There is no undifferentiated pool of eternal objects constituting a continuum of temporal qualities, divided or spatialized by actual entities. On the contrary, each eternal object uniquely contributes or adds indetermination to each set of actual entities in so far as each eternal object ‘stands a determinateness as to the relationship of A [an eternal object] to other eternal objects’ (1978: 160). Eternal objects explain internal relations as ‘a systematic mutual relatedness’ where each eternal object has a status (1978: 161). Eternal objects are not temporal forms of relations but are permanent and infinite sets of eternal objects, isolated from their individual essences. They are relata in the uniform schema of relational essences, where each eternal objects stands internally within all of its possible relationships (1978: 164). Whitehead explains that there is a uniform scheme of relationships between the infinite sets of eternal objects, which acquire a togetherness of their individual essence once they are included in an actual entity. This means that for any actual occasion ‘a’ there is a group of eternal objects ingredient in that actual occasion. Since any given group of eternal objects may form the base of an abstractive hierarchy of relation, there is an abstractive hierarchy associated with any actual occasion ‘a’. This associated hierarchy is ‘the shape, or pattern, or form, of the occasion, insofar as the occasion is constituted of what enters into full realization’ (1978: 170).
By quali-quantitatively describing biological (phenotypic) complexity as anti-entropy, it has been possible to reconstruct Gould’s phenomenal curb of increasing complexity in evolution as the random diffusion of increasing biomass over time and anti-entropy, a way of specifying this dynamics of a potential of variability, restricted to the diffusion of bio-mass over this peculiar space of observables. This mathematizes Gould’s intuition that the random diffusion of life entails increasing complexity just because of the original symmetry breaking due to the formation of the first living entity, which is considered by principle, of “least complexity” (an arbitrary, butsound, axiomatic choice). Gould calls this asymmetry, the “left wall of life”, its origin, whatever this may have been. In general, any diffusion is based on random paths which randomly propagate, by local interactions, the initial symmetry breaking, due, in this case, to the existence of the “left wall”. Humans, thus, are just one of the possible outcomes of the random complexification of bacteria, via many intermediate random explorations, mostly unsuccessful. Yet, these random explorations are, on average, slightly biased towards increasing complexity, as they propagate the original asymmetry. That is, occasionally, the random distribution of changes yields a more complex structure, slightly more often than simpler ones. Intuitively, the ecological niches of simpler organisms are slightly more occupied, thus another “simple” new organism has slightly less chances to survive than a more complex one. And this is so just by local “bumps” towards the right, similarly to the local asymmetric bouncing towards the right of the particles of a gas diffusing from an explosion against a wall on the left.
Freedom is doing what you ought, not doing what you want. This is not a new idea. But functionalism and inferentialism together allow one to develop it systematically, the upshot being that freedom can only be understood in an intrinsically rational capacity, and that the rejection of rationality is tantamount to the rejections of freedom, since the possibility of the latter depends essentially on the possibility of the former. These are not new ideas, but their familiarity masks their potential radicallity. The post-modern assault on rationality generates a climate in which impulse masquerades as freedom – but of course all our impulses are conditioned, controlled and (increasingly) manufactured, so that ultimately only the ability to relay conceptually generated impulses can block the tyranny of impulsiveness. Freedom is a cultural achievement, not a biological birthright: it is conceptual compulsion supplanting biological impulsion. This is the second component: alienation is a positive condition.
Love is anti-natural in man. When a man loves a woman, it is not about a symbiotic biological relation aimed at procreation; it is the anti-natural, suicidal relation by which man is prepared to sacrifice himself for the loved woman. Human friendship is not the cooperation between two individuals in view of a particular task, but the readiness of of an individual to allow another to alter him. If man loves, it is because he has overcome his natural condition, and in the case of humans, love is a “spiritual thing.” Vampyroteuthis on the contrary, is a “naturally loving” being. The orgiastic love between the sexes, the love for the offspring, and the love between identical siblings is genetically programmed. If Vampyroteuthis loves, it is because he is relapsing into his animalistic condition. It is hate that is a “spiritual thing” in him.
The infinite process of theoretical knowledge does not advance by attempting to grasp an ‘uncorrelated absolute’ through a philosophical ‘ruse’ capable of discontinuously leaping over the subject’s shadow, but instead through a continual deepening of scientific labour seeking to locally absolve it from its conjunctural transcendental limitations, expand its categorical, critical, and methodological tools, and progressively subsume its unreflected conditions and presuppositions. Far from any ‘humanist’ or ‘idealist’ reduction of scientific rationality, this reflection upon the transcendental localization of the subject of science should allow the latter to radicalize the inhuman scope of knowledge by producing a differential surplus value of unconditionality and universality. In other words, such a reflexive torsion should permit the subject of science to continuously go through the transcendental glass and force its progressive escape from the transcendental anthropocentrism of pre-critical science: it is necessary to think the particular—empirical and transcendental—localization of the subject of science within the real in order for theoretical reason not to be too human.
