RND/ To consider loose notes towards a satirical examination of Ray ‘Batshit Jumblewords’ Brassier, whose work and approach appears so stubbornly byzantine in its hopelessly tortured, hyper-obscurantist display of unimportant cleverness, it might as well arrive from an inherently insane synthetic intelligence that cannot help spew out impossibly complex pseudo-philosophical bullshit. There’s very little joy to be had here, only an increasingly irritating, whining noise which develops in the inner ear, making one soon wish for escape and release and sweet, sweet silence.
Compare and contract Ray and Nick Land’s approach to their subjects:
The ‘paradox’ of eliminativism Sellars was arguably the first philosopher to discern in the logical infrastructure of folk-psychological discourse, with its relations of inferential entailment, what has since been brandished as the emblem of FP’s irreducibility to neurobiological or physical explanation: ascriptions of belief and desire inscribe the explananda within a normative (conceptual) space of reasons which cannot be reduced to or encompassed by the natural (material) space of causes. This supposed distinction between the putatively ‘rational-normative’ character of FP discourse and the merely ‘causal-material’ factors invoked in reductive explanation has tempted many philosophers to attribute some sort of quasi-transcendental, and hence necessarily ineliminable status to the FP framework. Indeed, the notion that FP is necessarily ineliminable because it enjoys some sort of quasi-transcendental status motivates what is surely the most popular attempt at a knock-down ‘refutation’ of EM. Consider the following argument: the eliminative materialist claims to deny the existence of ‘beliefs’ (and of ‘meaning’ more generally). But to do so he must believe what he claims (or ‘mean’ what he says). Thus his belief that there are no beliefs is itself an instance of belief, just as the intelligibility of his claim that there is no such thing as meaning itself relies on the reality of the meaning which it claims to deny. Consequently, the proponent of EM is guilty of a performative contradiction.11 It is important to see why this attempt to indict the eliminativist of self-contradiction is dubious from a purely logical point of view and otherwise suspect on broader philosophical grounds. From a purely formal point of view, the logic of the EM argument certainly appears to conform to the familiar structure of proof by reductio ad absurdum: it assumes Q (the framework of FP assumptions), then argues legitimately from Q and some supplementary empirical premises (which we shall describe below) to the conclusion that not-Q , and then concludes not-Q by the principle of reductio. There are no glaring or obvious anomalies here. Anyone wishing to denounce eliminativism as self-refuting using this stratagem should be wary lest they find themselves unwittingly indicting all arguments by reductio on the grounds that they too begin by assuming what they wish to deny. For the ‘self-refuting’ objection against EM to be sound, its scope would have to be such as to successfully invalidate all argument proceeding by reductio as necessarily incoherent. Although this may turn out to be possible (even if it is extremely doubtful), there is certainly nothing in the attempted refutation as it stands to even hint at how this could be done. Consequently there is every reason to suspect the fault lies in the ‘self-refuting’ argument against EM, rather than in EM’s argumentation by reductio per se (cf. P.M. Churchland 1998b: 28–30).
– Ray Brassier, Nihil Unbound
What the fuck is the man even talking about? Turn to almost any page in Nihil Unbound, and you’d be hard pressed to even know what the main subject is, let alone what (if anything) Ray imagines he’s trying (and failing) to say about it. And now here’s Mark:
[Capital] has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom – Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.
Capitalism is what is left when beliefs have collapsed at the level of ritual or symbolic elaboration, and all that is left is the consumer-spectator, trudging through the ruins and the relics. It’s easier to imagine the end of the world.. [than it is to imagine the end of Capitalism]
Yet this turn from belief to aesthetics, from engagement to spectatorship, is held to be one of the virtues of capitalist realism. In claiming, as Badiou puts it, to have ‘delivered us from the “fatal abstractions” inspired by the “ideologies of the past”‘, capitalist realism presents itself as a shield protecting us from the perils posed by belief itself. The attitude of ironic distance proper to postmodern capitalism is supposed to immunize us
against the seductions of fanaticism. Lowering our expectations, we are told, is a small price to pay for being protected from terror and totalitarianism.
– Mark Fisher, Capitalism Realism
Easy to read, simple to understand. Mark Fisher is instantly understandable, perfectly clear, and his work appears crystalline and shining in comparison to Brassier’s brazen philosophical murk.
According to Douglas Adams in The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, the History of every major Galactic Civilization passes through three distinct and recognizable phases; those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why, and Where, eg. how can we eat, why do we eat, where shall we dine today? Yet strictly academic institutional ‘philosophers’ like Ray Brassier or Reza Negerestani seem to start from the third stage, and run with it to the point beyond absurdity, otherwise known as ‘right up one’s own asshole.’
That is, instead about talking about subject Z, they’ll talk about ‘my vague response to person W’s particular formulation regarding person X’s specific complaints about person Y’s unique angle of critical approach concerning their general thoughts about Z‘. That’s at least four layers of potential bullshit to peel back; any one of those layers of seemingly philosophical analysis could be flawed, but the reader is expected to be familiar with all of them, and with their particular arguments about the next layer below them. Who the fuck has time or inclination to deal with all that crap?
Here, what Arend is doing, I’d like to suggest, is that she’s simply, erm you know, recapitulating, Heidegger’s, ontological, radicalization, of Kant’s claim about the intrinsic finitude, of human, er, cognition
– Ray Brassier, On Prometheanism (and its Critics), Speculations (EXPO 1: New York 2013)
Er thanks for that, Ray. You see how all but impossible it is for anyone to refute or challenge such an argument or approach, because the form gives the impression of being so cleverly constructed, so correct or true precisely because it’s so complex, that there are no apparent holes – one simply has to ride the bitter grey wave of Ray’s narrative thrust and let it wash over one, and hope (much like Ray must to) that It All Means Something Important in the end.
Nobody except institutional academic philosophers thinks like this, and that’s for a good reason. Nobody has the fucking time or the need. People who talk in such a way live in a self congratulatory auto-confirmation. They’ve already ‘made the grade’ in the eyes of their academic culture, so whatever they say from that point in by definition cannot be argued with or against. That is, it can of course be argued with by similar charlatans from other andor opposing institutions – but their apparent right to talk out of their assholes about bullshit nobody else really gives two flying shits about is sacrosanct. It arrives direct ex-cathedra. These motherfuckers have secured publishing rites, dammit. Their holy words are bound in the finely cut cloth of the iron cultural monsters which allow them the ‘freedom’ to idly speculate about.. whatever the fuck it is they tell us their waffling about.
