Science, Philosophy, and University: Fragments of A Historical Approach That Doesn’t Actually Go Back That Far, Nor Range Widely

“In 1888, Josiah P. Cooke, the Harvard chemist, asserted that a large majority of American scientists remained ‘wholly wedded’ to a particular ‘system’ of ideas in a dogmatic sense. Far fewer saw themselves as standing outside all structures of established theory. For many researchers the inductive method still led quickly to the notion of fixed universal law. Amos E. Dolbear, a positivistic physicist, insisted that although the ‘fundamental principles of philosophy’ had been broken up ‘pretty vigorously’ during the preceding century, ‘it is to be noted…that on the scientific side things have from the beginning all been going one way, that is to say every new, broad generalization so far has simply covered the previous ones and has not superseded them.’Indeed, few academic researchers of this period expected that the knowledge they discovered would ever be overturned. Veblen once admitted that he carried in his head a general outline of human knowledge and that he placed each new fact, as it arrived, into this comfortable scheme. ‘Knowledge is increasing with every generation, and the youth of mankind is passing into maturity,’ declared John M. Coulter confidently in 1894. The metaphors used to describe scientific knowledge significantly reveal its assumed permanence. Knowledge was an island whose territory was continually being advanced into the ocean of the unknown; knowledge was a temple, built of monographic bricks (not easily corroded by time or weather). Or, said Coulter, a bit more flexibly, knowledge was a great river. To be sure, it sometimes changed its course and left villages high and dry. But the metaphor presumed a basically stable source. A river obeyed the law of gravity, and it never turned into a mirage. Such images of knowledge sanctified the researcher as one of the lasting contributors to civilization. The quest on every side was for definitive studies — studies that would never have to be done over again….For the intense seeker after new knowledge, research soon came to possess many of the emotional characteristics of a religion…A physicist spoke of the ‘exaltation of feeling which comes from the possession of a fact, which, now, for the first time, he makes known to men.’ Like educational missionaries, a few professors began urging that research begin with the kindergarten and permeate the primary school. But the most revealing experiences of the young researcher were those of private initiation; sometimes these bordered on conversion. A student of psychology, inspired by one of [Stanley G.] Hall’s lectures in the mid-nineties, immediately afterward covered a large carde with the written motto ‘INVESTIGATION,’ and hung it over his desk. According to an anecdote of the early Johns Hopkins — possibly apocryphal — one student arrived in such a state of anticipatory ecstasy that he maintained a night-long vigil in the laboratory where he expected to do his work.”…”The lives of such investigators might seem colorless to outsiders, but they reflected an utter dedication. Many of these men wrote little or nothing about the purpose of higher education or even about the ‘larger’ significance of their own disciplines. And so they tended to be forgotten by all but a few later specialists. For this reason, such men — the representatives of the ideal of pure science — have sometimes been unduly minimized in assessing American academic life of the late nineteenth century.”

— Laurence R. Veysey – The Emergence of the American University (1965)

“While the old line between the sciences and the humanities may be invisible as the equator, it has an existence as real. On the one side are cognitions which may be submitted to demonstrative proof: which do not depend on opinion, preference, or authority; which are true everywhere and all the time; while on the other side are cognitions which depend on our spiritual natures, our aesthetic preferences, our intellectual traditions, our religious faith. Earth and man, nature and the supernatural, letters and science, the humanities and the realities, are the current terms of contrast between the two groups and there are no signs that these distinctions will ever vanish.”

— Daniel Coit Gilman, The Launching of a University (1903)

“The academic philosophers of the period, who became allies of the men of letters, were distinctive enough to require separate comment. The educational opinions of the philosophical idealists coincided with those of the literary advocates of culture so often as to suggest an intrinsic connection. ‘Literature and philosophy cover the same ground,’ said a Yale philosopher, ‘the former in its more immediate relation to ourselves, the latter in its more fundamental aspects…Both imply the assumptions which are taken without analysis in literature but which it is the business of the philosopher to analyze and justify.’ The philosopher and the man of letters shared many of the same intellectual traditions; it was after all no great distance from Goethe to Hegel, and Emerson and Carlyle helped bridge the gap.

The philosopher focused upon one theme in the more general thinking about culture: the unity of the universe. He found in his own discipline the proper crown for the entire academic curriculum. By no means neglecting morality (indeed, in one sense he made it loftily systematic), the philosophical idealist tended, more than other advocates of culture, to respect intellect. He did this not because intellect enabled one to investigate particulars, but because it was a tool by which the basic configuration of the universe might be mapped out. Put another way, he took his rationalism from the ‘constructive’ thinkers, not the Baconians.

There were many varieties of the movement in philosophy known as idealism, both in Europe and in the United States; their complexity cannot be shown here. Most broadly, idealism was (as one of its academic adherents described it) a ‘thought-view of the universe.’ The root of reality was mental, but it was abstract and universal, not confined to the varying subjective mental states of individual human beings. Men’s minds were capable of discerning and making contact with a universal mind — ‘the Absolute’ — which presumably would continue to function unaffected if the earth, and all the philosophers on it, were to disappear in a solar catastrophe. It was the mentalistic universalism of the idealistic view which made it and its derivatives (among them American Transcendentalism) clash with the whole conception of laboratory science. While idealism was not religious in an orthodox theological sense, its adherents thought of themselves as spiritualistic rather than materialistic in their outlook, and as ‘critically affirmative’ in their acceptance of spirituality. (The ‘critically affirmative’ view was believed to be a synthesis, in Hegelian terms, of dogmatism and skepticism.) In such a context the empirical presumption that the nature of reality was to be ascertained slowly and painfully by comparing particular phenomena could only be opposed. The scientist, it was confidently believed, would end up perceiving the same universals that the idealist immediately glimpsed. ‘Mental Life does not begin with ideas of Individual Things, but with General Ideas,’ Josiah Royce was heard to say in 1893. ‘These Primitive General Ideas are unconsciously, or unintentionally, Abstract.’ By the aid of reason, unconscious abstractions would be made conscious, and ‘Genuine Insight into the Nature of Individual Things’ would be attained.

Kant and Hegel provided most of the inspiration for the American idealists. Before the Civil War idealism had gained more advocates outside the academic community than within it, and the specifically Hegelian idealism that developed in the United States after 1865 was first promoted by a group of non-academic thinkers, especially in the St. Louis area. From these men, and from the continuing direct contacts of younger Americans with this side of German thought, Hegelian idealism spread rapidly as departments of philosophy emerged in leading universities during the 1880s. Idealism had its greatest influence, both in academic circles and in America generally, during the nineties. These years marked the vigor of what John Herman Randall has termed ‘that great generation of near-great professors of philosophy.’ After the turn of the century, idealism began rather rapidly to decline as an intellectual force, and literary advocates of culture soon were able to count on fewer dependable allies within philosophy departments. In perspective, idealism can be seen as a diversion rather than a main channel in American thought. Its power was inhibited not only by the rise of natural science but also by the fact that it remained suspect as far as most Christians were concerned. Lacking either of these powerful sanctions, professors who expounded idealism were listened to and admired again and again by young men who quickly drifted away from its particular faith.”

— Veysey, ibid.

“A ‘system of elements’ — a definition of the segments by which the resemblances and differences can be shown, the types of variation by which those segments can be affected, and, lastly, the threshold above which there is a difference and below which there is a similitude — is indispensable for the establishment of even the simplest form of order. Order is, at one and the same time, that which is given in things as their inner law, the hidden network that determines the way they confront one another, and also that which has no existence except in the grid created by a glance, an examination, a language; and it is only in the blank spaces of this grid that order manifests itself in depth as though already there, waiting in silence for the moment of its expression.

The fundamental codes of a culture — those governing its language, its schemas of perception, its exchanges, its techniques, its values, the hierarchy of its practices — establish for every man, from the very first, the empirical orders with which he will be dealing and within which he will be at home. At the other extremity of thought, there are the scientific theories or the philosophical interpretations which explain why order exists in general, what universal law it obeys, what principle can account for it, and why this particular order has been established and not some other. But between these two regions, so distant from one another, lies a domain which, even though its role is mainly an intermediary one, is nonetheless fundamental: it is more confused, more obscure, and probably less easy to analyze. It is here that a culture, imperceptibly deviating from the empirical orders prescribed for it by its primary codes, instituting an initial separation from them, causes them to lose their original transparency, relinquishes its immediate and invisible powers, frees itself sufficiently to discover that these orders are perhaps not the only possible ones or the best ones; this culture then finds itself faced with the stark fact that there exists, below the level of its spontaneous orders, things that are in themselves capable of being ordered, that belong to a certain unspoken order; the fact, in short, that order exists. As though emancipating itself to some extent from its linguistic, perceptual, and practical grids, the culture superimposed on them another kind of grid which neutralized them, which by this superimposition both revealed and excluded them at the same time, so that the culture, by this very process, came face to face with order in its primary state. It is on the basis of this newly perceived order that the codes of language, perception, and practice are criticized and rendered partially invalid. It is on the basis of this order, taken as a firm foundation, that general theories as to the ordering of things, and the interpretation that such an ordering involves, will be constructed. Thus, between the already ‘encoded’ eye and reflexive knowledge there is a middle region which liberates order itself: it is here that it appears, according to the culture and the age in question, continuous and graduated or discontinuous and piecemeal, linked to space or constituted anew at each instant by the driving force of time, related to a series of variables or defined by separate systems of coherences, composed of resemblances which are either successive or corresponding, organized around increasing differences, etc. This middle region, then, in so far as it makes manifest the modes of being of order, can be posited as the most fundamental of all: anterior to words, perceptions, and gestures, which are then taken to be more or less exact, more or less happy, expressions of it (which is why this experience of order in its pure primary state always plays a critical role); more solid, more archaic, less dubious, always more ‘true’ than the theories that attempt to give those expressions explicit form, exhaustive application, or philosophical foundation. Thus, in every culture, between the use of what one might call the ordering codes and reflections upon order itself, there is the pure experience of order and of its modes of being.”

— Michel Foucault, The Order of Things (1966)

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240 Responses to “Science, Philosophy, and University: Fragments of A Historical Approach That Doesn’t Actually Go Back That Far, Nor Range Widely”

  1. lecolonelchabert Says:

    It occurred to me just now that the reason Martin and Joxter decline to have the discussion that they insisted on having was not only that they hadn’t done their homework, but that they both belatedly realised, when actually faced with the possibility of a discussion of that kind, that the kind of discussion they feel they must demand –this respectful and submissive and orderly ritual, this minute and scrupulous inspection for textual termites – is such a promise of unbearable boredom that just the thought of it could give you hives. Like filling out tax returns. That kind of thing is done exclusively by salaried employees. Nobody would do it were they not paid for their time, not even those, like martin and joxter, who have been successfully indoctrinated in the dogma of its virtuousness.

    It was this quote from Foucault above that made me realise this. It is one of those passages that just makes you itch with the idea of the boredom and frustration the writer endured to produce it.

    The other day I was rummaging in the period your examples bracket here to see how the terms “intellectualism” and “anti-intellectualism” changed places in English. I figured it happened twice as fast as “sensible”. There’s no ambiguity to start out, the ordinary sense and the specialised sense are harmonious, but then there is this violent politicisation of the clash of intellectualism (british, russel) and anti-intellectualism (german, heidegger). In the aftermath of the war, the terms in ordinary language are vacated of their sense but their new connotations, acquired from politics (intellectualism good, antiintellectualism bad) really harden. The same statement, say, “Heideggerian anti-intellectualism” is first a neutral descriptive statement, then a few years later, an insult. More importantly, as a compliment it is considered self evidently true and descriptive, as an insult, of dubious accuracy. The term started to rot, lost its referentiality under the pressure of connotation. By the 60s a complete reversal is achieved: phenomenology is no long anti-intellectualism at all, indeed a refusal to take any part of such product seriously is now anti-intellectualism, and Heidegger becomes implicitly intellectualism. How this happens perhaps is a) the increased isolation of the specialised from the ordinary language and b) in the ordinary language “intellect” loses its sense and becomes just a synonym for erudition or an empty marker of cultural legitimacy and status. The specific content which is brevetted and confers legitimacy and status changes with fashion and ideological convenience. Within the professional discourses, however, this change in ordinary language is unfelt. In 1945, Merleau Ponty can use “intellectualism” with perfect clarity and confidence in the traditional sense, and the English translator isn’t troubled by the creeping connotations. A couple decades later, though, these terms, and their growing distance from the traditional sense, mark a shift not only in the distance between the language of philosophy and ordinary language, but a shift in the distance and relations between the specialised thought and a) “common sense” as an object of that thought, and b) that thought as a commodity consumed by speakers of ordinary language.

    I know this is only a semi sequitur, but looking at your quotes, its as if there is a superimposition – a) foucault as the repudiation/critique/negation of X, b) foucault as the reaffirmation/repetition of X with adjusted connotations. What is X? One feels as though one stands in two places to regard this. The history of the ordinary word “intellectualism” could be the model for this prism. The unifying factor, disguised by the Foucaultian “break” and those “breaks” with which it is preoccupied, being the university itself, its continuity as institution, with unchanged socio-political mission and position but broadening its objects and extending its social reach, accomplishing the same task regardless of the details of the literary/intellectual product.

    In Badiou’s polemics, “anti-intellectualism” returns as straightforwardly descriptive, the traditional sense, and is employed to attack product which, increasingly in the ordinary sense, is defended with the charge that attacks upon it are in the ordinary sense of the word automatically “anti-intellectualism” – with ‘anti-intellectualism’ now accruing the connotation of hostility to the University and its employees personally, unrelated to any specific content or positions at all regarding human intellect. The specialised and ordinary senses of the word are now precise antonyms, but in addition “anti-intellectualism” is a menace to class and professional interests and the value of the cultural capital of “anti-intellectualism” in the specialised sense. And these transformations can be traced to the rift in the philosophy-producing class, between liberalism and fascism, the last moment when it was really respectable to claim for philosophy some direct political import and impact. One thing that emerges is that “intellectualism” in the specialised sense is a better support for this cultural capital and its producing industry than “anti-intellectualism” in the specialised sense, so that whenever the profession feels threatened, there is a revival of the classics, a rebranding and celebration of Rationalisms.

    Someone somewhere recently quoted a typically repugnant comment of Richard Rorty describing the battle of Stalingrad as “a conference”, the setting for a “dispute” between “right Hegelians” and “left Hegelians”. Was supposed to be clever, oozing the smugness of the professional Thinker of triumphal liberalism.

    This oxymoron of “rigorous speculation” guided by the purest form of Science – pure and disinterested – is aggressively revived in times of crisis; in the crisis appear also these volunteer stormtroopers of the “rational argument,” but like martin and joxter, couldn’t really bear to try to have one, but indulge in all the “sinful” insufficiently “rigorous” and overly pleasureable discourses excessively (psychoanalysis, Puritan moralising, lazy pop forms of ideological debunking borrowed from movie reviewing). The simultaneous championing and avoidance of “rational argument” is just rhetoric used to reassert the crumbling hierarchies, us and them, the civilised and savage, the enlightened and the superstitious, the licit and the piratical, and reaffirming the position of the University in policing this hierarchy. “Passing flings” to fill in the whole picture – the despicable brown disposable mere life and the admirable white virtuous real eternal LIFE, the sane and the mad, the righteous and depraved – may appear mere accidental ornamentation but are crucial, essential to the scheme.

    And this reminded me also of Meillassoux’ piece in the paper last year, when Sarko, echoing Zizek, Hitchens et al, was asserting that the “values” of universalism = “French identity”. QM notes that this equation of universalist values (equality, equality of the sexes, secularism, the République) with “French identity” “poisons our very methods of thinking, posing the greatest danger to those very values.” Anyway, this “science” and Reason advanced as universal is defended often elaborately as particular, property and fetish of an Elect; usually there are claims to ownership, and policing of usage, and all this anxiety about what ought and ought not come near it or be associated with it – it is defended as if always in danger of being defiled or piked off with by insufficiently authorised and vetted bandits of one kind or another, who will drag it through the sewer of human affairs.

  2. ‘That kind of thing is done exclusively by salaried employees. Nobody would do it were they not paid for their time, not even those, like martin and joxter, who have been successfully indoctrinated in the dogma of its virtuousness.’

    There’s also the problem that he used to be in marketing and ‘now has enough money not to have to take’ ….(certain kinds of jobs that he cannot necessarily get at all, but postures as if he not only has one, but is ‘hors concours’ as well (NOBODY can do both of these.) So he occasionally has that kind of ‘nostalgia’ for the bad ole days, which if realized as de facto nostalgia, would disappear. But instead it’s recorded habits of the hated job that he can’t cast off; I’ve seen this happen in retirees who were far more normal than this borderline insanity on view here (however disparu…)

    I don’t know how much the First Act of Cosi Fan Tutte had to do with it, but I thought some more about the below just now:

    ‘go on, admit it, admit it, you’re trapped too, you’re just as abject as me, you don’t think either, you’re trapped here with me’. But remember, for the rest of us this corner you have backed us into is just a momentary diversion; it’s you who has to LIVE there (if you can call that a life)

    A ‘momentary diversion’ is not something you get ‘trapped into’ as a victim. So that he does a sort of dimestore god number by inflicting the tortutainment and being victim of the tortutainment. This weird double cancelling is everywhere in the social engagement, which he himself has informed me that he is ‘not very good at.’ (This had been accurate). That he ‘has other things to do’ is, you will note, much less important than that he proclaims to his recipient that he ‘has these things.’ I know for a fact that he ‘could have things to do’, but that he would not be hard-pressed to get to them except for the desire to use that particular brand of deeply ingrained English rudeness (you are not being specific enough to call it ‘white’, because this style is a quietly said ‘un vieux qui pete’ sort of thing that I’ve known in Cambridge highborn types as well as Heathrow janitors and bed-and-breakfast operators).

    If I understand ‘auto-rustication’ to be what it most certainly must be, then he started out doing it for many years, and is now ensconced in such a way that he is rejoicing in the triumph, the plume, the perfect nose, eyes, feet that he may have for a certain price if he continues to keep a tiny base interested in what are called ‘works of art’ due to lack of participation in any of The Arts.

    (Of course, Dejan’s impingement is inpending, now that I had this unaesthetic epiphany, so to ward some of that off, I’ll just say that I don’t think either of us has the asanas at the ready or contacts with yogas adept enough to grant his last physical directive. )

    You may remember that Infinite Thought was very interested in the inferiority of artists to philosophers and theorists too. All of which is especially pourri when combined with a thorough and sustained interest in the mot execrable new trends in loud music.

    It should be pointed out that said personage here probably also chooses ‘Martin’ because Heidegger was especially loathe to consider music, and was able to be fully snide about Adorno’s love of music but at least by sniffing at it. I don’t like Adorno very much either, one gets over it, but the Heidegger snubbing of music probably is part of his Kant Imitation, as it’s well-known the dismissal there.

    I am not quite sure why traxus writes a post that cannot be physically read. Is that some sort of Barnett Newman or op-art tribute?

  3. percyQliquor Says:

    This is a surprising thing, though, too, because it is actually harking back to something often talked these days to have been passed by: the highbrow attitude, which in New York was in recent days associated with various types like Lionel Trilling and Samuel Lipman. There are different echelons and domains where these would identify the unacceptably rustic, done to ‘their things’. It can make sense when mounting productions of things, even to revivals of ‘lower arts’ like Broadway shows, for which PBS last week provided us with a broadcast of an execrable production of ‘Company’, which has tried to update something that is too much a period piece to work unless you keep it in its 70s Manhattan milieu. Might as well put ‘Oklahoma!’ in Oklahoma City or ‘South Pacific’ in Iraq. And usually opera doesn’t update all that well, or it’s just a brief novelty even if good; people want to see it even after that in its original garb. But this is just a highbrow pose, you’ll notice he even separated off again the >lowly, because this is really the only issue that is anywhere in any of his ‘writing’. He is saying ‘where do I find the lowly and prove it to the lowly?’ This is my joy, he is saying, and I love it. Which he might not do if he weren’t dragging around some other identified ‘lowlies’ or even ‘low-lifes’ which would interest him were he not so infested.

    It is quite remarkable in what a short time he has come up with this bizarre high-priest-eunuch sort of posturing, and is however stuck elsewhere with making commentary on things ‘disgustingly hippie’ (snobbery found even within low forms of British punk). Caught in the horns of a dilemma, it might seem, but he’s managed to start hiding and not posting in the wrong places. We’ll see if he has a drinking problem, though, because there are places I am keeping an eye on that he knows would be very tell-tale indeed. Stay tuned….

  4. it is defended as if always in danger of being defiled or piked off with by insufficiently authorised and vetted bandits of one kind or another, who will drag it through the sewer of human affairs

    Well, and it sometimes is, as pointed out. There have to be kept certain kinds of purity even against the wishes of those who would disseminate everything equally, but the case in point is not herein. The person may well want to write the ‘Zeit’ part, since the original never got around to it, and the novel ought to just be called ‘Sein und…’

  5. Yes, he did do a slightly more subtle version of the regular tantrum that occurs at a blog he uses. I almost didn’t notice it, but he ‘graciously’ ceded space for someone else instead of the usual remarks. There’s a long pattern of constant disapproval, it comes in variations but is always there. Still wonder how it could have come from any kind of religious craziness, since fundie stuff is mostly American or Muslim; you don’t find that much among English. But perhaps the insistence upon Badiou’s atheism as being ‘the most crucial’ and an early attention-getting piece on the stupidity of Christianity (and which brought him some) was much more fervid and impassioned than I’d thought at the time. Very much like the usual college coolness of identifying with atheism at all costs, but he ends up coming across as vaguely Presbyterian rather than evangelical. Nash sort of stuff, although I’ve only read about such beautiful mind rather than seeing the film. I’m not sure the attraction to the vaccum is not somewhat normal, though, among certain overly sensitive types of bright people at certain ages. In this case, it’s very provincial and, as such, there used to be some very nice pieces written on an old blog, but they seem somewhat sad now, and to go much further back than they actually do. He had separated himself from k-punk several years ago (or claimed to; he tended to drop and embrace people offline with the same ease as is usually only seen among interactive online characters), and ‘admired’ Arpege for merely ‘being opposed to k-punk’ which, in itself, is not the most arresting sort of praise. And did intimidate many people, because there was a searing knife-like gleam in the ‘permanent anger’, as J.B. Priestley used the phrase for one of his characters in ‘Lost Empires.’ It was a posture of disciplining and correcting, but was primarily defensive and intent upon an almost unparalleled insularity.

    As such, the style will always betray itself and the particular subject will not matter enough to argue with, because that will have been just the latest means of furthering the neurosis. Not uncommon among bloggers, but nevertheless a fairly extreme example. Sort of ‘I’m smug now. Don’t tell me it ain’t so.’

  6. lecolonelchabert Says:

    Foucault is really a lot like Dawkins here; another covert advocate of intelligent design, saving “intellectualism” from critique by rebranding, coopting the position by displaying a superficial hostility, etc.

    ” He is saying ‘where do I find the lowly and prove it to the lowly?’”

    has evidently everything to do with good form and protestant work ethic. the content is “inconsequential”, what matters is the years devoted to the task, the self denial for the Higher things, the supposedly clean unemotional apolitical “logic” – a joke in this case – the observance of the forms which itself demands reverence. QM doesn’t really fit this cliché but that doesn’t stop the reverent believers from using him as the Figure. At the same time, the exhibitionist sinning, all the psychologising, all the feverish paranoia, even the insistence on the expressly forbidden “disqualification”, the astrologer’s riposte (if they resist, it’s due to “heavy investment”….).

    But this, the Inquisition, Authority, is just I think what the provocation is aimed at exposing, though clearly in most cases it is far less crude and obvious than in joxter’s case.

    Another visible feature, connected to the above, is the favour philosophy does “science” by its deployment as foil and necessary misrepresentation – only from this standpoint does Science appear as this thing.

  7. lecolonelchabert Says:

    so yes, the “deprogrammed fundie”, or deeply religious character who is trying to be an atheist – dawkins and dennet are good examples, perhaps in a very different way Badiou, with his multiple damascene moments (more than one damascene moment in a life is surely curious and rare). This attitude is institutionally favoured. The truly godless materialist – marx, gould, chomsky – the one who really is comfortable with randomness, can’t really suppose anything else, doesn’t need to keep convincing himself, will always be the object for attack for the fundie personality, who longs for a creed, order, hierarchy, priests etc., no matter the details of the creed of the moment.

  8. But hadn’t ‘Martin’ just been on an advertising game, but with few hits as it were? I mean one could plug more frequently than that. I always do, and ‘Martin’ has even been known to stimulate me in the past to start something, after which his lack of money made it impossible for me to cooperate..

    now…i need to know: In what film is that lovely trio from Cosi fan Tutte used? I keep hearing it in something European, French maybe, but can’t for the life of me catch it yet. Driving me nuts, although much better straight from Fiordiligi, Dorabella, and Alfonso. And wiki didn’t have it….okay, sorry, ‘have other things to do’. Need immediate ‘momentary divertissements’ by the truckload…Puss ‘n’ Boots is even okay by me, much more still Bluebird and Princess Florine, or even ‘La Donna e Mobile’ if all the high notes sound effortless as with Alfredo Kraus in that terrible Parma production…. and better than various theory journals purporting to be ‘works of art.’

    PUKE!

  9. lecolonelchabert Says:

    ” In what film is that lovely trio from Cosi fan Tutte used?”

    the only think jumping to mind immediately is solondz “happiness”.

  10. http://hyperstition.abstractdynamics.org/archives/009853.htm

    traxus’s first link for Collapse is to Hyperstition. These posts have fallen off as of yesterday or the day before and onto the sidebar. Nick Land’s ‘Urbanatomy’ appears reviewed, and I appear as ‘troll-prime’, a moniker Nick Land gave me for use there. Traxus appears briefly as well.

    I hadn’t even seen the following actual link to ROBIN MACKAY’s blog, just before he said ‘I can’t believe that mullins is pretending to be nick lol’:

    “2.He’s never pretended that his philosophical position had a bearing only on the status of science – the ‘arche-fossil’ argument in AF is as Martin said prolegomenous to his major thesis. He’s never pretended otherwise, and it’s not his fault if this is the only aspect the article referred to in the post picked up on (nb. http://blog.urbanomic.com/urbanomic/ Collapse Volume IV (May 2008): Quentin Meillassoux on infinite mourning and the virtual god)”

    This performance by ‘Martin’, great philosopher, spoiled rotten by threats of self-hatred and boring the shit out of the rest of us by being a Professional Asshole on top of everything else, does astonish by his attempted glee at his own despair. What a motherfucking Angela Lansbury-watchiing shithead! May you rot in hell in your flatulent indolence.

    Did his subtly placed link make you order the book immediately, Arpege? or have you wisely held off? One hopes so. One will note that it is now harder to find the ads on the Hyperstition blog, and since that is mostly Nick Land’s terrain, it could have been his executive decision not to allow endless freedom of advertising to ressentiment-drenched students who haven’t finished their PEE AITCH DEE.

  11. the only think jumping to mind immediately is solondz “happiness”.

    I wonder if that could be it, I only saw it once and several years ago, maybe even five. It’s possible I could have been struck by it, although then it separated off. I mean I liked the film, but it’s not one I ever think of. It could still come to me, I am also afraid that it may have been used in a car ad….ADS, ADS, EVERYWHERE…and not a drop to drink…

  12. lecolonelchabert Says:

    also Closer and Mar adentro (sea within)

  13. lecolonelchabert Says:

    and “the house of mirth”

  14. That was it! The House of Mirth, which I saw just a few months ago, after some other Terence Davies films. He’d managed to really get a smart, bright piece together with some excellent actors. The older films like ‘Distant Voices, Still Lives’ are sometimes great too, but very sad because he’d had this abusive father. And there is this scene in Liverpool at Christmas that just breaks your heart. There’s more weeping in his films than anybody’s I’ve seen.

    Thank you, I knew it had to be some sort of background for something very tragic but weirdly pure. That story is always hard to take, and I also like the 1982 version with Geraldine Chaplin, who was probably more powerful in the leading role.

  15. lecolonelchabert Says:

    I agree House of Mirth was very good, but Anthony LaPaglia was really miscast i thought. That character in the book is blonde and very posh, overdoing his lockjaw poshness because he is Jewish.

  16. lecolonelchabert Says:

    “Did his subtly placed link make you order the book immediately, Arpege? ”

    no, honestly I think ‘serious philosophical debate’ over these ‘questions’ – can we know the réelle en soi? etc – are at this point basically masonic rituals.

