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Monthly Archives: September 2010

Why Realists Should (Probably) Be Rationalists Too Today's entry in the Science and Metaphysics event comes from James Trafford, who has published on Metzinger in Collapse, and is currently working on a book about what he calls 'revisionary naturalism'. James Trafford, Why Realists Should (Probably) Be Rationalists Too 1. What’s a Little Heresy Among Friends? This is an incomplete collection of ideas that seem to be worth articulating, but as a legitimate position require far more defence than ca … Read More

via Speculative Heresy

sεrεndıpıtously dıs(rε)junctıvε . .

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New Translation of Laruelle's 'Biography of the Eye' Biography of the Eye by François Laruelle Originally published as “Biographie de l’oeil,” La Decision philosophique 9 (1989): 93-104. for Adolfo Fernandez Zoila “Man is this night, this empty nothingness that contains everything in its undivided simplicity…he is this night that one sees if one looks a man in the eyes.” Hegel Supplement to Hegel’s judgment concerning man A philosopher has never looked a man directly in the eyes. The philosopher is … Read More

via Fractal Ontology

"Where would I go, if I could go, who would I be, if I could be, what would I say, if I had a voice, who says this saying it’s me?" (Beckett - 2)

Expulsion of the Negative and Affirmation of Life are Mutually Exclusive

Purgatory, purification, extraction of the positive, expulsion of the negative, projection, introjection… Throughout his discursive life Deleuze conceived of purification of the self as the goal of literature. He believed that through an exposition of the evil within one was healing the society. But this theory can only produce otherness as negativity and that is almost exactly the opposite of what affirmative critique ought to be. Nietzsche’s project of “the expulsion of the negative” is a recurrent theme in Deleuze’s writings. Like Nietzsche he thought that it is only through regression that one could be purified and get outside the confines of the Cartesian cogito. Deleuze’s attempts at escaping from the Cartesian dualism, however, can only cause an interruption of the splitting process and slides towards overcoming the split to attain oneness. Giving a voice to the other creates the conditions of impossibility for the other’s finding his/her own voice.

With Deleuze it is always one dies rather than I die, or as the Cynic saying goes, “when there is death I am not, when I am there is no death.” Instead of accepting the state of being wounded as a perpetually renewed actuality, instead of affirming death within life, the other within the self, Deleuze climbs over the walls of his wound, and looking down on the others, he loses the ground beneath his feet, and eventually falls into the split he was trying to get rid of.

Affirming the mutual inclusiveness of introversion and intersubjectivity means preferring an a-sociality, what Blanchot calls “being in a non-relation,” to the symbolic order. Blanchot’s attitude is exactly the opposite of the symbolic market society that dissolves the most fundamental questions of being human in a pot of common sense. The subject of the market society is continually in pursuit of increased strength and self-confidence. And for that reason governed by what Nietzsche called the herd instinct, the will to nothingness, this subject becomes a reactive and adaptive subject. The symbolic order loses the ground beneath itself when and if the majority starts to see living with the thought of death not only as a natural necessity, but also as something to be affirmed.

 Do not seek to have events happen as you want them to, but instead want them to happen as they do happen, and your life will go well.[16] 

We continually have to work on turning everything that happens to us in this life into “for the good.” For everything good or bad to become for the good we have to affirm that which has happened to us. But how are we going to affirm something so terrible that nails us to a painful existence indefinitely? First of all, we have to accept that, that which has happened is not changeable, it has already taken place and we cannot go back there to unlive it.  But at the same time the meaning, value, and significance of what has happened is never fully established. Only death accomplishes the event’s significance, only through death is established the truth of what has happened to us.

For the Stoics one has to have a perfect understanding of the workings of cosmos and nature to be able to live in harmony with the world surrounding one. It is such that everything is a cause and an effect at the same time and everything is linked to one another. Everything that happens causes other things to happen. To a certain extent what happens to us is not in our control but at the same time if we know what the consequence of a certain action would be we could choose what to do, and so what happens to us, to a certain extent, becomes our own doing. We have to figure out how to act, which words to use in the way of affecting the external world so as to maintain ourselves as an active agent in any circumstance.[17]

Let us imagine an example. If we have done something so terribly wrong that it is causing us great distress, before drowning in our sadness we have to find a way of reading it in such a way as to turn it into something that was necessary for our present and future happiness. If we let ourselves go after a disappointing incident, if we let things happen to us and not do something to change the course of events we might as well find ourselves in an irresolvable situation at the end, which would lead to madness and death.

At every moment throughout our lives we are confronted with obstacles that keep us from accomplishing certain desired ends. And yet there is also always a certain potential of accomplishing something even better because of the very obstacle that caused the desired end to become unattainable. The Stoic solution to this problem is simple and yet sophisticated.

What we have here is not a total negation of desire but a rejection of certain objects of desire that one must know from past experience are bad for us to desire. If we want something to happen to us, something that would satisfy a certain desire, and if the desired event cannot be accomplished through our actions then there is no point in striving for the attainment of an unattainable object of desire. Instead one should make the best of what is at hand and accomplish other events that render possible the attainment of objects of desire that are within reach. If we don’t know what and how to work for, we get nothing out of life, find ourselves locked in a room on the door of which death continually knocks.

Paintings by Andy DenzlerTitle: Bertolt Brecht People remain what they are even if their faces fall apart - but does it float

Painting by Andy Denzler
Title: Bertolt Brecht

Epictetus’ philosophy is a very practical one. In it we find ways of coping with the difficulties of life. And it is adaptable to the present state of the human condition in which we find ourselves face to face with the exploitation of the life drive and the death drive through a manipulation of the mutual dependence of these two based on the ambiguous, because a-symetrical, conflict inherent in the relationship between them.

If we know not how to choose what to desire, if we allow the objects of our desire to be shaped by the capable hands of the big Other represented by the global capitalists, we also let the ways in which we desire be determined by a source other than ourselves, hence become puppets trying to satisfy an external force rather than ourselves and our lovers. We have to know what to desire and how to make it happen, otherwise nothing happens and where there is nothing happening there can be neither creativity nor communication; for what is one to create or communicate if there is nothing to create and communicate.

Once it is realized that there is nothing other than nothing to be struggled against, it becomes clearer how it would be possible to detach oneself from external circumstances and act in the way of maintaining an impersonal vision of what happens around us. One dissociates not the events themselves, but dissociates oneself from the events surrounding one. The Stoic indifference requires a subject in the form of an impersonal consciousness who maintains its dissociating function at all times. For this dissociation to take place, however, the subject has to know how to associate events that have led to the present, that is, one has to immerse oneself in the plurality of the past events, and extract from this multiplicity a combination of events so as to enable oneself to constitute oneself as an autonomous, free agent. This attitude emphasizes the importance of each instant. At every instant we have to act in such a way as to make the future better than the past. And this brings us to Nietzsche’s eternal return. According to Nietzsche, we have to act at every present moment in such a way that we will regret nothing in the future. Every present is an eternal moment in-itself and it is at times in our control to turn the present into for-itself, and at times it is not.

So, at every present we have to consider the possibilities from different angles and decide which way to go and which way not to go as if we were immortal. What Epictetus seems to be suggesting is that once a choice is made the only way to make it work for us is to push it to its limit where it either turns against us or against itself and creates another possibility of choice. Epictetus is not in favour of an individuality that would be constituted through moderation, but in a subject that would be indifferent to lack or excess. In Epictetus’ world there is no lack or excess; what there is lacks nothing and nothing in what there is is excessive. If one is satisfied by what there is with its lacks and excesses one needs no moderation of one’s actions, for there is nothing lacking or excessive to be moderated in one’s actions. Lack or excess can only be determined by a whole external to the already existing. But there is only that which is, which never lacks anything in relation to something outside itself. The concepts of lack and excess belong to the world of metaphysics which exists only in imagination.