People like to imagine they study philosophy because of its enormous and enduring interest. Yet it too often seems only truly of interest to full time professional philosophers, who incidentally like things just the way they are – much like Majikthise and Vroomfondel who represent the Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Sages, Luminaries and other Professional Thinking Persons. (Thanks, Douglas Adams.)
For some reason the same people also think philosophy and philosophizing is nearly inescapable. Without speaking, they express the ideological position that all of us have to answer, for ourselves, questions about what we should believe, what we should desire, and how we should live. Yet what on earth any of that has to do with modern academic philosophy as the philosophers themselves imagine they understand it is anyone’s guess. Philosophy students imagine that they learn to ask these questions well – but in fact they all too often merely learn how to ask those questions which are ‘right’ according to their particular academic organization. While they also imagine they learn how to formulate possible answers to them, what is in fact too often being formulated are themselves, their minds – algorithmically attuned and moulded to the shape of philosophical academia.
Modern academic philosophy likes to state that it emphasizes what might be called ‘foundational intellectual skills’ such as the discernment of similarity and difference, the evaluation of cogency, and clarity of thought and expression. Yet how convenient for Capitalism it is that such apparently foundational skills are highly transferable and indispensable for successful intellectual inquiry generally in the modern marketplace. Philosophy and philosophizing however are elsewhere in such a institutional process.
Many different problems to The Inhuman Condition share a common structure or ‘bottom out’ in a common way. Modern institutional Philosophy will state it teaches people to identify those patterns and to analyze fundamental concepts, aka ‘general problem solving’. It states that it will teach you to organize ideas, sort the relevant from the irrelevant, and to identify what is essential. And yet it does so, only within the strict cultural and intellectual confines of its pre-existing structure as an institution under Capitalism. This is a big problem, one that cannot be solved through any amount of in-house cultural academic institutional philosophizing.
In one’s philosophy classes one will often confront pointlessly difficult texts and be asked to get the bottom of them. (Most of these can be dealt with simply and directly by the realization they are merely bullshit and can be safely ignored.) You will be required to extract ideas from these texts, many of which will be alien(/ating) to you, and you will have to analyze and evaluate them as clearly as possible through your own terse writing. Philosophy students learn to charitably compare contrasting viewpoints, to describe them with detail and rigour, to analyze them with clarity and depth – to develop and communicate their own views as persuasively as possible. How sad it is then that such skills are not directly applied to the many existing and actual problems of the real world – and Philosophy as an intellectual middle man left out entirely!
The modern academic philosopher will of course then feebly attempt to counter by saying something along the lines of ‘well you have deeply analyse what these real problems are in the first place and its philosophy which allows you to do that’ but of course that’s really just another load of old dessicated bacon balls. Get back you poor fools, back to your dusty tomes and crumbing ivory towers of great (useless) learning and your endless word mazes, undead white men!
All fields of real knowledge employ reasoning and operate according to standards of evidence. Philosophers state that they learn to examine those very tools and thus bring a valuable perspective to any field of inquiry. Moreover, each intellectual discipline has its own set of foundational concepts, and stands in its own relations to other disciplines, which bear philosophical examination. Yet the evidence that philosophers such as Ray Brassier bring such vital skills to their very own work is thin indeed.
Yes, it’s hard graft for we intellectuals these days. Never mind, let’s have a quick go at Bertrand Russel here. ‘Human Knowledge: It’s Limits And Scope.’ Introduction.. [looks confused, turns to dictionary several times] Well if that’s what they mean, why don’t they say so? [more confused reading] Oh, I don’t know what he’s talking about. ‘The Limit and Scope of Human Knowledge ‘ – well we’ve soon found out my limit, haven’t we? Three sentences. No no, I should know – it’s in English, I should know what he’s talking about, he’s a human being, the same as me, using words, English words, available to us all. Now – concentrate! [more confused reading.] No, it’s him. It’s him that’s at fault, he’s a rotten writer. A good writer should be able to put down his thoughts clearly in the simplest terms understandable to everybody. It’s him – he’s a bad writer. Not going to waste my time reading him. Ah, that’s more like it – ‘Lady Don’t Fall Backwards’.
– Tony Hancock, The Bedsitter, BBC (26 May 1961)
There is of course no irony present that Tony forgoes the rigorous intellectual discipline apparently needed to tackle an ‘important work’ and instead chooses the pulp public library crime fiction of Lady Don’t Fall Backwards – whose depthless depths he seems equally unable to cope with. This is because ‘Ninil Unbound’ is ‘Lady Don’t Fall Backwards’. It just deliberately lacks the awareness to see that it is.
Check out the mere intro for Ray’s talk: “In Difference and Repetition, the third synthesis of time is the privileged locus for an apocalyptic individuation whereby, in a striking inversion of Heidegger, the future ‘ungrounds’ the past and death become the subject of a time that splits the Self. For Deleuze, contra Heidegger, time, like death, is never ‘mine’: it is no-one’s. The affirmation of eternal recurrence effects a mode of psychic individuation which transforms thought into a sign of impersonal death.”
Do fucking what, mate? Imagine being stuck in a lift with one of these smooth talkers. ‘The subject of a time that splits the Self?’ More like a splitting fucking headache, listening to such utter drivel unspool from a mind damaged by the laughably pathetic, small-potatoes illusions, condescensions and baffling self importance of cultural-institutional academia. It’s how soulless machines pseudo-communicate among themselves when they think everyone’s listening. Sounds impressive, but is too often little but Dead White (/People) Noise.