  17. http://hyperstition.abstractdynamics.org/

    This will get those to the current page of Hyperstition if they want to buy Nick Land’s book on Shanghai. Lord, the chicanery we’ve had in this thread. No wonder I had to have a dose of deceiving identities administered by Despina…

    Yes, I thought LaPaglia was strange too. Gillian Anderson was very good, but not quite the image needed, esp. after Geraldine Chaplin who was so exotic. Otherwise, that version probably less good. Davies does wonderful things with music in his films, and there is a carol behind the Xmas scene in ‘Distant Voices…’ that is deeply moving. The abusive father is Peter Postlethwaite, and they are sitting at the table with those children and he can’t stand how pretty it all is. But in those earlier films Davies loves to spend endless long time on images, the kind of thing that most people can’t stand (and I can’t always either). So that by the time he manages to get to ‘House of Mirth’ it is like having earned this ‘polished commercial look’ very naturally and richly having deserved it. It doesn’t happen that way that often, and attests to his strengths. We had discussed this on the ballet board, and now I remember I also thought Eric Stoltz had not been quite right. But there’s something about Davies’s gentleness that made it exist, which is more than can be said for most of ‘The Aviator’, which probably cost many thousands of times as much, and Cate Blanchett honking like one of the peacocks at St. John the Divine, thinking that meant ‘Katharine Hepburn.’

    Good night all….i figured out how to highlight traxus’s Barnett Newman post, which is probably meant to be obnoxious…

  18. no, honestly I think ’serious philosophical debate’ over these ‘questions’ – can we know the réelle en soi? etc – are at this point basically masonic rituals.

    Indeed yes! but it was at least ‘serious philosophical debate’ and long-lasting enough to not then have to spend money on it too! I never saw such a twisted thread in my life I don’t think…speaking of Masons, I want to watch the Bergman Zauberflote again….

  19. traxus4420 Says:

    thanks all — i always wonder just before doing it whether it’s really appropriate to apologize for being late to a blog, even if it is my own. sorry anyway.

    chabert, thanks for the intellectualsm/antiintellectualism survey — really interesting.

    “these transformations can be traced to the rift in the philosophy-producing class, between liberalism and fascism, the last moment when it was really respectable to claim for philosophy some direct political import and impact.”

    is this former potency something you think Badiou personally is actively trying to reclaim? and if it is sort of this leftover from the early-mid-20th century, then does the ‘intellectualism/antiintellectualism’ controversy really reduce to university authority? and to what extent does this only implicate the humanities?

    “Another visible feature, connected to the above, is the favour philosophy does “science” by its deployment as foil and necessary misrepresentation – only from this standpoint does Science appear as this thing.”

    “The truly godless materialist – marx, gould, chomsky – the one who really is comfortable with randomness, can’t really suppose anything else, doesn’t need to keep convincing himself, will always be the object for attack for the fundie personality, who longs for a creed, order, hierarchy, priests etc., no matter the details of the creed of the moment.”

    related to these, i’ve encountered people who have made it their personal and professional mission to disabuse others of ‘serious philosophic debate’ about epistemology, legitimacy, etc., thus finding themselves only able to engage in that debate, employing a version of metaphysics that’s just as empty, just strings of qualifiers (“one can do many things…within contexts…for certain reasons…within some situations…”).

    and of course marx and to some extent chomsky (not so much gould) serve quite adequately as high priest figures in certain academic circles (in the case of marx leading to some actually negative consequences, like bashing feminism/race/queer theory for being too ‘identitarian’ and not structural enough), which can make them paradoxically (?) difficult to discuss.

    “a) foucault as the repudiation/critique/negation of X, b) foucault as the reaffirmation/repetition of X with adjusted connotations. What is X?”

    yes, that’s pretty exactly what my question was when posting. you’ve got a good theory.

    ‘nick’ –
    sorry my post is hard to read – the blockquote function apparently autodarkens the text. i wish it was as clever as op art. but no, it’s just old academic news. the ‘serious philosophical debate’ quotient of collapse is actually rather benign (at least in the sense of veiled defense of the university — it’s more like an attempt to diversify or even freelance, philosophy as the inspiration for future science fiction writers).

  20. “i’ve encountered people who have made it their personal and professional mission to disabuse others of ’serious philosophic debate’ about epistemology, legitimacy, etc., thus finding themselves only able to engage in that debate, employing a version of metaphysics that’s just as empty, just strings of qualifiers (”one can do many things…within contexts…for certain reasons…within some situations…”).”

    maybe a worthy mission, because the genre of philosophy has pretty much laid out all the options there are some centuries ago; the problem is not resolvable, the question has no answer. Facing this fact – this is a fact – accepting it, is precisely what it means to accept a random, causeless, meaningless, godless universe and give up on the insistence that our minds have the answers to every question they can form and are the masters of reality. we have no new information. there is no such thing as artificial intelligence, there is only alienated commodified human intelligence. we know nothing that can help us decide which of these attitudes or philosophical options is more accurate. they can only be evaluated on extra philosophical terms, outside the discipline itself.

    so, the topic is interesting, obviously, but the genre is not equipped to address it productively.

    i read ray brassier’s dissertation today, which was hilarious and witty; but after the demonstration of competence, it winds up, basically, with this (following laruelle), ‘which is all to say the base determines the superstructure in the last instance.’ this is ornamented with a claim to ‘radicalise and generalise’ that observation, which is (I have to think deliberately) hilarious puffery, it’s already as radical and general as can well be, thus ‘vulgar’. what’s on display is a genre desperately trying to legitimise itself; to establish some claim to serve some more viable industry or social purpose, to latch itself to an area of growth rather than contraction. Science and Revolution – the favourite pair, not coincidentally, of advertisers and Viviane Reding. This movement “speculative realism” is so glaringly branded its unbelievable; pitched to philosophical fashion victims, stirring all the inane righteousness that teenagers feel about the right clothes. Last season is not only passé but eeeevil, this season is Virtue; yet even this fashion cannot but describe itself as retro, recycling, return to this, return to that, consciously a fashion cycle – don’t throw away that hauntology, that barred subject, that objet a, but put them in mothballs in anticipation of their scheduled return to the runway in 2012.

    Science is IN, that very science that brought us races, the intellectual inferiority of women, the luminiferous ether, genetic criminality and anthropomorphised “selfish genes”. All this needs recuperation against an “obscurantism” associated with non-Enlightenment, non Yerup. The investigation of the relations between civilisation and barbarism is declared null and void. We’re going to stop criticising our fabulous yerupeen selves and emphasise the benefits of colonialism, the bringing of Science and modernity to the dark corners of the earth. I don’t say promoting this scheme and reviving these topoi are the aims of the writers in question, but it is this conditioning what they are producing; it is the theme found everywhere and used in their production, and there’s plenty of accommodation to popular apology (especially in Harman). In comparison, the scourge of solipsism, relativism and obscurantism in the last round of this querelle (the excessively kantian Habermas) looks terrifically reasonable and self critical.

    “is this former potency something you think Badiou personally is actively trying to reclaim? ”

    I don’t think so; though in the NLR latest he sort of suggests it. But i think he does see philosophy as lagging behind politics, as he said in a lecture you linked to before.

    “this leftover from the early-mid-20th century, then does the ‘intellectualism/antiintellectualism’ controversy really reduce to university authority?”

    Not a leftover so much as a motif; i think its about justifying imperialism mainly; the university codifies, philosophy codifies, legitimises, makes luxury thought items, it doesnt invent anything i think. Clearly the british empire’s self justification has been more successful than the nazis and fascists. Philosophy based in Nietzsche and Heidegger had to be really really cautious about any hint of aggressivity; it really could not offer a flagrant justification for imperialism – notice Derrida’s hilarious tag on his insistence that Europe is the centre of the world, of global civilisation, it’s Enlightenment ‘absolutely original’ to Europe, it must lead the world in future (every instance of Europe in quotation marks, as if that could really mask its identity), but “I don’t mean that in a Eurocentrist way.”

    Anti-intellectualism is just flawed – tainted by the most famous atrocities, and, as they said in the 18th c, often ‘obvious to ridicule’ – as the “personality” and ultimate cultural achievement of an aggressive Empire. The successful British empire’s banner was intellectualism. This was inherited by the US empire, but developments in media have allowed a certain flexibility so elements of antiintellectualism can be cherry picked for use now and then. But mainly intellectualism is convenient now, also really losing its grip on common sense so requiring aggressive marketing. The fascination with “information” is matched by awareness of plenty of disinformation. I’m sure its not really husserl, heidegger and derrida who are to blame for the undermining of the prestige of institutionally produced truths and certainties; certainly they were responding to something rather more substantial than academic whim. I’m all for rationality, but if science in capitalism is the model of some pure disinterested innocent-of-ideology truth and fact production, clearly this is convenient to the current reaction. And there’s something suspish about this proposition that somehow Science is losing legitimacy due to aggressive attitudes in the humanities which are pretending to be radical but complicit with capital (tho the latter is largely true, and obviously so); the humanities have no funding, they are being eliminated, arts funding has vanished, while pharmaceutical, energy, weapons, technology sectors, ICT, are all doing terrific. this posture of the threatened and victimised rationality bravely fighting back against obscurantist critique is, even in cases when latched to open anticapitalist commitments, clearly part of the reactionary story, fitting very well with war on turr, the democracy-and-modernity promoting imperialist rampage, the “yes we can!” trust in technocrats…

    perhaps the environment of professional philosophy production requires this see sawing that prevents any kind of truly rational attitude toward the historical situation. swinging from irrational scepticism to pre-critical intellectualist arrogance, all to avoid history and more obviously lately to characterise intersubjectivity, the social, as odious or undignified in one way or another. (this is among meillassoux’ beefs with kantians like habermas, that they can’t guarantee the individual intellect’s mastery – this view that to accept the necessity of the social or cooperative for knowledge production is ‘compromising’); either fashion serves to assert that truth production is independent, the capacity of the artist-philosopher individual (this is asserted even when explicitly denied), and requires a brevet.

  21. “This movement “speculative realism” is so glaringly branded its unbelievable; pitched to philosophical fashion victims, stirring all the inane righteousness that teenagers feel about the right clothes. Last season is not only passé but eeeevil, this season is Virtue; yet even this fashion cannot but describe itself as retro, recycling, return to this, return to that, consciously a fashion cycle.”

    As far as I’m aware, ‘Speculative Realism’ is simply the name that was given to a one-day workshop held in London in 2007 which brought together four contemporary philosophers (whose writings share a broadly similar set of critical concerns) to discuss their ideas. The proceedings of this workshop were then published as an appendix to an issue of a journal which had previously published work by some of the same authors. To the very best of my knowledge, neither the conference organiser(s) nor any of the participants in the conference have done anything else whatsoever by way of attempting to ‘market’ this ‘product’.

    With this in mind, would you be so kind as to attempt to substantiate your comments above?

    Curious to learn how anyone could possibly end up being as deeply misguided on so many (many, many, many …) issues as yourself, I in fact conducted a brief internet search (what traxus called ‘internet stalking’ on the previous thread), a search which informed me that you used to work in television advertising and that you presently work as a currency trader. Since you seem either incapable or unwilling of supporting any of your claims with either reason or evidence, I find myself having to resort to an ad hominem mode of explanation, and have arrived at the following:

    Could it be that, just as your passion for opera seemingly leads you to discuss philosophical debate in explicitly operatic or theatrical terms, so your background in advertising and trading leads you to believe that all human behaviour must be explainable in economic and/or marketing terms: that everyone is a ‘producer’, everything a ‘product’, and that all human activity ultimately (that is, when appropriately ‘unmasked’) boils down to the naked pursuit of various kinds of ‘capital’ (‘symbolic capital’, ‘cultural capital’, ‘academic capital’ etc.)? Mightn’t it even be the case that this is a way of attempting to assuage some kind of pent-up guilt you harbour about your choices of careers, i.e. by telling yourself that everybody is basically up to the same thing — i.e. marketing ‘product’ and accumulating ‘capital’?

    Furthermore, since you exercise these modes of analysis so indiscriminately — even, as in the case above, where there is nothing whatsoever to recommend them — have you ever considered that your own righteous posturing (e.g. your oft-self-publicised supposed concern for the poor and downtrodden) might be driven by an unconscious investment in the game of accruing *moral* capital? And might it not be that this, too, is one of the ways that you are able to assuage your conscience and to convince yourself you’re actually a ‘good’ person (as opposed to an amoral capitalist), whilst never having to actually leave your currency-trading desk save for the occasional visit to the opera?

    Okay, that’s the last ad hominem comment from me. If I contribute anything else, it will solely concern your claims and arguments. (Ad hominem comment is not always fallacious, of course, and in the above case I think the correlations between career path and mode of intellectual engagement are so striking that it’s hardly an underhand tactic to point them out. However, I don’t want to give Chabert any more excuses to turn this into yet another tedious shitfight.)

    I actually toyed with the idea of responding to many of your other comments and accusations, but unfortunately (fortunately?) not all of us can afford the very ample leisure-time which you evidently have to participate in such things (my comments on the previous thread were made when I had a few occasional free hours at work the other week, and for the last two weeks I’ve not even had internet access save for checking my emails in internet cafes). Besides, I noticed the way in which the previous thread quickly degenerated into a Jerry Springeresque shit-slinging contest after I left (despite the admirably reasoned interventions of one ‘joxter’), and I can’t say that I’m very keen to get involved in one of those (simply because they’re tiresome and irritating).

    I do think that *some* of what you say is worth responding to, firstly because it so vividly (if also: vulgarly) articulates so much of what is wrong with much of contemporary intellectual culture in the humanities and social sciences; and, secondly, because it exemplifies precisely those ‘correlationist’ dogmas which the likes of Meillassoux and Brassier are attempting to eradicate. Anyway, I may get a chance to say something more about all this — and what I think is most fundamentally at stake in it — if I get an hour or two free at work next week.

  22. Last season is not only passé but eeeevil, this season is Virtue; yet even this fashion cannot but describe itself as retro, recycling, return to this, return to that, consciously a fashion cycle – don’t throw away that hauntology, that barred subject, that objet a, but put them in mothballs in anticipation of their scheduled return to the runway in 2012.

    In the episode BIRTH of Absolutely Fabulous, Patsy and Edina are getting drunk in Saffy’s room, jealous of Saffy’s upcoming date and unwilling to leave. Edina launches into a bitch-faux Marxist soliloquy on the evils of MTV, sounding very much like your last comment. She calls the constant bombardment of images an ”endless loop…I wish it would stop”, to which Saffy retorts, ”for most people your age it actually does.”

    And this would be the sitcom level of your current argumentation as well.
    (in the case of marx leading to some actually negative consequences, like bashing feminism/race/queer theory for being too ‘identitarian’ and not structural enough), which can make them paradoxically (?) difficult to discuss.

    Time flies- it’s already March 9 and I forgot to congratulate you on Wimman’s day, Traxus!

  23. “This movement “speculative realism” is so glaringly branded its unbelievable; pitched to philosophical fashion victims, stirring all the inane righteousness that teenagers feel about the right clothes. Last season is not only passé but eeeevil, this season is Virtue; yet even this fashion cannot but describe itself as retro, recycling, return to this, return to that, consciously a fashion cycle.”

    As far as I’m aware, ‘Speculative Realism’ is simply the name that was given to a one-day workshop held in London last year which brought together four contemporary philosophers whose writings share a broadly similar set of critical concerns. The proceedings of this workshop were then published as an appendix to an issue of a journal which had previously published work by some of the same authors. To the very best of my knowledge, neither the conference organiser(s) nor any of the participants in the conference have done anything else whatsoever by way of attempting to ‘market’ this ‘product’. With this in mind, would you be so kind as to attempt to substantiate your comments and accusations above?

    Intrigued to learn how anyone could possibly end up being as deeply misguided on so many issues as yourself, I in fact conducted a brief internet search (what traxus called ‘internet stalking’ on the previous thread), a search which informed me that you used to work in television advertising and that you presently work as a currency trader. Since you seem either incapable or unwilling of supporting any of your claims with either reason or evidence, I find myself having to resort to an ad hominem mode of explanation, and have arrived at the following suggestion:

    Could it be that, just as your passion for opera seemingly leads you to discuss philosophical debate in explicitly operatic or theatrical terms, so your background in advertising and trading leads you to believe that all human behaviour must be explainable in economic and/or marketing terms: that everyone is a ‘producer’, everything a ‘product’, and that all human activity ultimately (that is, when appropriately ‘unmasked’) boils down to the naked pursuit of various kinds of ‘capital’ (‘symbolic capital’, ‘cultural capital’, ‘academic capital’ etc.)? Mightn’t it even be the case that this is a way of attempting to assuage some kind of pent-up guilt you harbour about your choices of career, i.e. by telling yourself that everybody is basically up to the same thing — i.e. marketing ‘product’ and accumulating ‘capital’?

    Furthermore, since you exercise this hermeneutics of suspicion so indiscriminately — even, as in the case above, where there is nothing whatsoever to recommend it — have you ever considered that your own righteous posturing (e.g. your oft self-publicised supposed concern for the poor and downtrodden) might be driven by an unconscious investment in the game of accruing *moral* capital? And might it not be that this, too, is one of the ways that you are able to assuage your conscience and to convince yourself you’re actually a ‘good’ person (as opposed to an amoral capitalist or ruthless plutocrat), whilst never having to actually leave your currency-trading desk save for the occasional visit to the opera?

    Related to this, a question: Do you think that there can be such a thing as ideologically-disinterested human behaviour? (I’m curious to hear your answer to this, especially given your comments about science above, where you seem to suggest that the hypothesis of the luminiferous aether is somehow no more nor less disinterested than ideologically-driven pseudoscientific claims about sex or race.)

    Okay, that’s the last ad hominem comment from me. If I contribute anything else, it will solely concern your claims and — if I can find any –arguments. (Ad hominem comment is not always fallacious, of course, and in the above case I think the correlations between career path and mode of intellectual engagement are so striking that it’s hardly an underhand tactic to point them out. However, I don’t want to give Chabert any more excuses to turn this into yet another fatuous competitive display or infantile shitfight: even if she sees this as pure eristic, I happen to think that there are actually matters of some gravity at stake.)

    I actually toyed with the idea of responding to many of Chabert’s other comments and accusations, but unfortunately (fortunately?) not all of us can afford the very ample leisure-time which she evidently enjoys to participate in such things (my comments on the previous thread were made when I had a few occasional free hours at work the other week, and for the last two and a half weeks I’ve not even had internet access save for checking my emails in internet cafes). Besides, I noticed the way in which the previous thread quickly degenerated into a Jerry Springeresque shit-slinging contest after I left (despite the admirably reasoned interventions of one ‘joxter’), and I can’t say that I’m very keen to get involved in one of those (simply because they’re tiresome and irritating).

    I do think that *some* of what you say is worth responding to, firstly because it so vividly (if also: vulgarly) articulates so much of what is wrong with much of contemporary intellectual culture in the humanities and social sciences; and, secondly, because it exemplifies precisely those ‘correlationist’ dogmas which the likes of Meillassoux and Brassier are attempting to eradicate. Anyway, I may get a chance to say something more about all this — and what I think is most fundamentally at stake in it — if I get an hour or two free at work later in the week …

  24. leads you to believe that all human behaviour must be explainable in economic and/or marketing terms: that everyone is a ‘producer’, everything a ‘product’, and that all human activity ultimately (that is, when appropriately ‘unmasked’) boils down to the naked pursuit of various kinds of ‘capital’ (‘symbolic capital’, ‘cultura l capital’, ‘academic capital’ etc.)?

    that’s exactly what it is, Martin, and on top of that she professes to be an arts and humanities patron, but never comes up with the cash…

  25. “done anything else whatsoever by way of attempting to ‘market’ this ‘product’. With this in mind, would you be so kind as to attempt to substantiate your comments and accusations above? ”

    I refer to the marketing you mention, of course, and postures like “The future vouchsafed to philosophy by phenomenology is too dismal to contemplate; a terminally infantile, pathologically narcissistic anthropocentrism. The situation too grave, the stakes to high, to allow for equivocation or compromise.”

    This is pr because of course there is no grave situation, and no stakes at all, but this product is advertising itself as a desperately needed miracle cure.

    ” a search which informed me that you used to work in television advertising and that you presently work as a currency trader.”

    I had a feeling I was dealing with someone who believes everything he reads on the internet.

    My own research about you Martin, has turned up that you are a computer geek who attends Star Trek conventions, and were recently fired from your post as blurb writer for dvd releases on an internet celebrity fan site.

    “Do you think that there can be such a thing as ideologically-disinterested human behaviour?”

    Like digestion? breathing? belching? etc? Or are you asking me if I believe in a divine omnipotent intelligence on which human “mind” depends? if the latter, no I do not. evidently you do.

    “that everyone is a ‘producer’,”

    is this something you object to? is everyone for you merely a ‘consumer’ as for Ray Brassier and Margaret Thatcher? if you did not produce this comment, how do you explain it’s being here? I suppose this is another miracle you attribute to an intelligent divinity?

    “Mightn’t it even be the case that this is a way of attempting to assuage some kind of pent-up guilt you harbour about your choices of career, i.e. by telling yourself that everybody is basically up to the same thing — i.e. marketing ‘product’ and accumulating ‘capital’? ”

    Hm, let’s see. What do you think, Martin? Is this very likely? What evidence have you for this rigorous analysis? More to the point, is this what you consider to be the “serious consideration” of the “rational argument” in Après la finitude? It seems to me rather to be a fairly lame attempt at disqualification for the purpose of perpetually evading exactly the kind of conversation you insisted you wished to have and was the only appropriate one to have about this book. As I previously noticed at the top of the thread.

    “where you seem to suggest that the hypothesis of the luminiferous aether is somehow no more nor less disinterested than ideologically-driven pseudoscientific claims about sex or race.”

    you’re really a bad reader. what is listed there is a range of surpassed “scientific facts” – some knowledge produced by science is clearly politically convenient, other knowledge is merely mistaken but nonetheless reflects assumptions and conditions in which it is produced. Brassier is amusing because he calls “the Big Bang” an “entity” and states as “scientific truth” that people are “carbon based information processing systems”, that is, he subscribes to a medieval dualism (“carbon” vs “information”) that is nothing but bodies and language, matter and spirit, dressed up in geeky language. Nothing “scientific” about that, much less “truth”. The point is for Husserl to have satisfied Brassier’s demands for accepting “scientific fcts” as “scientific truths” would have meant accepting that he himself was a member of an inferior parasitic race threatening degeneration to the one most of his students and colleagues belonged. You say this is “pseudo-science” but it had the status of science, just as the luminiferous aether etc.. What he said about general relativity was “it does not concern us” (philosophy). That tells us somethng about philosophy surely. And today there are plenty of respectable scientists producing all kinds of politically motivated and skewed “findings”, elaborated by philosophers of science and other adjacent intellectual product.

    Anyway Martin, that’s a lot of questions you ask, in a comical bid for control and mastery, as if you were fantasising either being a torturer, or that you are interviewing me for a job. It would be easy enough to guess, in your own style, at an explanation for that; it is after all pretty common in a certain type of resentful tooth grinding clerk, but I don’t pretend to know why you behave in this way and don’t mind not knowing. I haven’t really the inclination to answer all your queries, but if you would actually care to assert or dispute something about these texts you are so concerned to defend, like a grown up, that would be different. I still haven’t read Nihil Unbound but I did read Alien Theory, and I find Laruelle, who is much paraphrased and referenced in it, very convincing about the distinguishing feature of the genre of philosophy, and would be happy to discuss why.

  26. “I can’t say that I’m very keen to get involved in one of those (simply because they’re tiresome and irritating). ”

    and yet, here you are, once again promising to say something of substance, and interest, later later later, instead reporting the findings of your internet gossip research and trying to play Meillassoux’ astrologer. For someone with such deep interest in this material, and such strong and you keep telling us fascinating and important views, you are remarkably keen to delay the revelation of them and try to pass off vague substanceless hints as comment, or long divagations into unrelated matters like creationism. Is what you have to say really so difficult that you require weeks to work yourself up to it?

  27. QUESTION: I understand that we could have a kind of universal grammar of nonlinguistic forms of human behavior as well. But if, as you say, our behavior and language are heavily guided by universal principles, why, then, do they differ so much all around the world?

    CHOMSKY: I don’t think they differ so much. I think that as human beings, we quite naturally take for granted what is similar among human beings and, then, pay attention to what differentiates us. That makes perfect sense for us as human beings. I suppose frogs pay no attention to being frogs. They take it for granted. What interests a frog are differences among frogs. From our point of view they are more or less the same, from their point of view they are all radically different.

    Similarly with us. For us, we are all very different, our languages are very different, and our societies are very different. But if we could extract ourselves from our point of view and sort of look down at human life the way a biologist looks at other organisms, I think we could see it a different way. Imagine an extrahuman observer looking at us. Such an extrahuman observer would be struck precisely by the uniformity of human languages, by the very slight variation from one language to another, and by the remarkable respects in which all languages are the same. And then he would notice we do not pay any attention to that because for the purpose of human life it is quite natural and appropriate just to take for granted everything that is common. We don’t concern ourselves with that, all we worry about are differences.

    QUESTION: Would this extrahuman observer think the same way about our symbols, ideas, needs, and values?

    CHOMSKY: Absolutely. I think he would be struck by the uniformity of human societies in every aspect. And there is more than that. Let’s imagine again an observer looking at us without any preconceptions. I think he would be struck by the fact that although human beings have the capacity to develop scientific knowledge, it must be a very limited capacity because it is only done in very narrow and specific domains. There are huge areas where the human mind is apparently incapable of forming sciences, or at least has not done so. There are other areas — so far, in fact, one area only — in which we have demonstrated the capacity for true scientific progress.

    QUESTION: Physics?

    CHOMSKY: Physics and those parts of other fields that grow out of physics — chemistry, the structure of big molecules — in those domains, there is a lot of progress. In many other domains, there is very little progress in developing real scientific understanding.

    QUESTION: Isn’t it because man wants to exercise control over the physical world?

    CHOMSKY: I don’t think so. I think it probably reflects something very special about the nature of our minds. There is no evolutionary pressure to create minds capable of forming sciences; it just happened. Evolutionary pressure has not led to higher rates of reproduction for people capable of solving scientific problems or creating new scientific ideas. So if, in fact, the science-forming capacities evolved for other reasons, it would not be too surprising if those particular structures that have developed proved to be rather special in their nature, reflecting the contingencies of their evolution or the working of physical law.

    QUESTION: Do you mean that we may be, by virtue of this accidental origin of science, capable of development of some disciplines of science and incapable of others? And that we are not conscious of that?

    CHOMSKY: Yes, as human beings we are not too conscious of that because we naturally assume that our mental structures are universal. But I suppose an outside biologist looking at us would see something very different. He would see that, like other organisms, we have a narrow sphere within which we are very good, but that sphere is very limited. And that, in fact, the very achievements we can have within that sphere are related to lack of achievements in other spheres.

    To construct a scientific theory from the data and to be able to recognize that it is a reasonable theory is possible only if there are some very sharp restrictive principles that lead you to go in one direction and not in another direction. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have science at all, merely randomly chosen hypotheses. Then, human genius may have limitless opportunities to develop in one direction, but at the same time this genius will not go in other directions. And those two considerations are related. The very properties of the human mind that provide an enormous scope for human genius in some domains will serve as barriers to progress in other domains, just as the properties that enable each child to acquire a complex and highly articulated human language block the acquisition of other imaginable linguistic systems.

    QUESTION: What domains do you consider the most backward and neglected?

    CHOMSKY: I think that we have basically nothing in the field of human behavior. Maybe that is just a condition of temporary ignorance. But it may be that we are simply not intellectually equipped to develop such a theory.

    QUESTION: Do you mean that not only do we not have tools to develop such a theory but we are incapable of creating the necessary tools?

    CHOMSKY: Yes, intellectual tools. Our minds are specifically adapted to developing certain theories, and we have a science if the theories that are available to our minds happen to be close to true. Well, there is no particular reason to suppose that the intersection of true theories and theories that are accessible to the mind is very large. It may not be very large.

    QUESTION: Can we know, at least, how large it is?

    CHOMSKY: It is a question of biology how large that intersection is. And if humans are organisms like every other organism — which they are — then we should expect that if there are some domains where real scientific progress is possible, then there are others where it is not.

    So here’s a straightforward expression of “correlationist dogma” which you call “postmodern”. I wonder Martin if you can explain why you think Chomsky said these things and what it implies about the relationship of philosophy (in the grand style, ontology) to scientific inquiry and the production of scientific knowledge.