So I eventually arrive where I could possibly have arrived; the end of this voyage, which is at the same time the beginning of another one. And here I find out that the more affirmative one’s attitude towards life gets the more fragile the contact with the other becomes. But as the contact becomes more fragile and affirmation more difficult, maintaining the conditions for the possibility of a perpetually recreated affirmative cont(r)act becomes more essential to the continuation of healthy life of self in touch not only with its own death but also with the death of the other.

Sometimes the only way to keep affirming is to affirm the fragility of the affirmative cont(r)act itself. It is only by affirming a broken and irregularly beating heart in its broken irregularity that one can relate to it. But to affirm this heart one must detach oneself from it, not identify with it, not become broken and irregularly beating itself, so that one can find in oneself the strength to undertake repairing the broken heart. Affirmation of life as it is, I think, is only the beginning of a fragile and yet beautiful friendship… Read More

 via senselogic

la mort - death

The Pre-Socratics: A Case Study

The fate of the pre-Socratics has often taken two routes, that of either complete dismissal due to inescapable primitivism or as purveyors of deep esoteric truths completely lost to our time. As is often the case however the truth lies somewhere in tension between the two. For examination of these founders of philosophy can provide two illuminating roles. Firstly we can conceive the ideas of these pioneers in the context of their ultimate evolution… Read More via An Excavation of Ideas

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Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) mit Studenten. Lit...

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As mentioned a while ago, John Caputo has been running a new course on continental philosophy of religion featuring After the Postsecular and the Postmodern: New Essays in Continental Philosophy of Religion (Amazon: US, UK) as well as a number of speculative realist thinkers. As the course goes on, lectures are being posted up at this site and are certainly worth checking out:

Index of Caputo Fall 2010

 In other news, the journal Speculations has released a CFP for its second issue:

Speculations, a journal for speculative realist thought, invites submissions for its second issue. Given the intrinsically open and unconstrained nature of the arena for speculative thought which Speculations aims at embodying—and in view of the favorable reception of the inaugural issue—our aim is to broaden the range and ambition of the Journal. In accordance with speculative realism’s mandate to open philosophy to the richness of reality, we particularly encourage scholars to engage with speculative realism from disciplinary perspectives beyond philosophy. We therefore welcome papers discussing speculative realism’s renewed philosophical concern with the non-human world from a wide array of disciplines.

Speculations is an open-access and peer-reviewed journal that hopes to provide a forum for the exploration of speculative realism and ‘post-continental’ philosophy. Our aim is to facilitate discussion about ongoing developments within and around speculative realism. We accept short position papers, full length articles and book reviews.

Potential authors should make sure to go through the ‘Submission Checklist’ before submitting. Articles should be no longer than 8,000 words and follow the Chicago Manual of Style (

The deadline for submission is the 8th of January 2011.

Submissions can be sent to

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Institute of Geosciences of the Universidade F...

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The Science and Metaphysics Event has just kicked off over at Speculative Heresy, with Ben Woodard giving us a post on Lovecraftian Science/Lovecraftian Nature. I’ve just finished my piece, which will go up at some point over the next week I’m sure, so stay tuned. It didn’t turn out quite as I intended, but I’m sure some people will find it interesting. … Read More

via Deontologistics

Science, Metaphysics and the A Priori / A Posteriori Distinction by Pete Wolfendale
Posted on September 21, 2010 by Nick Srnicek @ Speculative Heresy
Today’s contribution to the blog event comes from Pete Wolfendale of the always interesting Deontologistics blog.

The question that we have been posed is that of the relation between metaphysics and the natural sciences. In particular, we are tasked with squaring the relative autonomy of metaphysics in relation to natural science with the fact that they in some sense share the same object – the world as it is in-itself. This is a difficult task, and it cannot be satisfactorily completed here. However, it is possible to sketch an answer to the question, and to defend it against a few important objections, if not all possible ones. This is what I propose to do here.  Read More

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Baruch de Spinoza (1632 -1677)

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Richard Rorty's Last "Spinoza" It occurs to me that it would be good to post this last view of Spinoza offered by Richard Rorty, a revision of an earlier papers he had written. I have not compared the two versions so I can make no claim to changes that Rorty came to,  but Rorty offered me the piece possibly still in draft form to represent his thoughts on Spinoza in the last months of his life – I did not realize he was ill. To add some reflective thoughts on this version of Spinoza … Read More

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SPINOZA’S LEGACY, by Richard Rorty

[This is a shortened and revised version of the first of two Spinoza Lectures given at the University of Amsterdam in 1997. The longer version appeared under the title “Is it desirable to love truth?” in Richard Rorty, Truth, politics and ‘post-modernism’ (Assen: Ven Gorcum, 1997).]

If one thinks of philosophy as the love of wisdom, of wisdom as the grasp of truth, and of truth as the accurate representation of an order that exists independently of human language and human history, then may well doubt whether philosophy is possible. Important twentieth-century intellectual movements have denied the existence of such an order. I shall use the term “pragmatism” to characterize this denial, because the alternative—“post-modernism”—has been damaged by profligate overuse.

The quarrel between the pragmatists and their predecessors that has emerged over the last hundred years is something new. It gradually took shape as a result of attempts to resolve an older quarrel—the one that Plato said was between the gods and the giants (that is, between philosophers like Plato himself and materialists like Democritus). That quarrel was about what the natural order is like, not about whether there is such a thing. In what follows, I shall argue that Spinoza’s attempt to overcome Cartesian dualism is the beginning of a train of thought that eventually leads to pragmatism, and thus to the replacement of the old quarrel by a new one.

Plato believed that grasping the natural order of things can bring about blessedness–a kind of happiness of which the animals are incapable, and which results from the realization that something central to human beings is also central to the universe. Blessedness, in this sense, consists in the realization that the intrinsic nature of the universe is on our side.

The materialists also believe that wisdom consists in the grasping of the natural order of things, but they think that no comfort can be derived from contemplating this order. We can derive practical, utilitarian profit from grasping the natural order, but we cannot find consolation in doing so. Mechanistic materialism’s picture of the universe gives us only the sort of cold intellectual satisfaction experienced by Euclid—the kind produced by having successfully brought order to a confusing variety of apparently unrelated items. It cannot produce a sense of harmony between human aspirations and non-human things.

This quarrel was renewed in early modern philosophy when mechanistic accounts of the natural order triumphed over Aristotelian hylomorphic and teleological accounts. In this period, it is exemplified by the opposition between Hobbes and Spinoza. Both men tried to come to terms with an account of the natural order which seems to leaves no place for the kind of happiness that Plato believed human beings might come to have.

Hobbes’s solution was that human beings must use artifice to do what nature cannot do: they must construct a second, political, order, in order to become less fearful and less miserable. Politics, rather than philosophical contemplation, is our only recourse. But Spinoza thought that the new, mechaniistic, account of the natural order could be reconciled with Plato’s ambition–the attainment of blessedness through increased knowledge.

Spinoza’s way of reconciling the new explanations of the way things worked with the hope of such blessedness was to say that there were two equally valid ways of describing the universe: a description in terms of matter and a description in terms of mind. God or Nature could be viewed with equal adequacy under the attribute of extension and under the attribute of thought.