And now the (rough Google) transcript of that Ray Brassier talk, “The Pure and Empty Form of Death: Deleuze and Heidegger” (ACTUAL VIRTUAL, Middlesex University April 2006):
Basically I should say that this is part of work in progress and something that I’ve only recently started working on it’s it’s mainly a chapter of a book on Heidegger and dollars specifically reviews on temporal individuation and unfortunate because it’s a work in progress there are it’s unfinished it’s an unfinished chapter as opposed to a polished paper and you will immediately notice two glaring like kunai in the inner structure of the paper I won when I talk about the third synthesis of time in dollars I have been able to I will quickly kind of talk about its link to death but it’s a very kind of brief an unsatisfactory discussion because I haven’t had time to work it through properly and the relationship between death individuals and the affirmation of recurrence in dollars which is also part of the subtitle of this paper that’s also something that you will note is conspicuous by its fairly surely in schematic treatment but um anyway so so in his 1924 lecture the concept of time which has been called the earth form of being in time Heidegger begins with a question what is time and shows how it gradually transforms itself into the question who is time time can be grasped by means of the question of essence which inquires into the war of things das vas the traditional understanding of wardeness or essence operates on the basis of a prior hypothesize ation of time as presence and musiah on the students for hand in height or presence at hand with a while ago is not yet no not yet using these terms are names before predetermines the philosophical conceptualization of time so the question what is time prejudge is a very nature of the phenomenon about which inquires by reducing it to the state of a specific way of being in time being present but time is precisely that which is never merely present its way of being cannot be grasped on the basis of being present so we cannot simply assume that times way of being is that of intra temporal entities and to understand how time is and how its way of being differs from that of intertemporal entities we must first understand how we originally come to grasp the various senses of temporal being how temporal things are and for Heidegger this entails grasping the intimate relation between those varieties of temporal being and our own being as that within which temporal phenomena are encountered so for Heidegger the inquiry into how time is necessitates an inquiry into the way of being of that entity on whose basis we originally come to access the varieties of temporal being and that being is of course our own design its defining characteristics according to Heidegger our temple of specificity over he comes here violently kite and apologise for my pronunciation and – or yaw magnacat temple specificity and – but never as for Heidegger that design is necessarily always mine and this is a quote from the twenty four lecture the specificity of the I am is constitutive for design just as primarily as it is being in the world design is therefore also my design it is in each case its own and is specific as its own ankle but if the temporal specificity of design is in each case mine this is to say that each of us is time and a Thai massage is in each case mine and this is indeed precisely the conclusion Heidegger draws towards the close of his lecture this is a court again the question what is time became the question who is time more closely are we our sales team or closer still and I might say for Heidegger at this juncture to ask am i my time is to ask am i my design and as we know this isn’t implemented into the propriety of designs being as defined in terms of its ultimate and most extreme possibility death that same becomes properly individual insofar as it appropriates death as its own and already in this 1924 lecture it is darlings appropriation of death as it’s almost extreme possibility or highly Rakata it’s running ahead of itself towards its own past which authentically individuate Starr saying and thereby singular eise’s it’s time the appropriation of death allows the past to be seized outs of the future in being of try and being in time of course this running ahead will be characterized in terms of the resolute anticipation exhibited and our signs being toward death yet for all the significant nuances Heidegger will subsequently add and being assigned this intimate link between individuals in death and temporal singulars ation remains the defining feature of designs finite transcendence so for the early Heidegger at least death provides designs and therefore times ultimate principle of individuation and the key question in this regard would seem to be whether death and time can be said to me to be mine authentically or in authentically yet though the concept of same prefigures the core of Heidegger celebrated magnum opus in charting that this movement from thymes warts to it’s who it is clearly distinguished from being in time but it’s explicit disavow of only attempting to frame an inquiry caught back beyond time inserts connect with other categories that’s why the girls own expression and insofar as it Abdullah’s it feminization of the relation between designs time and the temporal character of being in general Heidegger will even go so far as to claim that the inquiry conducted in concept of time is not strictly philosophical and saner it is the attempt to articulate the relation between sign and design and more specifically the connection between designs temporal self understanding and the time for understanding of being in general that distinguishes the project undertaking being in time from its German or prefiguration in this 1924 lecture so in being in time famously the three structural moments of the Saints being in the world constitute the originally xed assays of temporal ization time is nothing but the process of data in self temporal-izing and the threefold unity of being already being alongside and being towards and in in heidegger’s own words is a quote from from being insane the phenomena of the toward the to the alongside make temporality visible as the ecstatic on pure and simple temporality is the primordial outside of itself in and for itself encode now this last formulation is particularly significant because it neatly encapsulates what will turn out to be the key difficulty for fundamental ontology recall that the existential analytic of dasa in outlining the ecstatic arise no structure of finite transcendence was to be developed into an account of the relation between the individual to temporality or cyclic it– of design the time which is in each case mind and the temporality or temporality of being in general and being in general with we tentatively assume cannot simply be coextensive with dancing which is in each case mind it must harbours pree individual dimension and indeed you know hazel has pointed out that this pre individual dimension of being had been an abiding concern of Heidegger’s throughout the decade preceding being inside and hence long before the so called turn of the nineteen thirties and he’s Assizes evans highly goes recurrent use of the impersonal pronoun eight and sentences such as it worlds which will essentially group the pre theoretical and pre worldly events of being who are primal something the earth etwas but if they’re things temporalities it is Heidegger’s own expression the primordial ecstatic on in and for itself formulation that makes it sound remarkably like the idealist absolute does this not imply that the only time is dar signs time my time in this regard a particularly cryptic passage from the concept of time already seems to prefigure this tendency surrender ontological time entirely subservient to existential temporality.