  28. “would you be so kind as to attempt to substantiate your comments and accusations above? ”

    about philosophical fashion victims? surely, easiest thing in the world, though i think you might have googled yourself. here are two from our own little blogworld:

    here – where you can learn that: “Brassier is possibly the only man in the world to have read Laruelle, and his take on him is wholly positive. As he understands it: “Laruelle provides the key to understanding the diachrony inherent in what Meillasoux calls ‘absolute time’ and allows us to appreciate that ‘it is no longer thought that determines the object, whether through representation or intuition, but rather the object that seizes thought, and forces it to think it … according to it.’”
    Let me confess at this point that I have only a dim inkling, at best, of what this might mean. Written in an extraordinary form of technical prose, Nihil Unbound is intended for a specialised audience, and shows it.”
    (not a joke, click and see)
    and here, where one can virtually time travel to the alchemists’ lodges in the shadow of the castle of Rudolph II to discover “When fire burns cotton, it does not engage with the entirety of the cotton’s being, only with those aspects of it that are flammable.”

    Here’s another.: “This book [Tool Being] is also significant because it contains the first convincing analysis of late Heidegger’s cryptic notion of the fourfold.”

    Harman’s suggestion is that Heidegger is profoundly important for his dismal failure to achieve the insights into technology attained by Marshall McLuhan, even though he glanced in that direction a couple times. How would you characterise a pitch like that? What assumptions undergird another ancillary product of Heidegger selling itself as “inferior McLuhan”? It’s not like there is anyone on the planet left interested and engaged in these matters who has not read McLuhan, is there? But it’s like here, now read Heidegger again, because it’s not very good, pop media theory mixing correct and illuminating observation with catholic mysticism and all sorts of assumed “pseudo-science” is much better, but, well, here it is on the syllabus anyhow.

    Meillassoux is another thing really, another class of product, and unsurprisingly, reception is less risible.

  29. QUESTION: Can we know, at least, how large it is?

    CHOMSKY: It is a question of biology how large that intersection is.

    Is that a yes or a no, do you think?

    It’s significant that the relationship between human intellectual capability and that which there is to be known should be described here in terms of an intersection of domains. An organism (us, as it happens) may possess the capacity to develop theories about its environment; the environment may support a subset of those theories, by being such that they “happen to be close to true”; there is then an intersection, which sets the boundaries of the possible true knowledge accessible by the organism.

    Does this meta-theory fall within the boundary the existence of which it asserts?

  30. What would be useful would be to observe another theory-making organism going about its business, and being incapable of making theories about parts of its environment that were perfectly amenible to our theory-making faculties. Not just incapable in the usual dunderheaded way of all of us poor fallible beings, but biologically incapable: one would like to be able to observe the limitations of the organism’s biology preventing it from coming up with a close-to-true theory about something we were able to have a close-to-true theory about.

  31. Martin , I have to help you – you’ve fallen into the Marxist Snake’s pit and I can tell she’s managed to charm you, otherwise you wouldn’t be returning for more humiliation despite your busy schedule. Now there are only two routes: you must either go away immediately or thwart the snake before she manages to infect you with poison.

    You’ve already done a good job by injuring her Majesty’s vanity; as you can see she is enormously interested in your opinion of her. Now you must have the stamina to endure the next phase, which will be her attempt to make you feel guilty. Faced with her Marxian lies, the snake plays damsel in distress – but don’t be fooled, her heart remains as brutal and cold as that of her fellow Prioprietors and Marketing Hacks.

    She’s already taken John Steppling, Traxus and Patrick Mullins – and she very nearly took me. But you’re smarter than that, Martin. Don’t give in to Evil!

  32. I still have no internet connection at work, so I’m going to have to just respond as and when I get the chance. So, for now, just a brief response to your Chomsky questions:

    “So here’s a straightforward expression of “correlationist dogma” which you call “postmodern”.”

    I’m familar with Chomsky’s views on cognitive closure, so none of this is new to me, but I’m afraid I fail to see how these passages are supposed to amount to a “straightforward expression” of postmodern correlationist dogmas — or, indeed, an expression of any kind of correlationism or postmodernism at all. As a matter of fact I can think of few if any contemporary intellectuals who are as far removed from postmodernism (or indeed, from intellectual fashion generally) as Chomsky, who rather belongs to an age-old tradition of classical rationalism stretching back as far as Plato. The best critical discussion I’ve come across of Chomsky on this issue of cognitive closure/epistemic boundedness is John Collins’ paper ‘On the Very Idea of a Science Forming faculty’, which can be found here: http://www.uea.ac.uk/~j108/faculty.htm (However, since it doesn’t attempt to ‘unmask’ Chomsky’s ideas in socio-political or ideological terms, it probably will prove unbearably boring for you, given that you would neither be paid to do it nor have been indoctrinated with the dogma of the virtue of reading texts in terms of their actual content.)

    As for Chomsky being a dogmatic postmodernist correlationist, I have no idea what to make of that, so I’m afraid you’re going to have to spell it out to me if you want a response. My best guess is that you may be confusing the platitudinous, metaphysically-innocent claim that human beings are not omniscient, or that there may be constitutive limits to what human science can come to know, with the correlationist or idealist claim that the notion of a world subsisting in itself without being given to a subject is an absurdity (but like I say, that’s just a guess, and I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt that you’re not guilty of such a interpretative ‘howler’).

    “I wonder Martin if you can explain why you think Chomsky said these things and what it implies about the relationship of philosophy (in the grand style, ontology) to scientific inquiry and the production of scientific knowledge.”

    Well, since you bring the issue up (apparently without any but the most tenuous connection to anything we’ve been discussing), how about if you tell me why you think Chomsky says these things and what you think it implies about said relationship? (It would also be helpful if you could spell out what bearing you think it has on the issues we’ve been discussing here.)

  33. Anyway, I may get a chance to say something more about all this — and what I think is most fundamentally at stake in it — if I get an hour or two free at work later in the week …

    How wonderful, you fat asshole! Nobody can wait for matters you consider of some importance. You don’t even see that anyone can see that you phrase it in such a way that it sounds as if some sort of noblesse oblige to which someone had thought of subscribing. And yet you know that they haven’t. All you are getting is the response of ample leisure time and proof of your artistic imbecility. What a pitiful excuse for a human being.

    “not all of us can afford the very ample leisure-time which she evidently enjoys to participate in such things (my comments on the previous thread were made when I had a few occasional free hours at work the other week, and for the last two and a half weeks I’ve not even had internet access save for checking my emails in internet cafes)”

    But some of us can. I am much less upset that she has ‘very ample leisure time’ than delighted that you don’t, you fucking closet fruit. Truly ghoulish even by internet standards.

  34. Martin, I think you are confused about what “correlationism” means to Meillassoux. It is not confined to solipsism and radical scepticism, though he tends on occasion to single out as the problem the thought of “defective” human intelligence (Chomsky would belong in that crowd, though he wouldn’t use so negative value laden a word as “defective” to describe the finitude of human mind). Chomsky gives voice to the common sense, non philosophical version of “correlationism”, the version which does not attempt to draw out theological consequences. Meillassoux acknowledges those postmodern versions you allude to and suggests they are, er, necessary outgrowths or outcomes of modern versions, which cannot be “refuted” from the position of correlationism. For Meillassoux, correlationism begins with and includes Kant, who was not postmodern. It includes Comte and positivism. Not every positivist is Foucault. Einstein, Heisenberg, Chomsky are all correlationists. Correlationism is simply the acknowledgement that human knowledge of the world is inescapably human, constructed by human subjectivity, and limited. Correlationism denies there is a divine intelligence or universal intelligence, some extra human something to which human minds have access. It cannot accept a Platonic view for example of mathematics. You are defending philosophers who are working openly with a certain mysticism, “intellectal intuition”, an intimation of gnosis. Your misreading seems to be driven by a determination to construct some us and them in a desperate battle against creationism. You seem entirely unacquainted with the background for Meillassoux “questions” – existentialism, structural causation, humanism/antihumanism – or wilfully ignoring it.

    My best guess is that you may be confusing the platitudinous, metaphysically-innocent claim that human beings are not omniscient, or that there may be constitutive limits to what human science can come to know, with the correlationist or idealist claim that the notion of a world subsisting in itself without being given to a subject is an absurdity

    No Martin, you seem to be confusing “correlationism” with subjective idealism. As you know, since you have read Meillassoux’ book, he makes a distinction. And you will certainly recall that Meillassoux explicity distinguishes between correlationism tout court and “postmodern” strains of correlationism, the latter not only depriving thought of “absolute” but also of “universal”. His point, which is made very clearly so that anyone reading can’t help but get it, is NOT that modern correlationsim is postmodern subjective idealism (the “idea of the universe existing without humans is an abrudity”) but the OPPOSITE, that although correlationism acknowledges that mind is always targeting “the thing itself”, that although correlationism of course knows there is reality independent of human consciousness, philosophically it is unable to “refute” or defend against postmodern correlationism and subjective idealism.

    I really think you should read this book before you go off like this. It’s not very difficult or ambiguous and when you do get around to it you’re going to be embarrassed that these comments of yours are here.

  35. It would also be helpful if you could spell out what bearing you think it has on the issues we’ve been discussing here

    Well okay, if you need it spelled out.

    “Correlationism” – but not subjective idealism – in the form of positivisms, is the posture of scientific inquiry in the present day. “Ontology” is not a scientific discipline. There is no scientific distinction between the thing “en-soi” and the thing “pour-nous.” Chomsky has said “the ontological question is usually besides the point, nothing more than a form of harrassment”.

    Ontology derives from theology. It is ontology that Brassier and Meillassoux are engaged in, not science.

    “Correlationism” is not a synonym for postmodern scepticism, nietzscheanism, solipsism or creationism. It is a term Meillassoux is using for a very broad range of product in ontology which shares a certain assumption. His argument is mainly about how some strains of this product is inadequate to combat some other strains of this product. His own proposals can be justly characterised as partaking of mysticism. The existence of the universe before human beings is not something he is setting out to prove. He assumes it. The case he is making is fixed in an inherited debate in which all sides assume it. What he is setting out to show is his notion of the inadequacy of some philosophy which also assumes it to reign in speculation which “necessarily” leads to scepticism, solipsism, pessimism, which he thinks have what he deems to be undesirable political consequences.

  36. rein in! and reign over. and detox with reins.

  37. Let me ask you now, given that you define “correlationism” as the belief that a world subsisting in itself without human consciousness is an absurdity, what you make of the distinction this author we are discussing, Meillassoux, makes between “strong” and “weak” correlationism.

  38. Here Martin, this might help you get up to speed about this programme, a good recap of the last week’s episode.

  39. Correlationism is simply the acknowledgement that human knowledge of the world is inescapably human, constructed by human subjectivity, and limited

    I’m distantly reminded of a quip of Ray Bradbury’s about people who accused sci-fi writers of “escapism”: who after all would be most concerned about the prospect of people “escaping”, if not jailors?

  40. “without any but the most tenuous connection to anything we’ve been discussing”

    Martin all you’ve been discussing is what you heard from “little birds” about my professional life and personality, and Dawkins’ argument with creationism, which as I tried to point out to you, is not even a suitable analogy for Meillassoux even were analogies explanatory and relevant (which they are not). I have been trying to steer you toward the book whose “rational argument” you insist you want to evaluate in this narrow and dull way, picking it over step by step, but this puts me in the position of having first to tell you what the book says. Recall you burst into a thread with a demand to evaluate this book, stamping your foot and insisting on having a certain kind of debate about it. I am totally ready for this debate if you really insist, but when do you propose to begin? You keep stalling with diversions, that you heard I used to work in advertising (false) and therefore Meillassoux must be using “correlationism” and “subjective idealism” as interchangeable terms. This is your example of “rational argument”. Surely you can see that whatever is on my vita is insufficient evidence for your claims about Meillassoux’ text, which you seem determined never to quote, except little phrases which appear in english in Brassier. You are trying to make a case about Meillassoux based on the discussion in Brassier’s book plus emails you have recieved from undisclosed sources about my personality, and borrowed flings about the “poor and downtrodden” by which I can only suppose you mean those very sources of information and yourself. Because it is you and they who are incessantly complaining of your injuries and the injustices you suffer, and how you are desperately fighting against evil on all sides, and exhibiting your wounds – you’ve been condescended to! mommmy! mooooommmmmy! – and all manner of distracting antics.

    Now your complaint was that this book, Après la finitude, was not being discussed in the manner you wish to discuss it. you want to lay down the law for what happens in a blog comments box. It’s neurotic, but so are we all. People are willing to indulge you because you seem so overwrought. Well, go on then, discuss. Say something about it. Pick out a passage, type it in here, explicate it, go through your whole classroom pantomime, and I will grade your performance. If you don’t really want to do that, stop kvetching that no one is willing to play with you. I mean, what is this – you storm in, demand attention, say play my game, then keep crying “time out time out!”. What kind of meshuggener are you? If you don’t want to discuss this book, why do you say you do, and indeed wail and whine about how its immoral and evil for anyone to refuse to indulge you in this? Nobody but you cares about your opinions about it. It’s obvious you haven’t even read it. It’s unlikely you’ll have anything particularly interesting to say. But nonetheless, you are replied to, and then all you can do is complain you’re not getting enough attention and others aren’t observing your rules for conversation. You know, babies are allowed to make up the rules of games and mommy will try to obey. But you’re obviously a chronological adult, and you have to accept you can’t control both sides of a conversation. You say what you want, your interlocutor does the same. Your frenzied demands have met with a reasonable willingness to respond within your little yeshiva bucher parameters. Now by your own rules, the ball is in your court. For the tenth time, have you anything to say about any of this “speculative realism” product except thumbs up, fabulous, fun for the whole family? If not, that’s fine with me.

  41. “However, since it doesn’t attempt to ‘unmask’ Chomsky’s ideas in socio-political or ideological terms,”

    actually the author you refer to insists that chomsky’s work in linguistics is inextricable from and an expression of his anarchism. perhaps you were not aware of this.

    and your repeated attempts to assign to me an idiotic caricatured position is very irritating and puts you in the camp of trolls and ignoramuses incapable of arguing with the actual position of those who disagree with them, who must incessantly create straw men to beat up, imagining some invisible audience fooled and cheering. This is all of a piece with your seeking out little tidbits of gossip as a crutch and means of evading the very text you demand to discuss. Can’t you simply respond to what is written here, since it is what is written here that you pretend has ignited your outrage? Your interpretation of my list of surpassed facts, with your absolutely groundless dishonest imputation of a “suggestion”, only further reveals your own incapacity to engage in the kind of argument you claim to wish to have. And this is typical of posers, these kinds of noisy tantrums coming from people who don’t really have mastery of the fetishes on devotion to which they base their own vanity. Just insisting that you are rational hardly proves it; your inability to produce anything other than irrational ranting and fanciful fictions about your interlocutor and the text in question will inevitably be taken into account by anyone seeking to form a judgement on that.

    ” would neither be paid to do it nor have been indoctrinated with the dogma of the virtue of reading texts in terms of their actual content”

    such flings ought be left to those who recognise paraphrases, references and direct quotations from the text they claim to be discussing. The “howler” of course is either yours, or Meillassoux’, who has coined this term correlationism and defined it thusly: correlationism “consists in the disqualification of all claims to consider the spheres of subjectivity and objectivity independently of one another”. Can you read this text for its content or not? He goes on to say that, given correlationism, in its positivist forms, intersubjectivity must be the ground of objective knowledge. That is, precisely NOT what you contend. Does your ‘howler” derive from simple and complete ignorance of this text, or its arguments and propositions both “logical” and literary, and its use of the term in question, or some unusual mental confusion? Shall we ask the little birds what’s wrong with you, that you should say something so flagrantly inaccurate and easily debunked, in your haste to manufacture some springboard for a gratuitous insult? It can’t be that you imagine your ad hominems are wounding or intimidating; I never worked in advertising but I know plenty of people who do and did who are very significantly better read, more civilised, and cleverer than you, and who have the gift and skills, when bullshitting about what they know and don’t know, have read or not read, to prosecute a successful pretence, which you don’t.

  42. “with the correlationist or idealist claim that the notion of a world subsisting in itself without being given to a subject is an absurdity ”

    I see where the howler comes from (your dependence on brassier’s description). “a world subsisting in itself” is ordinary language, not “world in itself” or “réelle-en-soi” or “monde-en-soi” or “chose en soi”. But of course you are trusting to Brassier too much, having nothing else to go on. I will help you just this once. Here is Meillassoux’ actual text on hard and soft correlationism:

    La critique proscrit toute connaissance de la chose en soi (toute application des catégories au suprasensible), mais maintient la pensabilité de l’en-soi. Nous savons donc à priori, selon Kant, et que la chose en soi est non-contradictoire, et qu’elle existe effectivement. Le modèle fort du corrélationisme consiste au contraire à considérer qu’il est non seulement illégitime de prétendre que nous pourrions, du moins, le penser. L’argument d’une telle délégitimation est très simple et bien connu de nous: il s’agit, encore et toujours, du cercle corrélationnel. Car enfin, par quelle opération prodigieuse la pensée kantienne parvient-elle ainsi à sortir d’elle-même, pour s’assurer que ce qui est impossible pour nous est impossible en soi? La contradiction est impensable –accordons-le: mais qu’est-ce qui permet à Kant de savoir que nul Dieu ne peut exister qui — comme Descartes, par exemple, pouvait l’affirmer — aurait la toute-puissance de rendre vraie une contradiction? Kant prétend que nous ne connaissons rien de la chose en soi en la soumettant comme il le fait au principe supposé vide de non-contradiction: mais il paraît au contraire présomptueux de se croire en mesure de pénétrer si profondément dans l’en-soi, que l’on puisse ainsi savoir que la puissance de Dieu ne saurait aller jusqu’à l’inconsistance logique. Non que le corrélationnisme fort affirme l’existence d’un tel Dieu tout-puissant: mais il se contente de disqualifier toute réfutation de sa possibilité. Le pendant nihiliste d’une telle hypothèse du Dieu tout-puissant serait d’ailleurs tout aussi défendable. Il s’agirait d’une thèse rejetant cette fois la seconde proposition absolue de Kant — à savoir qu’il y a une chose en soi en dehors de nos représentations.

    Now how how how do you, Martin, turn:

    weak (faible) correlationism (critique) “mantient la pensibilité de l’en-soi” and holds that we know a priori “qu’elle existe effectivement”

    into:

    correlationism “claim[s] that the notion of a world subsisting in itself without being given to a subject is an absurdity”?

    How do you derive your account here, or any of the nutty things you’ve alleged, from this text? What do you understand the point of this text above and the suite to be? Can you understand that different postures founded on “correlationism” are being examined for their relations to one another? Does you ability to comprehend prose extend that far? To follow that a claim is being made that Kantian critique, founded in the correlation, while explicitly affirming the existence of “a world subsisting independent…” is, according to Meillassoux, unable to offer what he considers to be an airtight riposte to or defence against different, sceptical and nihilist, propositions, seemingly logically following from the correlation which bases critique, also within his category he invents of correlationism (that is also rejecting claims of considering “the spheres of subjectivity and objectivity” independently from one another), but drawing other inferences and conclusions and consequences? This is what this book is about. Did you pick that up? Or is this very straightforward, simple, plainly stated set of assertions just over your steaming little head?

    Now that’s all the help I’m going to give you in prparing for the fascinating thing you keep promising to say about all this. Training wheels are off. Now you’re on your own.

  43. Okay Chabert, I think the only honourable thing left for me to do is to concede defeat. You win, fair and square. I have genuinely learnt a great deal from the many pearls of wisdom which you have so generously strewn at my feet for no other reason than to indulge my infantile demands for attention. It’s true that I have done nothing but ranted irrationally and caricatured your sophisticated and hard-won intellectual convictions, whilst you have patiently considered my every claim with admirable fairness, objectivity and rigour. I truly stand in awe of your formidable logical acumen, your breathtaking erudition – not to mention the sheer profundity and accuracy of your insights into the secret wellsprings of my psyche. I am truly humbled.

    Before I crawl back under my stone, deeply embarrassed and humiliated, please allow me to just summarize some of those pearls of wisdom which I — pitiable and unworthy creature — have been fortunate enough to gather as you scatter them in my direction:

    — The hypothesis that the earth was brought into being, with all the flora and fauna it now contains, at 9am on Friday 23rd of October 4004 BC is irrefutable and unfalsifiable. As long as there are people who continue to believe that the earth is flat, immovable, and the centre of the Universe, it is utterly naïve to think that they could ever be refuted by any means. The same goes for the belief that human beings are a special creation having no kinship with other animals, that the heavens are unchanging and eternal, that our the details of our daily lives are determined by the movements of celestial bodies, and so on. Nothing, it is safe to conclude, can ever be refuted or falsified as long as just one person refuses to relinquish his or her belief in it.

    — Creationists do not actually believe in creation or in god; it’s just a business, and anybody who supposes otherwise is, again, a hopelessly naïve simpleton.

    — However, it is reasonable to assume that anybody who insists that creationism has been refuted by modern science is in fact a closet creationist or a deprogrammed religious fundamentalist. Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett are examples of such. While putting on the pretence of being opposed to religion, such deluded folk in fact long for nothing so much as “a creed, order, hierarchy, priests etc., no matter the details of the creed of the moment”.

    — Anybody who thinks that science is able to furnish knowledge about the universe that is superior to religious mythology is a victim of intellectual fashion.

    — There is no difference in kind between religious and scientific beliefs.

    — Everybody is a producer and everything is a product. All human behaviour is a matter of accumulating ‘capital’ of various kinds, and to suppose that there could be such a thing as ideologically-disinterested behaviour (save for breathing and defecating) is to believe in an omnipotent divine intelligence. (The only exception to this rule is the critical theorist, who acts purely in the interest of exposing social injustice.)

    — To suppose that a philosophical argument can be refuted by showing that it is logically invalid is also hopelessly naïve. Anybody who attempts such a thing is guilty of “glaringly missing the point” and of believing in something supernatural and “of myserious origin”.

    — Philosophy exhausted all its options several centuries ago, and since then no new information has been furnished by science which could be of the slightest help in resolving philosophical problems. All philosophical disputes “can only be evaluated in extra-philosophical terms, outside the discipline itself”.

    — The idea that philosophical arguments ought initially to be carefully considered on their own terms (so that, minimally, one understands their first-order content), before one launches into a reductive sociological practice of unmasking the ideological motivations of their author is risible: “That kind of thing is done exclusively by salaried employees. Nobody would do it they were not paid for their time, not even those … who have been successfully indoctrinated in the dogma of its virtuousness”. It is also “unbearably boring”.

    — The question of whether objective knowledge is possible is irresolvable in principle and those (such as Meillassoux and myself), who think there is anything at stake in it, are engaged in something akin to a masonic ritual.

    — Those who think that there is anything at stake in the global resurgence of religion in recent years are victims of Bush-administration propaganda.

    — Posting a blurb for an academic workshop on an academic website and then publishing the proceedings in an obscure journal is tantamount to an aggressive marketing strategy cynically aimed at philosophical fashion victims.

    — A sentence taken from someone’s old PhD thesis can reasonably be interpreted as a Public Relations gimmick. (Some people, it seems, attempt to “pitch” to “philosophical fashion victims” in a piece of writing only ever intended to be read by a couple of grey-bearded academic examiners.)

    — The phrase “rigorous speculation” is oxymoronic.

    — Einstein was heavily influenced by Kierkegaard, but not by academic philosophy.

    — The application of Ockham’s razor is extra-rational and probably conceals political motivations.

    — So, if we extrapolate a little, we can therefore doubtless conclude that Einstein’s application of Ockham’s razor when he dispensed with the luminiferous aether was either a Kierkegaardian decision – i.e., an ungrounded moment of madness – or else a move in an ideological game.

    — If you accept one part of science, you commit yourself wholesale to any and every putatively scientific claim that is contemporaneous with it. Thus Husserl wisely refused modern science in its entirety because he recognised that to accept any of it he would also be rationally committed to accepting “that he himself was a member of an inferior parasitic race threatening degeneration to the one most of his students and colleagues belonged”. (Presumably, the likes of Einstein and Planck were too dumb to get this point.)

    The fact that Husserl didn’t concern himself much with general relativity “surely tells us a something about philosophy”. The fact that Natorp, Riehl, Schlick, Cassirer, Carnap, Reichenbach, Russell, Whitehead (and dozens of other prominent philosophers, including even Heidegger) *did* concern themselves with it presumably tells us nothing about philosophy.

    — It follows from the above that to accept the luminiferous aether in the time of Planck, Husserl and Einstein would also have been to accept anti-Semitism and Nazi racialist pseudoscience (this is presumably why it makes sense to list the hypothesis of the aether along with eugenics as examples of the putative nefariousness of science).

    — Sometimes reasonable scientific hypotheses fail, so it is risible for people to expect science to provide any guide to ontology, and anyone who does so is a victim of philosophical fashion (probably having been a victim of Brassier’s cynically aggressive marketing in his PhD thesis!).

    — To publicly admit that one knows nothing whatsoever about modern science (and thus, about anything beyond the sphere of human social life and its struggles for capital and recognition) is fine – no shame in that; but to betray one’s ignorance about opera is deeply shameful – such a person is a “culturally illiterate … philistine creature”.

    — In any case, the very notion that it’s possible to have knowledge of a world beyond human beings is naive, failing to recognise that the question is irresolvable. (To accept this irrecusable fact is what it means to be a true, godless materialist.)

    — Anyone who reads or discusses Kant and thinks that there could possibly be anything at stake in it “of the least terrestrial significance” (beyond accruing cultural capital, of course) is seriously delusional and suffering from a professional illusion.

    — Quentin Meillassoux has published a book which purports to attempt to furnish a refutation of a widespread philosophical position, but this should not be taken in earnest. The final paragraph of the book reads:

    “Our only aim has been to try to convince the reader not only that it is possible to rediscover thought’s absolutizing scope, but that it is urgent that we do so, given the extent to which the divorce between science’s Copernicanism and philosophy’s Ptolemaism has become abyssal, regardless of all those denials that serve only to perpetuate this schism. If Hume’s problem woke Kant from his dogmatic slumber, we can only hope that the problem of ancestrality succeeds in waking us from our correlationist slumber, by enjoining us to reconcile thought and absolute”.

    It would be naïve to take any of this “at face value”. Meillassoux in fact not only knows that his attempted refutation will not succeed, but he is indeed “counting on” this failure in order to stage a drama or spectacle which really ought to appear on the operatic stage as “a chamber opera, with corps de ballet, video and bluescreen.” To take Meillassoux’s arguments seriously in terms of their first-order meaning is to engage in a masonic ritual in which nothing is or possibly could ever be at stake. Despite his pretence at earnestness, Meillassoux knows that there is no “urgency” here, just as Brassier knows that “there are no stakes at all” – they are both merely pitching to philosophical fashion victims in order accrue symbolic capital for themselves and to sell their “glaringly branded” “product”.

    — When Chabert said that Meillassoux attempt to refute Heideggerians was like trying to refute a Beethoven opera, and that he was predictably laughed out of the room, she was actually praising him “for the innovative cleverness of his tactics, which disarm his targets” – “as anyone half literate” should have been able to see.

    — The “posture of scientific theory in the present day” is idealist, positivist and correlationist.

    — The tradition of correlationist/idealist philosophy identified by Meillassoux has never sought to challenge scientific realism.

    — When Meillassoux says that, “confronted with the arche-fossil, every variety of idealism converges and becomes equally extraordinary – every variety of correlationism is exposed as an extreme idealism, one that is incapable of admitting that what science tells us about these occurrences of matter independent of humanity effectively occurred as described by science”, he actually doesn’t mean a word of it.

    — Similarly, when he says, time and time again, that the correlationist holds that “to be is to be a correlate” and that “the referent of scientific statements cannot have existed in the way in which it is naively described, i.e. as non-correlated with a consciousness”, or that correlationism “is the claim that we are closed up in our representations with no access to an external reality independent of our specific point of view” etc. etc. – in all these and many other cases I could cite, all he really meant to say was that correlationist’s believe that humans are not omniscient (unlike Meillassoux’s mystical belief in “ a divine intelligence or universal intelligence”).

    — The point of Meillassoux’s book is to demonstrate that modern mathematical natural science is constitutively unable to provide any kind of bulwark against irrationality or superstition.

    Really, I could go on and on and on citing these pearls of wisdom, but I have other things to do (and people can simply follow the threads themselves if they have any need for additional enlightenment).

    In any case, I trust these will suffice to establish beyond reasonable doubt that you indeed won the argument fair and square. (Postmodernist sophism reigns supreme yet again!!)

