In my last two posts, I broached the subject of a coming-together of Laruelle, Deleuze, and Badiou in conjunction with the emerging universal mathematical language of quantum set theory. In this I realized a need for a logic of constant oscillation of thought, like a sheaf logic (see here), which contains two poles: the first being dialogical, and the second being synchronic. In this undifferentiated continuum lies the possibilities for a collective integration of our Fragments of knowledge into a Unitive whole, and other big words…
With the spirits of both Deleuze and Badiou firmly in mind, a certain formal multiplication of Laruelle took place, as dualysis quickly became trialysis, quadralysis, and so forth. This movement continued (with the help of Sloterdijk) until we had successfully moved across the medical field to arrive at paralysis (see here) as a new potential agency in the last instance. Thus, I argued that if one was skeptical of Laruelle because he looks like a dead-end, then one would do so rightfully. He is a dead-end, and necessarily so.
But this is the case only insofar as we think he looks that way. He sounds otherwise to me. Again, we must see with our ears and not our eyes in order to demonstrate, if it s possible, the sense in which is his thought is actually a closure. Could it be a closure to one direction, and on the contrary, an opening in another? I believe this to be the case with Laruelle.
For what ends here is only the World as we know it, but do not be afraid of this apocalypse! It is the World of violence and suffering that we know so well that comes to an end as as we begin to enter into a certain paralysis which proves to be key to moving beyond the trope of the “foreigner” in favor of an absolute Self-overcoming. I continued by suggesting that the “hermetic turn” is not a turn like any other; rather, it is a turn inward on our very act of turning-in-itself.
It is, as it were, the necessary culmination of the previous turns in continental philosophy thus far. If we are afraid of this turn, if we are trembling, it is with good reason.
For when one has no where left to turn, no longer phenomenological, nor linguistic, nor religious, nor even speculative, one is left with no choice but to turn in and meditate on their turning, on this particular turning as it unfolds. And this turn, to be sure, is a monstrous one. It is as though one leaves the comfortable sphere of locality and becomes globally inclined, seeing from as close to the place of the One which sees everything.
Here, the difficulty of managing multiple systems at once comes to light, and in this performance, to be paralyzed is to withdraw from the violence of the World at-present, and begin to generate a new World. Here, and only here, it is as though we are trying to see the effects of our turning before they even occur. Our vision is not one of the eye, but instead as we have demonstrated of the ear and of the mind’s eye.
This, it seems, marks a half-way point. The positive project of action against-the-World-for-the-World is still to burst forth as the Infinite within is to be released. While for the philosopher it is necessary to create concepts at-will; the non-philosopher is now charged with the impossible task of creating unitive concepts.
This dead-end is thus revealed to be particularly a useful one, insofar as we now have no option but to ascend vertically instead of horizontally.
From our present ego-centric stage, let us move with-and-beyond to a post-autonomous and post-dialectical mode of thoughtaction. With Laruelle, and with Deleuze to a degree, alongside Novalis of course, we have already recognized or otherwise captured a mere glimpse of the need to adopt a vision-in-One or let us say a “Unitive” approach in our thoughtaction.
Yet, it is this term “construct awareness” which strikes me as critical at this point in space-time.
Although it may have been latent in the ashes of post-structuralism most notably in the kind of sensitivity and ethics of hospitality in the work of Jacques Derrida and others, waiting to rise like a volcanic phoenix. It seems thee time is no longer fully out of joint, nor is it understood as being in joint; rather, it is now the time, for it is always the time, to unleash the Infinite within.
We may say in our passing that luminous grounds are the foundations of the Wilderness.
Dr. Susanne Cook-Greuter, in EGO DEVELOPMENT: NINE LEVELS OF INCREASING EMBRACE (see .pdf here), from whom the previous diagram was taken, writes the following of “Construct-awareness”:
Construct-aware individuals are people who have become aware of the pattern of development that encompasses an ever broader realm of experience and thought. They realize that the “ego” has functioned both as a central processing unit for all stimuli and as a central point of reference and self-identity. Once they realize this fundamental ego-centricity, it is felt as a constraint to further growth and understanding. Construct-aware people start to wonder about the meaningfulness of more and more complex thought structures and integrations such as can be imagined with a fifth or nth person perspective. They start to realize the absurdity or automatic limits of human map making in the representational domain.
Unlike earlier stages, Construct-aware persons are aware of the ego’s clever and vigilant machinations at self-preservation. This is the first time in development that the ego becomes transparent to itself . Final knowledge about the self or anything else is seen as illusive and unattainable through effort and reason because all conscious thought, all cognition is recognized as constructed and, therefore, split off from the underlying, cohesive, non-dual truth.