More of the same. Transcript of “That Which Is Not: Plato, Kant, & Sellars (Ray Brassier)”:
Okay so the title of this talk is as Arminius said is that which is not Plato Canon sellers it’s part of a larger project which is really really the status of the relationship between appearance and reality and the status of the distinction between appearance and reality and the reason that this distinction is important because I it’s in a way – it’s one of the funding gestures of Plato’s inception of philosophy as an interrogation into the structure of that which is I also think it’s tied the distinction is also tied to the status of the rational and of understanding the ground of appearances and it’s if this the issue of the ground of appearances that I think is the thread that runs through the three philosophers I want to discuss today so and I’m gonna make two basic claims is one that it’s any distinction between appearance and reality requires introducing a split into the structure of being so that being a known being become interwoven and secondly this fissure of being of the this injection of negation into being is necessary in order to account for thinking’s relationship to being or how it’s possible to think that which is in other words you need to think that which is not in order to think that which is and the final claim I want to make in terms of because the the topic of these conferences has been the status of realism and materialism in contemporary metaphysics or the the revival of traditional metaphysical concerns in recent European philosophy I want to explain to really to make a claim about what this the conditions under which a rehabilitation of metaphysics is possible and the claim that I want to extract from sellers is that who will conclude this this account is that we can we are internally connected to the world there is we are bound to the world by sensation but we can only know the world through conception so in other words that we have to understand is that we are internally rooted in reality but at the same time there is no there’s no possibility of circumventing the labor of can of conception in order to understand how thinking and sensing articulates are articulated in any rational investigation or any metaphysical investigation so I’m going to begin with with Plato now the point the re-exam a returner reexamination the Plato the condition with which place was not merely that of salvaging the ideality of truths from its mochilas depredations to characterize it as searches to invite the predictable charge of reactionary protectionism the points of reasserting the link between ideation and negation is to rehabilitate truths critical potency with regard to postmodern materialism whose reverence for what is also lates between cynicism and inanity and it is to do so more ever in such a way to subvert the facile opposition between critical materialism and conservative idealism it is no news it is not news to observes a dialectical complicity between the materialization of the idea and the idealization of matter the reversibility of idealism and materialism what is new however is the revelation that a genuinely critical materialism requires acknowledging the way in which the non-being the idea is entwined with the being of matter and this is an insight we all to Plato so what I wish to do here is to underline the persistent critical salience of Plato’s discovery of non-being in a contrast with the pathologize ation of the negative promulgated in the name of a post critical which is labeled anti Canton and anti Hegelian metaphysics and you know the names most frequently associated with this post critical metaphysics are Burke’s and quite head indoors now this is not a blanket denunciation of those figures but it’s rather a denunciation of the way in which they’ve been taken up and the kind of speculative philosophies that they’re reappropriation is it’s taken to license so among among the implications of the view I wish to propose is that it is precisely those who inscribe ideation within the eminence of material being who find themselves endorsing the substantive equivalence of thinking and being the permanent the Parmenides and equation of thinking and being whereas those who follow Plato and defending the transcendence of the idea substitute formal correlation for substantial equivalence thereby preserving the autonomy of the real so the point is I agree with those who whether it’s bad you or Ian grant another think we will be speaking here next week it’s a mistake to reduce Plato’s dialectic of essence and appearance to a true world metaphysics of phenomenon and Newman on Plato’s is a formal dualism of ie DOS or idea and soma or body it’s not a substantial dualism of mental and physical and this formal dualism provides the necessary precondition for materialist monism in other words you need a methodological dualism or a distinction between the idea and the body or between reasons and causes as it’s recorded in sailors to prosecute an unequivocal metaphysical monism you need to be a methodological duelist to be a monist or to be a consequence materialist and conversely it’s in the varieties of medical machito ISM including some versions of dialectical material rather than in Plato that rather than in place in ISM that the ostensibly idealist fusion of thought and being is consecrated so one of the most interesting consequences of Plato’s expansion of the Parmenides axiom is the winnowing of substance from idea concomitant with Plato’s metaphysics of negation is a certain negation of metaphysics understood as a tautological iteration of the empty equivalence thinking being what does this negation entail simply that in acknowledging that what is not somehow is we are also bound to recognize that what is somehow is not and Plato’s exposure of the intent of being an on being and thinking about what is remains the most authoritative rejoinder to those who which subordinates the autonomy of thoughts to the imminence of being hardly surprising then that the overturning of Platonism remains the indispensable prerequisite for instance affirm for reinstating the unity of mind in nature and this unity is the ultimate figure of reconciliation and that it is the desideratum of all metaphysical idealism its idealism is characterized as anything that believes that some kind of reconciliation between thought and being is possible so dialectics from its photonic inception onwards is a method of division and an antagonistic medium or playful usually called at antilog econ within which every temporary resolution is haunted by its unreconciled remainder there is no reconciliation there is always this is you know a trope has been reiterated in various forms the indivisible remainder but this known this this remainder which resists dialectical subsumption is respect feels the persistence of the dialectic so what’s necessary here to understand how the the dialectic of idea and body or ie das and soma precipitates and fuels metaphysical investigation in a critical register and this negative remainder is of course the phantom twin of every affirmation and Plato’s invention of dialectic is the first and arguably most decisive step in honing the law goes to the point where it can puncture the otherwise impenetrable opacity of thesis or natural being so it’s it’s in Plato’s office that the momentous recognition that the problem of the negative is a problem of thought is first recognized why because to think is to be boned whether one wants to or not to the norm of truth and yet the form of truth is considerably related to that which is not what is the nature of this not to ask this question as Plato recognizes in the surface is to ask about the being of the negative and thereby to ask what is known being the attempt to clarify the nature of negation involves inquiring about the being of non-being and to ask about how that which is not Tomei on in in plato’s Greek is implicated in the thought of that which is to on and it’s to raise the issue of thoughts relationship to the reality it seeks to circumscribe and inquire about the position of saw in relation to the being its thing so miraculous to ask how the being of thought is implicated in the thought of being so the problem of the negative is the problem of thoughts ability to discriminate between that which is and that which is not and already was play to the acknowledgement of the link between truth and negation as a potentiation of thought because while the disavowal of negativity and the glorification of affirmation depotentiates thoughts affirming this disjunction between that which isn’t that which is not or between what plate what will ultimately be inflated is sensible and the intelligible is precisely what prevents thoughts sophistical capitulation to the expediency of that which is what forces us to confront the reality of non being in place was account is precisely the issue of semblance and the status of images appearance and falsehood bicornis Fantasma and pursue dos for these are the anomalies that we stumble upon as soon as we try to define this the softest in asking what is the softest there’s a fundamental difficulty with the funniest offer since he bears multiple determinations none of which can they claim to