    I will leave you now to spend another week or two attempting to save face by reparaphrasing and reinterpreting all that you have said (just as you consistently reparaphrased and misparaphrased everything I said, such as with your claim that I am guilty of equating correlationism with postmodernism, which I did not do — I merely claimed that the particular variety of correlationism which *you* espouse amounts to vulgar and cretinous postmodernism, which is factually correct).

    You will doubtless also at least a week bitching about ‘Martin’ and fantasising about how he must be a mentally disturbed ex-fundamentalist, wannabe-Viennese clerk (etc. etc. ad nauseum), as you did for a full week and a half after the last time I left the discussion.

    Well: have fun kids!!!

  44. “You will doubtless also at least a week” should’ve read “You will also doubtless spend at least a week” …

    Cheerio!

  45. Martin, the assignment was to say something of your own thoughts about Meillassoux” book, Après la finitude, which you keep demanding to discuss. This is an hysterical parade of i don’t know what, but it does not actually contain a single remark on Après la finitude, or an evaluation of these “heavy duty arguments” you say are in it, or even a passing reference to even one of them. “This is the final paragraph” does not count as a serious evaluation of or even description of the arguments in the book. Whether Meillassoux “means” or “doesn’t mean” what his text says is not important and you have no way of knowing. You seem to find ways to waste your precious time in empty faux sarcasm; I don’t have any theories about “Martin” or his mental disorders, but your repeatedly promised evaluation and commentary on this book puts me in mind of L’Arlesienne.

    I’m afraid you get an F on this exam. But you can re-do it “when you find the time”.

    I see I will have to be more specific with the question to root out your hidden wisdom. The exam now is: how does Meillassoux establish that every correlationism “is incapable of admitting that what science tells us about these occurrences of matter independent of humanity effectively occurred as described by science”? And what does he mean by “these occurrences of matter independent of humanity effectively occured as described by science”? And, what is Meillassoux’ definition of “matter”? And what is the urgency arising from ” the extent to which the divorce between science’s Copernicanism and philosophy’s Ptolemaism has become abyssal, regardless of all those denials that serve only to perpetuate this schism”? Why should anyone mind if philosophy is divided from an abyssal gulf from science? Who are philosophers bothering? And finally, are you convinced by some or all of Meillassoux’ arguments? Be specific about your reasons for yes, no or partially, etc. Simple insistence on his sincerity, or the importance of combatting creationism, will not suffice as an answer.

    The test is open book. You may take as much time as you like. Good luck.

  46. Which one wins ‘American Idol.’

    Is Martin really l-l-l-l-l-leaving? I shudder to think what will happen without this protective patriarch who ‘found the time’ from his heavy yoke of workloadism to appear and disappear like Tinker Bell of the Trocka dero Cygnets..

    We lived for Martin’s impingements, now we’ll wait for Godot.

    Also, we need a god to save us, and Martin knows how to think technology.
    Martin will come to save us and will think things in the woods.He’ll chop down his Christmas tree there next December

    Arpege as well has made a kind of Monserrat Caballe spectacle, or possibly Agnes Baltza as a rude sort of Carman who just comes across as stubborn and opportunistic.

    Me, I’ll settle for Placido’s bambino-babe as the Duke. “la donna e mobile…’ yeah, she sho’ is…

    Both have failed all tests of coolness and have proved only that Arpege was more willing to admit her dungeon status than Martin….

    Both contestants have therefore won ‘American Idol.’

    One sees little reason to pardon either villain.

  47. Thanks for the offer, but I have absolutely no desire to attempt to prove to a posturing dilettante such as yourself that I understand Meillassoux’s arguments. Despite your persistent childish provocations, the fact is that I never demanded any such detailed textual discussion with you, and you have already admitted that you find the very idea of entering into such a discussion unbearably boring, that it gives you hives, and that you think it would be like filling in tax returns. You have also said that you think that there is and can be nothing whatsoever at stake in such philosophical discussions, which you liken to masonic rituals, so the only real question here is: Why the FUCK are you reading Meillassoux in the first place?!! To try to increase your ‘cultural capital’ and impress you opera friends, perchance?!!!

    So, to reiterate: neither I nor joxter ever demanded any such discussion, and I am certainly not about to piss away any more time providing a detailed commentary on the text for you. As I have stated several times, my only purpose was to expose you for the ignorant, sophistic moron that you are, and despite the fact that you have posted ten times as many comments as joxter and myself put together in order to try to save face by persistently mischaracterising everything we said, you remain so exposed. (Astonishingly, we have seemingly also forced you to actually try to read some of the text itself and to begin to consider some its arguments, which is surely quite an achievement in itself when faced with such an imbecilic posturing charlatan as yourself. I am well aware, of course, that you are only trying to get yourself up to speed on this in the hope of getting involved in yet another pathetic competitive display, but then there’s only so much one can do to help such a benighted imbecile.)

    Goodbye and good riddance, you fucking cretin.

  48. What is (or was) postmodernism? I used to think I knew, but the word has been sloshed around so much since then. Does anyone now using the word have anything remotely like Lyotard’s “legitimation by paralogy” in mind? The sublime as the presentation of the (existence of the) unpresentable? Ring any bells? No?

  49. Why the FUCK are you reading Meillassoux in the first place?!! To try to increase your ‘cultural capital’ and impress you opera friends, perchance?!!!

    That’s the ONLY good reason to do it, you vulgar prole!

    The only thing at all of interest about you is that you behave as if you were FORCED here, you stupid cunt. You were not only not forced, you were not invited. The ‘good riddance’ is especially telling, since you are clearly addicted to Arpege, and you have made her look good, you insufferable English closet queen and secret cock-sucker. There are not a lot of people who have proved Arpege’s imbecility ONLY TO THEMSELVES and claimed they have exposed her.

    Have you not heard that Arpege is not exactly news, dear?

    “you remain so exposed. ”

    As much as my welfare does not depend on the non-exposure of Arpege, she was ‘exposed’ years ago (mostly her own doing, then some of my own brlliance was added… ) I really dislike you for coming here and making her vaguely likable again, if only by comparison. She is a well-known pain in the ass and doesn’t know as much about opera as I do in the musical aspect (although she’s afforded more Palais Garnier performances, God knows).

    Waiting, Martin. All it will take is for Arpege to write some more posts and you will be in her arms again, you fool fruit, would-be daughter of Lillibet Windsro, you academic WHORE! Even Infinite Fool has more social credibiliity

  50. “Thanks for the offer, but I have absolutely no desire to attempt to prove to a posturing dilettante such as yourself that I understand Meillassoux’s arguments.”

    I didn’t ask you to prove anything; I am of course trying to find out what these promised “serious evaluations” of Meillassoux’ claims to “think the Absolute” actually are and what these consequences you insist their propagation will entail actually are. You must see you are saying nothing. All you do is misparaphrase in a sarcastic tone, curse and kvetch. Challenged intellectually you may be, but surely you know the meaning of the verb “to like”.

    “Goodbye and good riddance, you fucking cretin.”

    Temper temper Martin! You engage in this voluntarily you know. I have not tied you up and interrogated you. Now your “only purpose” is ” to expose you for the ignorant, sophistic moron that you are” – this is a curious mission in life I must say. (Not to say bizarrely theatrical for a puritan like yourself, above that sort of thing). You might, with your unmediated access to the Absolute and all, consider broadening your interests, as a sacrifice for the common good.

  51. #
    calaf Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    March 13, 2008 at 1:57 am

    ‘You engage in this voluntarily you know’

    Cut the crap, Turandot! They are already getting out the instruments–just like Brecht said so somberly– to avenge your wronged ancestress.

    You see, Martin, I am the only man Arpege has ever truly loved, having answered her 3 riddles perfectly in lieu of losing a number of valued male appurtenances to the shivmeister. You couldn’t have known that you never stood a chance.

    Now that cries of agony have been given audience, Arpege Turandot may want to lose some weight…

  52. Oh, yes, I am sorry, I seem to have totally ignored Patrick Mullins (= ‘nick’), in spite of all the intellectually stimulating contributions he has made (e.g. breaking-up with his boyfriend in a full-blown Jerry Springeresque bitch-fight for us all to witness and name-dropping operatic references at every opportunity in a thread about philosophy).

    I have no idea why you’re shouting at me about nobody having “FORCED” me to participate in this blog, since I have never suggested otherwise. As for my supposed denial of my “dungeon status”, it so happens that I very rarely post comments on blogs, and this is by far the longest exchange I have ever had in a blog. (The last time I posted more than a paragraph in a blog was in 2004.)

    That you detest me, Patrick, is truly music to my ears, and I would be seriously concerned if you felt any other way. I do find it vaguely amusing to see someone so clearly filled with self-loathing about what they are (viz., a homosexual) that he thinks that incessantly accusing other people of being the same would somehow wound them.

    It’s also amusing that you constantly accuse me of being a coward (thus the umpteen times you have accused me of “having no balls”) when, truth be told, if you were stood face to face with me in a room you would sooner shit yourself than dare to call me even a single one of the names you have ever-so-bravely called me on this blog. (Quite simply, I would beat the living crap out of you.)

    As it happens, I am not an editor for Collapse, but I do know the editor, who informs me that all your (otherwise inexplicable) rage, venom and bitterness stems from the fact that he politely rejected some execrable piece of shit of a paper (about, guess what folks: opera and cookery!!) that you submitted for publication in the journal. I’m sorry to hear that Patrick, and from what I have heard about the paper I am quite sure that will never get it published anywhere, but then surely you can just post it all over people’s blogs and try to find a new online boyfriend that way? Best of luck with that!!

    Cue the sad little deranged cunt … (Sorry, but I won’t be replying to you again.)

  53. (Sorry, but I won’t be replying to you again.)

    Well, who cares if you don’t reply to me, that wasn’t the point anyway. I’m glad you’re vomiting all over the place, though. Lord, the bile. If you reply here to anyone, though, you will be replying to me. Because we are not opera-challenged in this here dungeon.

    “e.g. breaking-up with his boyfriend in a full-blown Jerry Springeresque bitch-fight for us all to witness ”

    For the record, that ‘breakup’ was not with my ‘boyfriend’, but rather with my former blog manager and partner, Dejan, whom I’ve never met in person. I don’t have blog lovers, although Dejan is a nice enough fellow when not in delusional throes about online relationships.

    “(about, guess what folks: opera and cookery!!) that you submitted for publication in the journal.”

    There was some cookery but no opera, and he didn’t even finish reading all of it, although he is the one who stimulated its production and asked for it originally. He also asked me for blog posts for his old London Belongs To Me blog, but he wanted to treat them as if it was serious writing and tell me to leave out the–you guessed it–homoerotic references. He then was thrillled at my meeting with one of his regular ‘artists’, who he decried as stupid and ‘planning on being a thinker for a year or so’ since she’d been a banker before and now planned to do ‘lines of flight’.

    Of course, this worked out for me well, because that ‘piece of shit’ would have been published alone without being, as it is now, the first chapter of a whole book which will be published at the beginning of 2009 by someone who is properly funded and can do prints of the 2 painters’ artworks, placing them in a hardcover format.

    “(Quite simply, I would beat the living crap out of you.)”

    Aren’t you ever frightening? What made you think a homosexual like me might be able to beat the living crap out of you?

    Because I’d love to try it, you piece of cowardly fake shit. Your limey ass is too fat and flabby to survive a much leaner and meaner motherfucker like me.

    I call you a faggot because you are a closet queen and can’t face it, not because of the self-loathing you wish I’d conveniently have.

    I haven’t ever put any of my real writing on the blogs, but so what if I did. You ARE locked into this, and you WON’T be able to stop, because you’re still a scared little asshole hiding. In fact, now that you know all that ROBIN knows, and you’ve been eating away at his shit, I will quite simply refer to you as ROBIN now.

    whether you are or are not is totally immaterial, because you would not have defamed him had you been his friend by getting information only he knew. I can’t WAIT for you to make me publish his EMAILS on here!

    But this was priimarily to inform the rest of the populace what an asshole you are, ROBIN. Why don’t you go back to Hyperstition and tell NICK LAND how APPALLING it is that he writes GUIDEBOOKS now, since, of course, he has sold out by not continuing to do philosophy the way you and your wife prescribed.

    You don’t want to hear this? Then don’t address me, you fat fart.

    The one thing Arpege is 1005 right about is that you came here voluntarily. She did not invite you, and merely had time to accommodate your insular bullshit, your admission of failure as anything other than this vacuum-head sci-fi culture, ROBIN.

  54. (Sorry, but I won’t be replying to you again.)

    This even has to be reiterated, because it is yet another example of the astonishing single weirdest part of his approach–that either Arpege or I would somehow feel desolee and deprived if he didn’t return.

    I think we actually wait around with deepest hopes for his non-return more than his thoroughly predictable return. You wouldn’t feel abandoned if ROBIN didn’t come back, would you, Turandot?

    The attraction to sci-fi among so many bloggers has really stunned me. It is so prevalent I can barely fathom it. They appear to know philosophy and theory in a sort of ‘classical way’, but in all other areas of the humanities they want the sheerest junk food. Traxus knows real English literature and anyway reads anything, and Arpege has read some Lovecraft because also reads anything, but the extreme interest in noise and drone shit music, the total lack of knowledge of classical music and dance, the meager command of painting, is possibly a class thing, but I still don’t quite get some of it, because there somehow was the money and other kinds of ‘steering media’, as I once read someone say, to get going on all the old philosophy texts. Maybe it’s just because books themselves cost either very little or nothing.

    In any case, COLLAPSE is a non-commercial and totally vanity press operation. Christian’s art publishing company has real funding.

  55. although Dejan is a nice enough fellow when not in delusional throes about online relationships.

    I wouldn’t have written that, of course, had I seen before writing it, that Dejan reported his telephone call to me on Monday at John Doyle’s blog. He won’t be calling again, since he’d be merely hung up on and knows it.

  56. “fact that he politely rejected some execrable piece of shit of a paper (about, guess what folks: opera and cookery!!) that you submitted for publication in the journal. ”

    This was very good, Robin, for the ‘politely.’ I had realized then I didn’t want to publish anything in Collapse anyway, because there’s no money in it, and you have to pay for its printing anyway. In any case, you just wanted me to place copies in the bookstores here, which I did do once, but the rest is immaterial and all you can do is embarass yourself begging.

    “I’m sorry to hear that Patrick, and from what I have heard about the paper I am quite sure that will never get it published anywhere, but then surely you can just post it all over people’s blogs and try to find a new online boyfriend that way? Best of luck with that!! ”

    Well, both traxus and arpege have read it even though this was in a very early form. Traxus was interested in it, or said so, but if he wants to concur with your assessment of my ‘execrable piece of shit’, he is free to, because he knows I won’t care….ROBIN…what a hoot and holler…Dread Walking was surely the accurate title of that first privy in which I found you. Drear Walking would have been okay too. Set theory self-rustication? ‘Un et une font trois’ (ye olde babymaking days.)

  57. “The attraction to sci-fi among so many bloggers has really stunned me. It is so prevalent I can barely fathom it. ”

    It’s for a certain demographic. Meillassoux is sort of spoofing them – he engages in what when I was an undergrad was called “stoner logic” or “bong sophistry” – the basic shape of the “critique of critique” is “if it’s true we can’t know, then we really can’t know that we can’t know” – but elevating it to literary heights, and his writing is elegant. But still his “correlationism” is a reduction to absurd misrepresentation, and his alternative is, of course as always, gnosticism, “intellectual intuition” accessing the extra human perspective of “the Absolute”, which is not something about which anyone can be convinced – one has a mystical experience and/or sufficient desire for such celestial mastery or not. That book is truly literature though, as anyone who knows French literature of the 18th and 20th centuries would recognise.

  58. I remember Robert Smith saying once in a lecture that Derrida described his own writing as a kind of science fiction, but I never did get a source for the quote.

  59. traxus4420 Says:

    many apologies to everyone who got moderated. was away for a few days and (foolishly) didn’t expect things to blow up again.

    Dominic, parodycenter, and martin, and chabert all posted things that didn’t show up (and ‘nick,’ but he reposted).

    a lot of this is interesting (intellectually) and the rest is ‘interesting’ (psychologically), though with a bit of thought the two become one in this case.

    i haven’t got around to reading all of it yet and hope to have a real response ‘in a second,’ but i had to say this is pure unadulterated adolescence. it’s where even someone intimidated by philosophy can see the disjoint between the ‘intellectual’ faux-victorian phraseology (‘perchance’?) and the teenager hiding behind it.

    “Traxus was interested in it, or said so”

    well i DID like it, but it certainly wasn’t ‘for’ collapse, which should be abundantly clear at this point.

    ‘nick,’ the thousands(?) of blog comments you’ve typed may not be ‘real writing,’ but they’re a good deal more ingenious than much of the ‘real writing’ you keep alluding to, i sort of get why you fetishize it but also think it’s not worth it.

    fixating on scifi over traditional literature while keeping philosophy probably is one part generational (scifi dominates the late 20th century) but also says something about how european culture has been received in general. the political and ideological critiques of the canon didn’t hit philosophy in the same way that they hit literature. my guess would be because a) it wasn’t and isn’t as widely read, wasn’t/isn’t the bearer of cultural legitimacy for as many people and b) philosophy is easier to abstract from its context, since in a sense that’s what the writers were trying to do for themselves in the first place.

    contemporary non-realist genres and philosophy have something in common, more in common than with say balzac or tolstoy, and i think they share the justifications that dominic succinctly outlines above.

  60. traxus4420 Says:

    two corrections:

    “scifi dominates the late 20th century”

    should be scifi TROPES dominate the late 20th century

    “contemporary non-realist genres”

    should add: insofar as they ARE non-realist (genre isn’t absolute)

  61. Yes, traxus, and of course nothing that Patrick/nick said was remotely ‘adolescent’ now was it? But really, is there any other way to deal with someone who keeps calling you ‘a stupid cunt’ and suchlike? My point was simply that anyone who is foolish enough to say such things to my face invariably find themselves landing very hard on their back with a broken jaw. If that is adolescent behaviour, so be it; I simply don’t suffer dickheads gladly.

    And by the way, I don’t see why you think there’s any ‘disjoint’ here: the Victorians were well-known for getting hideously bladdered and beating the crap out of each other (thus recall the famous line from Dickens: “Are you calling me a cunt, perchance, cunt?”).

    I awit your final summing-up with baited breath, traxus …

  62. one would like to be able to observe the limitations of the organism’s biology preventing it from coming up with a close-to-true theory about something we were able to have a close-to-true theory about.

    it’s biology as opposed to what? it’s soul?

    QUESTION: Can we know, at least, how large it is?

    CHOMSKY: It is a question of biology how large that intersection is.

    Is that a yes or a no, do you think?

    It’s a “who do you take me for, Nostradamus?” It’s a silly question. We don’t know what we can know, obviously, but the path toward accumulating knowledge about organisms that are human beings is the study of those organisms, just as the path toward accumulating knowledge of atoms is the study of atoms.

    “Correlationism is simply the acknowledgement that human knowledge of the world is inescapably human, constructed by human subjectivity, and limited”

    I’m distantly reminded of a quip of Ray Bradbury’s about people who accused sci-fi writers of “escapism”: who after all would be most concerned about the prospect of people “escaping”, if not jailors?

    surely you mean “who would be most concerned about knowledge escaping, if not people?” in libertine or Meslier vein…

  63. it’s biology as opposed to what? it’s soul?

    Well, there are non-biological reasons why we can’t know certain things; there’s no biological configuration that would enable an organism to “solve” the halting problem for instance; the mathematically undecidable is as undecidable for any putative alien superbeings as it is for us. Then there are problems that our intellectual apparatus is poorly equipped to deal with, but that we can nonetheless specify as problems and design machines to solve for us (e.g. proving the four-colour theorem). Biology doesn’t have a lot to say about what is or isn’t knowable in these cases; it’s rather a question of what can be accomplished using certain formal means.

    Chomsky wasn’t being asked how large the intersection between human cognitive capacity and the total domain of ascertainable close-to-true theories actually was – “who do you take me for, Nostradamus?” would have been a reasonable response to that question – but simply whether or not it was in principle knowable how large it was. It didn’t seem to me that he actually answered that question; I wondered why not.

  64. “Yes, traxus, and of course nothing that Patrick/nick said was remotely ‘adolescent’ now was it? But really, is there any other way to deal with someone who keeps calling you ‘a stupid cunt’ and suchlike?”

    With this heraldic moment, one will notice ROBIN has refused to return–NOT! I never thought Madonna would apply.

    Traxus, thank you. That clarifies many things and I’m pleased with some of it, including some things of which you wouldn’t have been informed at this point. I agree the blog-writing is more ‘ingenious’, because it allowed me to write through the BlogSpace, and if it hadn’t been ingenious, I couldn’t have gotten through. The ‘real writing’ is about what I find ‘post-ingenious’, but I’ve gotten far enough along that the irritating part of this won’t continue to appear. In fact, with the beauteous ROBIN saying ‘Cheerio’ for the 3000th time, we find that he is stuck where I used to be. So your point is good about my having been irritating about making the difference between the two kinds of writing, but the problem is that I had to use both techniques in order not to be enslaved by the internet medium–because they ARE different. But for awhile I was, and as you’ll notice I don’t now comment nearly as often because most of what seemed necessary no longer does. It was a kind of writing through the maze, and ‘gotham Trace’ was the first and most difficult site for reducing what felt to me like an addiction that had to be handled just like a substance, but was different because there wasn’t much pleasure in it. By now, I can just use my tendency to the decorative as with the stuff with ROBIN yesterday. the ensuing 3 Books of the whole work nearly killed me to write and I hated doing much of it, but it was the only way I could get over the sense of being manipulated more than I could stand. There’s more on this, but I want to get back to the new parts of this blood-drenched (oh ho ho) thread. Thanks for patience.

  65. “I remember Robert Smith saying once in a lecture that Derrida described his own writing as a kind of science fiction, but I never did get a source for the quote.”

    in the thing about email, how email would have meant a different psychoanalysis, he calls his investigation “retrospective science fiction”

  66. One can dream or speculate about the earthquakes which would have made the landscape of the psychoanalytic archive unrecognizable for the past century if, to limit myself to these indications, Freud, his contemporaries, collaborators and immediate disciples, instead of writing thousands of letters by hand, had had access to telephonic credit cards from MCI or AT&T, portable tape recorders, computers, printers, faxes, televisions, teleconferences and above all E mail. I would like to have devoted my whole lecture to this retrospective science-fiction, and to imagining with you the scene of that other archive after the earthquake. here

  67. Archive Fever, figures. I like “retrospective science-fiction” – a little like steam-punk, say.

  68. My point was simply that anyone who is foolish enough to say such things to my face invariably find themselves landing very hard on their back with a broken jaw.

    Of course, HIS tough-guy stance is not ‘just writing on the internet’, HIS is the real thing. HE would beat shit out of me–especially interesting because it’s usually the dockside toughs who do it in England, there’s less physical acting-out there by a long shot than there is in the U.S.

    Note the increasing inability to be able to resist staying here, now that he’s been in all possible ways rendered eunuchoid (splat! bloody nose! Batman ZONKS the evil faggot Patrick Mullins who found a better publisher unbeknownst to the world of Collapse..)

    Go sell ya product, ROBIN baby. And remember: Don’t mess with butch faggots. We very often fight back, you thrilling hunk of MAN! WOW! Just love the way you find time to come back to the dungeon during your demanding job which allows you only AN HOUR OR TWO on the internet per week , unlike Arpege Turandot and me…

  69. As for my supposed denial of my “dungeon status”, it so happens that I very rarely post comments on blogs, and this is by far the longest exchange I have ever had in a blog.

    This is still most peculiar. Because it cannot be about Meillassoux, but begins to be about ‘exposing Chabert’, which world-elevating project is extremely difficult to understand. He would take weeks to do just this, though, as if the future of understanding Meillassoux was in danger. He is then like the reciters of the burned books at the end of ‘Fahrenheit 451’, keeping them alive.

    (by the way, I only post as ‘nick’, of course, because that’s the only one that is let through.)

  70. “the mathematically undecidable is as undecidable for any putative alien superbeings as it is for us”

    but how is mathematical undecidability not biological? what do you consider math to be if not the product of human minds, thus of living human brains? do you attribute math to a divinity or some superhuman intelligence? or the realm of Ideas or something?

    “there are non-biological reasons why we can’t know certain things”

    knowing is biological, yes?

    ” but simply whether or not it was in principle knowable how large it was. ”

    but we don’t know if it is knowable. “in principle” is a trick. Chomsky’s answer was, it will depend on what kind of knowledge we find we can accumulate about human biology and particularly cognitive capabilities. He doesn’t think we know much and he suggests it might be that we can’t know much, but he doesn’t know if it just seems like we can’t know much because we simply don’t right now or if we are in fact not capable of knowing much. Can we know how large? the answer is, maybe, but we can know that it depends on what we can know about human biology, which is unknown.

  71. Batman ZONKS the evil faggot Patrick Mullins

    (Correction: Batman and ROBIN zonk the evil opera-sucking faggot Patrick Mullins…)

  72. Formal systems are material configurations – of marks and rules for manipulating marks. Their human origin is far from the most interesting thing about them. They, and possibly machines for manipulating them, will be around when we’re gone.

  73. There are biological reasons why we can know all of what we can know, and also non-biological reasons why we can’t know some of the things we can’t know. I’m not yet convinced that there are biological reasons why we can’t know any of the things we can’t know.

  74. also dominic aren’t you confusing knowing with controlling?. like you do know you can’t solve the halting problem (had to look that up); that’s knowing something about that, like you know something about math, imperfect and not divine, and that you can’t flap your arms and take flight. flying and knowing are different even though one can colloquially speak of “knowing how to fly”, meaning a capability. This then, this “knowing” you speak of doesn’t translate into every human language even. If you say “we can’t know how to move mountains with prayer”, this is a kind of sophistry, with regard to knowing. We don’t know how to live forever, or how to travel across the universe, or back in time. But the question was about, rather, understanding things we assume exist – like can we know where that electron is, not can we know how to teach it to speak.

  75. They, and possibly machines for manipulating them, will be around when we’re gone.

    Someone found that an exciting prospect for the Hoover Dam as far back as the early 70s. I suppose ‘we’ will be gone, but Kurzweil will be living on disc and listening to his daddy’s violin lp’s.

  76. “Their human origin is far from the most interesting thing about them.”

    A fact needn’t be the most interesting thing in a given lineup to be a fact. I mean you’re saying you like formal systems better than people. Neato. But this doesn’t mean they can like you back.

  77. “They, and possibly machines for manipulating them, will be around when we’re gone.”

    but neither they nor the machines will know they’re there.

  78. I mean that there are facts about formal systems that are not facts about the people who created them. People are very interesting, but the sorts of things about people that one tends to find interesting aren’t readily discernible from the formal systems they invent. If it’s gossip you’re after, you’re better off with literature.

  79. The machines might; I don’t think it’s been proven, or could ever be proven, that this is not possible.

  80. “I mean that there are facts about formal systems that are not facts about the people who created them. ”

    Tell me some facts about a formal system that nobody knows exists. Are you sure form and system refer to something other than human mental product? if so –

    “The machines might; I don’t think it’s been proven, or could ever be proven, that this is not possible.”

    why just the machines? could it be proven that its impossible for formal systems to know?

  81. Tell me some facts about a formal system that nobody knows exists

    Whatever it is, it’s incomplete.

    could it be proven that its impossible for formal systems to know?

    I think a knower probably has to have some moving parts; otherwise it is at best a state (or a representation of a state) of knowledge.

  82. Whatever it is, its incomplete

    Provided it’s “a consistent formal, computably enumerable theory that proves basic arithmetical truths”, at least. I don’t pretend to know my Goedel.

  83. “Provided it’s “a consistent formal, computably enumerable theory that proves basic arithmetical truths”, at least. I don’t pretend to know my Goedel.”

    but you believe your Gödel knows you. better than it knows a chimp anyway.

    right now there’s only one kind of knower for your Gödel, and there’s no sign of another; so on what basis does one divide the “formal system” as “state of knowledge” (ghost) from “the knower” (machine) with moving parts?

  84. Well, it’s a mechanical analogy: you have the Turing machine, you have the tape which bears the marks of its working state. The machine works on the tape, inscribing, erasing; its state changes. But that only gets you so far – there’s no intentionality there, just algorithmic operation.