According to this speculative sublation of transcendental critique, we must disclaim the dogmatic thesis according to which we cannot vary our transcendental ‘position’ vis-à-vis a given object. Indeed, transcendental reflection opens the possibility of generalizing Husserl’s method of variation to transcendental variations, which is to say to modifications of the particular transcendental structure that makes our experience possible. In this way, transcendental critique must permit us to absolve our experience from its pre-modern attachment to a particular transcendental Arche-Earth. Whereas each particular transcendental structure—like for instance the transcendental structures of a crystal, a baobab, an elephant, a human being, or a robot—defines a horizon of co-given profiles for every adumbrated object, the transcendental variations define a (non-)horizon of co-given horizons, which will be called extended phenomenal plane. Strictly speaking, the extended phenomenal plane is not itself a sort of ‘cosmic’ horizon, since it is not defined by any particular transcendental structure. In other terms, the extended phenomenal plane of impersonal experience is not Arche-Earth centered. In this way we can oppose the infinite ‘adumbrated’ depths of the extended phenomenal plane—with its intrinsic structure of unveiling and concealment—to the unsurpassable critical bifurcation between phenomena and noumena. We can then define the eidos of an object as the germinal generator of its extended phenomenal sheaf of ‘profiles’. This means that the eidos generates one set of orbits of profiles for each possible phenomenological horizon. Hence, the phenomenological dehiscence generated by the object’s eidos extends far beyond the horizon defined by any particular transcendental structure. We could say that the suspension of the critical restriction of experience to a single phenomenological horizon opens experience to the extended phenomenal plane into which ‘flowers endlessly open’.
Why not regularly regard others in subpersonal terms, as mechanisms, when it strikes ‘you’ as advantageous? Or, more troubling still, is this simply coming to terms with what you have been doing all along? The ‘pragmatism’ once monopolized by ‘taking the intentional stance’ no longer obtains. For all we know, we could be more a confabulatory interface than anything, an informatic symbiont or parasite–our ‘consciousness’ a kind of tapeworm in the gut of the holy neural host. It could be this bad–worse. Corporate advertisers are beginning to think as much.
With this different conception of metaphysics Schelling attempted to develop a system that would overcome the problems of all previous systems while encompassing within it all their achievements. Pre-eminently, he was concerned to overcome the problems of Kant’s system of philosophy without abandoning the new dimensions opened by Kant’s focus on the conditions for knowledge. However, situating this historically, Schelling saw the dualism in Kant’s philosophy as an echo of the deeper and more problematic dualism introduced into philosophy by Descartes. Not only did he see the conception of the subject struggling to know the world as a further development of Descartes’ cogito, but saw the source of this conception of the subject and the problematic status of knowledge in a physical world as due to the mechanistic view of physical existence. While nature was conceived in a way that made it amenable to mathematical analysis, this rendered life, consciousness and freedom unintelligible. To address this problem he concluded that it is necessary not merely to circumscribe the validity of the Newtonian conception of physical existence as Kant had done, but to challenge and replace it.
Like Nietzsche, I think nihilism is a consequence of the ‘will to truth’. But unlike Nietzsche, I do not think nihilism culminates in the claim that there is no truth. Nietzsche conflated truth with meaning, and concluded that since the latter is always a result of human artifice, the former is nothing but a matter of convention. However, once truth is dismissed, all that remains is the difference between empowering and disempowering fictions, where ‘life’ is the fundamental source of empowerment and the ultimate arbiter of the difference between life-enhancing and life-depreciating fictions. Since the abandonment of truth undermines the reason for relinquishing illusion, it ends up licensing the concoction of further fictional narratives, the only requirement for which is that they prove to be ‘life-enhancing’.
I consider myself a nihilist precisely to the extent that I refuse this Nietzschean solution and continue to believe in the difference between truth and falsity, reality and appearance. In other words, I am a nihilist precisely because I still believe in truth, unlike those whose triumph over nihilism is won at the cost of sacrificing truth. I think that it is possible to understand the meaninglessness of existence, and that this capacity to understand meaning as a regional or bounded phenomenon marks a fundamental progress in cognition.
Capital distinguishes itself from Hegel’s philosophy in its motivation. The end of Capital is never the ‘absolute Spirit’. Capital reveals the fact that capital, though organizing the world, can never go beyond its own limit. It is a Kantian critique of the ill-contained drive of capital/reason to self-realize beyond its limit. It is interesting to note that it was already Adorno, who in Three Studies on Hegel, critically characterized Hegel’s system in the same ‘financial’ terms as a system which lives on credit that it can never pay off. The same ‘financial’ metaphor is often used for language itself. Brian Rotman, among others, has defined meaning as that which is always ‘borrowed from the future’, relying on its forever-postponed fulfilment-to-come. For how do shared meanings emerge? Through what Alfred Schuetz called ‘mutual idealization’: the subject cuts the impasse of an endless probing into the question ‘do we all mean the same thing by the term “bird”?’ by simply presupposing and acting as if we do mean the same thing. There is no language without this ‘leap of faith’.