definitive Authority for how is it possible to define I sees the intelligible form or ie dose of someone or something who imitates what he is not in this instance the philosopher the sharpest manufacturer semblances yet how could we be confident of what the sophist is or is not unless we already have some grasp of what he is already the distinction between philosopher and sophist is precarious and it is precisely the sophist who knows how to stave off his own philosophical identification as an imitator of wisdom by denying the possibility of distinguishing between the true and the false essence and appearance or philosophy in sophistry thus the founding gesture of the sophist is to deny negation while denying that he is denying anything for to deny is to intend what is not but since the sophist insists that what is not cannot be intended it cannot be denied thus the sophist maintains negation is impossible since to think what is not is not to think therefore thus offers conclude not only is every thought of something and hence affirmative it is itself something that is so thinking is doubly a parameter firms what is thought of as well as that one is thinking and fear we encounter the substantive equivalents mentioned earlier thought and thing are rendered equivalent you have the the reification of thought underlying this equivalence is the alignment of non-being with absence construed as the contrary of being since it is manifestly impossible to think the country of being because every attempt to think nothing turns it into something then it’s it seems to follow that non-being must be a chimera the challenge facing those who discriminate between essence and appearance or those who would kind of hold to plato’s distinction is to explain what they mean by appearance and how they propose to identify it in contradistinction to essence given that appearance is precisely what is supposed to be the thought what is supposed to be devoid of essential form for the very question wants is appearance insofar as it inquires about the formal being or ie dose of appearance and those appearance with the intelligibility or ID allottee it is supposed to lack once we have obtained the form of appearance we will be in a position to state what the sophist is and does now in Plato then goes on to show in the remainder of the dialogue at which I’ll be unable to come into the to go into here that’s the environment of being and non-being is articulated in in terms of beings self alteration there’s a principle of Altera T which is imminent to being itself this principle of alteration I think is clearly tied to two things one is it’s necessary in order to grasp the form of the sensible and the form of time or more specifically the relationship between sensation and time given that these are both ciphers of non-being in Plato just as the sensible has no form the pure pure matter devoid of categorical determination is absolute abstraction it’s formless so time is formless time yields no shape in Kant famous phrase but the sophist is he who denies this employment the enjoyment of being an on being and he denies he both denies that non being is and that being is not but he denies that he denies since he identifies saying with affirming and this this servo is a persistent threat to the possibility of thinking what is because failure to acknowledge this entwining of being another Ness it raises the difference between essence and appearance and Steinem is the ultimately rationalist imperative to explained phenomena by penetrating to the reality beyond appearances those who grant reality to everything are incapable of acknowledging the reality of anything by denying the formal difference between essence and appearance they deny the reality of appearance as surely as that of essence thus the issue of relation between appearance and reality is of course connected to the problem of skepticism and the perennial debate between those who hold that we can and indeed do know what is and those who maintain that we cannot but my contention here presupposes an account of a structure of rationality capable of demonstrating that every critique of reason remains beholden to certain fundamental rational norms and in light of the rhetorical appropriation of the term normativity by certain philosophers ruin systems rating it with extraneous ethical juridical baggage it’s worth emphasizing that the normativity invokes here and if the the register of normativity or the the normative structure of conception proclaimed by force were like sailors is formal and logical an ethical and juridical so this understanding of the intrinsically normative character of rationality can be traced back to Kant can transform the date about the status of reason and undermined the premise common both to dogmatic rationalism and imposes skepticism by construing judgments rather than ideas as the elementary units of thought concepts were cancer neither innate psychological structures nor abstractions from experience with rather logical forms of judgment by stressing the fundamentally discursive or judgmental structure of cognition Kant revealed the rule governed and hence normative character of all conceptual activity and it’s this Kantian insight that’s read that’s taken up and reworked by sailors under the aegis of a broadly naturalistic theory of mind and meaning and calling to which concepts and semantic contents are jointly individuated by their role within a linguistically articulated inferential Nexus and I hopefully can be able to kind of clarify what I mean by that later but for Kant so code askance kind of radicalize and recode the Platonic distinction between appearance and reality well famously in terms of the distinction between phenomena or appearances and things in themselves no for cats a metaphysical thesis whether realist idealist or Mattias is dogmatic precisely insofar as it disregards its distinction between objects and things in themselves we are affected by things in themselves says Kant but we cannot know them independently of our being affected by them we may of course still try to think them but perchance thinking is not knowing ignoring this constraint the claims of dogmatic metaphysics ring hollow because the import into things in themselves conceptual determinations that apply only to objects of representation but why this can insist on this distinction now for chance it is sensibility ie or material Constitution that connects the things in themselves since we are affected by things in themselves through our sensibility our conceptual capacities are conditioned by an own conceptual element originating in sensation the sensibility limits the reach of reason by tailoring the conceptual to the non conceptual and understanding to intuition and this regard sensibility ensures or contract with the in itself even as it constrains our cognitive access to it however APIs Kant insists the category of causality can only be properly applied to objects of representation and surely it’s illegitimate to claim that we are affected by things in themselves given that the concept of affection seems to presuppose a causal relationship between affecting and affected and here you know contrary to a koan misinterpretation invited by chance sometimes in judicious use of the word cause things in themselves should not be understood as the causes of appearances in the sense in which electrostatic discharges are the causes of lightning this is not because the category of causation cannot be applied to things in themselves so there is a sense in which it can provided we bear in mind Kansas tension between pure and schematized categories in other words we can almost think things as the causes of appearances even if we can’t know them as such the pure or unseen size category of causation is simply the logical relation of ground and consequence and as such it can be applied to the relation between appearances and things in themselves so long as we are clear that this is a purely conceptual rather than cognitive determination but we can think things in themselves as the groans of appearances provided that this grounding relation is understood in terms of a modified analogy with the way in which appearances cause other appearances and the relevant modification is that whereas the schematized category of causality always involves a consequence relation between temporal events the grounding relation between things in themselves and appearances involves a consequence relation that operates at the level of transcendental recollection okay but still we may ask what justifies isn’t postulating this transcendental and hence purely conceptual analog of the causal relation and Tans answer is disarmingly straightforward and this is I’m coding can’t hear even if we cannot cognize these same objects sorry appearances as things in themselves we must at least be able to think them as things in themselves for otherwise that would follow the absurd proposition that there is an appearance without anything that appears what is the precise nature of the absurdity that can seeks to avoid here on one level it is obviously absurd to deny that we can think appearances as things in themselves if this distinction is simply equivalent to the conceptual distinction between