    Now let the machine receive inputs from the outside world, and create representations within itself that change as those inputs change, so that in a certain sense parts of its state are “about” its environment, mapping it. For example, a server in a rack periodically takes a reading of its own CPU temperature, and updates the value of an internal representation accordingly; it knows how hot it is, although it doesn’t know that it knows. Later on, we install some clever software that monitors how the machine’s CPU temperature changes over time, and tries to correlate that with other measurements, perhaps taken from elsewhere in the data centre, building up a statistical model that indicates what gets hottest when. Our machine is now combining representations, drawing inferences, although it doesn’t know that it’s doing so.

    You can go on, and on, building up new layers of reflection and representation; and someone will always say, “yes, but it doesn’t know it’s doing that”; but I think the objection loses force in proportion as the system grows more complex. I don’t know what I’m doing when I know something, either; the notion, apparently held by some AI skeptics, that knowledge is only real if it ascends indefinitely through the hierarchies to a point of pure uncaused auto-affection partakes copiously of the mystical if you ask me.

    The lower-order subsystems of the human brain are if anything less sophisticated than the basic building blocks of computerised “information technology”, and I’ve never yet been convinced that the problem of how you get to “real” knowledge from mechanised input processing is any different in kind to the problem of how you get from those subsystems to the higher-order functions of cognition. The real difficulty is that everything is so tangled (literally, in the case of the wires connecting everything together round the back of your average server rack). When it comes to consciousness, it may well be that the tangling is what makes it work.

  85. Hence the hopeful monster of neural networks, where you effectively create a vast undifferentiated tangle and prod it repeatedly in the hope that it will start to develop metaphysical notions about itself.

  86. traxus4420 Says:

    it seems to me there is a very clear difference between formal systems and human intelligence, such that one can’t be reduced to the other, or be constrained by the ‘logic’ of the other. so formal systems aren’t biological just like human cognition can’t be understood by manipulating formal systems, without empirical observation. how is this qualitatively different from any sort of technology? neither the capacities of tractors nor computers are biological or reducible to human intent.

    but if all we care about is what can be comprehended by human consciousness, then the problem is by definition biological, though if our commitment to empiricism is thoroughgoing enough these definitions are subject to change (conscious AI being one example of an appropriate stimulus).

    “What would be useful would be to observe another theory-making organism going about its business, and being incapable of making theories about parts of its environment that were perfectly amenible to our theory-making faculties.”

    couldn’t one just imagine a less capable human? why does it have to be a different species? isn’t it possible for humans to be ‘dunderheaded’ in different ways, and aren’t those ways explainable (at least in part) via biology?

  87. The epigraph to chapter 5 of Goldblatt’s book on Topoi (I’m still grinding through chapter 3, after several months; I’m no prodigy) is from the mathematician Peter Freyd:

    The development of elementary topoi by Lawvere and Tierney strikes this writer as the most important event in the history of categorical algebra since its creation…It is not just that they proved these things, it’s that they dared to believe them provable.

    My (rhetorical) question, I suppose, would be: in what did this daring confide? Was it an expression of self-belief on the part of Lawvere and Tierney, of confidence in their own intellectual capacity? Did they dare to believe that their biology might permit, and not disallow, the construction of such proofs? Or was it a belief that the proofs themselves lay somewhere in the problem space – that once the problem had been clearly specified, the path to a solution would become negotiable?

    Badiou says somewhere (and I paraphrase) that the mathematician’s version of the ethical injunction to “keep going!” is this confidence, not in one’s own abilities, but in the ultimate solvability of any problem that can be specified as such. The human animal stumbles about in darkness, with no special powers of intuition to illuminate the way; but mathematics as a praxis entails keeping going, keeping going, until the new form becomes clear, not as a benediction from the Absolute but as a hard-won material result.

    The human animal is not condemned to wander around blindly in the circle of its own interest, but can subjectivate new forms: that is what one must confide in, in order to do mathematics. As I’m not a mathematician, there’s nothing in my own experience that bears this out; but as someone trying to learn some mathematics, and finding it uncommonly difficult, I’m encouraged by what Badiou says. I can’t prove it, but I’m willing to assume it – as far better minds than mine have done before me.

  88. By my own account, then, I’m forced to concede that there’s a voluntaristic element to this: you either will the inhuman upon yourself, or you don’t. And if you don’t, the first thing you say is: there’s no such thing (for you, at least) as the inhuman, this is just the projection (in distorted form) of your own humanity, an image serving the vanity of its creator. But I think that is a counsel of despair, and that its effect is to thwart experiment and curtail investigation. Nobody who ever thought anything worth a damn thought like that.

  89. “It is not just that they proved these things, it’s that they dared to believe them provable.”

    Yes, yes, that is just how I felt after watching Robin Williams in Flubber.

    you either will the inhuman upon yourself, or you don’t.

    This is really quite melodramatic, Dominic. We slip in and out of ‘the inhuman’ several times a day, by watching telly, say, or doing tiresome, unrewarding work. I mean, I doubt these things have very much to do with the “human animal’s” own interests.

    And by the way, if you wanted to take a rest from “wandering around blindly in the circle of your own interest”, maybe you could put the maths lessons aside for a moment and tell me if you’ve read that “something worthy by Chomsky” about Yugoslavia, like you promised me a while ago.

  90. Although reading more about Yugoslavia probably is in your own interest. So best forget it then.

  91. He won’t be calling again, since he’d be merely hung up on and knows it.

    See I did say you would get paranoid

  92. Kenoma, I don’t see the link that you and Sherbert have established between the post-structuralist ”inhuman manner” of thinking and the handling of Yugoslavia by certain Western intellectual circles. Alas it’s the other way round: there’s a link between the Communist humanists who SOLD OUT Yugoslavia, and among those are not only dr. Zizek and the Slovenian thieves but also, and more importantly, Serbian COMMIES – the same ones who stood by Milosevic and in his circle while they were collecting their Swiss money in order to leave the ship at the first signs of Communism’s untimely demise in Russia. Lacan, Badiou, Deleuze and Melissaoux aren’t specifically related to these problems and I still don’t comprehend how Sherbert managed to discover the link. It’s like those creative poetic parallels between de Saussire, the umbrella and the Medusa which she discovered recently. Could be too much French whiskey, or just pispoor cultural theory.

    Perhaps Comrade Dominique should be more interested in Serbia because Serbia has an exquisite tradition in sci-fi, otherwise Bruce Sterling wouldn’t be lodging in Belgrade??? I am actually more perplexed by his lack of knowledge about RUSSIAN culture, though, because in fact this is where all the poststructuralism really comes from.

    Jonquille, I have to admit that the Cobra is drinking the indignated interlocutor like a MARTINI, but you shouldn’t be holding her stead in the issue, you should be helping the interlocutor to come to his senses.

  93. “couldn’t one just imagine a less capable human? ”

    but people study apes, who are capable of problem solving, abstraction, can learn a little language…but. clearly.

    “it seems to me there is a very clear difference between formal systems and human intelligence, such that one can’t be reduced to the other, or be constrained by the ‘logic’ of the other. so formal systems aren’t biological just like human cognition can’t be understood by manipulating formal systems, without empirical observation. how is this qualitatively different from any sort of technology? ”

    not reduced, but surely our formal systems reflect our mental structures; Dominic is imagining superhumans who would nonetheless invent the same math, as if math were found in nature.

    Studying man made technology…is different from studying humans and the non man made stuff. And a tractor is made of found things; so are formal systems, but all the found things of which they are made are found in the human brain, where as metal ore is found under the ground. So to really understand a tractor, you have to understand what goes on under the ground, geology, and more; same with the formal systems. I’m not being Donna Humanista here – where do these things come from? Unless you want to be a christian or secularised christian, you have to accept they come out of our species.

    the people – computer analogy bad, not just because of the comfort it gives intelligent design. the hardware-software break doesnt exist in humans, and one can’t just assume it because it does in the artificial brains we make; artificial limbs also work differently from human limbs, and artificial hearts. clearly neural networks can be made to tell us certain things, resemble certain features of cognitive function, but there’s a limit to the analogy here. they’re not even conscious, there is not even the most primitive semantic capacity.

    “knows how hot it is, although it doesn’t know that it knows. ”

    it doesn’t know. this is a figure of speech; you’re anthropomorphising. It doesn’t know. but why would you anthropomorphise a machine like this I wonder? of all things? Imagine it thinking, like a person, instead of say having instincts, like a bee or a spider, which reacts to temperature too?

    maybe to do with sci fi, and myths…

  94. “Badiou says somewhere (and I paraphrase) that the mathematician’s version of the ethical injunction to “keep going!” is this confidence, not in one’s own abilities, but in the ultimate solvability of any problem that can be specified as such”

    but doesn’t Badiou -like his pupil Meillassoux – actually have a religious or Platonist attitude toward math? This is a belief, it’s a feature of faith. There’s no reason to believe it. Most mathematicians don’t believe it. You could say this thing in purely christian terms. It’s nice to think this way I suppose, but there’s certainly a question about whether it is reasonable. And you began higher in this thread stating the absolute unsolvability of several problems; not just unsolvable for humans but for demigods. So you don’t share this faith.

    “The human animal is not condemned to wander around blindly in the circle of its own interest, but can subjectivate new forms:”

    do you think your making friends with machines is somehow disinterested? Or that seeking new mechanisms of mastery over others is selflessly antiegoist? Isn’t your notion of “human animal” rather narrow (the hardware) and medieval? Why didn’t Lawvere and Tierney ask some cats to help them? Of course they had confidence in their own intellectual capacity. But consider the connotations of your contempt for “human animal”, this wetware for the machines – fact is, its way beyond your understanding. Human animal is infinitely more complex than machine; you don’t know the first thing about it, we may be permanently mysterious to ourselves. We scarcely know anything about bees even. One builds a computer and goes wow look how fascinating, when its really simple and knowable and known, what’s the impulse and effect there of feeling this inflated knowledge of the thing one makes and then dismissing “human animal” as much less interesting, much simpler. Its fooling oneself into thinking something – in fact we’re really unbelievably ignorant of everything we have not made ourselves, and of those things we only really know the features we’ve made ourselves. So it seems to me your posture is a lot more gung ho human tekkie master of the universe, egoist etc, daring to solve! than one which acknowledges that human knowledge is really pretty limited, though we are far from exhausting the capacities to acquire it as a species.

  95. “you either will the inhuman upon yourself, or you don’t. ”

    but this is religion, yes? what you are naming the “inhuman” is human; it used to be attributed to God Almighty. Its gone through varies stages of secularisation. But there’s no evidence to support this matter-mind, stuff-spirit dualism. And why would one find that idea, bodilessness, attractive? What is it about carbon and hydrogen that seems so icky that you have to think one doesnt really need them to reproduce formal systems? twelve protons, yuk! There’s a fantasy of “embodiment” transcended, of “disembodiment” here, that’s just a fantasy isn’t it? An archaic spiritual way of thinking.

  96. “something worthy by Chomsky” about Yugoslavia, like you promised me a while ago.

    Since what is named by “Yugoslavia” is not embodied anymore, just abstraction without referent, carbon free, its form lingering only in the mind of the Absolute, it could be interesting mebbe.

  97. “but in the ultimate solvability of any problem that can be specified as such”

    actually he says that in math a human mind can solve any problem it can formulate.

    (i actually quoted this is the thread below.)

    what does this suggest to you about math and human minds?

    but this is not to say that every problem and thought the human mind can produce can be expressed and solved mathematically.

  98. “not in one’s own abilities, but in the ultimate solvability of any problem that can be specified as such”

    with the passive voice slipping away the species in question, you make it sound like he’s saying somethings other than human beings, perhaps math itself, or fruit flies, can solve any mathematical problem math itself, or fruit flies, can specify as a problem.

    and if its “math itself” specifying and solving, then this is what i meant to ask you before – why do you say formal systems can’t know but “machines” can? Isn’t it in a sense math (in brains, as part of knower, just as blood is part of knower) that understands, knows, specifies, and solves, just as lanuage, in brains, as part of knower, just as blood is part of knower, understands and speaks, and fingers type, etc.

  99. maybe “anti-humanism” is “superhumanism” in disguise?

  100. “as if math were found in nature.”

    oops that should say found in nature excluding human mind.

  101. I read, in the end, Hegemony or Survival, since that was what was in the library. It didn’t say all that much about Yugoslavia, unfortunately. So I suppose I shall have to find something else.

  102. “But I think that is a counsel of despair”

    well this would be so if “human” is hardware, clay, ashes to ashes sort of thing, and thought is inhuman/superhuman/divine soul or spirit, so that something like a skyscraper or a symphony or a computer programme is really divine in origin. And people believe this of course, with the ancient trappings of myths or theology or deploying the updated sci fi vocab and motifs. And there’s nothing especially evil about this belief (though one could probably convincingly show the relation of the disposition to Torquemada type conduct. Correlation maybe, though incomplete.) But the problem with it is it’s not reasonable, you need to be a mystic; because everything our minds have found out about the universe suggests otherwise, and nothing supports this intuition of a celestial or superhuman or inhuman mind superior to our own or the premises (about body and spirit, about inanimate ‘matter’ and animate ‘soul’, fleshy ‘human’ and intellectually ‘inhuman’) which gave rise to these speculations, and which gave their various artistic and philosophical expressions order.

    The Meillassoux text this all began with is a good exhibit of what happens when you try to apply the logic and reasoning ability we have and have honed and developed to theological motifs and concepts. The “en soi” as opposed to “pour nous” and “the Absolute” belong to a mystical way of thinking; so you can try to treat them as meaningful in a discourse which rules out the whole worldview in which they originate and name, and then show that the only ‘logical’ alternative to Hegel’s idealism is the necessary contingency of “correlation”. It’s sophistry. It could possibly be that one of these only two alternatives is “true”, but what we know about the world includng human mind suggests neither have any meaning and the problem is with the question, because “pour nous” vs “en soi” are mystical, just like “matter” and “spirit”, so nothing one can say using these concepts can make any sense.

    So willing the “inhuman” on yourself – what is this inhuman? How is it distinct from “human”? How is it different from sainthood, grace or salvation? It’s one thing to treat this as mysticism openly, but its another to try to make claims about it like human animal is less complex and better understood than computer, or that all possible intelligent beings in the universe must have evolved or evolve the same mental structures as humans (even though we see this is not the case, its empirically false, even just judging from closely related intelligent animals in our same environment) and thus the same math, that human animal mind to human animal brain is like software to hardware in a computer.

  103. but doesn’t Badiou -like his pupil Meillassoux – actually have a religious or Platonist attitude toward math?

    “Religious” and “Platonist” are not the same things, in spite of continuous attempts by the religious to reconcile them. I wouldn’t say Badiou’s was a religious attitude. Clearly he thinks of forms as having an objective existence, of being separate from the human, and of being something that the human animal can encounter and subjectivate in thought. This is different from regarding those same forms as something spun out of the human, as a spider spins a web. There’s an implied discontinuity: we produce something, but it slips away from us, stands over against us, already open to external accident and exaptation (the same process which produced human intelligence, which is itself not the expression of any creator’s will). A hammer is already in itself without a master.

    So far as unsolvability goes, I think that proving that something is unsolvable (or undecidable) completes the specification: the problem is finished with then. No-one now need go searching for a counter-example to disprove Fermat’s last theorem; we know that no-one, super-entity or otherwise, could ever find one if they did. Whereas whether or not P=NP remains an open question; it hasn’t even been proved that it can’t be answered.

  104. “Religious” and “Platonist” are not the same things,

    Okay neo-platonist, his attitude is similar to the strain of neo-platonism we call christianity.

  105. “So far as unsolvability goes, I think that proving that something is unsolvable (or undecidable) completes the specification: the problem is finished with then”

    I’m not sure what the point was about the biological limits of human knowledge. The suggestion is not that the future is knowable, that all is predestined according to a divine plan, and therefore a mind that is a spark of the creating intelligence ought “in principle” to be able to know everything, to know “the Abolute”, to model all creation, and that wherever the human mind encounters something which resists its complete knowledge we see the defect of the creature. The point was that “knowing” is a biological capacity of humans, a species with certain mental structures, capable of language, and of formal system production for example, made out of stuff like symbol, number, iteration, difference, sequence, consequence, contradiction.

  106. Suppose we loosely define a religion as any discipline whose foundations rest on an element of faith, irrespective of any element of reason which may be present. Quantum mechanics for example would be a religion under this definition. But mathematics would hold the unique position of being the only branch of theology possessing a rigorous demonstration of the fact that it should be so classified. – Frank DeSua

  107. The point was that not all of the limits of knowledge are limits of human knowledge specifically or exclusively, and it is possible to know that this is so. Similarly, it is not owing to any peculiarity of our human biology that we are unable to pull ourselves along by our bootlaces.

  108. Dominic, you were taking issue with Chomsky saying there’s a big domain of true theories, and a small domain of those we can form. The difference is biological.

    You were saying its not biological, there is a true theory about something which we can’t form for reasons other than biology. Your example of this true theory which we can’t know for reasons other than our theory capacity limitations was somehow related to undecidability but it’s not clear how.

    Now you are saying I think the opposite. Or am I mistaken?

    What’s in the domain of the true theories – the things knowable to other creatures (not the things unknowable to them, but the things knowable, that is the statement) – which we can’t form, but not due to our limitations?

    How do true theories unknown to us relate to undecidability?

    “we produce something, but it slips away from us, stands over against us, already open to external accident and exaptation”

    this is true of shit and children but not of math, surely. mathematics is a term for certain contents of human animal mind. you may believe it exists somehow in the heavens or in other things, but this is just a belief; there’s no evidence for that belief, lots against, and far from being necessary to do maths, it is not a faith shared by most mathematicians, who see maths as a science invented by people and practised only by people.

  109. Like we know there are things we can know – that are knowable – that chimps can’t know, because of their biology, not because the object is unknowable. such as the incompleteness of formal systems. it’s reasonable to assume the same of ourselves, since we are pretty similar and did evolve from primates who didn’t form formal systems.

  110. “Whereas whether or not P=NP remains an open question”

    this is an interesting example, being a highly historically embedded and anthropocentric problem with which one would suppose the inhuman would be so utterly inconcerned as to never formulate.

  111. Can you describe an extension to human biology that would make it possible for the organism so modified to know something that an unmodified organism could not? In other words, for what kind of being would the set of knowable close-to-true theories be larger than it is for us? My bet would be that any describable extension would be equivalent to an ordinary human being plus some piece of specifiable and constructible apparatus (a suitable topos, a beowulf cluster of BBC micros, an electron scanning microscope). Not being limited by our native biology is one of the things we’re – for certainly biological reasons – rather good at.

  112. For example, I’ve always wanted a floating-point coprocessor embedded into my brain; but having one wouldn’t make me able to know anything that I can’t know using my brain and a calculator.

  113. And why would human beings be the only entities in the universe to have travelling salesentities?

  114. To the anthropocentrist, all things are anthropocentric. And it’s straightforward to force all discussion to remain within the closed circle of this reasoning. Your interlocutor posits something outside the human; you point out that this something is the object of a discussion between human beings, and is therefore either something within the ken of those discussing it or some sort of mystical faith-object; the trap closes again. It is a trap, though, and the favoured instrument of a kind of bloody-minded dogmatism masquerading as commonsense. I can see why someone like Meillassoux might have felt it necessary to describe the trap in all its variants, to try to diagnose an underlying metaphysical disposition and to contest it. I agree that it’s a bit hopeless though; if someone wants to stay inside the circle, there’s really no way you can force them to come out.

  115. Can you describe an extension to human biology that would make it possible for the organism so modified to know something that an unmodified organism could not?

    have you never tripped? yukkity yuk.

    you can’t – no one can – even describe what are currently those existing features of human biology which make it possible for you to know anything. If you could, though, find out what they are – which you probably can’t, but say you could – maybe you could imagine an “extension” which would enhance or change them, perhaps perhaps, but actually making one would be a different thing obviously than just imagining or describing.

  116. ” I can see why someone like Meillassoux might have felt it necessary to describe the trap in all its variants, to try to diagnose an underlying metaphysical disposition and to contest it”

    no – come on, the “ancestral”? He’s obviously ambivalent.

    It’s hard to be inhuman, I guess, but step one would have to be to really not be in time, just put that away. You have to give up sequence, all your formal systems based on the human perspective. And stop computing, and trying to find ways to “save time”. Because that’s a dead giveaway.

  117. What’s in the domain of the true theories – the things knowable to other creatures (not the things unknowable to them, but the things knowable, that is the statement) – which we can’t form, but not due to our limitations?

    Nothing; the examples I’ve given are all of things that are not knowable by any organism. Their unknowability by us is not a consequence of our biology; you seem to have been claiming that it is – that because all of our ability to know is constrained by our biology, all of our inability to know must be an expression of that same constraint – “how is mathematical undecidability not biological?”, and so on.

    I don’t see any justification for asserting that there’s nothing that we can’t know that something else could; but one would struggle to give a meaningful example of something, rather as a chimp might struggle to describe what it was that humans were doing that it could not. Except that a chimp would not struggle to describe that or anything else. Language makes a difference, and the ability to formalize makes another difference. Possibly together they make all the difference in the world.

  118. “if someone wants to stay inside the circle, there’s really no way you can force them to come out.”

    Well if you get out yourself, and demonstrate that, it could be an example.

  119. “Their unknowability by us is not a consequence of our biology; you seem to have been claiming that it is ”

    either I mistyped or you misunderstood. this began with chomsky at the top though – his claim.

    I did claim that mathematics is a product of human biology. But products of human biology are not all there is in the universe; its possible there are conscious animals in the universe somewhere, or were or will be, who can form more successful theories than we can. This is easily imagined since we see a variety of cognitive powers even here on earth and there’s no reason to rule it out. Is willing the inhuman mean insisting only the human are inhuman, or the only inhuman possible is human? The inhuman, other than human, is everywhere, more than we can possibly imagine, but it’s not you. The only thing it isn’t, indeed, is you.

  120. have you never tripped? yukkity yuk.

    Yeah, I saw a load of fractals and shit. Oh, and blood bubbling up out of the sewers. Particularly remember the blood.

    It’s hard to be inhuman, I guess, but step one would have to be to really not be in time, just put that away

    That’s a rather excessive stipulation. Nothing that had evolved could be outside time.

  121. The only thing it isn’t, indeed, is you.

    I think I just breathed in a bunch of it. Oh, wait, it’s OK – I breathed it out again.

  122. traxus4420 Says:

    dominic, i think you may be mistaking materialism for anthropocentrism.

    my point would be that it’s less interesting to think about imaginary beings with different capabilities than us and more interesting to consider situations where identifying ‘the human’ becomes a nominalist rite. this has actually happened, and not just in the ‘humanities.’

    and there’s no reason to think the emergence of such situations necessarily happen all at once — stepping outside time or something — but are the product of lots of diverse human activity, much of which lies outside reason as currently defined. we are all merely speculating right now, after all.

  123. My father was an alumnus of the École Normale Superieure and agrégé of mathematics: my mother an alumna of the École Normale Supérieure and agrégée of French literature. I am an alumnus of the École Normale Supérieure and agrégé, but agrege of what, of philosophy, that is to say, probably, the only possible way to assume the double filiation and circulate freely between the literary maternity and the mathematical paternity.
    Badiou

  124. Yes, I identify somewhat with that.

  125. Yes, I identify somewhat with that.

    Thought so. (saying literature is ‘gossip’ was a bit of a give away).

  126. “Language makes a difference, and the ability to formalize makes another difference. Possibly together they make all the difference in the world.”

    but dominic, this very conviction is what is known as “humanism” no? You sound like Pico himself!

  127. Who then will not look with wonder upon man, upon man who, not without reason in the sacred Mosaic and Christian writings, is designated sometimes by the term “all flesh” and sometimes by the term “every creature,” because he molds, fashions and transforms himself into the likeness of all flesh and assumes the characteristic power of every form of life? This is why Evantes the Persian in his exposition of the Chaldean theology, writes that man has no inborn and proper semblance, but many which are extraneous and adventitious: whence the Chaldean saying: “Enosh hu shinnujim vekammah tebhaoth haj” — “man is a living creature of varied, multiform and ever-changing nature.”

    But what is the purpose of all this? That we may understand — since we have been born into this condition of being what we choose to be — that we ought to be sure above all else that it may never be said against us that, born to a high position, we failed to appreciate it, but fell instead to the estate of brutes and uncomprehending beasts of burden…

  128. There is this ambivalence in Badiou – oh, all right, there are more interesting people one could be talking about here, but you know how it is – between exaltation and abjection of the human. The human is base animality, a closed circuit of interests, gossip and opinion enslaved by the service of goods; but lo, “people think”, mathematicians subjectivate the inhuman, lovers open the prisonhouse of the two to the multiple, a thousand flowers bloom!

  129. “people think”, mathematicians subjectivate the inhuman, lovers open the prisonhouse of the two to the multiple, a thousand flowers bloom!

    Yes, but they are few in number, and harrassed by the base animals that surround them, and tormented by the pram in the hall.
    Ho hum.

  130. “harrassed by the base animals that surround them,”

    the english love dogs, though.

  131. I’ve never understood this fear of prams; the people-eating pram in Monty Python seems to embody it nicely.

  132. traxus4420 Says:

    i’ve only read badiou’s distinction between human and animal in Ethics, the book for high school students, so maybe it’s more complicated elsewhere, but i didn’t like it much — seemed too much like importing the hardware/software logic to me, where animality is the foundation for humanity.

    increased computing power, as with other kinds of discoveries, has allowed people to reconceptualize certain problems by changing the initial premises. it seems to me we’ve been acting as if problems were only solved on the initial terms in which they were put. isn’t this usually not the case? i don’t understand how posing an upper limit to ‘knowledge’ like ‘human biology’ or even mathematical solubility means all that much really. just that given the problem-space as currently formed there are the following limits. the reason why something like the halting problem can’t be solved isn’t given by human nature, it’s given by a system we’ve created. we can say with confidence that other beings, if they could understand that system, also wouldn’t be able to solve it. but there’s no way of setting for ourselves absolute limits that we know will always remain meaningful or relevant as problems.

  133. “To the anthropocentrist, all things are anthropocentric. And it’s straightforward to force all discussion to remain within the closed circle of this reasoning. Your interlocutor posits something outside the human; you point out that this something is the object of a discussion between human beings, and is therefore either something within the ken of those discussing it or some sort of mystical faith-object; the trap closes again. It is a trap, though, and the favoured instrument of a kind of bloody-minded dogmatism masquerading as commonsense.”

    I think this comment nicely brings the entire discussion ‘full circle’, as it were, returning us directly to the point Meillassoux was making in the passage which appears at the beginning of the Speculative Realism thread. In that passage Meillassoux describes the infuriating and exasperating situation which arises for the realist whenever he discusses anything with the correlationist. The ‘trap’ which you so accurately describe is, I think, nothing other than the refusal on the part of the correlationist to engage with the substantive content of an argument due to her habitual reflex of interpreting any and every statement as explicitly falling within the scope of some phenomenological, sociological or ideological operator. In effect, what Meillassoux is saying is that the correlationist will de facto always have ‘the last word’ in the debate with the realist simply because she refuses to ever stop at the content of the statement itself and engage with it in terms of its first-order meaning. Thus, to take Meillassoux’s principal example, when the cosmologist states that ‘the observable universe existed for approximately 13.7 billion years prior to the advent of human beings’, the correlationist will instantly qualify this statement with the words ‘for us’ or ‘for human beings’ or even ‘for modern science’. In other words, the literal meaning of the scientific statement is taken to be a merely naïve and superficial ‘ontic’ meaning, and it is up to the correlationist herself to unveil the deeper or ‘more originary’ meaning by explicitly tying the statement back to its ‘ontological’ originating source in human consciousness (Dasein, subjectivity, or whatever). Thus, the scientific statement is qualified and rewritten by the correlationist as follows: ‘the observable universe existed for 13.7 billion years prior to the advent of human beings, FOR HUMAN BEINGS’ or else ‘FOR MODERN SCIENCE’. Meillassoux describes this move as a Ptolemaic Counter-Revolution which reinstates the human subject at the centre of the universe from which Copernicus had dethroned him.

    “I can see why someone like Meillassoux might have felt it necessary to describe the trap in all its variants, to try to diagnose an underlying metaphysical disposition and to contest it. I agree that it’s a bit hopeless though; if someone wants to stay inside the circle, there’s really no way you can force them to come out.”