Before Spinoza, it had seemed that one had to choose sides: the gods and the giants could not both be right. If reality was simply atoms and void, then the hope of blessedness was vain. Spinoza claimed that one did not have to choose between the body and the spirit, for the two were, properly understood, one. The natural order, he suggested, is expressed in many ways, only two of which—extension and thought–we are able to grasp. The order and connection of corpuscles is the same as the order and connection of ideas. The mind knows only insofar as the body prospers, and conversely.

Spinoza’s Ethics is filled with propositions that would have struck Plato as paradoxical, as when he tells us that “The more we understand particular things, the more we understand God” (V, Prop. 24). Throughout the Ethics, Spinoza insists that the ascetics are wrong: the more active the body is, the more penetrating the mind. Bodily activity, the interaction of the body with many different things, goes hand-in-hand with the ascent of the mind toward God. Spinoza is friendlier to the body than any previous admirer of Plato. He is also friendlier to Democritus. He urges us not to be discouraged, as Socrates was, by the absence of good teleological explanations of natural events. For the more you understand about the purely mechanical order and connection of those atoms, the more your mind comes to resemble that of God.

Spinoza’s reconciliation of body and mind, matter and spirit, relies on the notion of equally valid alternative descriptions of the same reality”. But that notion contains the seeds of its own destruction. For once we allow it into philosophy, the very idea of the natural order is in danger. So, therefore, is the idea of philosophy as the quest for knowledge of what is really real.

Before Spinoza it was taken for granted that any two competing descriptions of anything could be compared in point of adequacy. The less adequate description could then be deemed a description of appearance, and the more adequate a description of reality. But as soon as one deploys the idea of equally adequate alternative descriptions, one will wonder whether it matters whether one is talking about the same reality in two equally valid vocabularies, or about two different appearances of the same underlying reality. As soon as one begins to raise that question, one begins the slide from Spinoza’s utterly knowable universe to Kant’s unknowable thing-in-itself. For if two irreconcilable descriptions can both somehow be valid, is there any reason to believe that either has anything to do with things as they are in themselves–things as undescribed?

Once one raises the latter question, one is on the brink of a slippery slope.. As soon as one stops saying, with Plato, that the body and the atoms are mere appearances of something else, and says instead that they are the universe described in one very useful way among other very useful ways, one may wonder if there is any better test of a descriptive vocabulary than its utility for human purposes. Perhaps Protagoras had a point: maybe man is the measure of all things. Why not think of descriptive vocabularies as tools rather than attempts at representational accuracy? Why not drop the question of how things are in themselves, and instead devote oneself to the question of which descriptive vocabularies get us what we want? The slide from Kant’s unknowable thing-in-itself to Nietzsche’s and William James’ pragmatism thus becomes as precipitous as the slide from Spinoza to Kant.

Pragmatists suggest that to have an order is simply to be described in a language, and that no language is any more natural–any closer to the way things really are–than any other. Any descriptive vocabulary comprehensive enough to relate lots of the things we talk about to lots of other such things is a description of an ordered universe. But once one starts thinking in terms of equally valid descriptions, the idea that nature might have a preferred self-description begins to seem merely quaint. Nature under a description will always exhibit an order. But nature undescribed in any human language? That is simply the thing-in-itself–an utterly useless notion, a philosopher’s plaything, a toy rather than a tool.

In short, the more one thinks about alternative languages for talking about nature, the less need there is to think about the nature of nature. The possibility arises that one might become blessed by contriving a new language for human beings to speak, rather than by getting in touch with something non-human. The old idea that blessedness can be obtained by getting in touch with a natural order begins to be replaced by the new idea that blessedness might be obtained by finding a new way to talk. Hobbes’ suggestion that artifice is needed to do what nature cannot do begins to sound more plausible.

This suggestion was taken up by the Romantics, who attempt to achieve blessedness by self-creation—by becoming a lamp rather than a mirror. Once one begins to think of languages as artifacts, it seems natural to supplement Hobbes’ account of the genesis of political artifacts can be supplemented by Shelley’s account of the role of the poetic imagination in intellectual and moral progress.

The effect of thinking about language is to turn the attention of philosophers away from the natural sciences. By the time of Shelley and Hegel, mathematics and physics no longer dominate the philosophical scene. The willingness to talk Galilean mechanics as a paradigmatic intellectual achievement, which was common to Hobbes and Spinoza, begins to seem quaint. For Kant had already suggested that the language of natural science should be thought of as useful for some purposes and not for others: the vocabulary deployed by Verstand has little connection with that deployed by praktische Vernunft. The description of the world in terms of atoms and the void is obviously good for technology, but useless for morality and for poetry. But technological purposes have no natural priority others. One could claim they do only by reviving the appearance-reality distinction that Spinoza’s notion of equally adequate descriptions had undermined.


I have been singling out one element in Spinoza’s thought–the idea of equally valid description in different languages—and suggesting how it can be seen a turning-point in the history of philosophy. It is the point at which one begins to stop looking backward to Plato and Democritus, and starts looking forward to Romanticism, Nietzsche, and pragmatism. But looking at Spinoza’s role in the history of philosophy in this way is, of course, to neglect Spinoza’s own deepest conviction: that every apparent diversity will be resolved when one takes a larger view: that the more things are related to one another, the less problematic they become.

Spinoza thought that there is always a hidden unity to be found behind every apparent variety. The success of mathematical physics at finding simple and elegant laws confirmed a view he also expressed in theological and political terms: he urged behind the many vocabularies in which men speak of God and of the socio-political order there is a single natural order to be discerned. Every way of worshiping God, like each way of ordering society, has the same end. To believe otherwise, Spinoza thought, is to let the imagination take the place of the intellect.

Although Spinoza was less ascetic, friendlier to the body, than had previously seemed compatible with the pursuit of blessedness, he was no friendlier to the imagination, or to poetry, or to artifice, than were Plato and Savanarola at their worst. Though the human body had been redeemed by Galileo’s discoveries of how matter worked, the imagination had not. The human body is redeemed only when seen under the aspect of eternity, as a feature on the face of the whole universe. But the divine mind—the counterpart, under the attribute of thought, of the face of the material universe– has no imagination. It is literal-minded. It has no occasion to speak in metaphors. So, Spinoza thought, the less we humans use metaphors, the greater our chances of blessedness.

Spinoza’s hostility to metaphor and artifice is clearest in the Theologico-Political Treatise. In that book, he helped prepare the way for the Enlightenment’s ecumenical conviction that all religions come down to the same thing. The differences between them are merely differences in the local situations of human beings, and of the consequent differences in their imaginations. Trying to break free of fundamentalist literalism, Spinoza tries to translate Scripture from the language of the imagination into something more like the language of the intellect. He says, for example, that when the Bible tells us that God opened the windows of the heavens, all it is really saying is that it rained very hard. (TPT, p. 44) For Spinoza, metaphor has no value. Like the imagination, metaphor is something to be overcome.

Just as truth is one though unfortunately expressed in diverse metaphors, so true religion is one, though prophecies are many. “The power of prophecy”, Spinoza says, “implies not a peculiarly perfect mind, but a peculiarly vivid imagination”. (TPT, 19) Religious ceremonies are many, but blessedness is one. “Ceremonies are no aid to blessedness, but only have reference to temporal prosperity” (TPT, 70). Christ was an improvement on Moses because “he taught only universal moral precepts, and [therefore] promises a spiritual instead of a temporal reward.” (TPT, Elwes translation, 70) “The nature of natural divine law,” he says, is “universal or common to all men, for we have deduced it from universal human nature” (61), and “it does not depend on the truth of any historical narrative whatsoever.” Adam could have as good a grasp of the divine law and of human nature as we ourselves, for history has added nothing to human knowledge, other than an increased ability to gain “temporal rewards”.