appearance and that which appears for it is indeed absurd to deny that the concept of appearance implies something that appears if this is what a distinction boils down to then it is precisely it’s purely conceptual status that guarantees its validity it is secured irrespective of whether or not we are able to know if what appears is like or unlike its appearance or whether things in themselves exist at all but if the distinction is purely conceptual then the concept of the in itself remains a pure abstraction it is simply the concept of something considered an abstraction from the way in which appearances are given to us in sensibility and determined by the concept of the understanding and this is precisely the viewlet can’t seem to endorse and this is a another passage from the first critique it follows right scans it falls naturally from the concept of an appearance in general that something must correspond to it which is not itself an appearance for appearance can be nothing for itself an outside of our kind of representation thus if there is not to be a constant circle the word appearance must already indicate a relation to something the immediate representation of which is to be sure sensible but which in itself without this constitution of our sensibility on which the form of our intuition is grounded must be something ie an object independent of sensibility know from this arises the concept of a Newman on which however is not at all positive and does not signify a determinate cognition of any sort of thing but rather only the thinking of something in general in which I abstract from all form of sensible intuition so it’s Gila can’t insist that the the concept of the New Moon is a purely critical concept and it has a negative valence in a way it’s an absolute abstraction but the cost of maintaining the negativity of the concept of the noumenon as something devoid of categorical determination seems to be to render a wholly indeterminate abstraction or scan himself puts it an empty concept without an object this thought entity or empty concept without an object is the concept of the intelligible nothing Kant distinguishes it from the nonentity or the empty object without a concept such as a square circle which is the unintelligible nothing these are the two types of empty concept and can contrast them with the two types of empty intuition the private of nothing as the empty object of a concept shared as the absence of light and the imaginary entity as the pure form of intuition without an object and tellingly Kant gives no example of the latter and it’s significant that both the objectless empty concept and the object less empty intuition defy empirical exemplification but how can this intelligible nothing be thought of as the ground of appearances clearly on cancer current experience is rooted in something affecting us from outside indeed this is the fundamental meaning of finitude thus it would seem that there must be something that causes us to have experiences but in characterizing the noumenon as an intelligible nothing seems to reduce the problematic ground of appearances to a mere thought entity yet it is precisely the reality of this problematic nothing that needs to be accounted for for without such an account the claim that things in themselves are the source of appearances becomes unintelligible thus it seems the absurdity that Kant wishes to avoid in acknowledging the necessary link between appearances and things in themselves is not merely the contradiction attendant upon the denial of a tautology the absurdity at issue is more profound and follows from denying the reality of appearances the empirical reality of appearances must be rooted in a transcendental reality albeit one whose determinate characteristics we are barred from knowing and notwithstanding its role as a purely negative and limiting concept it seems we are obliged to acknowledge the problematic reality of the noumenon qua abstraction consequently on a second reading Kant claim about the necessary link between appearances and things in themselves can be interpreted as meaning that the objective reality proper to appearances in the transcendental as opposed to empirical or Berkeley in sense is grounded in the formal reality of things in themselves now this distinction between formal reality and objective reality is is at the heart of sellers critical reconstruction of Kant basically in scholastic terminology it’s a distinction that Descartes relies on and is meditation it’s simply the distinction between something form of the formal reality of a thing is its substantial or independent reality for us it’s subjective reality is simply its conceptual reality the reality it has simply by virtue of being an objective sort so the issue is how do we make sense what is this intelligible nothing that is the ground of appearances and the ground of our being affected by things in themselves through Sensibility I mean SAMHSA’s work is the systematic development an examination of a key Kantian insight which is that we are connected to the world from the inside through sensation but we can only know it from the outside through conception so what in order to think the to defend the autonomy and the intelligibility of the noumenon or of the the intelligible nothing is also to defend the reality of appearances and the actuality of sensation and this is precisely the problematic that is refined in the work of of sellers who sellers is and I you know I’ve said this before but I will say this again I think sellers is emerging as the most significant American philosopher of the second half of the twentieth century and I think the extraordinary power of his work of the Anna solutions he proposed two problems that you know dogged post Canton philosophers are gradually being rediscovered by a younger generation of philosophers so in other words although he might be obscure he is not an obscure marginal figure he’s a philosopher of primary importance so what Sellars wants to do is to Challenge okay one you know an unsatisfactory kind of rejoinder to the Platonic division or cleavage between thinking and sensing or appearance in reality a philosophers such as Bergson proposes to overturn Platonism by insisting that the reality of sensation is the sensation of reality okay in other words that we can both not only are we connected to the world from the inside through sensing but we can also know the world from the inside through intuition and what is at stake in cellars you know critical extension of or around his kind of mochilas kind of reconstruction of kantianism is an attempt to resist the rehabilitation of intuition as a source of metaphysical knowledge because basically any metaphysics founded upon intuition is will quickly founder into in in dogmatism so it’s necessary to insist that the reality of sensation is not the sensation of reality and this this this insight lies at the heart of selves theory of experience okay which is also a theory that renders explicit the conceptual and proto theoretical scaffolding implicit in what we call experience and in this this is a straightforward continuation of counts account of the essentially discursive structure of cognitive experience the analysis of experience reveals two distinct layers thoughts and sensation whose discovery is that once a cultural and cognitive accomplishment and who’s in twining produces perception which is the precondition for cognitive experience and sales analysis is directed against what he denounces as the myth of the given the claimed at certain privileged experiences possess an absolute epistemic authority that does not depend upon any other beliefs or exactly it is the claim that all inferential knowledge rests upon a foundation of non-intervention knowledge consisting of self-authenticating mental episodes or self presenting experiences through which reality is directly intuitive or immediately apprehended so to insist that perception is in part but only in part a conceptual achievement is to propose that the capacity for experience is acquired and not innate yet while sellers is concerned to dismantle a philosophical myth one is at once epistemological in metaphysical he denies neither the reality of experience nor that there is an experience of reality his principal contention is that while there is a dimension in which inferential knowledge rests upon a stratum of sensation or something like immediate experience there is another dimension in which this immediate this you know sensory immediacy is supported by and presupposes a Rama flying network of inferential knowledge the sellers proposes a properly dialectical resolution to the epistemological dispute between coherent lists who construe knowledge as a circle in which beliefs whether a priori or a posterior or I can only be justified by other beliefs and foundationless who privilege a special class of beliefs that they take to be self justification the soul and thus illogical solution comes with the realization that while the immediacy of self evidence presupposes evidential mediation evidential mediation also presupposes the self evidence of immediacy and in this regard selves as critique of the given is not a pretext for a generalized skepticism but is sometimes taken to be rather