By turning further inward, Construct-aware persons start to see through their own attempts at meaning making, and become aware of the profound splits and paradoxes inherent in rational thought. In many ways, they individually rediscover the Korzybski’s notion (1948) that “the map is not the territory.” The linguistic process of splitting into polar opposites and the attending value judgments can become conscious. Good and evil, life and death, beauty and ugliness may now appear as two sides of the same coin, as mutually necessitating and defining each other. Moreover, the constant judging of what is good and what is not creates much of the tension and unhappiness so prevalent in ordinary waking consciousness. Construct-aware individuals generally have a dynamic and multi-faceted understanding of human nature and the complexities of human interaction. They want to face their own profound need for theories and explanations. They hope to unearth the limits of the rational mind, and to unlearn their automatic, conditioned responses based on memory and continuous, everyday cultural reinforcement.
And so we realize that such a paralysis, an identification among other things with the paralyzed in the last instance, shall we not forget, is now becoming.
The tendency moves away from exclusion, and towards an unconditional embrace. I now wish to put forth the provocative thesis that onto-cartographies, for all their wild popularity in SR/OOO, are but a temporary stage in the natural unfolding of thought which is to be overcome at last by Irony.
If it is worthwhile to proceed as I have done in this blog into the caverns of German Idealism, it is to retrieve from the salt mine one gem of an idea: the notion of Witz. It is for this reason why I became drawn to the life and works of Novalis in particular. The connection between such irony and alchemy shines in these dark, poetic recesses of Romantic thought, articulated here by Jochen Schulte-Sasse in a book aptly titled Theory As Practice: A Critical Anthology of Early German Romantic Writings, on page 30:
And no conversation of irony may begin without the following Kierkegaardian insights (see here) from On the Concept of Irony with Constant Reference to Socrates:
In our age there has been much talk about the importance of doubt for science and scholarship, but what doubt is to science, irony is to personal life. Just as scientists maintain that there is not true science without doubt, so it may be maintained with the same right that no genuinely human life is possible without irony (p. 326).
If the plunge into the weird “quantumness” of things is necessary, it is not because here we finally at last find Truth! Instead, it is because we may actively bring about the creative synthesis of two of Kierkegaard’s further notes, “Irony is a qualification of subjectivity.” and “ ”Subjectivity is Truth” by affirming that “Witz is a qualification of Truth”.
By entering in the salt mine, if one is lucky, one comes out with Witz.
Indeed, this is Novalis’ most precious thought, as articulated by Jean-Luc Nancy in his book in a chapter The Birth to Presence, entitled “Menstruum universale”, on page 251:
If Schlegel (whose irony Novalis admired deeply) describes Witz as the ars combinatoria, Nancy continues on page 261, it is because of what is ultimately generated by this kind of good, controlled irony.
In the course of our studies of quantum set theory, we have perhaps inadvertently committed ourselves to the absolute generation and regeneration of Witz.
That is, following the various motifs of universal mathematics, the menstruum universal, and the true lingua caracteristica universalis, it seems as though when it comes to quantum interpretations of reality we have little choice left but the many-worlds interpretation — which is not so much an interpretation, but the standard quantum formalism taken realistically, as opposed to instrumentally.
To repeat again an excerpt from Sheaf Logic, Quantum Set Theory and the Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics by J. Benavides  (see .pdf here):
This approach results to be more constructive, showing a direct relation with the Gelfand representation theorem, and revealing also the importance of these results with respect to the interpretation of QM in close connection with the Deutsch-Everett multiversal interpretation of quantum theory. Finally it is shown how the collapse via generic models of this structure of quantum variable sets can help to explain the emergence of classicality also in close relation with the Deutsch-Everett perspective. [...]
That is, not only does “construct awareness” refer to our own limited awareness of the inertia of the constructs we produce, but also its double.
It reminds us also of the other emergence of “construct awareness” — that the collective unconscious permeates reality with a kind of agency of its own. One need not take this detour through quantum theory to arrive at this understanding; however, this time it is only given the celebrity of Badiou that we recognize in his pursuit of philosophical “mastery” a highly problematic trope. We must face it first on the inside his own mathematical turf, not merely from without.
For a political aside, it is not the individual Maoist such as Badiou-the-Man which is my concern, but it is the violence of a de-personalized Maoist (or especially a Christian one for that matter) collective unconscious which captures my attention. While Maoism is indeed the addition of this “creative synthesis” to Marxism-Leninism, or the injection of this much-desired construct-awareness into organization and philosophy, it is also much more localized than that.