    Yes but, unfortunately in my view, Meillassoux in fact doesn’t “describe the trap in all its variants”, and as I said near the beginning of the SR thread, I think this is one of the major weaknesses of his book. However that may be, it should be clear that correlationism indeed comes in many different guises, and is certainly not something restricted to philosophers alone (although it is philosophers whom he most explicitly targets since he takes it that they have put forth the most robust arguments for the it). No correlationist can get themselves off Meillassoux’s hook simply by stating that they’re not ‘doing philosophy’. However undeveloped, vague or threadbare the philosophical support for their claims may be, they must always rely upon some such support in order to try to substantiate their claims, and when they say they’re ‘not doing philosophy’ what they really ought to say is that they’re just doing it very badly.

    Now, the particular variety of correlationism which we have seen so abundantly, cocksuredly and superciliously on display in these threads is precisely the vulgar, unrepentantly anthropocentric, sociological-reductionist variety of correlationism which you have described above — i.e. the kind which takes any suggestion of a non-human reality to be tantamount to an inadvertent confession of some kind of mysticism or religiously inspired metaphysics. (Thus, note that to even entertain the idea that there may be ideologically-disinterested behaviour commits one to belief in “an omnipotent, divine intelligence”). Like Meillassoux’s correlationist philosopher, this kind of lazy reductionist also refuses to take any statement ‘at face value’, instead assuming an illusory interpretative ‘critical’ meta-level from which she can ‘unmask’ and disqualify by purely rhetorical means. Thus anything you say, even if by any rational standards it would count as a refutation, will simply be qualified and relativized by being explicitly referred back to the contingent and (supposedly politically saturated) conditions of its production.

    This kind of flabby relativism betrays a deeply wearying cynicism no doubt, but Meillassoux suggests that it’s a mistake to engage with it on its own terms by employing its own sophistical diagnostic tactics against it, for this is in effect to be seen to capitulate to their oft-expressed opinion that it’s impossible to ascend to a level of discourse that is comprised of anything other than first-person awowals or else contingent and parochial expressions of a particular frame of reference, conceptual scheme, form of life, or ideological matrix (this is what I call ‘postmodernism’). In effect, what the realist thereby does is to exercise what Meillassoux calls in that passage a ‘logic of secession’ towards the correlationist: i.e. one simply refuses to discuss with the correlationist anymore and instead provides a diagnosis of correlationism itelf. However, Meillassoux insists that this ought only to be a last resort, once every rational means have failed. (You will note that I myself resorted to such a diagnostic tactic above with ad hominem comments about currency trading etc. – and also, as Meillassoux anticipated, to the occasional outburst of exasperation and fury as well).

    However, while I strongly sympathise with Meillassoux’s suggestion that, where one *can* refute, that is what one ought to do, I also tend to share your suspicion that in practice it’s probably “a bit hopeless” to try to rationally persuade the stubbornly persistent correlationist of the incoherence of her position. As you say, “if someone wants to stay inside the circle, there’s really no way you can force them to come out”. Whatever other worth these two threads may have (probably zero), I think they at least serve to illustrate the futility of this situation quite vividly.

    Ultimately, there can be no rationally persuading people who are simply not susceptible to the force of reasons and I suggest that ultimately the best policy is indeed to exercise a ‘logic of secession’ towards them — which is precisely what I have done here (thus please note that I am no longer talking WITH the correlationist but rather ABOUT him — which is precisely how Meillassoux described the ‘logic of secession’ in the passage reproduced at the start of the SR thread. But really, I just felt it appropriate to tie some of these threads together).

  134. traxus4420 Says:

    and why should the claim that capacities for language and formalization may cause the organism that devises them to exceed biological description lead directly to humanism? don’t language and a high capacity to formalize simply indicate two phenomena we don’t completely understand?

  135. “(You will note that I myself resorted to such a diagnostic tactic above with ad hominem comments about currency trading etc. – and also, as Meillassoux anticipated, to the occasional outburst of exasperation and fury as well).”

    Even YOU? Wow. How wonderful that the ‘occasional outburst of exasperation and fury’ could mesh with what Meillassoux anticipated! I bow to your near-purity despite the symptoms of a lingering juvenile delinquency and probable history in reform schools!

    How succinctly and exquisitely-placed were you own ad hominems, like Holy Writ, except written with typing fingers directly informed by prune-mouthism.

    One is also impressed at the endless leisure time you supposedly didn’t have somehow always magically reappearing, as access to the protecting of your bond and most intimate understanding of Meillassoux is revealed with every haletotic breath you exhale.

    What is most truly exhilirating about this is the way your ad hominems were tucked carefully back into your inverted anti-social sensibility so that we can hear the following: ” which is precisely what I have done here (thus please note that I am no longer talking WITH the correlationist but rather ABOUT him”

    PLEASE NOTE!

    Please note the way every move of the Coming Great Philosopher is too be noted as if Holy Writ. What would one do if such unaccountably tarnished preciosities were not put in place with Krazy Glue?

    Would things continue since, after all, before being threatened (unsuccessfully in terms of lost sleep) with a ‘broken jaw’ because of being a ‘dickhead’, I was sent an email by someone who has read all of ROBIN’s comments and specifically referred to him as a dickhead. It is therefore meet and right that he, who can suffer no dickheads gladly, go slug a mirror, not to much to better the world for humanity, but rather for faux-ontic reasons.

    Ultimately, Robin Mackay is the New Zizek.

  136. Ultimately, there can be no rationally persuading people who are simply not susceptible to the force of reasons and I suggest that ultimately the best policy is indeed to exercise a ‘logic of secession’ towards them —

    Hey Dejan! Still don’t think there’s any connection to Yugoslavia?

  137. Ultimately, Robin Mackay is the New Zizek.

    Let’s hope he finds his Jodi Dean.

  138. There clearly is something even screwier than I thought. It’s got to be that he never intends to ‘exercise the logic of secession’ since ‘there is no rationally persuading people who are simply not susceptible to the force of reasons’ (I think he meant ‘forces of reason’, that’s pedantic enough for this insufferable prig to come back…unfortunately…I don’t know whether others enjoy his Tinker-Bell twitterings in and out, certainly enjoyment is not the word for what I experience…more amazement at such incredible prissiness…). Is is some game he’d want to play, since unable to find any candidates who would take the time other than Arpege? who, I assume, must enjoy toying with him to some degree, because has done (and before I outed his identity; my own personal interest has been sewn up, unless I need to reveal something hilarious in terms of his accusing me of jealousy a little over a year ago…jealousy is possible even if one is happy with oneself, but say, one sees Placido as Alfredo you can’t even believe such a genius and beauty). But why he’d want to make a several-weeks long project–well, indeed it could be an experiment in which he uses Arpege and wants to test out some of his Meillassoux matters and then write about it as a ‘special guest offering for Collapse by its Illumined Editor’ (given that there was no committee to need consulting, this being a ‘first person speaking’ as he’s explained to us.) So maybe we’ll all be famous, in the best-selling journal COLLAPSE. Let’s hear it for us Guinea Pigs of Robin Fucking Mackay! We gon’ git our names in that competitor forthe People Magazine market..

  139. But he neither ever ‘secedes’ nor ‘tries to stop convincing’, so sometning as ghoulish as wanting always to say something as totally dishonest as possible, not for anything advantageous in a practical sense, but for the sheer hermetic purity of cute prevarication in a wholly mannerist style. There’s truly a ‘willing to the inhuman’ here, whether or not it has succeeded.

    It reminds, more than anything else, of the hacker who doesn’t use the stolen credit but just did it for the fun of stealing. Those of us who suffer from the pleasures of life had a hard ever even absorbing such a possibility (thieves getting big bucks and not going on vacations…)

  140. Whatever he does, the purpose is never anything but to recover what he seems to think is his success at achieving a fully aristocratic posture. In every instance is there a sense that it is of no importance what he is talking about, but that he has found something that he can speak fluently enough to propagate his own preciosity to new heights (even if only in what he implies are ‘slums’). He claims victory at every turn, but he is always alone in this. At the beginning of this second thread, Arpege agreed with me that it didn’t matter what the subject was, so therefore his only purpose here can be to toy with his strange perverted insular persona, reminds me of a loquacious version of Isabelle Huppert’s character in ‘Merci Pour le Chocolat.’ I suppose one can be endlessly tedious if that is how one has trained oneself.

    But he somehow must TEACH us, must not quit trying to persuade those who are unpersuadable, and prevent him from ‘seceding’ despite the immutable need to do so…and also, he WILL secede…but he WON’T secede…this is a BABY playing with his rattles and teddy bears…and people are taking it halfway seriously. They quickly forget that he has told them that he has come here to condescend and, even more, to rub his shitty ass in their faces by TELLING them that he IS condescending to them. This is the most effete and barren performance I have yet seen.

  141. traxus4420 Says:

    “It is therefore meet and right that he, who can suffer no dickheads gladly, go slug a mirror, not to much to better the world for humanity, but rather for faux-ontic reasons.”

    now THAT is good.

    martin i really don’t know how to respond to you. i have a hard time imagining how someone with any self-respect could bear to repeat themselves as often and at as much length as you do, despite overtly refusing to engage with anyone on any active level. what audience are you performing for? why are you still trying to use your meillassoux sock-puppet to beat up this fantasy version of ‘postmodernism’ you have that somehow incorporates both ideology critique AND relativistic solipsism? especially when meillassoux, just in the quotation i posted, characterizes marxist ideology critique as one of the tactics AGAINST ‘correlationism,’ which he refuses to ‘rely on’ for blatantly strategic and/or aesthetic reasons?

    there is one potentially interesting thing i can extract from these advertisements (or are they confessions?) of your neuroses, which is that maybe the appeal to ‘rationalism,’ narrowly targeted at a certain imaginary sympathetic audience, one totally prostrated before the ‘force of reason’ (even though you pointedly refuse to do meillassoux himself the same favor), actually enables a ‘logic of secession’ by providing the user with a cleaner alibi, one which can comfortably stop at the surface of discourse. or even before that, behind a rather clunky set of cliches and straw men. as you continue to demonstrate, with a little creativity, the group of people one can ‘secede’ from grows ever larger.

  142. “and why should the claim that capacities for language and formalization may cause the organism that devises them to exceed biological description lead directly to humanism? don’t language and a high capacity to formalize simply indicate two phenomena we don’t completely understand?”

    Its the terminology – the assumption that these capacities, unique to humankind, mean that species “exceeds biological description”.

    So you have animals, man, (then angels? or something).

    When Chomsky, or anyone, says biological limits exists, he does not say they are permanent and fixed of course or that they are known or that our present existence marks them. We already fashion ourselves extensions of capacities – vegetable and mineral memory, vehicles, telescopes…more everyday, with no sign of reaching the limit of complexity of tools we can devise and master, and obviously 20th century physics has show we can easily revise the very most basic elements of thought and think without a logic we depended on for centuries; and isn’t this what Derrida was trying to help people understand about language and formalisation/simplification; but “easily” and completely are different, and even the way physics needs to talk about the behaviour of subatomic particles or the “young” universe is much less rich and much more abstract and provisional than the concepts we have for talking about human history say, or botany – this struggle doesn’t mark limits, clearly, but it certainly shows increased difficulty, which suggests limits exist, and finally, these new habits of thinking, which disrupt basic elements like “if…then”, begin and end in the evidence of the (media assisted) senses – inspired by observation they must be verified by observation. The proof of the ‘existence’ of imaginary numbers can be done entirely without empirical verification, that is mathematics’ unique feature; but in physics, one starts with observed behaviour and one must verify each theory by observation again; is it possible to imagine people devising true theories in physics without empirical verification along the way? If not, then that would just be considered a limitation of our species.

    What does it mean to suggest there are no limits to human knowing of an infinite universe? That the human mind is infinite and can know every feature and explain every happening in an infinite spacetime? The statement has almost no content; we even find it difficult to agree on what this means; it is a holdover from an old habit of imagining the universe ot have a mind on which ours is modelled, and dependent. And there is a kind of glaring discontinuity between assertions that the human mind is infinite, capable of modeling an infinite universe, but the same mind is visibly struggling to explain one tiny tiny tiny infinitesimal part of it, a poem say, or a paragraph in a text by Meillassoux, or the visual faculty of humankind and apes.

    We live 80 years; each generation is new; obviously our capacities as a species are not fixed as we know they evolved. But we don’t know that evolution has enough time to continue to the point where there is as much difference between our descendants and us as between us and hs idaltu, but in principle, if there were enough to be expected, then of course we would expect species change, which might lead to lessening of theorizing capacity as easily as strengthening or no change. We don’t even know what our limits are. But to suggest there are no biological limitations on intellectual capacities, suggest this now when we know practically nothing even about what is closest to hand – to suggest that we are, at least intellectually, Gods, in constrast to other animals, does not lead to humanism, it is humanism. This is what humanists thought.

    About the use of the term – the Renaissance humanists of course were stressing human over divine – stressing the secular – and secondarily human superanimality. But the meaning humanism seems to have now seems to have been created by antihumanism – it has a foil sense, perhaps Foucault is the most important writer here, because he gave it a long history – he said humanism dates from the Roman Empire – and used it sort of flexibly, at times to mean simply “bourgeois individualism”, at times stressing calvinist conceptions, at other times stressing catholicism. Between Pico and Foucault, what’s the history of this term? Initially, humanists were learned men (and a couple women), scholars of what they considered unique to humans – language and formalising.

    If dominic, you are an example of anti-humanism, you are not however disputing this point or changing the focus, which defines what humanism is, so much as renaming these features “antihuman” as against human, as they had been named “human” against “divine” (and secondarily “animal”) initially. But do you have a different conception of these things than Pico did? Do you consider them in a different relation to the human species than he did? In what way? And in between Pico and Foucault, there is Enlightenment, etc etc, so in what way is the inhuman different from “intellect” and “Reason”? What is the inhuman, in what way does it differ from what was for centuries called ‘human’ and then ‘reason’…? And after enlightenment, in romanticism and the eeeeevil postmodernity, there is a development of thinking about and prioritising “the aesthetic”? What is the inhuman’s relation to “the aesthetic”? And the inhuman as a concept, what kinds of errors is it correcting? There are different anti-humanisms, perhaps one could list them – a lot are mainly shifting “language” from “human” to a new category, idealistly ahistorically structuralistically – and see what’s going on there.

  143. I mean, traxus: “the claim that capacities for language and formalization may cause the organism that devises them to exceed biological description” is found in what writers, historically? It would include all the humanists; it would include early modern mechanists; it would exclude most enlightenment materialists…I mean if one is simply seeking an existing traditional description of this claim, “humanism” is the one that fits, isn’t it?

  144. I think a lot of this is muddied by the slippage in and out, under the table, of ‘individual human’ and ‘human species’ when ‘human’ is used. Which is a feature of certain kinds of theory which is bent on disqualifying all consideration of the social and historical. So one can say, language is exterior, math is exterior, it stands outside us – from a bourgeois individualist pov this is true. But only because the rest of the species is exteriorised and “dehumanised” in the text. From the point of view of an individual human – whether in solipsist or some kinds of rationalist modes, language and mathematics are an inhuman feature of environment; this is the product purely of prose motifs and styles which tend to take a conceptual abstraction (language, mathematics) and endow it with a spectral but independent existence. This language lies ‘beyond biological description’ because one has de-carbonised every language producer but the one that is implicit, evoked by the style of the statement, and eliminated the elements of language and math inconvenient to this operation. And what is this “language”? It’s not language but some features of language, abstracted. About which things can be said, just as things can be said about computation, but then one can’t slip language in full or human mind back into the argument just for the conclusions. (This kind of shell game was really refined in high structuralism. It’s completely bogus.)

  145. Oh and the anthropocentrism and humanism dominic, is obvious when you speak of “the halting problem” rather than “the halting” or “the halting feature” and then attribute to the universe a predilection for “solving” it. Because it is only a problem from one very limited point of view, with intentions and preferences. If the electromagnetic spectrum were conscious it might not like our attitude toward it, and might not consider problems we encounter in seeking maximum data transmission to be problems, but instead consider human problem solving capacity a problem to be minimised.

    but it isn’t conscious. and thus these are silly musings. but they seem to underlie your perspective, like when before you spoke of your machines having problems which happened to be identical to those you have with them. It’s a kind of pathetic fallacy – like you want to know how to save computation time, and you assume your machines are in sympathy; that what is a problem for you is a problem for them. That assumption that these things have points of view, goals, intentions, and thus face obstacles and problems. This is superstition. In modernity it’s absorbed by art. The heavens wept.

  146. “don’t language and a high capacity to formalize simply indicate two phenomena we don’t completely understand?”

    we don’t completely understanding anything, much simpler things, about human biology or even much simpler organisms; we don’t even completely understand blood cholestrol. That doesn’t suggest its extrabiological, a mysterious excess. Why would one assume they are extra-biological rather than that our understanding of biology is really limited though increasing? If these capacities of our species are not biological, what are they? And what implicit limits on “biological” is one placing? what does “biological capacities” mean then if not “capacities of living beings”? I just think this is persistent spiritualism or similar. If one has to speak of “exceeding…” but leave it so vague, you know what I mean? Is one suggesting some unknown kind of energy, some unknown force, different from those physics theorises, involved in human animal mind? And nowhere else? Is the suggestion that because we can’t explain consciousness at all, it must be due to some unseen unknown extramaterial thing, some “excess”, wholly mysterious, and not to the limitations, which are huge, of our understanding of the material universe including organic beings? We have a good theory that animal consciousness cannot subsist after biological death or “brain death”; this suggests something really strongly about human animal mind not “exceeding” living human animal but being some kind of feature.

  147. If the electromagnetic spectrum were conscious it might not like our attitude toward it

    Les choses sont contre nous.

  148. I was thinking about possible extensions to human cognitive ability that would actually make a difference to our ability to know things, and managed to come up with an example: clairvoyance. It’s a useful example because it’s not wholly inconceivable – people have claimed to be gifted with clairvoyant abilities, and other people have found those claims at least temporarily plausible. There is plenty of scifi or fantasy literature in which clairvoyant abilities are considered as a possible extension to the world. If a subset of the population actually possessed clairvoyant abilities, those of us without them would be in the position of being unable – for biological reasons – to know certain evidently knowable things. (I would still argue that our present situation is one in which there are no evidently knowable things that we are unable to know – there is no evidence that any of the things we cannot know is knowable by any organism whatsoever. Saying this is not the same as saying that we have god-like master-of-the-universe cognitive powers).

    More than that, in mathematics (and particularly in relation to computation), “oracles” are sometimes legitimately used in the construction of arguments. Such oracles are not, like the clairvoyants of fantasy, unreliable; the future isn’t subtly changed by their looking into it, for example, and their pronouncements are not deliberately critically ambiguous for purposes of producing narrative torsion.

    A very simple oracle would be a little black box that would instantly tell you the nth digit of pi for any value of n whatsoever. This has to do with time: although the nth digit of pi is in principle computable for any value of n, as n gets to be very large one starts to run out of time, electricity; for a sufficiently large value of n, one’s computing device would be consumed by entropy before completing the computation. Now, the question is, does having the black box make anything else computable that would otherwise be uncomputable?

    In the case of pi, I don’t know how useful an oracle would be; it might be that some number theorist or cryptographer somewhere would find reasons to be very excited about it. But suppose that the black box returns the nth digit of a very special number, an infinite string of zeroes and ones. The special number is such that the digit at each place represents the halting property of a different Turing machine: zero means it never halts, one means it does. (It’s fairly trivial, by the way, to assign a unique number to every possible Turing machine). What the halting problem means is that there is no Turing machine that can compute this special number – and this is not just a matter of time. The pi oracle could return a result immediately by looking into the future of a computation yielding all of the digits of pi, one after another. But this ability to look into the future would not by itself enable one to construct a halting oracle. Even an entity outside of time would not be able to obtain the digits of this special number by computational means.

    The interesting question is, once again, if one had a halting oracle then what would the consequences be for other problems besides the halting problem? Again, there are undoubtedly consequences for cryptography – a person with a halting oracle could construct a code that would be absolutely unbreakable by anyone without one. But it might also be true that the domain of close-to-true physical theories we were capable of constructing and testing would be significantly expanded by such a marvel.

  149. Beware homonymy, btw: in mathematics, a “problem” is not a problem for anyone in particular, a problem in relation to some intended life-goal. A problem is just a specification for a solution; a solution is an expression (a proof, a value) satisfying the specification. The trouble with most people’s “problems” is that they are under-specified, or specified in inherently contradictory ways. Even a halting oracle won’t help you with your lifestyle, except insofar as being the sole possessor of one might make you exceedingly wealthy and popular.

  150. “in mathematics, a “problem” is not a problem for anyone in particular”

    It’s “a mathematical problem” for all the many agents that do math including worms and light. Nonetheless they’re all identified and solved, when solved, by people. So either worms and light are not very good at math, or they are very jealous of their results, or they use people as fronts. All of which could be. But there’s no reason to use the english word “problem” for these things in math; one could call them, instead, by some high quality used name now available, like “human” or “Cassius Clay.”

  151. “things we cannot know is knowable by any organism whatsoever”

    what counts as an organism? and how do you know you can know anything any organism can know?

    and why “know” always. The thing was about theories. For a reason. Different from knowing. Asking who knows more about living in the ocean, dolphins or humans? is not the same as asking which species can produce more close to true theories about it.

    It’s one thing to insist. But what’s the basis of your claim that human animal mind, your own, as is right now, is the most competent and capable theory producing mind possible? Seems to me even just limits on information/data storage and retrieval obviously reduce capacity to deduce from information. Less information, fewer theories. A species mind which could take in more information, share it better, and remember more and more accurately but was otherwise similar might very probably produce more close to true theories than the human species does. It seems that in the population of mathematicians, certain capabilities for problem solving and creativity decline sharply in early middle life. A species whose “youthful” mental powers lasted longer, into the period of “widsom” and knowledge accumulation, even if they were pretty much otherwise the same as ours, might produce more close to true theories.

  152. But suppose that the black box returns the nth digit of a very special number, an infinite string of zeroes and ones. The special number is such that the digit at each place represents the halting property of a different Turing machine: zero means it never halts, one means it does. (It’s fairly trivial, by the way, to assign a unique number to every possible Turing machine). What the halting problem means is that there is no Turing machine that can compute this special number – and this is not just a matter of time. The pi oracle could return a result immediately by looking into the future of a computation yielding all of the digits of pi, one after another. But this ability to look into the future would not by itself enable one to construct a halting oracle.

    okay, you have to help me here.

    pi is a number; we know what it is and we express it with the symbol. Calculating its infinite digits is expressing it another way, translating it into certain symbols. Calculating pi is no different than writing out natural numbers one after the other, in principle.

  153. But what’s the basis of your claim that human animal mind, your own, as is right now, is the most competent and capable theory producing mind possible

    As I don’t make that claim, I don’t need to supply a basis for it. It happens that there is no organism in evidence whose theory-producing capacities exceed ours, which I’m quite happy to accept is a quite accidental feature of our ecological situation. My point is rather that much of what we know about the limits of our possible knowledge, we know for reasons largely unrelated to the things we know about our own biology; nor is it obvious that knowing much more about our own biology would much improve the state of our knowledge about those limits.

  154. “The special number is such that the digit at each place represents the halting property of a different Turing machine”

    I mean, this is an entirely different sort of representation, isn’t it? The number as a number is both meaningless and unknown and unknowable.

  155. I can’t imagine what you even mean by biology honestly.

    But I want to follow your point about the oracle and clairvoyance; it seems to me pi does not belong to that supposedly fixed future that clairvoyance could access. It’s known now; it’s digits are determined already; n has to be finite for this to work.

  156. pi is a number; we know what it is and we express it with the symbol.

    We don’t (can’t) know its value; we know approximations to its value, and can calculate approximations to a degree of accuracy far in excess of any practical limit. We can do this because we know what it is the value of; but that is not the same as having complete knowledge of its actual value.

    If we knew that pi was 22/7 (that pi was a rational number), then one could reasonable say that writing out 22/7 in decimal notation was a simple translation between representations. But pi is irrational, and has no complete finite representation in any numerical base. (My apologies to any passing mathematicians grinding their teeth at my language here).

  157. “My point is rather that much of what we know about the limits of our possible knowledge”

    but the point you were disputing was that there is some set of close to true theories, and that those we can produce are a subset, and that the difference is due to our biology, that is, to our concrete properties and finitude. It has not to do with the relation between the close to true theories we can form, and the things about which there can be formed no close to true theories at all – like say how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, or how many angels it would take to help a Turing machine compute the special number.

  158. We don’t (can’t) know its value; we know approximations to its value, and can calculate approximations to a degree of accuracy far in excess of any practical limit. We can do this because we know what it is the value of; but that is not the same as having complete knowledge of its actual value.

    Yes but this means simply we can’t express it in a certain way; that is what an irrational number is. The special number of which you speak is not a number. It is an infinite string of digits.

  159. isn’t it? sorry if I am missing something.

  160. In what sense is an infinite string of digits not a number?

    Anyhow, another way to look at it: 1/3 in decimal notation is an infinite string of digits, but I can compute the value of the decimal digit in the nth position for any n in constant time: whatever n is, the digit is 3. For any rational number there is a constant-time algorithm that will return the n-th position decimal digit. For pi there is not: the time taken to compute the digit at position n increases as n increases. A pi oracle would be able to return a value in constant time: in this sense, it would be able to “look into the future” of the computation.

  161. “In what sense is an infinite string of digits not a number?”

    it’s a number if it represents a number. i may be not understanding you but it seems the way you are determining or imagining determining this string is digit by digit, so that the first, or first billion, could be zeros. so the string is as likely not to also happen to represent a (hyperreal?) number as to also happen to represent one. also it seems that the quality of the string that matters here is unrelated to the number the whole string could concievably represent; that is, the series is not a mathematical object, but a chain of seperate symbolic objects with non mathematical import. Is this off base? Maybe I just am missing what this number is.

  162. Ah, I got something wrong: for any finite n, the digit in the nth place of my halting number is in fact computable, such that a clairvoyant oracle could in fact return an answer in constant time. The total sequence is not computable, and not only because it’s infinite (the total sequence of digits of pi is computable, even though it’s infinite). See this on Chaitin’s constant, for details (but note, my “special number” is not Chaitin’s constant – more like a third-rate remix).

  163. Start with a decimal point, and the rest of the number can begin with as many zeroes as you like, so long as the number is not itself zero.

  164. No, traxus, let’s try to be honest and frank here: the reason you haven’t been able to respond to the substantive content of anything I have said is that you are patently too thick and you are well aware that you would embarrass and humiliate yourself. (And by the way, ‘substantive content’ and ‘first-order meaning’ are NOT equivalent to ‘surface meaning’ or ‘superficial meaning’, nor does all putatively second-order discourse necessarily uncover some ‘deeper’ regime of sense. However, given that you’ve confessed that you “can’t imagine what philosophers would do with themselves” if they did not explicitly tie everything back to subjective acts of consciousness, I’m pretty sure that grasping this point will prove too much of a stretch for you.)

    As for the accusation that all I’ve been doing is staging a puppet show and lambasting a straw man or glove-puppet, I invite you to take another look at Chabert’s substantive claims, which I have summarised for you (in relatively rhetoric-free form) in my post above from March 12th. What I recommend you to do is to sit down, take a deep breath, consider each of these claims calmly, one by one, and see if you can work out what might be wrong with them.

    For example, I paraphrase one of Chabert’s claims as follows:

    “If you accept one part of science, you commit yourself wholesale to any and every putatively scientific claim that is contemporaneous with it. Thus Husserl wisely refused modern science in its entirety because he recognised that to accept any of it he would also be rationally committed to accepting “that he himself was a member of an inferior parasitic race threatening degeneration to the one most of his students and colleagues belonged”. (Presumably, the likes of Einstein and Planck were too dumb to get this point.)”

    Now, if you find yourself protesting “hey, my very clever friend Chabert would never say something so patently dumb! – Martin must just be constructing a straw man!”, please simply compare my paraphrase with the original in order to test your notion that I am merely staging a puppet show:

    “The point is for Husserl to have satisfied Brassier’s demands for accepting “scientific facts” as “scientific truths” would have meant accepting that he himself was a member of an inferior parasitic race threatening degeneration to the one most of his students and colleagues belonged.”

    Can you see that there might be something a little awry with this claim? Have a little think about it and see how far you get.

    Similarly, take the sentences which crop up just before this, where Chabert claims that to take it that there is any such thing as an “information processing system” is to “subscribe to a medieval dualism (”carbon” vs “information”) that is nothing but bodies and language, matter and spirit, dressed up in geeky language.”

    Do you think that this is a reasonable and or well-supported claim?

    Now, I trust you can continue to do this little exercise with all the other claims I have listed, so I won’t guide you through any more of them. But when you do this, please try to somehow bracket the fact that these claims have been made by your friend and intellectual mentor, since such attachments do have a tendency to seriously colour the judgements of the feeble-minded.