it’s more apt to see it as elaborating upon a key Hegelian dictum and Hegel is in a way the missing link between Plato accountants Pilate sellers the Hegelian dictum is there is nothing nothing in heaven or in nature or in mind or anywhere else which does not equally contain both immediacy and mediation so that these two determinations reveal themselves to be unseparated and inseparable and the opposition between them to be a nullity so what then the problem though is if the ability to perceive states of affairs is grounded in sensation how do we account for the content of sensation without simply dissolving it in some infinite network of conceptual mediation in other words how do we secure the reality of sensation as that through which something is given that is not originally rooted in conceptual mediation okay well sellers sellers proposes a new CD and used theoretical account of sensory intuition now traditionally only particulars are intuitive and particulars are sensible yet there’s an ambiguity concerning scent gender or the objects of sensing one we claimed that particulars are sensed I see read while insisting that sensing is not knowing alternately one can claim that facts or sense factor states of affairs or sense I see that the door is read and maintained that sensing is knowing and this ambiguity is typically compounded by the claim that scent chenda or the objects of sensing are particulars which we know by direct acquaintances so that if so then knowledge by acquaintance becomes a new stipulative sense of to know and the problem of sellers faces is to defend the reality ok the formal reality of sensation without claiming that sensations are self presenting actualities and more specifically that sensations have a determinant categorical character that simply discloses itself immediately to the the sentient organism because this is simply to reaffirm the met the myth of the given which sellers also formulates as the claim that’s the categorical structure of reality if it has any such structure simply imprints itself upon the mind in the way in which a seal imprints itself upon wax there is no pre-established harmony between the structure of reality and the conceptual categories that we deploy in order to explore and cognize that reality so what’s at stake here is about the the conceptual link between the notion of sensation and out of appearance so in cells like on the analysis of sensation requires a preliminary clarification of the status of the concept of appearance how are we to make sense of our incorrigibility of our appearances the fact that we can be wrong about how things are but not about how things seem they can’t had already pointed out that seeming is not recursive it’s perfectly acceptable to say it seems red to me but it makes no sense to claim it seems to seem red to me Sellars proposes that the seams operator is not recursive because it operates a suspension of endorsement that cannot be reiterated won’t can we can’t be wrong about how things seem because what because we’re actually withholding rather than endorsing any assertion when reporting how things seem to us the ability to distinguish between is and scenes or reality and appearance requires that knowledge be normatively attuned to the objectivity of publicly observable phenomena construed in terms of inter subjectively verifiable standard conditions of perception and this must be the case before any phenomenon can be said to be constituted by its relation to subjectivity and described is an appearance so in other words subjective appearances are a special subset of objective phenomena the objectivity of phenomena is conceptually prior to the subjective ation of appearances but the content of appearances can’t be wholly constituted by this withholding of endorsement because the claim that something looks blurred is not just to refrain from asserting that its features are sharply defined so it’s necessary to provide a positive account of the phenomenal content of appearance over and above its characterization in terms of the withholding of endorsement so in other words what is necessary is to account for the occurrence actuality of sensations and the ability to experience sensations independently of the ability to recognize the distinction between how things appear and how things actually are so the task then is what why is the problem why is this a problem because there’s something about the structure of appearance and about the intrinsic qualities of appearances that resists identification in terms of you know molecular or microphysical processes the essential task says Sellars is to recognize that there is something that the key parts of the occurrence pinkness of a pink ice ice cube cannot be explained in terms of any system of relations between its microphysical components because the sensory quality that is the direct object or the direct content of the experience is homogeneous and non particulate it cannot it is homogeneous and continuous and it cannot be decomposed into discrete punctual elements so the problem is to reconcile the homogenous continuity of the contents of sensations with the hetero the heterogeneous discontinuity of the microphysical processes that sub time these episode these sensory episodes so that challenge says sellers is to penetrate to the non particulate foundation of the particular image in other words the challenge is to understand how the characterization of material processes in terms of complex systems of micro physical particles must be revised and transformed and rooted in a more fundamental homogeneity or continuity so what Sellars proposes is Sarah’s waiters at the space-time continuum which constitutes the non particulate foundation of the physicalist world of you may yet prove to be compatible with the postulate that the qualities of sense are in fact dimensions of absolute process and hence aspects of a spatial temporal continuum occurring only in sentient organisms so a new category which Sellars proposes to call sensor needs to be introduced to permit the identification of sensory experience with the complex physical processes constitutive of the central nervous system and this is the point at which sellers implicitly proposal a critical continuation of the metaphysical concerns that fuel Bergson’s Enterprise from a Solarian perspective what is perhaps most interesting about Burks and as Harvey provides an analysis of the conceptual content of sensation was in the manifest image what sailors call the manifest image of man in the world while mistaking his analysis for a description of the phenomenon as such but we have contrast Sellars recognizes that the concept of sensation can and may be integrated into a categorical a expanded scientific image so under the metaphysical task is simply is not to to identify a set a fixed system of categories that constrain in advance the possibilities of metaphysical investigation but to forge what Sellars calls transcendental categories that allow us to reintegrate the aspects of our experience basic constituent factors of our experience into the scientific world in other words – for the resources that allow for a thoroughgoing object evasion a critical objective ation of subjective phenomena so it’s precisely the conceptual note but to claim this is the claim that there is something conceptually tractable about sensation what does this mean this is insist that sensation is intelligible it is not this brute impenetrable or unintelligible phenomenon and it’s because sensation is conceptually tractable that it can be reintegrated into an expanded physicalist worldview but a physicalism that no comprises our rationalist metaphysics of becoming so in other words this this is the the enigmatic promise of origin philosophy that sensing and becoming itself or intelligible there is an intelligible structure to becoming so and what this requires then is the forging of the what he calls counterpart categories that would allow us to recognize sensory processes as aspects of what Sellars calls absolute processes know the term absolute processes is calling by c/d broad an English philosopher in his commentary on McTaggart the contrast between absolute and relative or object bound processes is that absolute processes are events which are knots which cannot be predicated of any more fundamental subject in other words there are processes that are not things that happen they’re not attributes they are not accidents they are themselves subjects absolute subjects okay well then I’m basic I’ll stop here so I just quickly kind of sum up so that what what is the significance of this move the claim is that there’s something about there’s something about the content of sensing through which we are boned two extra conceptual reality which is conceptually tractable once we’ve forge new categories these categories allow the the experiences that are taken to you know the sensory experiences that are taken to distinguish sentient from non sentient organisms to be investigated or to be integrated within an enlarged physicalist worldview so that sensory consciousness therefore can no longer be upheld as the some kind of intractable obstacle to to the physicalist perspective okay I’ll stop here that’s I’m sorry I’ll just stop here.
