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The trouble with ´territorialization´

Reza Negarestani, in particular in bits of the last chapters of his Intelligence and Spirit (chapters 7 and 8), brings together the opposition between natural and artificial (farm and forest, p. 402; causes and unbound sovereignty of thinking, p. 422-3; causal heteronomy and pure autonomy of the formal, p. 376-7; thoughtless natural processes and artificial logical autonomy, p.386) and the one between what is Given (in the sense of the mythical, in McDowell´s use of the capital ´G´) and the spontaneous, for example in the assertion that taking form to conform to experience is falling into the myth of the Given. Negarestani seems to favor a notion of thinking that is progressively autonomous and head towards its artificial medium that brings together language, logic, and computation in order to elicit the commonalities between them that enable a disconnection with its causal support. This disconnecting autonomy echoes the idea of causality through freedom with which Kant asserted the autonomous nature of spontaneity and thought and action. Further, it heads towards the project of a universal realm of the artificial that expresses itself formally in something like what Negarestani calls the dasein of Geist which is this very common element between language, logic, and computation - a characteristica universalis, in the sense of Leibniz. The trouble with this disconnecting autonomy - which escapes from the Given and is increasingly artificial - is that somehow receptivity has to get into the picture. The danger of what McDowell´s once described as a ´frictionless spinning in the void´ (in his Mind and World) haunts the project of thought autonomy that Negarestani pursues. This is perhaps because his emphasis is explicitly on the power of recognizable negation - philosophy, conceived as the game of games (422) is found on the architectonics of negation as the engine of thinking. Negation is a ready-made ticket to the unbound, the artificial, the deterritorialized or, in any case, to what is not currently the case. It is a ticket to a separate realm if it is coupled with the idea that cognition is recognition.

The idea is that about the artificial (and the spontaneous) that takes it to be the opposite (or the complement or the dual) of the realm of causes - and hence the territorialized and the deterritorialized form a totality. The trouble lies maybe in the very opposition between territorialization and deterritorialization - between natural and artificial, between what is attached to the nature of things and what is unbound, between causes and the autonomy of thinking. Perhaps the opposition between physis and techné. Or rather, in the idea that a fully artificial, unbounded, unlimited, autonomous realm is conceivable and attainable. Thinking is perhaps precisely about this border, about this launching platform where an autonomous rocket is about to depart but is still attached to the ground. This is because thinking is crucially open to frictions - it is subject to the Great Outdoors and not close to it; before being autonomous, thinking is responsive. To fully make sure thinking is not going to spin frictionless, thinking has to be challengeable from all sides. Otherwise, it is confined in a gesture of self-recognition that makes all talk about the collective or the impersonal dwindle into a project for the autonomy of a bubble.


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