Metaphor, history and diversity are firmly relegated by Spinoza to the realm of what, following Descartes, he thinks of as confused ideas. New metaphors can only heap confusion on confusion. The eternal, the true, and the clear are names for the same thing: God or Nature rightly understood, understood as a whole rather than in part. Spinoza is an utterly convinced adherent of the doctrine Kierkegaard called “Socratism”: the historical moment does not matter, for the teacher is merely an occasion. What Christ said in parables can better be said more geometrico.

Hegel said that nobody can be a philosopher who is not first a Spinozist. He meant, among other things, that nobody can take philosophy–as opposed to poetry and prophecy–seriously who does not hope to see everything converge, come together, form a systematic unity. To be a philosopher in this sense, you have to yearn for a natural order. You need to take the reality-appearance distinction, and the literal-metaphorical distinction, very seriously indeed.

Paradoxically, enough, however, it was Hegel who, following up on Vico and Herder, suggested that philosophers take historical narratives seriously. He was the first to make plausible the idea that constructing such a narrative might yield better results than proceeding more geometrico. His own narratives suggest the possibility that we can let the distinction between earlier ideas and later ideas take the place of the Cartesian distinction between the confused ideas of the imagination and the clear ideas of the intellect. This proposal was taken up by Nietzsche and Heidegger. Nietzsche’s narrative about the West’s liberation from Platonism, and Heidegger’s counter-narrative, are at the heart of their respective philosophies. If Hegel brought historical narrative into philosophy, both by precept and example, Nietzsche and Heidegger brought metaphor into it. Those two helped us break down the barriers between philosophy and poetry, and overcome Plato’s conviction that philosophy and poetry are related as the higher to the lower.

As long as languages are viewed, as they were in the seventeenth century, as alternative ways of expressing the same limited range of ideas, it will be hard to take either history or metaphor seriously. It will be easy to think that philosophy’s task is to rise above diversity and to seek simplicity of utterance. But Hegel helped us get rid of the seventeenth century’s “way of ideas” by casting doubt on the Cartesian notion of “clarity and distinctness” and the Lockean notion of “simplicity”. He was, as Wilfrid Sellars remarked, the great foe of immediacy. Yet Hegel was unable to take the step that Nietzsche and Heidegger went on to take–the step away from quasi-scientific sysematicity. From the point of view of post-¦Nietzschean thought, Hegel looks like a man with one foot in each camp: historicist enough to have become a pragmatist, yet Platonist enough to have remained a metaphysician.

One can put this latter point in Habermasian terms by saying that Hegel’s historicism almost, but not quite, enabled him to abandon subject-centered reason for communicative reason. To abandon subject-centered reason is to abandon the idea that clarity can substitute for consensus–the idea that the philosopher can circumvent the language of his or her tribe by finding a short-cut to Truth. It is to abandon the conviction that we shall recognize truth when we see it–an idea which was basic to Spinoza’s thought and which he abbreviated as the doctrine that truth is self-certifying. Spinoza claimed that a perfect and adequate idea—sigillum sui et falsi–could be seen to be such, and therefore seen to be true, simply by possessing it. (Ethics, II, Def. 4 and Prop.13)

The idea that metaphor and imagination will never be eliminated, and that moral progress is made possible by the imagination producing ever new metaphors, chimes with the idea that rationality is a matter of finding agreement among human beings, rather than of discovering which ideas are adequate to reality. For now the political problem–the problem of creating social cooperation between human beings–becomes a problem of tolerating alternative fantasies rather than of eliminating fantasy in favor of truth. The question is not how to get human beings to live in accordance with nature but of how to get them to live in the same community with people those who have very different notions about what is most important in human life.

In this respect, Habermas and Dewey are the heirs of Hobbes–of the idea that political artifice replaces philosophical contemplation as the source of a higher, specifically human, form of happiness. The thesis that the hope for objectivity is nothing more nor less than a hope for intersubjective agreement goes hand in hand with the thesis that no language is more adequate to reality than any other language. But that means giving up the distinction between clear and confused ideas. There is no room for that distinction once one gives up the correspondence theory of truth.


So far I have been suggesting a way of looking at the development of philosophical thought since Spinoza’s time. I shall conclude by turning to the question I broached at the outset: of whether a pragmatist–someone who has given up the goal of achieving an accurate representation of the natural order of things–can still love wisdom? What, if anything, can a pragmatist, mean by “loving truth”, or by “achieving wisdom”?

The difference between the pragmatists and their opponents is that between treating the capitalized noun “Truth” as an unhappily hypostatized adjective and as the name of something that deserves to be loved. On the pragmatist view, the adjective “true” is a perfectly useful tool, but the use of the noun “Truth” as the name of an object of desire is a relic of an earlier time: the time in which we believed that there was a natural order to be grasped.

I have been arguing that Spinoza’s suggestion that two vocabularies which cannot be translated into one another may nevertheless be equally valid opened the door led to pragmatism, and thus to doubt about the idea of an object called “The Truth”. But if truth not a possible object of love, then it would seem that Socrates and Spinoza were simply deceived. . That is an insufferably condescending way to describe men for whom most of us feel an instinctive and deep attraction.

This was a perplexity Nietzsche experienced. He sometimes speaks of Socrates as the sardonic iconoclast who betrayed the tragic sense of human greatness, and thus diminished us. But elsewhere he praises him as a model of intellectual honesty. Analogously, Nietzsche sometimes pays Spinoza the highest compliment he can imagine by calling him his own precursor. (Letter to Overbeck, July 30, 1881) but sometimes describes him as “a sophisticated vengeance-seeker and poison-brewer” (Beyond Good and Evil, sec. 25). In the latter mood, Nietzsche thinks of Spinoza as someone who presented his own heart’s desire as if it were the product of cold, impersonal, inquiry. (BGE 5).

Nietzsche wanted, but did not find, a way of praising the courageous daring of the lives lived by Socrates and Spinoza, while continuing to reject the rhetoric of truth-seeking both employed. The awkward position in which he was placed by his instinctive sympathy with these two figures was a symptom of his vacillation about truth. It is not easy to reconcile Nietzsche’s repeatedly proclaimed love of knowledge and truth with his perspectivism and his pragmatism. It is as easy to find passages in which Nietzsche says contradictory things about Truth as it is to find passages in which he says contradictory things about Socrates or Spinoza.

A pragmatist like myself who is also an admirer of Spinoza has to find some other reason to praise Spinoza than his God-intoxication, his overwhelming desire to emend his intellect in order to achieve union with the divine mind. The best solution to this problem, I think, is to construe the love of Truth as an attitude toward one’s fellow human beings rather than as an attitude toward something that transcends humanity and its history. Then one can praise Spinoza for his conversability rather than for his desire to transcend finitude.

When we praise a scientist or scholar for the love of Truth what we often have in mind is simply her open-mindedness: her curiosity about opinions different from their own, tolerance for the existence of such opinions, and willingness to modify their own views. When we say that someone loves truth more than self we sometimes mean simply that he or she respects his or her colleagues enough to prefer a view with which they can all, freely and peaceably, come to agree upon to the view he or she herself presently holds. Construed in this way, the love of Truth is simply conversability—a tolerant absence of fanaticism, a willingness to hear the other side.

The affection Spinoza generates in his readers is the sort we feel for someone who brings out the best in us by assuring us that there is something in what we say, that we are guilty of nothing more than premature enthusiasm. Spinoza, the critic of asceticism, does not chastise us, but instead advises us how we can more frequently experience hilaritas (an affect which, Spinoza said, cannot be in excess.). We cherish Spinoza for some or the same reasons we admire Hume, a philosopher with whose doctrines Spinoza’s have little in common. We think of them as typifying the Enlightment at its best—as enemies of fanaticism and friends of open-mindedness.