You’re fucking right you’ll stop there, Ray. Blah blah blah, TLDR. Jesus, Ray don’t you ever get tired of all this painfully abstruse tripe?
Here is a video of Ray Brassier talking – specifically, acting the part of Someone Important With Something Meaningful To Say. While it’s only been sped up by a satirical factor of around 1.3, it’s enough to make it easy to highlight the precise degree of (what seems like) deliberately self-induced academic suffering, a ritualistic penance for the Cardinal sin of being so A.F.C apparently fucking clever. While the bizarre results can easily be mistaken for a regular under-the-counter cocaine andor saniflush prescription, it’s more like a sweaty, religious attitude of mortification in the undead name of the church of Academia. Such philosophical cosplayers love to perform for their equally devoted Stans (aka white alt right nerds?), who ogle and greet such terrible and romantic intellectual flagellation with open, luke warm plastic hearts.
A raw, wild light streams off Ray as he talks ‘pure’ shite about.. whatever it is, hunched over like a priest jerking off in his confession box to the god of obscurantist pseudo-philosophy (in His Own image, incidentally), rocking back and forth with fraught concentration and rueful self-castigation, blissfully confessing to whoever’s nearby that He’s Got Something Important To Say. It’s a beautiful (public) performance, to be sure; it’s that spectacle of glaring wretchedness of course which gives it strange, undead life. Talking oneself into a right existential tizzy, around and around in every tighter, decreasing circles of nonsensical speculation. The classic phrase ‘he rationalized himself insane‘ seems hand made for such a creature.
Can you imagine you’re a student in this audience, looking nervously around at fellow pupils trying not to snigger under their breath at how utterly ridiculous it all is? Imagine knowing you’ve got a fucking 10K essay on this shite that’s got to be in by next Monday and you’ve not only not even started, you’ve absolutely no idea what the shit balls Professor ‘Batshit Jumblewords’ Brassier was yaffling on about. No matter – all you have to, the point is, to merely be seen as having spent enough (wasted) time and effort in appearing to give as much of a shit as Ray did about his subject. Whatever it was.
That is, no matter that you talk a load of bullshit in your essay, but that the academic priest who marks your paper and anoints it with holy ‘passing mark’ water believes that *you* believe in what Ray’s talking about – and to the same freakish degree of passionate, religious intensity. ‘Fervour’ is the (cult) key. Actual fucking Meaning however seems.. decidedly elsewhere. Probably too embarrassed to turn up. And to think that so many people get into serious, long term financial debt for darkly laughable bullshit like the stuff which spews unchecked out of the hole in Ray’s suspiciously over-stuffed skull. (You can almost hear the Borgean Library reams of endless A4 nonsense rustling about at random, forever.)
Look at the way he moves now, these gestures. I find this ridiculous. He emphasizes ‘I cannot say all the truth, it’s impossible, materially’. This ridiculous emphasis. I think it’s pure fake, an empty gesture, as if he makes a deep point there. He does not.
– Slavoj Zizek, Zizek! (2005 documentary by Astra Taylor)
What would one recommend for such conceptual mania? A B12 supplement might be a good start. There seems a clear and present danger that ‘overthinking pointless, deliberately convoluted nonsense’ may be linked with long term frontotemporal dementia of the cultural academic kind (and at the very least indicative of institutional receptive aphasia.)
What seems vital here is an Intellectual Atheism – an intelligence which is deeply sceptical of Intellectuals and their time wasting. What is the rate of madness among academics – that is, what is inherently batshit about mainstream culturally sanctioned (/philosophical) academia? Who the fuck even are these people anyway? Why do they have any platform to speak so freely about pointless convoluted shit which has nothing to do with the real problems everybody else faces (and often successfully deals with on a daily basis, sans the intellectual peacock display.)
Such academics appear to have painted themselves into an evolutionary corner. Sure, they’ve most certainly carved themselves out a niche – ‘funny talk’ – but that’s like being a professional tick on the ass end of a stinking warthog whose true dimensions and import one totally fails to grasp (probably because one is too busy appearing clever and cool to one’s equally obscurantist peers to listen carefully to the wider fucking universe outside Academia.)
In which one wonders to what extent the systemic faults and failures of the laughably dire, mad-machine output of ‘Brassier et.al’ can be laid at the (/inherent / neo-fascist?) ideological and anti-philosophical) tendencies and threads running through the (eg.) Cybernetic Culture Research Institute. Perhaps it’s simply the case that the stark (white, male, authoritarian) root laid bare before all and plain to see was utterly dehydrated and lifeless from the very outset. Bollocks to nihilism. Have such clowns ever dared utter two whole consecutive sentences that were honest and true, clear and direct – that were actually worth stating out loud in the first place?
Ray Brassier and his ilk stink like a smoked barrel of undead fucking pickled charlatans. They need our help and support through their own pathetically difficult texts.
- On Reza Negarestani’s Obscurantist ‘Intelligence And Spirit’
- The Inapplicable Ballardianism Of Simon Sellars
// how to play big science