It is the injection of construct-awareness into Marxist-Leninist organization and philosophy, most notably in the Third World. As such, any qualms I may confess are not directly with Mao, nor are they directly with Lenin. Instead, they are to be situated with respect to Marx’s Das Kapital itself, and his own construct awareness or possible lack thereof. This realization is a bit numbing.
I am led to believe that a more powerful critique of the global phenomena known as “capitalism” is still forthcoming.
I furthermore sense that it is not to come from the orthodox side pertaining to “modes of production”; rather, it is to come with the realization that to think in terms of fixed modes of production is to lose sight of the markedly complex, generative aspects of these modes (is it perhaps a matter of Life itself?, see here) which may be critical in the Crisis of their origin. Louis Althusser, certainly, was heading in the right direction in his discussions of “reproduction of the conditions of possibility”, but I wonder whether or not he went far enough?
Can we think of a construct-aware analysis of “capital” that cuts a level below Marx’s sharp insight, that integrates and accommodates it in our world? If Laruelle’s “non-Marxism” is indeed necessary, it is only in order to remember to capture these lonely and cast-aside Fragments before they become lost. Their “weak” potential seems to me to make all the difference in the World.
Let me suffice to say for the moment that the “M-L-M world” is one among many other possible worlds, surely an important one to give to thought. Certainly, it is revealed to be a form of praxis in the Third World which has had many successes (consider the 20,000+ “fighters” in Nepal, here), and to this extent — judging here only in accord with its own telos of emancipation of the proletariat — it seems to do some work.
What to make of other worlds, such as this privileged First World? Here, I cannot be so certain. As I said earlier, I am prone to wonder not so much what is to be done, but what is becoming (un-)done?
In any event, back on track, David Wallace and David Deutsch at the Oxford School has me mostly convinced (I am still working out some details, of course) of his vision of the many-worlds “interpretation” (see video here), especially given my reading on set theory. In particular, I thoroughly enjoyed his article Decoherence and Ontology: or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love FAPP (see here) and “Everett and Structure”. In this first article, the abstract reads:
I make the case that the Universe according to unitary (no-collapse) quantum theory has a branching structure, and so can literally be regarded as a “many-worlds” theory. These worlds are not part of the fundamental ontology of quantum theory – instead, they are to be understood as structures, or patterns, emergent from the underlying theory, through the dynamical process of decoherence. That they are structures in this sense does not mean that they are in any way unreal: indeed, pretty much all higher-level ontology in science, from tables to phonons to tigers, is likewise emergent. Unitary quantum theory is therefore a “many-worlds” theory without any modification of the mathematical structure of the theory: the Everett interpretation does not consist in adding worlds to the formalism, but in realising that they are there already. Our grounds for accepting the reality of those worlds is no more, but no less, than our grounds for accepting any other not-directly observable consequence of an empirically very successful theory.
Now, I bring this up not with the intent of discussing the intricacies of quantum theory, we have had enough of that for the time being, but for sake of providing a means of orienting oneself towards the future. To grasp this “branching strcuture” is to notice that, like the mechanism of path integral formation, action is a matter of a sum over histories (see here).
As follows, Richard Feynman‘s formulation reads:
- Events in nature are probabilistic with predictable probabilities P.
- The probability P for an event to occur is given by the square of the complex magnitude of a quantum amplitude for the event, Q. The quantum amplitude Q associated with an event is the sum of the amplitudes associated with every history leading to the event.
- The quantum amplitude associated with a given history is the product of the amplitudes associated with each fundamental process in the history.
If there is an argument to support the insistence upon non-violence thoughtaction at all, it is on these bases and these bases alone. It is on the long-term effects of identification and organization, the subtle nuances of our individual actions which add up in the collective unconscious as it changes over time.
Granted a heightened degree of construct awareness, our new-found Witz may allow us to carefully determine the future we will encounter. In realizing the oftentimes traumatic histories of each and every individual, and of each and every society at large (e.g. via studying collective traumas such as the Holocaust), we are called by Crisis to Wander in new paths on the luminous ground of the Wilderness.
Until then, may this Fragment serve the betterment of your wisdom and understanding…
Greuter, Susanne R.. Postautonomous ego development: a study of its nature and measurement. 1999. Print.
Kierkegaard, Søren, and Lee M. Capel. The concept of irony, with constant reference to Socrates.. New York: Harper & Row, 1966. Print.
Kierkegaard, Søren, and Howard V. Hong. The essential Kierkegaard. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000. Print.
Nancy, Jean. The birth to presence. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1993. Print.
Sasse, Jochen. Theory as practice: a critical anthology of early German romantic writings. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997. Print.