To praise Spinoza for the attitudes towards his fellow humans he shared with Hume obviously does not require that we accept a definition of truth as adequate representation of a natural order. It does not even require the Habermasian doctrine that argumentative inquiry is a quest for universal validity. The whole idea of a quasi-object which functions as the goal of a quest–either the Platonic idea of a natural order or the Habermasian idea of a set of universally valid beliefs–can be set aside if we construe the love of Truth conversability. The Platonist and Spinozist image of all things coming together in a single vision can be replaced by the image of a maximally free and rich form of human sociability. The unity of mankind, from this perspective, is not a product of human beings’ ability to share a common understanding of a natural order, but rather of their willingness to tolerate, and to try to see the best in, each others’ fantasies.

But there is still another way to construe the love of Truth. Rather than thinking of it either as the desire for the blessedness which would result from the grasp of a natural order, or as conversability, we can also construe it as a form of truthfulness–the quality of being true to oneself. Sometimes when we say that the love of Truth is a virtue we simply mean that honesty, sincerity and truth-telling are virtues. But sometimes we mean something more, as when we praise Blake or Kierkegaard for having had the courage to stick to their guns–to hold on to their central insight, the truth as they saw it, even when everybody thought they were crazy. Such courage is yet another of the virtues for which we praise Socrates, who stood by his central beliefs despite the fact that this made him almost unintelligible to his contemporaries.

Pragmatists, I would suggest, should think of the love of truth as an attempt to combine conversability with the courage to stick to one’s deepest convictions. Such a combination is not easy, but Socrates, Spinoza and Hume achieved something like it. They managed to synthesize the virtues of the virtues of the self-involved genius with those of a conversable companion and useful citizen. They thereby brought the metaphysical and strange together with the literal and familiar.

The idea that we all have a duty to love truth is, for a pragmatist, the idea that we should all aim at such a synthesis. The reason we are so inclined to hypostasize Truth, to turn the adjective “true” into a capitalized noun, is that we would like to overcome the tensions between idiosyncracy and conversability by finding a language that commensurates all languages, a master-tool which coordinates the uses of all lesser tools. We hypostatize the idea of such a language into the idea of a natural order, and we think of the adequate representation of that order as providing us with such a master-tool.

If Hegel is right that anyone must be a Spinozist if he or she is to be a philosopher, then nobody can take an interest in philosophy who has never been intrigued by the thought of such commensuration, of a master-language. One’s imagination will not be gripped either by the figure of Socrates or by that of Spinoza unless one is fascinated by the possibility of such commensuration. There are many people who are not fascinated by this possibilty, and whose imagination is not so gripped. Pragmatists think that that is not a matter for rebuke–that a lack of interest in philosophy is not a vice. In the sense in which one must be a Spinozist in order to philosophize, philosophy is not a universal human concern, nor should it be.

Not everyone has a duty to take an interest either in the quarrel between Plato and Democritus or in that between metaphysicians and pragmatists. any more than it is compulsory to care about the differences between Catholicism and Calvinism, or about those between Christians and noncChristians. As William James said, for some people Christianity is simply not a live or forced option–not something that they need think about. The same goes for philosophy.

As pragmatists see the matter, someone who has little or no interest in either religious or philosophical questions should not be told that he or she has a duty to seek answers to those questions, or a duty to justify his lack of interest to others. Before the Enlightenment we told that we also had duties to God. The Enlightenment told us that we also had duties to Reason. But pragmatists think that our only duties are to ourselves and to other human beings. Socrates, Spinoza and Hume are heroic figures because they performed both sets of duties exceptionally well.

Richard Rorty

April 25, 2006

a very rare picture of samuel beckett… maythemusic:  en attendant… rions un peu avec Samuel Beckett

 Principal Supervisor: Laura Cull

As Beckett scholar, Mary Bryden has noted, Gilles Deleuze’s philosophical engagement with Samuel Beckett’s work is particularly focused on his early novels and latterly with his television projects, rather than on the stage plays for which Beckett is best known to theatre scholars, such as: Waiting for Godot, Happy Days and Krapp’s Last Tape. Known for his antipathy towards spectatorship of live theatrical events, Deleuze ignores these canonical plays in favour of analyzing lesser-known works such as the novel Molloy and the television play, Quad. Correlatively, there are few examples in current scholarship – either theoretical or practical – of Deleuzian approaches to Beckett’s theatre. We would be pleased to accept proposals from suitably qualified candidates who are interested in exploring the implications of Deleuze’s philosophy – beyond his specific commentaries on Beckett – for understandings of Beckett’s theatre. In turn, the project may wish to consider how Beckett’s own theorization of his theatre practice might feedback onto understandings of Deleuze. The project may be designed to culminate in a purely written thesis or in both practical and written outcomes. To apply, please use the online ‘Studentship Application Form’ (found at and submit to Scott Burdon at
Informal enquiries are welcome – for further details please contact Dr Ysanne Holt (
Deadline for applications is Friday 29 October 2010
Interviews will be held week commencing 22 November 2010

Karl Marx (1818 – 1883)

Image via Wikipedia

Negri: The problem of politics seems to have always been present in your intellectual life. Your involvement in various movements (prisoners, homosexuals, Italian autonomists, Palestinians), on the one hand, and the constant problematizing of institutions, on the other, follow on from one another and interact with one another in your work, from the book on Hume through to the one on Foucault. What are the roots of this sustained concern with the question of politics, and how has it remained so persistent within your developing work? Why is the rela­tion between movement and institution always problematic?

Deleuze: What I’ve been interested in are collective creations rather than rep­resentations. There’s a whole order of movement in “institutions” that’s independent of both laws and contracts. What I found in Hume was a very creative conception of institutions and law. I was initially more interested in law than politics. Even with Masoch and Sade what I liked was the thoroughly twisted conception of contracts in Masoch, and of institutions in Sade, as these come out in relation to sexuality. And in the present day, I see Francois Ewald’s work to reestablish a phi­losophy of law as quite fundamental. What interests me isn’t the law or laws1 (the former being an empty notion, the latter uncritical notions), nor even law or rights, but jurisprudence. It’s jurisprudence, ultimately, that creates law, and we mustn’t go on leaving this to judges. Writers ought to read law reports rather than the Civil Code. People are already thinking about establishing a system of law for modern biology; but everything in modern biology and the new situations it creates, the new courses of events it makes possible, is a matter for jurisprudence. We don’t need an ethical committee of supposedly well-qualified wise men, but user-groups. This is where we move from law into politics. I, for my own part, made a sort of move into politics around May 68, as I came into contact with specific problems, through Guattari, through Foucault, through Elie Sambar. Anti-Oedipus was from beginning to end a book of political philosophy….  Read More

