philosophy as not philosophy: para-ontology, hauntology, schizoanalysis

"Articulating the past historically does not mean recognizing it ‘the way it really was’. It means appropriating a memory as it flashes up in a moment of danger. Historical materialism wishes to hold fast that image of the past which unexpectedly appears to the historical subject in a moment of danger. The danger threatens both the content of the tradition and those who inherit it. For both, it is one and the same thing: the danger of becoming a tool of the ruling classes. Every age must strive anew to wrest tradition away from the conformism that is working to overpower it. The Messiah comes not only as the redeemer; he comes as the victor over the Antichrist. The only historian capable of fanning the spark of hope in the past is the one who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he is victorious. And this enemy has never ceased to be victorious."
- Walter Benjamin, Thesis VI

"The materialist doctrine concerning the changing of circumstances and upbringing forgets that circumstances are changed by men and that it is essential to educate the educator himself. This doctrine must, therefore, divide society into two parts, one of which is superior to society. The coincidence of the changing of circumstances and of human activity or self-changing can be conceived and rationally understood only as revolutionary practice."
- Karl Marx, Thesis III

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Not Not Philosophy

The growing enthusiasm and interest around Speculative Realism and Laurelle's non-philosophy can not reasonably be ignored. I was indifferent at first, but my interest has been peaked after skimming Mullarkey's Post-Continental Philosophy, and more recently, having started reading Ray Brassier's Alien Theory and other available texts on the net. I do have certain reservations, especially concerning the apparent effacement of any discussion of language. One of the reasons non-philosophy interests me is its (maybe superficial) similarity to structuralism, which of course is born out of insights into the relation between being and language, or rather, differential structures as exemplified in language. I'm sure I will elaborate on this in the future, right now I can only note the thought. I'm also intrigued by Meillassoux's notion of 'ancestry', which seems quite close to the work I've been dong with Benjamin.

In my thesis, I deal with the question of materialism, and its ultimate point at which matter becomes the purely negative exclusion of any predication or conceptualization. So non-philosophy seems intriguing, if it indeed aims to develop the perspective of this pure void in thought, be it matter or whatever. Of course, this is not to say that the void is subjectived, that we aim to narrate its experience or some such nonsense. Rather, the subject as stranger occupies the place in which all thought, all predication and conceptualization, becomes excessive or superfluous, 'transcendent' in the sense of 'beside the fact' or 'after the fact'. It is not that the Real - the void of symbolization - is filled out, nor left empty, but rather becomes a kind of opening (to) or standing before the totality of empirical-predicable reality, a way toward phenomenality that nevertheless its outside, outside-looking-in, or even its internal-outside.

I am still quite ignorant, and these are brief speculations. But as I begin to research this already rich movement, a few questions to take into account:
- The prevalence of the prefix non-, and this in contrast to anti-. What are the different forms of negation, opposition, or refusal at work here?
- The 'non-dialectical' nature of the synthesis of Duality-without-difference and Identity-without-unity. Why the insistent need in philosophy (or non-philosophy) to reject Hegel, especially when one seems closest to Hegel?
- Is there a sense in which the non- of non-philosophy is a kind of Kanto-Hegelian infinite judgement - that is, not the negation of a predicate, but the affirmation of a non-predicate?
- Can we think of the relationship of non-philosophy with philosophy as the Pauline as not, in the sense of doing philosophy as not philosophy?
- How does Laurelle's theory of the philosophical Decision relate to Schimtt's theory of the sovereign decision?

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