anaxagoras claims that

All things were together, infinite both in number and in smallness; for the small too was infinite. And, when all things were together, none of them could be distinguished for their smallness. For air and aether prevailed over all things, being both of them infinite; for amongst all things these are the greatest both in quantity and size. (fragment 1)

Anaxagoras holds a priority nihilism in fragment 3:

Nor is there a least of what is small, but there is always a smaller; for it cannot be that what is should cease to be by being cut.But there is also always something greater than what is great, and it is equal to the small in amount, and, compared with itself, each thing is both great and small.

But I always think that perhaps the claim that needs more attentive examination in contrast with the idea of a ground is fragment 10:

How can hair come from what is not hair, or flesh from what is not flesh?

Artificial transcendental subject - or is transcendental philosophy artificial intelligence?

Under the spell of Nick Land old and new (first texts on Kant from the late 80s where Kant appears in line with colonialism in making us immune from the other and recent interview with Justin Murphy where he compares the critique of metaphysics to the endeavor of capital, both infectious, both non-ending) I started my course on contemporary philosophy talking about Kant and the correlationisms of the late 20th century. I then found myself drifting towards a post-anthroplogical, cybernetic Kant who describes a transcedental structure as a normative structure that has to be in place for experience (empirical judgments) to be possible. This transcedental structure is not an anthropology and therefore it is not quite that he never woke up from an anthropological slumber. His description of the transcendental subject is a kind of reverse engeneering of empirical judgments - almost as if he´s trying to pass a transcendental Turing test for the capacity to have experience. As such, it is also a set of specifications to be satified by a genuine subject (of experience). In fact, as we create empirical subjects as reliable reporters of what goes on in experience, we engage in the effort of inculcating in the human infants the capacity to make emprirical judgments. We do help buiding subjects everywhere. But they don´t need to be biological human. The cyborg, created in our image and likeness, is also created in the image and likeness of the transcedental subject. The us which are the norms that allow empirical judgment to take place are human but only in a restricted sense that a cyborg can emulate (there is no transcendental body as there are nor transcendental inclinations for Kant). The transcendental description of the subject of experience is precisely an effort to determine what makes the mind (the organ of empirical knowledge) what it is. A cybernetic endeavor and as some still prevalent (GOFAI-like) efforts in AI, one that assumes the body carries no transcendental weight - and therefore nothing in it needs emulating.

Surely, in a similar way, Capital is a flow that circulates not only between humans, but more and more through cyborgs. It is, in fact, a drive towards a becoming-artificial (deterritorialized).

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Accelerationisms and the Federici argument

Been very much exposed by accelerationist ideas, mainly through reading the old Fisher´s Capitalist Realism (a great book, a great way to diagnisticize what is going on after post-modernity), preparing the course I´m lecturing on the history of accelerationism from Marx to the 2013 manifesto, following the recent interview of Nick Land by Justin Murphy and getting to know some texts by Justin Murphy including this one. This latter text makes the point of how to best interpret D&G quite nicely:

The whole point of D&G’s project, in my view, is to identify very general mechanisms; such that they can serviceably explain the perpetuation of systemic oppressions but also serve as actionable maps for spinning new, non-linear systemic dynamics (world-historical transitions) from the most micro-scopic mechanisms. If “decoding” meant “commercialization,” why are their texts otherwise quite clearly anti-capitalist? In other words, while I think these readings of D&G are often quite brilliant and productive, the current frontiers of accelerationism have something of a problem around “face validity.”

I think the biographical evidence makes it very hard to fathom that D or G intended any kind of passive capitulationism, and their works are a brilliant catalogue of calls to activity. Their writings are filled with injunctions such as, “Always follow the rhizome by rupture; lengthen, prolong, and relay the line of flight,” etc. Am I really to imagine that all of these lines are trying to tell me that I should start a business? I am not dismissing the provocative capitalist reading of D&G, I am only pointing out the obvious (which is surprisingly glossed over by the current frontiers of accelerationsim): D&G’s call to accelerate seemed pretty clearly to be part of a larger vision in which any interested party could learn how to accelerate into liberation from the inertia of systemic oppression; that the other side is more desirable, and that we might even find each other there together.

I am not saying that the passivism or “horrorism” of Landian or unconditional accelerationism (i.e., there’s basically nothing for us to do) is not possibly the correct, final conclusion that D&G were simply incapable of drawing; it is only to say that, insofar as accelerationism is premised on D&G, passivist interpretations should explain why D&G spent so much effort delineating all of those general mechanisms in a general way, with so many inspiriting exhortations, if not to use them for liberatory ends.

Much to say about all that, but only a quick note on how I see Federici´s way of recounting the history of capitalism as reactionary can hint in the right anti-accelerationist direction - one that is not reactionary nor primitivist. Federici´s two main anti-accelerationist lines of argument are;
1. Capital doesn´t flow on its own, it needs a biopower to set it flowing in the first place.
2. Capital, the fear of all socious and social establishment, comes to fore as a (reactionary) way to counter what was already revolutionary in the 15th century - in that century, all that was solid in the feudal establishment was melting in the air and the only way out to preserve the existing feudal privileges or part of them was to bite the bitterest bullett and usher in free-floating capital.