via Negri in English

“Yasanın klasik bir imgesi vardır. Platon bu imgenin, Hıristiyan dünyası tarafından da benimsenmiş olan eksiksiz bir ifadesini vermiştir. Bu imge, yasaya hem ilkesi hem de sonuçları açısından bakılmasını içererek bunun ikili bir durumunu belirler. İlke açısından baktığımızda, yasa ilk değildir. Yasa ikinci ve temsilci bir iktidardan başka bir şey değildir, daha yüksek bir ilkeye göre belirlenir, o da İyi’dir. İnsanlar İyi’nin ne olduğunu bilselerdi ya da ona uymayı becerebilselerdi, yasaya ihtiyaçları olmayacaktı. Yasa, İyi’nin, şöyle ya da böyle terk ettiği bir dünyadaki temsilcisidir. Bundan dolayı, sonuçları açısından baktığımızda, yasalara uymak ”en iyi”sidir, en iyi de İyi’nin imgesidir. Adil olan biri, doğduğu ülkede, yaşadığı ülkede yasalara tabi olur. Düşünme özgürlüğünü -hem İyi’yi hem de İyi için düşünme- elinde tutsa da, bunu, en iyisi için yapar. Görünüşte bu denli konformist olan bu imge, bir siyaset felsefesinin koşullarını oluşturan bir ironi ve mizahı, yasa ölçeğinin en yukarısında ve en aşağısındaki, ikili bir düşünüm genişliğini içermekten de geri kalmaz. Sokrates’in ölümü bu bakımdan bir örnek teşkil eder. Şöyle ki, yasalar kaderini mahkumun eline teslim bırakırlar ve yasaya tabiiyetinden dolayı, ondan kendilerine, üzerine düşünülmüş bir onay vermesini isterler. Yasaları, onları temellendirmek için zorunlu bir ilkeymişçesine mutlak bir İyi’ye yükselten seyirde büyük bir ironi vardır. Sanki yasa mefhumunu kendi kendine değil de, yalnızca kuvvet yoluyla ayakta tutuyormuş ve ideal olarak, daha dolaylı bir sonuca olduğu kadar, daha yüksek bir ilkeye de ihtiyaç duyuyormuş gibi. Belki de bu nedenle Phaidon’daki anlaşılması güç bir metne göre, öğrencileri ölümü sırasında Sokrates’in yanında bulunurken yüzlerinde bir gülümseme de eksik değildir. İroni ile mizah esas olarak yasa düşüncesini kurarlar. Uygulanmaları yasayla ilişkilidir ve anlamlarını buradan alırlar. İroni, yasayı sonsuzca üstün bir İyi’nin üzerini temellendirmekte sakınca görmeyen bir düşüncenin oynadığı oyundur; mizah ise, yasayı, sonsuzca daha adil bir En İyi’ye onaylatmakta sakınca görmeyen söz konusu düşüncenin oynadığı oyundur.

Yasanın klasik imgesinin hangi etkiler altında altüst olup ortadan kalktığı sorgulanacak olursa, bunun yasaların göreliliğinin, değişebilirliğinin keşfedilmesi sonucunda olmadığı kesindir. Zira bu görelilik, klasik imgede zaten bütünüyle biliniyor ve anlaşılıyordu; onun zorunlu bir parçasını oluşturuyordu. Gerçek neden başka yerdedir. Bunun en kesin ifadesi Kant’ın Pratik Aklın Eleştirisi’nde bulunacaktır. Kant bizzat, yönteminin getirdiği yeniliğin, yasanın artık İyi’ye bağlı olması değil, aksine İyi’nin yasaya bağlı olması olduğunu söyler. Bu, şu anlama gelir ki, yasa artık, haklılığını buradan elde edeceği üstün bir ilke üzerine temellenmek zorunda değildir, bunun üzerine temellenemez. Bu da şu anlama gelir ki, yasanın kendi değeri kendi kendisine dayanarak biçilmeli ve yasa kendi üzerine temellenmelidir, dolayısıyla kendi biçiminden başka kaynağı yoktur. Bu andan itibaren, ilk kez, başka bir spesifikasyon olmaksızın, bir nesne işaret edilmeksizin, YASA’san söz edilebilr, söz edilmelidir. Klasik imge yalnızca, İyi’nin yetki alanlarına ve En İyi’nin şartlarına göre şu ya da bu olarak belirlenmiş yasaları tanıyordu. Aksine, Kant ahlak ”yasası”ndan söz ettiğinde, ahlak sözcüğü yalnızca, mutlak olarak belirsiz kalmış olanın belirlenmesi anlamına gelir: Ahlak yasası, bir içerikten ve bir nesneden, bir yetki alanından ve şartlarından bağımsız, saf bir biçimin temsilidir. Ahlak yasası YASA, yasayı temellendirmeye muktedir bütün üstün ilkeleri dışlayacak şekilde, yasanın biçimi anlamına gelir. Bu anlamda Kant, yasanın klasik imgesinden ilk vazgeçenlerden ve bizi tamamıyla modern bir imgenin yolunu ilk açanlardan biridir. Kant’ın Saf Aklın Eleştirisi’ndeki Kopernik tarzı devrimi, bilginin nesnelerini, öznenin etrafında döndürmeye yönelikti; ama Pratik Aklın Eleştirisi’nin, İyi’yi Yasa’nın etrafında döndürmeye yönelik devrimi kuşkusuz çok daha önemlidir. Kuşkusuz, dünyadaki önemli değişiklikleri dile getiriyordu. Yine kuşkusuz, Hıristiyan dünyanın ötesinden, Yahudi imana bir geri dönüşün son sonuçlarını ifade ediyordu; hatta belki de Platoncu dünyanın ötesinden, yasanın Sokrates öncesi (Oidipusçu) bir anlayışına geri dönüşü ilan ediyordu. Kaldı ki, Kant, yasa’YI, nihai bir temel haline getirerek, modern düşünceye başlıca boyutlardan birini, yasanın nesnesinin esas itibariyle gizli olduğu fikrini bağışlamıştı.

Bir başka boyut daha ortaya çıkar. Sorun, Kant’ın kendi sistemi içinde keşfine verdiği dengeden (ve İyi’yi kurtarma şeklinden) kaynaklanıyor değildir. Söz konusu olan daha ziyade, ilkini bütünleyen, ilkiyle aralarında bir görelilik bulunan bir başka keşiftir. Yasa artık üstün bir ilke şeklindeki İyi ile temellendirilemedikçe, kendini, adil olanın iyi niyeti şeklindeki En İyi’ye de daha fazla onaylatmaya gerek duymaz hale gelir. Zira şu çok açıktır ki, maddesiz, nesnesiz, herhangi bir spesifikasyonu olmadan, saf biçimine göre tanımlanmış YASA, ne olduğu bilinmeyen ve bilinemeyecek bir durumdadır. Kimse ne olduğunu bilmezken iş görür. Herkesin baştan beri suçlu olduğu, yani yasanın ne olduğu bilinmeksizin sınırların zaten ihlal edildiği bir kesinsizlik alanı tanımlar. Tıpkı Oidipus’un kendini içinde bulduğu durum gibi. Suçluluk ile ceza ise, bize yasanın ne olduğunu göstermezler bile, onu bu kesinsizliğin içinde bırakırlar, bu kesinsizlik ise bahsettiğimiz şekliyle cezanın en uç noktadaki kesinliğine tekabül eder. Kafka bu dünyayı betimlemeyi başarmıştır. Burada söz konusu olan, Kant’ı Kafka’ya bağlamak değil, yalnızca yasayla ilgili modern düşünceyi oluşturan iki kutbu ortaya çıkarmaktır.