    ……………………………………………………………………………………………

    Well, nobody could say that I didn’t try. In fact, I think that I probably deserve some kind of medal for my perseverance and patience – a little like someone who volunteers to teach philosophy to the ‘special class’ of their local prison or psychiatric ward.

    It’s also a shame that one can’t conduct a conversation about philosophy on the internet without receiving bucketloads of abuse (however misdirected it may be) from a clearly deranged and obsessively fixated internet stalker who has misidentified you as someone they have spoken to before – a little like a child throwing shit everywhere to get attention because the adults are talking about ‘grown-up’ stuff which they find ‘boring’ and are incapable of understanding.

    Oh well, I certainly won’t be locking myself into a blog dungeon again any time soon. Keep on thinking those ‘deep thoughts’ kids!

    Adios.

  165. “Start with a decimal point, and the rest of the number can begin with as many zeroes as you like, so long as the number is not itself zero.”

    yes but this number is not the important thing then, the actual number that the string happens to represent is irrelevant yes? the decimal point would change the number in a big way. It seems to me its not really a number, but a different kind of representation, like 100501 is a number or maybe a date. Or uyou are saying that there’s a number, it could be infinite or finite, it could be .1000000111 etc for it could be 100001111 etc and it doesn’t matter what it is, just what each of its digits are, right?

    I want to get it. I’ll explain – Pi, let”s take it as an example of the “réelle en soi”. We know it exists, we can express it and manipulate it in lots of ways. We know that all its digits are fixed right now, all the infinite digits if we were to express it that way. It’s not the future, its in the present. Our knowing alone might be in the future, knowing the trillionth trillionth digit, but our knowing won’t change anything. That digit is already whatever it is, even though we don’t know.

    I’m just trying to see if your counterexample is the same, mletaphorically as it were. Are you really talking about “looking into the future” in the same way? (a thoroughly “‘determined future” like our discovering what is already right now that trillionth trillionth digit of pi, so an ineluctable future? is your example the same in this sense? Numbers have special properties this way, of being immutable and in fixed and determined relations to one another; but if your number could be ambiguous, either .100001010 etc or 100001111, doesn’t matter, then, it’s a different kind of thing, right?

  166. “I’m just trying to see if your counterexample is the same, mletaphorically as it were.”

    because I won’t be able to get it deeper than this probably; so the upshot is the thing.

    like its not quite the same calculating pi to that nth digit and telling now what the nth number from a randomly generated series of numbers is, right? For us it’s the same, in terms of betting on what it is – since we don’t know. But from some inhuman perspective it would be not the same, unless everything is as predestined as the number sequence generated randomly, and the manner of generating it is not the same, for the machine.

  167. ” Husserl wisely refused modern science in its entirety”

    he didn’t refuse modern science in the least. he thought general relativity did not concern “lifeworld” and his examination of it; he recognised that it explained something, just not what he was trying to explain, and he didnt see a connection between his inquiries, or a need to revise his thinking as a result; he saw philosophy as a discipline as having a certain scope and object; probably shortsighted about einstein, he may not have entirely understood einstein (it was new; not like for us who grew up in a culture which had absorbed it already). But judging from the status of his work until today, it’s hard to say he made a bad judgement, if his aim was to be a successful philosopher or produce successful philosophy product.

    why are you going on like this Martin? Anyone can see how dishonest you are – you even dropped “selfish genes” from my list of scientific facts to make your feeble attempt at cunning easier, insisting “luminiferous aether” was being labelled “nefarious pseudo-science” by being placed on a list with once perfectly respectable scientific beliefs; Darwin believed in the intellectual inferiority of women and “negros”; was he a nefarious pseudo-scientist? Genetic criminality, “race”, genetic “race” related iq test performance, genetic eroticism, genetic causes for all kinds of behaviour, are things, you must know, some people are still avidly pursuing and funded to do so at entirely respectable institutions. Biology is very very much impacted by politics and ideology, being funded mainly by pharmaceutical companies and other interested corporations; cosmology much less so; but no science is unaffected by its context. This has exactly nothing to do with Kant or the various speculations about the meaningless pour nous/en soi relation which preoccupy professional philosophers working in the grand tradition.

    Similarly, take the sentences which crop up just before this, where Chabert claims that to take it that there is any such thing as an “information processing system” is to “subscribe to a medieval dualism (”carbon” vs “information”) that is nothing but bodies and language, matter and spirit, dressed up in geeky language.”

    Why do you lie so openly? I said that his proposition of a “carbon based information processing system” is dualist (carbon vs information, like matter vs spirit), because OBVIOUSLY, you stupid fuck, this is setting up carbon as a processor, as opposed to say hydrogen,as information, when OBVIOUSLY everything we know about the universe renders such a model perfectly ridiculous. There’s nothing especially non-informationish about carbon. Carbon and photons can be equally described as “information” or “processors of information”. “Information” is an anthropocentric idea; it is absurd to think one can use it, in this way -” organic matter processes information” – and not reproduce the very thing he is supposedly trying to evade. All this little geeky statement says is “people are consumers” in geekspeak. What science is supposed to have produced this “truth”? marketing?

    Now stop already. You’re really really annoying.

  168. Adios.

    I’ll bet. What a total CUNTBRAIN!

    I think I’ll put that link to Hyperstition in which you troll your own blog. If you’re not Robin, you can prove it, asshole. You’re probably his wife.

  169. “unless everything is as predestined as the number sequence generated randomly”

    i meant unless everything is as predestined as the digits of pi

  170. Robin trolls his own blog (one of them.) He is yet another internet troll of the type I was talking about, traxus. It’s not that I think ‘blog writing’ is BAD, but that it’s less formal than other writing. Of course, that’s only because I don’t have my own blog, comments might be long but I don’t revise them. Blog owners do often put a lot of care into them. Robin even had a secret blog that was meant to attract a tiny elite of enlightened psychotics like him, it was named after one of the Rohmer films. I looked at it once.

    Zzzzzz….
    Everyone Else | Homepage | 10.30.05 – 11:32 am | #

    Gravatar Let’s get back to the real tyrants like Tony Blair …
    Nick | 10.30.05 – 1:35 pm | #

    Gravatar Or megalomaniacal saddoes who’ve got it into their head that they’ve copyright on the concept of Hyperstition.
    Everyone Else | Homepage | 10.30.05 – 2:28 pm | #

    Gravatar Well, I thought that was one of the best travelogues I’ve ever read. I remember about that tall pyramid hotel, but the rest is just fantastic. Kristoff’s visits there don’t tell anywhere near as much. Anyway, Kristoff has the gift of always being an unsatifying writer, the ultimate in mealy-mouth; if I hadn’t read he was supposed to be a liberal on one of his godawful online forums, I wouldn’t have known what he is considered to be.

    Thanks for posting, that’s rare stuff.
    Patrick J. Mullins | 10.30.05 – 5:09 pm | #

    Gravatar yeah much mo betta than all the right wing fartfactoring
    piet | Homepage | 10.30.05 – 8:40 pm | #

    Gravatar Everyone Else –

    what kind of brain

    a) reads an article linked from a blog and then suggests that the article is boring?

    or

    b) pretends to have read an article linked from a blog and then suggests that the article is boring?

    Maybe you can point to more insightful articles that shed light on the current situation in North Korea?

    Since you are quite clearly in the minority of people who are currently posting on this blog, and part of an ineffectual and embittered political minority on the global stage, why choose a name such as Everyone Else to hide and irritate behind?

    Why can’t you write just one coherent, constructive paragraph?
    sd | 10.30.05 – 8:57 pm | #

    Gravatar > Since you are quite clearly in the
    > minority of people who are currently
    > posting on this blog, and part of an
    > ineffectual and embittered political
    > minority on the global stage, why
    > choose a name such as Everyone Else
    > to hide and irritate behind?

    You know full well (and he now admits as much) that *everyone* outside his circle of protégés was appalled by Nick’s posturing.

    It’s ironic that as a victim of Polish communism you and your friend’s rhetoric should be so quaintly Trotskyist: “You are pitiful isolated individuals; you are bankrupts; your role is played out. Go where you belong from now on – into the dustbin of history!”
    Everyone Else | Homepage | 10.30.05 – 10:35 pm | #

    Gravatar PJM – there’s lots more at Gluckman’s page, but you probably already know that. Agree, he’s a superb writer.
    Nick | 10.31.05 – 12:39 am | #

    Gravatar “megalomaniacal saddoes who’ve got it into their head that they’ve copyright on the concept of Hyperstition”
    – duh! So make a contribution to hyperstition (preferably somewhere else).

    This one really captures twisted negativistic troll to perfection – what isn’t a lie is comically absurd.
    Nick | 10.31.05 – 12:43 am | #

    Gravatar I don’t know what’s more disgusting, this or the imminent false contrition.
    Everyone Else | Homepage | 10.31.05 – 1:33 am | #

    Gravatar Troll – you’re expecting an apology now? You really are a joker.
    Nick | 10.31.05 – 2:25 am | #

    Gravatar Is anybody familiar with this guy:
    http://www.garreau.com/main.cfm?action=book&id=2
    Looks interesting.
    Nick | 10.31.05 – 6:08 am | #

    Gravatar Everyone Else -‘a victim of Polish communism’ wtf? Have you ever heard of recovery? Are there any limits to your offensive ignorance.

    The Trotsky quote was devastating. What a brilliant argument. Guess we’d all better give up and start going on Socialist Worker marches.

    Nick – the Garreau site looks promising.
    sd | 10.31.05 – 10:39 am | #

    Gravatar wtf?
    Everyone Else | Homepage | 10.31.05 – 1:37 pm | #

    Gravatar My apologies, I thought you lived in a society “which is still economically and psychologically scarred by the wonders of the USSR” (http://www.haloscan.com/comments/hyperstition/ 6715/)
    Everyone Else | Homepage | 10.31.05 – 1:46 pm | #

    Gravatar And does that mean I am a victim?

    I said that the economy and society is scarred. It is also recovering from deliberate mismanagement very rapidly. The only left-wingers left now are nostalgic ex-party members (who are mysteriously rich) or nationalistic farmers who want to protect Poland from f*** knows what.

    Probably a waste of energy, but here’s a bit of information about ‘Polish Communism’ for you.

    Polish Communism was killed by Stalin in the 1930s. He invited members of the Polish Communist Party to Moscow, they went, obediently, and were either immediately shot or sent to the gulag. Many of those liquidated were idealistic, gullible poets and writer, e.g. the futurist Bruno Jasienski.

    Another wave of Polish Stalinist-sympathizers were liquidated/imprisoned in 1939-40 when the USSR invaded Poland, e.g. Aleksander Wat.

    The Communist government which Stalin imposed on Poland in 1945-7 had absolutely no popular support and was only made possible by Stalin a) encouraging the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, b) ordering the Red Army to sit on the banks of the Vistula and watch the Uprising: the Nazi slaughter of the Polish Home Army (who were technically Russian allies), and c) systematically arresting, executing and deporting Polish Home Army soldiers who held out against communism in 1945-8. The people that you mistakenly call ‘Polish Communists’ saw no difference between Nazis and Poles who were fighting for their independence. Kazimierz Moczarki’s ‘Conversations with an Executioner’ is an interesting book, if you are interested: a Polish Home Army soldier who fought the Nazis throughout WWII, Moczarksi was imprisoned by the ‘Polish Communists’ after the war and was forced to share a cell with General Stroop, the SS man who supervised the liquidation of the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw, for 18 months.

    Stalin famously likened trying to make Poland communist to trying to saddle a cow. The only ever ‘real’ Polish Communists were artistic dreamers who were brutally disposed of by Stalin. The post-war communist government consisted of drones programmed in Moscow.
    sd | 10.31.05 – 3:21 pm | #

    Gravatar ‘megalomaniacal saddoes’ do not have comment threads.

    Often there is too much patience and tolerance here – it gets in the way.

    ‘*everyone* outside his circle of protégés’

    ‘everyone’ meaning the Badiou/Zizek dribbling uk moonbat fraternity?

    With regard to proteges, one of the most interesting things, for me at least, is the way that Nick takes on board and processes input. There is lots of multi-directional learning going on here – if you have failed to notice and don’t have the brain, time or motivation that it’s your problem.
    sd | 10.31.05 – 3:34 pm | #

    Gravatar or even ‘that’s your problem’
    sd | 10.31.05 – 3:35 pm | #

    Gravatar > ‘megalomaniacal saddoes’ do not have comment threads.

    The only reason these comments boxes aren’t as heavily censored as the ones at Hyperstition is that Land lacks the necessary admin rights. But then you already knew that.

    > the Badiou/Zizek dribbling uk moonbat fraternity?

    The “real people” Land has referred to, of course (http://hyperstition.abstractdynamics.org/ archives/006715.html#comments).
    Everyone Else | Homepage | 10.31.05 – 5:06 pm | #

    Gravatar “real people” – sorry, I really don’t know what you mean by this. Maybe I missed sth that has been removed – the link doesn’t work.

    I have absolutely no idea about the admin rights to this site/thread, honestly.

    Neither do I fully understand what hyperstition is or might become – that’s what makes it interesting. One thing I have noticed is that there is a semi-interesting war over what ‘hyperstition’ is about, and one weapon that has frequently been employed is to ask what the hyperstitional significance of a certain post or topic is, which often seems to imply that certain topics should not be discussed here. It has even been stated that Capitalism is not sth that should be discussed at hyperstition (mark k-punk). This line of thought would restrict this site to completely abstract (i.e. non-political) readings of Lovecraft or other writers whose writing has been deemed (by sterile consensus) hyperstitional, and to weird, mostly imcomprehensible (to me at least) number stuff.

    It is a mistake, in my opinion, to believe that any abstract machinery can be apolitical: it is always implemented and fought over. Hyperstition cannot escape politics – it is saturated with politics from the moment it’s up and running. What is the problem with hyperstition breaking up and pursuing conflicting political lines? – it’s inevitable and healthy, and it happens all the time, but there don’t have to be quite so many idiotic comments.

    Another contested zone is D&G – there are many lines in Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus connect to the Anglosphere (e.g. D&G’s preferred writers & their frustration with French literature) and which advocate exploring the outer limits of capitalism (just as there are alternative, anti-capitalist readings of D&G which feed them through Lenin’s viral gangsterism). The current outer edge of capitalism is Kurzweil and his up-to-date map of where machines are heading. The relationship between current scientific narrative and the developments it is describing is deeply hyperstitional, in the sense that predicting the future has become an inextricable part of making it happen (e.g. Moore’s Law). Intelligent discussion/criticism of Kurzweil’s techno-optimism would be very welcome. However, it seems, from my (admittedly limited) perspective, that trying to depoliticize hyperstition is an attempt to keep this site and Nick from exploring these things in any consistent manner, and why would anyone want to do that? Or maybe I’ve got the completely wrong end of the stick.
    sd | 10.31.05 – 7:37 pm | #

    Gravatar sd – as I’m sure you’re realizing, this twit has the psychology of a stalker – I’ve got satanic powers of mind control and anyone not joining him in the tinfoil hat club is my voodoo puppet. Not much there for you to engage with rationally.
    Nick | 11.01.05 – 2:00 am | #

    Gravatar As K-Punk’s Igor, there’s also a significant element of projection. You’ll have noticed that the rare examples of ‘argument’ are lifted straight from the Master.
    Nick | 11.01.05 – 5:36 am | #

    Gravatar And this is the crunch: why is the k-punk link still up? K-punk has twice linked to this amazing piece of critique:

    blog.urbanomic.com/sphaleotas/archives/ 000731.html

    and has accused hyperstition of endorsing ‘racist mega-narratives about bad men in turbans’ (accused indirectly, of course) in October 23, 2005 The Subject Supposed to Loot and Rape – a piece of psychobabble which quotes Lenin’s Tomb quoting Zizek quoting Lacan (among the fact-ignoring leftoid champion of the poor dross there’s also lots of talk about ‘subjects’).

    It’s disgusting, sub-intellect

  171. I think ‘everyone else’ is Robin and his wife. Later he published one of Nick Land’s articles and came back for the same ‘doubting Thomas Syndrome’ which he inflicts on everyone, and which was informed me by one of the Hyperstition regulars. No matter what, Martin and Robin are Siamese Twins who have dissolved into each other.

    You’ll see that I’ve been cast as the child ‘among adults’, but that he is only saying that now because you’ve allowed him to get past all the insults he’s made, now ‘prison teaching’, which I had just idenitified as ‘slums’ and how nobody here can listen to reason. Anyway, Robin’s writing always has the angry sting about it unless it is placed in a vacuum cleaner.

    To Robin I sing: “Some enchanted evening,
    you may see a stranger,
    you may see a strangerrrrr
    Across a PADDED ROOM.

    Fucking psycho de-balled coward. If Martin were anyone but Robin, he wouldn’t care what I said. But he takes it all personally.

    ‘Secede’ could very well mean ‘suicide’. Who gives a fuck?

  172. Anyway, traxus, what I pasted here is from public fora, I have not pasted any private email correspondence from Robin’Everyone Else’ Mackay. Not because I wouldn’t, but because you don’t allow that, and it would be deleted. I wouldn’t even paste his Far Pruneaux Recipe when he was in his Cooking Period.

  173. “sd – as I’m sure you’re realizing, this twit has the psychology of a stalker – I’ve got satanic powers of mind control and anyone not joining him in the tinfoil hat club is my voodoo puppet. Not much there for you to engage with rationally.
    Nick ‘

    This one is particularly revealing, because Robin did describe Nick to me like this in the past. Nick is tough and takes a while to understand some of his technique, but it’s not impossible. He just doesn’t like pantywaist whiners that much. But since ROBIN is never coming back here again (the meds probably make him unable to remember how many times he’s said that in two easily retrieved threads at once), I daaaoon’t have to worry….DO WE?

    I mean, he has told you he cannot teach you anything else. Frankly, it looks as though Arpege has finally decided to mostly ignore Robin and talk to Dominic, who has not gone round the bend in the literal sense, although suffers from some contemporary ailments.

  174. “this proposition of a “carbon based information processing system””

    his proposition is that “human beings are carbon based information processing systems and nothing else besides.” Which means nothing specifically – ‘based”, ‘information’ and ‘processing’ are all undefined – but connotes and evokes flesh and spirit, and additionally rules out human beings being themselves ‘information’, or doing anything that cannot be described as “processing”, such as producing information.

  175. Well, nobody could say that I didn’t try

    Yes, they could. You’re the basket case without the basket.

  176. “No, traxus, let’s try to be honest and frank here: the reason you haven’t been able to respond to the substantive content of anything I have said is that you are patently too thick and you are well aware that you would embarrass and humiliate yourself.”

    He’s already spoken about Arpege, much less me, who am not interested in infinite Meillassoux, but this ought to place it clearly if you couldn’t see it before. He’s insulted every single person every step of the way. Why don’t you ban him? You banned me and Dejan for nothing but satire. He’s intent on coming back over and over–and THIS is why I do the REAL WRITING about tunnels through the internet–and you don’t break the circle. I don’t mean it’s my business to tell you who you should ban, but since I do know you do it when you want to, what is there really in someone who is only asserting his superiority of intellect and nothing more (it’s beside the point at this juncture that he may actually know something; he cannot be allowed out of his padded room into the public, because he is violent and probably even has a history, although I don’t know the factas about that, except hails from East Anglia).

    That is what I was talking about with the BlogSpace, and most people, even the best of them, do this on these little theory blogs. They refuse ever to break the circles which are easily identifiable as such here because there is but little variation each time, and always a kind of rider or disclaimer that any of the persons he is addressing have any brains at all. You are THICK, for example. So that’s what you have in store. He clearly is supported by someone which allows him to waste anyone’s time, and has chosen Arpege not for the reasons he has outlined, but rather because he knows she can spend a lot more time on the blogs than most.

  177. i meant unless everything is as predestined as the digits of pi

    The halting properties of Turing machines are as predestined as the digits of pi – sorry, I didn’t realize this was unclear.

  178. Could it be that, just as your passion for opera seemingly leads you to discuss philosophical debate in explicitly operatic or theatrical terms, so your background in advertising and trading leads you to believe that all human behaviour must be explainable in economic and/or marketing terms: that everyone is a ‘producer’, everything a ‘product’, and that all human activity ultimately (that is, when appropriately ‘unmasked’) boils down to the naked pursuit of various kinds of ‘capital’ (‘symbolic capital’, ‘cultural capital’, ‘academic capital’ etc.)? Mightn’t it even be the case that this is a way of attempting to assuage some kind of pent-up guilt you harbour about your choices of career, i.e. by telling yourself that everybody is basically up to the same thing — i.e. marketing ‘product’ and accumulating ‘capital’?

    It does seem that most people just remember what recently popped up, that’s one of the pitfalls of endless blogging. Robin lives purely as a capitalist anyway, probably from inherited or married money which came his way recently, because he didn’t have any before that, or claimed not to. If you don’t mind being endlessly condescended to, and there is nobody who does not get it from him, then he is leading the discussion and probably is just continuing here because of me, no matter what he says.

    He once asked me if I,as per his New York Fantasy of me, wore ‘silk pyjamas.’ Let ‘Martin’ go talk to ‘Robin’, since his poor cocksucker of a friend is being defamed (legally, unfortunately for him.)

  179. i meant unless everything is as predestined as the digits of pi

    The halting properties of Turing machines are as predestined as the digits of pi – sorry, I didn’t realize this was unclear.

    yeah i get that; but the digits of your number, or sequence of digits. I don’t know what this number represents. I know its my fault, but spell out the production of this number.

  180. “human beings are carbon based information processing systems and nothing else besides.”

    of course this model makes ejaculated sperm in a womb “information” and woman “processor” which is probably the attraction.

  181. OK, this is the simplified version – which is to say, these are the terms on which I, non-mathematician that I am, understand it.

    First of all, there is the fundamental equivalence of all “Turing complete” programming languages. If a language is Turing complete, it can express exactly the same algorithms as all other Turing complete languages. You cannot say anything in Java that you cannot say in C++, or Perl, or Intercal, or whatever. This notion is partly responsible for my suspicion that Chomsky’s idea of cognitive closure is a bit overstated – isn’t it possible that all biologies that support theory-generation have essentially the same theory-generating capability? An alien being whose mentalese was as unlike ours as Java is unlike Haskell…well, in terms of the physical theories the language was ultimately able to express, that would be no difference at all. But I digress.

    Given Turing completeness, you can choose any programming language you like to be your algorithm specification language – they all boil down to the same thing in the end. So let’s pick a language – let it be Haskell, for no other reason than that that’s my favourite – and start specifying algorithms in it. Some of these algorithms will halt execution at a certain point, and some of them won’t ever stop: they’ll either loop in some fairly obvious way for ever, or increment something until they run out of space (an ideal Turing machine has infinite tape to work on, so it would go on for ever even if your desktop PC wouldn’t) or go round in much larger and more complicated circles, such that the detecting that they had got into a loop would be almost as difficult as running the algorithm itself. The halting problem basically concerns the impossibility of writing a program that will be able to tell, for all possible programs including itself, whether a given program will halt.

    Now, numbering. The source code of a program is a file or collection of files containing strings of characters which make up symbols in the programming language. These characters are represented as numbers, which means that a complete program can itself be represented as a (fairly large) number. Let’s just assume for the moment that a normal form can be established so that given a large number of essentially equivalent representations of the “same” algorithm, we can identify a single canonical representation and take the number representing its complete source code to be the unique number of that algorithm. (This is just so we don’t get distracted by things like comments in the source code, or syntactic variants with the same semantics). Now we can say that for any algorithm, a) it has a boolean “halting property” (it either halts or it doesn’t), and b) it has a unique number.

    Now suppose we create a database of all the unique algorithm numbers, recording for every number whether the algorithm it denominates halts or not. This database – necessarily infinite – is also expressable as a single number, as all databases are. It’s an infinitely “long” number, as pi is, but unlike pi – which is definable by a simple algorithm that will generate all of its digits given world enough and time (an infinity of both is required) – there is no algorithm that will define it, because any such algorithm would fall foul of the halting problem.

    Where I went wrong was in assuming that the impossibility of defining the whole “halting database number” with a single algorithm meant that it was also impossible to create an algorithm that would output a finite part of it. That’s obviously false: for any finite sequence of numbers (digits, bytes, whatever – given a sequence of numbers, you can always treat them as a single large number) there is always some algorithm that will output that sequence, rather as “print ‘hello world'” will output “hello world”. So you could in principle have an oracle “halting-m” that would output that halting property of any algorithm numbered n < m in constant time: only “clairvoyance” (the ability to complete any algorithm in constant time, even if it has logarithmic or even quadratic time complexity) is needed for this oracle to work. What you couldn’t have was an oracle that, using clairvoyance alone, could promise to output the halting property of absolutely any algorithm-number n whatsoever.

  182. In other words, for any halting-m oracle there would be some value m+1 of n for which it wouldn’t be able to give an instant result.

  183. traxus4420 Says:

    i honestly hadn’t considered the banning option before you suggested it, ‘nick.’ you and dejan’s clownery involved infodumping, which as you mention i don’t like — and you were much too prolific for me to waste time trying to separate it out from the pornography.

    i’m aware all martin’s done since showing up is insult and misrepresent, the very definition of ‘troll.’ as far as i’m concerned all he does is embarrass himself, with chabert and dominic too much involved in the math and computing discussion to be much disrupted by it, but i don’t mind banning him if there’s enough interest.

    p.s. martin, i believe the first thing i did when you showed up was announce the fact that i hadn’t read meillassoux’s book, and was just curious what other people thought about it. this is markedly different from, say, pronouncing on things i know nothing about, as you’ve been doing with ‘postmodernism’ and ‘ideology’ among many other things.

    maybe i will ban you if you keep breaking your promise to leave us forever to go do more interesting things. the joke is old enough to be rotting at this point.

  184. traxus4420 Says:

    “this struggle doesn’t mark limits, clearly, but it certainly shows increased difficulty, which suggests limits exist”

    but these are present limits, not future limits — and i don’t know that it does show ‘increased difficulty’ so much as an rate of ‘accumulation’ (of information, technology, discovery) that exceeds the rate of improvement in processing. if you’re talking about the conjunction of human brain + computer, that becomes a physical limit, rather than a biological one. but that’s only an extreme example.

    “I mean if one is simply seeking an existing traditional description of this claim, “humanism” is the one that fits, isn’t it?”

    yes but i’m not assuming an imaginary ‘unaided,’ ‘pure’ human brain, whose spirit allows it total access to the cosmos. a computer, but even language or mathematics, isn’t the same thing as an arm or a leg, it’s not comprehensible by the same logic, just like using biology and not physics to explain living organisms doesn’t necessarily suggest vitalism. that doesn’t mean knowledge is unbounded, just that biology can’t tell us what those bounds are — rather, finding them may change our understanding of biology. i’m not trying to set up an ontological distinction. just the opposite.

    i’m not sure, maybe we agree.

    “And what is this “language”? It’s not language but some features of language, abstracted.”

    i’ve been reading (whenever i get the chance) an interesting book by a neuroscientist, terence deacon, who (analogically) likens language to a parasitic organism, and language’s relationship to the human brain as a co-evolutionary one. so that language is not just a product of the human brain, or bounded by any given universals — this doesn’t mean symbolic structures are free of biology, but that’s different than to say they’re bounded by biology (it also suggests that human evolution — but also the evolution of symbol systems, and hence the future capacities of both, are not wholly outside of human influence). symbolic reference is constrained by the structure itself, which is neither independent of nor reducible to its context.

    this is a little snippet but there’s loads of stuff online:

    “More than any other group of species, hominids’ behavioral adaptations have determined the course of their physical evolution, rather than vice versa. Stone and symbolic tools, which were initially acquired with the aid of flexible ape-learning abilities, ultimately turned the table on their users and forced them to adapt to a new niche opened by these technologies. Rather than just being useful tricks, these behavioral prostheses for obtaining food and organizing social behaviors became indispensible elements in a new adaptive complex. The origin of ‘humanness’ can be defined as that point in our evolution where these tools became the principal source of selection on our bodies and brains. It is the diagnostic trait of Homo symbolicus.”

  185. traxus4420 Says:

    i understand you’ll be wary of the ‘parasite’ analogy, but i think he’s pretty careful about stressing it’s status as an image and not suggesting that language is the immortal vessel of Spirit, God, or the Devil.