Aslında, yasa artık her şeyden önce gelen ve üstün bir İyi üzerine temellenmiyorsa, içeriğini tamamen belirsiz bırakacak şekilde kendi biçimine göre değer kazanıyorsa, adilin yasaya en iyisi olduğu için uyduğunu söylemek imkansız hale gelir. Ya da daha ziyade: Yasaya uyan biri, yasaya uyduğu kadarıyla adil olmuş değildir ve öyle de hissetmez. Tersine, kendini suçlu hisseder, daha baştan suçludur ve ne kadar suçlu olursa yasaya o kadar sıkı sıkıya uyar. Aynı işlemle, yasa da kendini, saf yasa olarak gösterir ve bizi suçlular olarak atar. Klasik imgeyi oluşturmuş olan iki önerme, ilke önermesi ile sonuçlar önermesi, İyi tarafından temellenme önermesi ile adil tarafından onaylanma önermesi aynı anda çöker. Ahlaki bilincin bu fantastik paradoksunu ortaya çıkaran Freud olmuştur: Yasaya uyma ölçüsünde adil hissetmenin bir hayli uzağında, ”özne ne kadar erdemliyse, yasa da o kadar sert davranır ve o kadar büyük bir kılı kırk yarmacılık sergiler… En iyi ve en uysal varlıktaki ahlak bilincinin bu denli sıradışı sertliği…”

Dahası, paradoksun analitik açıklamasını yapan da Freud olmuştur: Ahlak bilincinden türeyen, dürtülerden vazgeçiş değildir, tersine vazgeçişten doğan ahlak bilincidir. O halde, vazgeçiş ne kadar kuvvetli ve sert ise, dürtülerin mirasçısı ahlak bilinci de o kadar kuvvetli olur ve o kadar sertlikle uygulanır. (”Bu vazgeçişin bilinç üzerine uygulanan eylemi öyledir ki, tatmin etmeyi bıraktığımız bütün saldırganlık bölümü, üstben tarafından yeniden ele alınır ve kendi saldırganlığını ben’e karşı vurgular.”) O zaman öteki paradoks da çözülür. Lacan’ın dediği gibi, yasa, bastırılmış arzuyla aynı şeydir. Çelişkisiz bir biçimde nesnesini belirleyemeyecek ya da dayalı olduğu bastırmayı ortadan kaldırmaksızın bir içerikle tanımlanamayacaktır. Yasanın nesnesiyle arzunun nesnesi birdir ve ikisi de gizlenmiştir. Freud, nesne özdeşliğinin anneye, arzunun ve yasanın özdeşliğinin kendisinin ise babaya gönderme yaptığını gösterdiğinde, yalnızca yasayı belirlenmiş içeriğe nasıl kavuşturduğunu değil, bunun neredeyse tam tersine, yasanın nasıl, Oidipusçu kaynağı gereği, nesneden olduğu kadar özneden de (anne ile baba) çifte bir vazgeçişten doğan saf biçim olarak değer kazanmak için, içeriğini zorunlu olarak gizlemekten başka bir şey yapamayacağını gösterdiğini ileri sürer.

O halde, Platon’un kullandığı, yasalar düşüncesine hükmetmiş olan klasik ironi ve mizah altüst edilmiş olur. Yasanın İyi üzerine temellenmesi ve bilgenin bunu En İyi’yi gözeterek onaylamasıyla temsil edilen çifte genişlik, hiçliğe indirgenmiş olarak bulunur. Bir tarafta yasanın belirsizliği, öbür tarafta cezanın kesinliğinden başka bir şey yoktur. Ama ironi ile mizah buradan, yeni, modern bir figür kazanır. Bir yasa düşüncesi olmayı sürdürürler, ama yasayı, ona tabi olanın suçluluğu içindeyken düşündüğü gibi, içeriğinin belirsizliği içinde düşünürler. Şu açıktır ki, Kafka mizaha ve ironiye, yasanın statüsünün değişmesiyle ilişkili olarak tam anlamıyla modern değerler katar. Max Brod, Kafka’nın Dava’sını okuduğu sırada, dinleyenlerin ve bizzat Kafka’nın gülmekten katıldığını hatırlatır. Bu, Sokrates’in ölümünü karşılayan gülüş kadar gizemli bir gülüştür. Trajiğin sahte-anlamı salaklaştırır; kimbilir ne kadar çok yazarı, onları harekete geçiren düşüncenin saldırgan komik gücünün yerine çocuksu bir trajik his koyarak, olduğundan saptırıyoruz. Yasayı düşünmenin her zaman tek bir tarzı olmuştur, bu da düşüncenin ironi ve mizahtan oluşan bir komikliğidir.

Ama işte, modern düşünceyle birlikte, yeni bir ironinin ve yeni bir mizahın imkanı doğuyordu. İroni ile mizah artık yasanın altüst edilmesine yöneltilmiştir. Yeniden Sade ve Masoch ile karşılaşırız. Sade ile Masoch, yasaya bir karşı çıkışın, yasayı kökten bir altüst edişin iki büyük girişimini temsil ederler. Yasaya ikinci bir iktidar dışında hiçbir şey bahşetmemek amacıyla, yasayı daha yüksek bir ilkeye doğru aşmaya dayanan hareketi hala ironi olarak adlandırıyoruz. Ama üstün ilke, artık yasayı temellendirmeye ve yasanın kendisine devrettiği iktidarın haklılığını göstermeye muktedir bir İyi olmadığında, olamadığında tam olarak ne olur? Sade bize bunu öğretir. Tüm biçimleriyle (doğal, ahlaki, siyasal) yasa, ikinci doğanın bir kuralıdır, her zaman muhafazası için gösterilen özneye bağlıdır ve hakiki egemenliği haksız olarak elinde tutar. Çok iyi bilinen bir şeçeneğe göre, yasanın, daha kuvvetli olanın dayattığı kuvvetin ifadesi, ya da tersine, zayıfların koruyucu birliği olarak algılanmasının pek önemi yoktur. Zira bu efendilerle bu köleler, bu kuvvetlilerle bu zayıflar bütünüyle ikinci doğaya aittir; tiranı teşvik edip yaratan zayıfların birliğidir, olmak için bu birliğe ihtiyaç duyan ise tirandır. Her halükarda yasa, gizemli kılma yöntemidir, devredilmiş bir iktidar değil, köleler ve efendilerin iğrenç karmaşıklığı içindeki, haksız yere elde tutulan bir iktidardır. Sade’ın, yasa rejimini hem tiranlığa maruz kalanlara hem de tiranlık edenlere ait olması yüzünden ne denli kınadığı fark edilecektir. Gerçekte, yalnızca yasanın tiranlığına maruz kalınmıştır: ”Komşumun tutkuları yasanın adaletsizliğinden çok daha az kaygı verir, zira bu komşunun tutkuları benimkiler tarafından engellenmiştir, oysa yasanın adaletsizliklerini hiçbir şey durduramaz, hiçbir şey engelleyemez.” Ama aynı zamanda ve özellikle, ancak yasa yoluyla tiran olunur: Tiran yasa dışında hiçbir yolla tomurcuk veremez ve Chigi’nin Juliette’te de söylediği gibi: ”Tiranlar asla anarşi ortamında doğmazlar, yalnızca yasaların gölgesindeyken yükselişe geçtiklerini ya da yetkiyi yasalardan aldıklarını görürsünüz.” Sade düşüncesinin özü budur. Tirana duyduğu kin ve yasanın tiranı mümkün kıldığını gösterme tarzı. Tiran yasaların dilinden konuşur ve başka bir dili yoktur. ”Yasaların gölgesine” ihtiyaç duyar. Sade’ın kahramanları da, artık hiçbir tiran konuşamayacakmış gibi, hiçbir tiran asla konuşmamış gibi konuşarak, bir karşı-dil oluşturarak tuhaf bir anti-tiranlıkla kuşatılmış bulunur.” Read More

Gilles Deleuze, Sacher-Masoch’un Takdimi (Çv. İnci Usal)

Norgunk Yayıncılık, 1.Baskı, Aralık 2007. Sf. 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79

via Anagram

This new collection of  challenging literary studies plays with a foundational definition of Western culture: the word become flesh. But the word become flesh is not, or no longer, a theological already-given. It is a millennial goal or telos toward which each text strives.

Both witty and immensely erudite, Jacques Rancière leads the critical reader through a maze of arrivals toward the moment, perhaps always suspended, when the word finds its flesh. That is what he, a valiant and good-humored companion to these texts, goes questing for through seven essays examining a wide variety of familiar and unfamiliar works.

A text is always a commencement, the word setting out on its excursions through the implausible vicissitudes of narrative and the bizarre phantasmagorias of imagery, Don Quixote’s unsent letter reaching us through generous Balzac, lovely Rimbaud, demonic Althusser. The word is on its way to an incarnation that always lies ahead of the writer and the reader both, in this anguished democracy of language where the word is always taking on its flesh.

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via V£R$O

Now, more than ever, one should insist on what Badiou calls the ‘eternal’ Idea of Communism.  – Slavoj Zizek
A new program for the Left after the death of neoliberalism. ‘We know that communism is the right hypothesis. All those who abandon this hypothesis immediately resign themselves to the market economy, to parliamentary democracy—the form of state suited to capitalism—and to the inevitable and “natural” character of the most monstrous inequalities.’—Alain Badiou

Badiou’s Communist Hypothesis and The Idea of Communism Conference > Resources


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Life and Death in a Raving New World (excerpt from The Life Death Drives)

The influence of Nietzsche’s concepts of the will to nothingness and eternal return are pervasive in Freud’s later work. Freud’s turn towards metapsychology and his consequent creation of the concept of the death drive is rooted in his need for something to fill in the gaps in his scientific and empirically observable theories owing much to Darwin. Freud was uneasy with the concept of the death drive on account of its non-scientific nature, but nevertheless he had to conceptualize the death drive as the counterpart of the life drive in order to be able to go beyond the pleasure principle. Educated as a neuroscientist Freud was aware that he was contradicting himself and perhaps even turning against his earlier attitude towards the human psyche by showing that at the beginning was the death drive and that the life drive was only an outcome, a kind of defense against the death drive… Read More

via senselogic

Being Without Thought: The Unconscious and the Critique of Correlationism

Being Without Thought: The Unconscious and the Critique of Correlationism I have decided to make available a short draft version of a larger work, what could probably be called my greater “project” that I am actively working on. As has been pointed out by both Nick and Ben in their recent interviews with Paul Ennis, I am part of a small group of speculative realists (a name I gladly wear) that not only defends, but attempts to expand on the tradition of psychoanalysis, or more specifically, the metaphysics of psychoanalysis… Read More

via Complete Lies.

Philosophy E-books


The Birth of Novalis: Friedrich Von Hardenberg’s Journal of 1797, With Selected Letters and Documents

Fichte Studies

Philosophical Writings


Selected Writings on Aesthetics

Another Philosophy of History and Selected Political Writings

Philosophical Writings


Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning)

The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic

The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude

The Basic Problems of Phenomenology

Schelling’s Treatise on Human Freedom

The Essence of Human Freedom: An Introduction to Philosophy

The Essence of Truth: On Plato’s Parable of the Cave and the Theaetetus

Towards the Definition of Philosophy

The Hermeneutics of Facticity


Heidegger Memorial Lectures

Hegel’s Dialectic

Philosophical Hermeneutics

The Beginning of Knowledge

Dieter Henrich

Between Kant and Hegel

The Unity of Reason: Essays on Kant’s Philosophy


Love as Passion: The Codification of Intimacy

Law as a Social System

The Reality of the Mass Media


Fear and Trembling and Repetition

Either/Or I

Librophiliac Love Letter: A Compendium of Beautiful Libraries | Curious Expeditions


Poetry E-books

Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal

C.P. Cavafy, The Collected Poems (fixed)

Fernando Pessoa, A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe

Fernando Pessoa, 35 Sonnets

Ezra Pound, The Cantos

William Carlos Williams, Collected Earlier Poems

W.B. Yeats, The Collected Poems

Dante, The Divine Comedy (bilingual edition, Mandelbaum translation)

Anon., The Epic of Gilgamesh (Andrew George trans.)

T.S. Eliot, Collected Poems, 1909-1962

T.S. Eliot, The Annotated Waste Land

Federico Garcia Lorca, Selected Poems

Homer, The Iliad (Fagles trans.)

Homer, The Odyssey (Fagles trans.)

Langston Hughes, Collected Poems

John Milton, Paradise Lost (old spelling edition, ed. Barbara K. Lewalski)

Ezra Pound, The ABC of Reading

—Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era

—Carroll F. Terrell, A Companion to ‘The Cantos’ of Ezra Pound’, I

—Carroll F. Terrell, A Companion to ‘The Cantos’ of Ezra Pound’, II

Virgil, The Aeneid (Ahl trans.)

Wallace Stevens, The Collected Poems

Walt Whitman, The Portable Whitman

William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads

John Keats, Selected Letters

Georg Trakl, Poems and Prose

Charles Olson, ‘Projective Verse’


Hart Crane

Collected Poems


Selected Letters


“A” (119 MB)


The Norton Anthology of Poetry

The Oxford Book of American Poetry

(Much thanks to Karim for all of these)

Posted by cogito
Table journals

Image via Wikipedia

I’m a little late on this, but you still have a month left to enjoy unfettered, free access to Sage Journals Online. Good times to be had for all you independent scholar types out there. … Read More

via An und für sich

• Philosophy as Biography •
• Alain Badiou •

“Nietzsche wrote that a philosophy is always the biography of the philosopher. Maybe a biography of the philosopher by the philosopher himself is a piece of philosophy. So I shall tell you nine stories taken of my private life, with their philosophical morality… The first story is the story of the father and the mother.
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. This is a lesson for philosophy itself : the language of philosophy always constructs its own space between the matheme and the poem, between the mother and the father, after all.” Read More

• VIDEO Version •


Postfelsefe nasıl hadım eder, ya da neden XI. tez tersine çevrilmeli üzerine

Postfelsefe nasıl hadım eder ya da neden XI. tez tersine çevirilmeli üzerine Benim felsefeye ilgim materyalizm ve onun eleştirel işlevi sayesindedir: bilimsel bilgiyi onun mistifiye edilmiş tüm ideolojik bilgiselliğinin karşısına almaktır. Ahlaki temelde bir mit ya da yalan karşıtlığından değil, onların akılcıl ve sistematik eleştirisinden bahsediyorum. – Louis Althusser [kaynak]

Burada bır zamandır okumaya çalıştığım bir felsefi metinden kısaca sözetmek istiyorum. Zira şu ana dek metnin sadece 2 bölümünü yani 50 sayfasını okuyabildim. Bu da kitabın sadece 3′te 1′ine tekabül ediyor. Şunu itiraf etmek zorundayım: Bu 50 sayfayı okumak bana 500 sayfa okumak gibi geldi. Bunun nedenlerinin başlıcaları arasında benim “felsefeci” olmadığım gerçeği yatıyorsa da, bundan öte metnin Kant sonrası felsefeye, modernist felsefeye olan özgün eleştirisinin ince noktaları ve ziyadesiyle yoğunluğu okunuşunu zorlaştırdığını eklemek gerekiyor. Halbuki metnin son yılların felsefi metinleri içerisinde en yalın, en tutarlı, en takip edilebilir bir dille yazıldığını düşünmeme rağmen, bu böyle oldu. Yazar: Quentin Meillassoux, Kitap: After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity on Contingency (Sonluluk Sonrası : Vukuu Belli Olmamanın Gerekliği Üzerine Bir Deneme)… Read More

via Mutlak Töz

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