  186. thanks dominic, i get it I think, but kinda not as being in the dark here about how the halting is discovered per algorithm; is this an empirical thing? The final algorithm has to run the others? (sorry of this sound stupid, i know less than nothing about computer programming); also “Now suppose we create a database of all the unique algorithm numbers, recording for every number whether the algorithm it denominates halts or not. ” are these ordered? just ordered numerically? and are the numerals naming the algorithms aribtrary? and is this “recording” the task that produces the number that is the analogy here to pi – all digits either yes or no?

    If I am following, your original point was to say if you could run an oracle on that list of yesses and nos, that would really be “seeing the future,” whereas for pi, it’s not quite like that. And I think I get this, because even though it is predestined in an algorithm that it will halt, its more like other things we consider not predestined, there are more factors, and it would give real information – you could use it, knowing would change the present – is this correct?

    Traxus I read a little deacon, he’s like trying to rescue Lamarck. I thought it was batty. Fun but kwazy. But its just the kind of thing that for me illustrates that speculative theory on the edge of sociology and anthropolgy can be good on one hand, and science on the other, but there is this bridge genre that is just neither rather than both. Someone said about psychologists they are really reasonable people when practising their science, but when they begin philosophising they all revert to behaviourism.

    I think though about biological limits we agree pretty much; obviously we, and every othr species, live in an environment made by previous generations; we esepcially intervene in our own bodies, though i don’t think tool using could necessarily be said to have effected more change in primates than swimming did over generations in which a species became dolphins; is hard to quantify changes…

    I don’t mean to say that every time a set of phenomena or unexplained stuff is grouped together and attributed to something undiscovered and given a name is necessarily god or devil, but I think its useful to recognise there are these empty places left by matter/spirit in very very intransigent ideology (perhaps idealism its a parasite?) and one can recognise often their spectres by the shape and quality of this new unnamed force and what’s attributed to its workings. And more persistent than the attachement to an animating spirit even is th attachment to a passive bulky matter. Which may be because we want the ground steady under our feet on some level. That kpunk quote above about fire and cotton – of course the thing that strikes one at first as most funny is “fire” but really it’s cotton that is the archaic relic here, a sort of dead stuff, and the agency and personality attributed to fire is the result of thinking that way about what cotton is. But this is all built in to the genre of philosophy in the grand style. It is the descendant of theology. Its very vocabulary and questions are inherited from a universe known to be matter and spirit, body and mind, earth and heaven. It cannot relinquish this entirely and continue to exist as a distinct genre because all its problems disappear, become gibberish. Badiou in that lecture you linked talked about every generation declaring philosophy in the grand style dead. But its not quite true, for a while there were declarations of the birth of philosophy, new science. Then in the middle of the 19th century, marx, who is unique on Badiou’s list because he pronounced philosophy dead from th outside – he didn’t himself produce philosophy – said its dead. All efforts to translate that into the genre of philosophy are horrible. Then after that lots of pronouncing philosophy dead. Badiou thinks its a way of announcing reinvention, the king is dead, long live the king. But maybe people pronounce philosophy dead frequently because it is really, so people can’t help but notice. But meanwhile branches have jumped in lifeboats, like in the US as attachments to specific sciences, physics, or linguistics or evolutionary biology, or perhaps more successfully as attachments to art and literature, as aesthetics. This is lamented by the practitioners of ontology, but nobody else minds.

    It could be because that traditional core of philosophy really is archaic; it seems that every time something from another discipline is translated into it, what is restored is this archaic theological straightjack of language and concepts. Why would Meillassoux be even bothering with this? A ‘logical’ alternative to Hegelian idealism? Hegel was codifying a living way of thinking; we don’t think like this anymore, even if we resort to that inherited idiom at times. We just don’t even mean the same thing when we say those same words. It’s like having a collection of portrait minatures from 1800; they were one kind of thing, now they are really another.

  187. If there’s voting going on I think Martin oughtn’t be banned. He started off on the wrong foot, was extravagantly nasty, bullying and insulting totally unprovoked, and is now trying to justify this conduct as necessary, selfless and virtuous, and this requires he prove that the objects of his unprovoked verbal assaults deserved it, were posing a danger to others, and brought it on themselves and are therefore wholly responsible, and that he himself has been only doing volunteer public service decency and reason policing, and so far from receiving the gratitude owing, has been the object of indignities and even been sassed back. It’s an unenviable position and is itself punishment enough in my view.

  188. “notion is partly responsible for my suspicion that Chomsky’s idea of cognitive closure is a bit overstated – isn’t it possible that all biologies that support theory-generation have essentially the same theory-generating capability? ”

    I think this is circular; all programming languages are made by speakers of human languages, which are all really similar, and these speakers additionally share the same math and formal logic. Moreover the group of intelligent designers producing all the languages is in communication with one another.

  189. “Chomsky’s idea of cognitive closure is a bit overstated”

    although there are caricatures of his views that are certainly overstated. Sometimes it amazes me what people say, like either they have to be just entirely disingenuous, or they really are kind of stuck in an idealist rut so deep they can’t even understand in the sense of entertain for a minute another conception of stuff.

  190. Like this kind of thing, happens all the time. It’s hard to believe that JMS can even do his work competently, if he’s not just being completely dishonest.

  191. I mean Deacon is a classic case; a conceptual abstraction, “languages”, is treated as a species. Species evolve, this is the model he is dealing with – evolutionary biology. “Languages” are offered as a species then. But what kind of creature is it? It’s a kind of demon; we can recognise it, it’s not unfamiliar to us. People have known for a long time demons are what make people speak, but it only used to be troubling when people didn’t like what they said.

  192. “it also suggests that human evolution — but also the evolution of symbol systems, and hence the future capacities of both, are not wholly outside of human influence””

    well, this is eugenics unless one accept a lamarcking idea that acquired capabilities can be inherited; that if you implant a chip in your brain your offspring will be born with a chip in its brain. I think this is to really misunderstand evolution. That symbol systems like road systems are not outside human influence is accepted I think; the point is its human influence. If we are going to the antihuman or inhuman, the thing would be to discover how something other than human influence is motivating languages to leap on to people in these ways that it does, that is, to discover the language-agent operating independently of the human influence. Like a good example would be semantic – if a word appeared in the language that referred to something the language knew about but people didn’t – say something the language learned about independently of people. Something about its own composition. So there would be a word in human languages, one for each, and it referred to nothing we know about, but we could translate it from french to german anyway. And then we’d maybe try to find out what it meant. Or something.This is sort of what people do with poetry. Otherwise, this proposition is just kind of a poetry, isn’t it? To speak of languages themselves evolving to be easy for children to learn. And presumably air evolving to be easy for children to breathe. Why not? Or roads evolving to be a bit challenging for rabbits to get across before cars hit them, roads having some ancient vendetta against slow rabbits, having to do with an original enmity between the road and the eagle, as Ovid relates…..

  193. (the culprit here is high structuralism, the pernicious religion of monopoly capitalism & imperialism.)

  194. “this doesn’t mean symbolic structures are free of biology, but that’s different than to say they’re bounded by biology ”

    how is it different, except in ethical or value-related connotations? “unfree of” or “bounded by”. Either “bounded by” is assuming some very one to one determination which cannot be suggested in this case, or “unfree of” is a kind of equivocation, as if to say “i’m not saying the proertyless are entirely free of having to sell their labour power in capitalism, but that’s not the same wage “slavery”.” Or something. It would seem to me that for an inquiry which would matter, the actual balance of powers, the actual degrees of influence, and mechanisms, are what matters – in the question of structural determination and structural causality, which is what this is. I think everyone accepts that the conceptual abstraction “languages” is useful, as is the conceptual abstraction “markets”. Disputes begin with that basically admitted on all sides.

  195. The move to parasites on the basis of this metaphoric description by Darwin is dubious. [in the Christiansen paper Deacon relies on for this] We must not forget that Darwin did not have the knowledge of genes, DNA, neurogenetics of behaviour, etc, that we have today. To fill this gap he postulated gemmules in his theory of pangenesis and described language as “organic beings”. If Darwin, the scientist, knew what we do today, it seems reasonable to think he would drop pangenesis and the theory of language as “organic beings” and would be trying to describe he body and the mind within the framework of developmental biology that we have today.

    Christiansen (and Deacon) are in the position of Darwin in the 1800s. They have locked themselves into a metaphoric description of language with no account of the “beneficial parasite” or language “virus” in terms of standard developmental biology. As Christiansen puts it, “the fact that children are so successful at language learning is therefore more appropriately explained as a product of natural selection of linguistic structures, rather than natural selection of biological structures, such as UG.” It is up to Cjristiansen to come up with a rational proposal that has testable empirical consequences. As it now stands, the reader is being asked to embrace a metaphor in some domain outside biology, in fact, outside the natural sciences, apparently in some Platonic heaven.
    -Lyle Jenkins, Biolinguistics

    Not that there is anything wrong with embracing a metaphor, but then one must accept it is appropriate to read it and treat it as a metaphor, as literature (as with Brassier’s faux “scientific truths”, they are literature and open to interpretation as such I think). The issue regards status of the claims. The metaphor in this case is clearly drenched in, steeped in, culture product, and is itself culture product of a certain kind, but it faintly masquerades as another kind of thing, as advancing empirically based “scientific” hypotheses. This sort of is defensive – it implies parameters for reading and interpretation.

  196. so far from receiving the gratitude owing, has been the object of indignities and even been sassed back. It’s an unenviable position and is itself punishment enough in my view.

    True, of course, I was just trying to get out of more Also Sprach Zarathustra policing myself. after all, it’s not every day you get an authentic would-have-been public school boy asking for a nostalgic British Empire bum- flogging on a daily basis, while posing as if he were The Newly Evolved Great Philosopher–or just Marat in the play or the David painting.

    I haven’t seen it written before, but I think there is such a syndrome of psychiatric ward inhabitants posing as if ‘healing psychiatric ward inhabitants’. It’s affordable to a certain degree if you don’t require any kind of witness to its non-official officialdom.

    IN the meantime, what a relief to see no new high-priest prune-mouth, probably out visiting the vicar’s wife and offering tsk-tsks to the offending community..

    There’s that wonderful verse in ‘the Ladies who Lunch’ which is so applicable, with Elaine Stritch singing it in gin-and-cigarette voice:

    First one, for your delectation and re-orientation is this:

    “Here’s to the ladies who lunch
    everybody laugh
    Lounging in their caftans and planning a brunch
    On their own behalf’

    So later she goes on, and this is for the high-thinking bumpkin:

    “And here’s to the girls who just watch
    Aren’t they the best
    When they get depressed it’s a bottle of Scotch
    plus a little jest

    Another chance to DISAPPROVE
    Another brilliant zinger
    Another reason NOT TO MOVE
    Another vodka stinger…

    I’ll drink to that…”

  197. Hey Dejan! Still don’t think there’s any connection to Yugoslavia?

    Well everything in the universe is connected but I do think all these petty philosophers are servants of the politicians and moguls who hire them to bullshit, not the other way round, so it would be a bit far-fetched *or idealistic to imagine that their adumbrations create the political situations at hand. or to put it in another way I think the fact that secession is possible results from the kind of a political situation where IT DOESN’T MATTER ANYMORE WHAT YOU SAY (or don’t), which is the really frightening part of the story.

  198. Happily, it appears that the word “traxus” does occur – suitably digitized of course, somewhere in the first four billion digits of pi. I am sorry to report that neither “chabert” nor “dominic” is to be found within in that range, however, although both dejan and parody are represented.

    On oracles, it is probably better to consult Wikipedia than to seek further clarification from me: the linked article is succinct, informative, and may even have been written by someone who really knows something about the subject. It occurs to me that reasoning with oracles is a little like forcing, in that it derives the consequences of an assumed future result not actually available in the present.

  199. traxus4420 Says:

    thanks for the lyle jenkins reference — i’ve just begun stepping out of the structuralist cave to embrace the wild blue yonder of contemporary linguistics.

    about deacon, baldwin (a developmental psychologist) is more his copilot than lamarck. basically the notion that a species can alter its environment in such a way that it alters the course of its own evolution. it’s related to epigenetics (study of inherited traits that don’t alter the primary DNA sequence). these all get called ‘lamarckian’ sometimes but it’s not strictly accurate.

    you say a bunch of things, i’ll try to respond soon but have to run now. quickly though: the physics/biology analogy i think is still helpful here for what i was trying to say with ‘not bounded by’ — biology doesn’t defy the laws of physics, physics set limits on what we can see in biology, but (going out on a limb) i don’t think it can give us a total field of possibility. it’s not until we understand biology that physics can even start telling us things that are probable about biological phenomena. biophysics is a relatively new field, trying to bring the disciplines together, it seems like this is what is happening with biolinguistics. but they aren’t subordinating one science to another, biology isn’t going to become a branch of physics without a serious change in the assumed relationships between the two. no one really understands yet why there are ‘living’ things rather than not. and i think the same is true of linguistics (and related phenomena like math) and biology.

    i think it makes the most sense to look at language as a branch of tool use, but i’ll get to that later…

  200. “both dejan and parody are represented.”

    i guess of “dejan” doesn’t infinitely repeat, then nothing will.

  201. argh -“if”

  202. JMBaldwin = eugenics.

    The proposition being not only that manmade things in the environment affect living things in the environment, but that culture etc can “steer” evolution, etc etc.

    “In the other field, that of improving the population by control of heredity through preferential pairing, the future has, in my opinion, even greater results in store for society. An artificial humanitarianism and a sentimental respect for the so-called rights of life and reproduction, has so softened the heart of the civilized peoples, and dulled their reflection, that in this matter of capital importance a laissez faire policy has been universal.

    What is more important to a race or group than the sort of children produced by it? Yet both in the pairing that supplies the new generation and in the treatment of the young thus produced, no adequate regulation or control has ever been devised by society—not to say enforced. Weaklings, diseased persons, mental and moral incapables are not only freely produced, but they are allowed in turn to perpetuate themselves by further reproduction. Surely it is high time for society, as it becomes conscious of the principles of its own development and of its resources of control, to address itself directly to the problems of eugenics. A movement in this direction is upon us which is destined to do more for humanity, both in its radical provisions and in its beneficent results, than possibly any other that society has seen.”

    Not just a personal quirk in this case, but the upshot of his bogus theories; It’s pseudo-science, and also evil. Deacon is genuinely suggesting that the language parasite alters a living human brain, and the alterations are passed on. There’s no evidence; it doesn’t fit the heaps of empirical data linguists have about language; and worse, it suggests hierarchies within th human species in “evolutionary” terms. Its also totally misleading regarding actual evolution to the point that we know about and understand it – this crypto teleological purposeful thing, that some popular writers also end suggesting.

  203. I mean, he stops short of saying one billion of the planet’s people are a superior species to the other five billion or will soon be, any day now, but the logic is all there for this judgement and it’s implied.

  204. “i think it makes the most sense to look at language as a branch of tool use”

    I think we language, thinking about it, depends on what you want to do, better to think its a particle at times and other times a wave. Different metaphors, depending on whether you are trying to investiaget an individual, an institution, a species. But this array of metaphors for various social science inquiries, or investigation of art and aesthetics, is seperate from actually studying what it is; this is like Husserl saying well general relativity tells us nothing about our experience of time and this is what we’re pondering…this is not to say einstein is wrong. One can say, for my investigation into, say, literary production, its best to think of lanuage as a tool or a bazaar or something, even “the muse”, but at the same time one knows that this is a metaphor and a model which is useful for a certain investigation of a certain thing, not a scientific description and explanation of human language. At present our ignorance is so great that there is no possibility at all of drawing even trivial conclusions about consciousness, society, etc from what we know about physics and chemistry and biology; every effort to do so is ideological and almost always sinister or plain stupid ( subatomic particles brought forward to support ideas of human free will or the role of chance in human history; the various unbelievable stupidities that come from metaphorising darwin’s ideas natural and sexual selection, totally misunderstood….)

  205. like all the nuttiness that comes out of reasoning about people by analogy to computers lately, like “we’re carbon based information processors”.

  206. It is worth pointing out that in the 20th century eugenics has been pursued under at least three different concpetions of the genetic transmission of socially salient traits. First, Galton, Pearson and their fellow ‘biometricians” in the Anglophone world imagined that each individual carries the traits of all previous ancestors, albeit in inverse proportion to the distance in generations from the individual’s parents. In contrast, eugenicists who strictly adhered to Gregor Mendel’s account of inheritance – the current scientific basis for genetics – were associated with the German science of ‘racial hygiene’, whereby only the individual’s parents matter in determining her genetic constitution. However, most ordinary jobbing eugenicists belonged to a third group, notoriously represented by Stalin’s agricultural minister and self-styled ‘dialectical-biologist’ Trefim Lysenko. They followed early 19th century biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck holding that an individual’s genetic constitution is sufficiently malleable that at least some trace of one’s life experience can be transmitted to offspring. This – the doctrine of the inheritance of acquired characteristics – remained popular among those like Spencer whose commitment to evolution was independent of Darwinism. They never managed to shake off the anthropomorphic idea that individuals can directly contribute to the self-improvement of the species.

    It is worth noting that the Lamarckian option was kept alive in the 20th century by more than Marxist dogma: Early in the century, the US developmental psychologist, James Mark Baldwin proposed to simulate Lamarck in Darwinian terms by claiming that selective advantage is conferred on those who can most easily learn what they are taught. From this perspective, training does not so much impose a new order on individual bodies (and then their genes) as trigger genetic tendencies that are already more pronounced in some members of a population than others. The offspring of those so genetically advanced thus come to the forefront of society, thereby simulating a Lamarckian sense of progress. – Fuller, The New Sociological Imagination

  207. The offspring of those so genetically advanced thus come to the forefront of society

    I can’t say as I’d noticed.

  208. It appears that the offspring of Silicon Valley engineers who procreate with other Silicon Valley engineers have a strong tendency to manifest symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome. Of course this could be seen as a desirable outcome – rather as some deaf people express the wish that their children might also be deaf. Certainly I find techies easier to talk to: better signal-to-noise ratio.

  209. Less flippantly, the strongest (non-moral) counter-argument to eugenicists is that genetic diversity is healthier than genetic specialisation. You get better disease resistance, as well as fewer regressive conditions.

  210. Less flippantly, the strongest (non-moral) counter-argument to eugenicists is that genetic diversity is healthier than genetic specialisation. You get better disease resistance, as well as fewer regressive conditions.

    eugenics today is super happy with this (cavalli-sforza); it works best for yerosupremacism today (the advanced new yorkers and londoners, cosmopolites…), the culture/race collapsing and rebranding without the burden of the unscientific inherited notion of race. Eugenics hasn’t exclusively favoured “inbreeding=purification”. Most eugenics kooks have had some notion of inbreeding as degenerative and “fresh blood” and vital vigorous natural folkses needed, as is convenient to the ideology of empires like Britain and the US.

    it’s not like it ever really makes any sense.

  211. Oh, that’s interesting: you still try to breed the master race, but keep it dynamic by periodically cross-breeding with other, er, rogue strains. That would probably work quite well in biological warfare, actually. The underlying metaphor is homeostasis plus periodic perturbation – also dear to neo-liberal hearts (it would be a mistake to think that the “shock doctrine” means creating constant fear and instability; actually it doesn’t work without some stable entity that can register the shock and reconfigure itself around it – hence the coupling of extreme social conservatism with scheduled bouts of economic sadism).

  212. ”Dejan” reproduces infinitely in order to drag you through the whorehouses of Marxist Hell, you tracherous bitch!

    Dominique I really think types like you suffer from excessive sexual repression, I mean what other reason could you be having for flirting with the Queen of Lies? Perhaps physiognomy can help and it all has something to do with that black hole in the crack of your chin. Maybe in a parallel universe you’re Chutulu’s Satyrian Doppelgaenger.

  213. IN THE CRACK OF YOUR NOSE I meant

  214. One of the thieves was saved.

  215. It’s rewarding to watch someone whose reflex is always to rhetoricize, to treat abstract truth claims as operations on the surface of the spectacle, try to understand something from a domain where that move gains very little traction – where there exist entities about which abstract truth claims can be made that are actually demonstrably true (given the meanest allowance of axioms), and the material interests of the claimant are as close to insignificant as makes no odds. It’s one thing to acknowledge intellectually that such a domain exists, and quite another to try spending enough time there to have one’s ways of seeing altered by it. Not that the result is – I beg pardon for all hubris explicit or implicit – enlightenment exactly; but it points towards freedom from another sort of hubris I think.

  216. i’m a big fan of truth; if this is not to be indistinguishable from radical relativism, however, this requires recognising that some claims to truth are bogus, that is, not everything that can be simply declared by a brevetted authority or celebrity, whether about the origin of atheism, the essence of yerup, the history of apartheid, desire, power, phlogiston, the text of the EU constitution, etc, is necessarily equally true.

  217. traxus4420 Says:

    yikes! it appears i’ve become a eugenicist while away.

    when i say ‘human influence’ i don’t mean the conscious planning and control of some humans on the species (eugenics). i mean the heterogeneous, undirected actions of humans as a species. as in, the effects of human behavior are a factor in human evolution. the further conclusions baldwin drew from his theory (i’ve also read he had a thing for black prostitutes, whatever that means) doesn’t invalidate the basic theoretical claim. at any rate the part that people take from him is the idea that human action can affect selection pressures, not necessarily (haven’t read cavalli-sforza) that it can be directed.

    i mean lewontin, a bona-fide, non-stalinist marxist, makes related claims that are known as ‘constructivism,’ ‘niche construction,’ etc. his objections to ‘adaptationism’ apply to specific teleological versions that are used to justify some sort of spencerian social darwinism and/or eugenics.

    i think we agree the major problem, the one most exploitable by dominant ideology, is the ‘structuralist’ move of abstracting language or symbol-making as a whole into a discrete system with completely internal logic(s). this leaves the door open for the direct importation of evolutionary theory applied metaphorically, like memetics or computational/informational theories (which sometimes get reverse-engineered into biology – i.e. the computational theory of mind, which deacon rejects btw).

    i see the various attempts to make sense out of a proposed ‘co-evolution’ of symbol-making and the human brain as different solutions to the problem of chomskyan linguistics — how did innate linguistic structures evolve and on what level do they exist? this question is being answered by expanding analysis into a more ecological framework, it’s not excluding but not dependent on currently-defined biology. i agree that deacon’s language is not so great — like most popular science writers he derives his ‘laymen’s terms’ from the dominant culture and employs them uncritically. the parasite analogy is both totally compromised and not really apt to his theory, so far as i’m reading it. i’m sure there are more careful scientists working on the same thing. but i think it’s an honest approach to real questions, and am finding it worth the effort to separate out the hype from the actual observations.

  218. traxus4420 Says:

    for those who don’t know them, deacon’s basic arguments can be summarized as follows — symbolic reasoning is fundamentally different from associative, inferential, or indexical reasoning (it functions according to differentiation and self-reference, putting it at two removes from perceptual reality). since associative/indexical thinking is more adaptive to direct interaction with the environment, advanced capacity for symbolic reasoning must come from the pressures of an already symbolic ‘environment.’ deep grammatical structures can’t be heritable traits because there is too much surface variation in language for species-uniform ‘underlying rules’ to ever work themselves into the human genotype. this is how he justifies the use of semiotics and information theory. so it’s not absolutely autonomous from biological evolution (symbol use is a function of the physical brain) but the rules of grammar (and presumably mathematics) are only indirectly guided by genetic conditions.

  219. traxus4420 Says:

    as this thread has gotten way too long, i’ve put up a new one. after any direct responses to my last 2 comments, if anyone wants to continue chattering i’d urge you to post there instead.

  220. yikes! it appears i’ve become a eugenicist while away.

    Welcome to chabert county!

  221. “the further conclusions baldwin drew from his theory (i’ve also read he had a thing for black prostitutes, whatever that means) doesn’t invalidate the basic theoretical claim.”

    right ; what invalidates the claim is lack of support and the existence of better theories. the “conclusions” are actually serving mainly in place of the absent support for the claim. this seems kind of true of deacon too. the hypothesis is offered, simply stated, and then what the conclusions would be are rolled out. So if you like the conclusions, you accept the hypothesis, regardless of its having no support and contradicting what evidence there is.

    ” the idea that human action can affect selection pressures,”

    But what does this mean? For Darwin, there was sexual selection as well as natural selection and other factors. But you are not talking at all about “constructivism”,but about evolution of the organism. This takes a really long time. It’s not very likely the human species will noticeably evolve before extinction. Baldwin turns to eugenics precisely because his ideas of selectionforthebetter are so fanciful one cannot possibly imagine species evolution in this way – predicting its direction, my goodness! – without human awareness and deliberation – the whole theory is we are capable of controlling reproduction as a society and a species because some of us are smarter and in control and know its a good idea. That’s all there is to this theory.

    “constructivism” is what we all prefer I think to assume; its the default reflect of our period, in all things. Best way to think about most things. To loop back to the post, there’s Foucault, whose own incoherence and untruth stems from this assumption which has to bedrock, which never halts, and ends implying some essential stuff, some essential pure human stuff that is the object of constructions whose own constructive power is necessarily mysterious.

    dominic, you’re a funny guy – you insist that there is no truth; you dislike “bosnia genocide denial” specifically not because tales of genocide in Bosnia are true – all possible tales of what happened fifteen years ago are equally true and equally false – but for aesthetic or other reasons. Thus dabbling in merely factual and meaty matters would defile your fidelity to the inhuman truth of the genocide in Bosnia. You champion theories which cannot all be true because mutually contradictory, for aesthetic reasons. The last objection you can bear about anything historical is an objection regarding its untruth, whether its about mass murder or the purported phantasies left populists. On everything that isn’t comsic or microscopic you hold human beings utterly incapable of forming any theories which are closer to true than any other.

  222. has no bedrock

  223. “how did innate linguistic structures evolve and on what level do they exist? ”

    but these are two seperate questions, belonging to different disciplines. How did innate linguistic structures evolve belongs with how vision evolve. Since there are no fossils, its all theoretical. Whether UG exists can be investigated empirically. I’m not saying people should form hypotheses which suggest they don’t, but you can’t dismiss that theory, which is well supported and fits the evidence (which doesn’t make it true), by positing something else as proven, ignoring the evidence, and detailing what the upshot would be. That’s like philosophy – saying if we choose to believe x, then we can believe in human freedom, which we like so we’ll believe x. Isn’t this deacon’s method? We don’t like nativism, it makes us feel so shitty, so let’s say there’s a language parasite (he picked this up from somebody else), if that’s the case then we can think this this and this.

    And I think there is an ethical issue, because with Deacon there is not even the aqcuittal of basic obligations in argument to understand what one is dismissing and represent it corretly, but if one intends to revive the (unfounded, unsupported) theories underlying eugenics as the alternative to accepted successful theories, that one has to show they are genuinely unavoidable, really empirically compelling, irresistible. Otherwise what is this but ideology perpetuation, calulcated for the inevitable rewards?

    None of us, I think, like the idea of UG. It’s almost degrading. It’s just something one resists; language is the one thing we’re sure we control, it makes us special, its the medium of our humanist humanity, it can’t be like vision, like puberty, aging and death. We feel so creative about it; we feel our will in action in it; we also feel that frustration of its “impurities” as if imposed on us from outside, the disjoint between parole and langue existentially. But still, it’s a question that, unlike the evolutionary history of the various human mental properties, is available for empirical study and has been studied and it looks really like this is the case, there is UG. So one can’t just wish it away.

  224. “That’s all there is to this theory.”

    the evidence for baldwin’s theory, the data, is stuff like the different “national characters” of the british, the french and the germans.

  225. “i’ve also read he had a thing for black prostitutes, whatever that means”

    this is gossip; its like you’re trying to trivialise the objectionable and false features of the actual theories, the “arguments” they’re based in, the data which purportedly supports them, their content and claims, their conclusions, by association with this factoid, so one can say, well you can’t dismiss the whole because of these prostitutes. I’m not trying to dismiss the whole because of these prostitutes; the whole is what I am referring to, the central assertions and claims themselves.

  226. Richard Rorty is quoted here as saying:

    The idea that Stalingrad represnted a meeting of Left-Hegelians and Right-Hegelians comes originally not from Rorty ( see below) but from the introduction to one of the earlly Hitler books such as Bullock’s “Hitler: A Study in Tyranny” or another of that 1960-ish wave.

    Can anyone who reads this pinpoint this further?

    “Someone somewhere recently quoted a typically repugnant comment of Richard Rorty describing the battle of Stalingrad as “a conference”, the setting for a “dispute” between “right Hegelians” and “left Hegelians”. Was supposed to be clever, oozing the smugness of the professional Thinker of triumphal liberalism.”

    based on: lecolonelchabert Says:

    March 1, 2008 at 8:53 pm

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