The Ko’an of Extinction

Xenogothic has written a reply to my last post that demands a response. The need to reply comes from the fact that it hits on philosophical touchstones that I had included in the first draft of Deeply Adaptive Patchworking but that I’d culled from a desire to keep a focus on the practical component. The point of that post had been simply to reorient conversations on patchwork from fantasy to imagination (a Kantian distinction). Having done that I feel a little freer to return to the material I’d culled, Eugene Thacker’s discussions of the world-in-itself and extinction.
The World-In-Itself
When I’d written the section on global weirding I had Eugene Thacker’s world-in-itself very much on my mind. Thacker will talk about the world-in-itself as the world as it resists us in its stubborn and surprising refusals to be domesticated by reason. These escapes are total, ruining the vanities of theoretical and practical reasoning, as well as aesthetic judgement, often leaving us petrified in dreadful clutches of a terrible sublime.

The world-in-itself is a paradoxical concept; the moment we think it and attempt to act on it, it ceases to be the world-in-itself and becomes the world-for-us. A significant part of this paradoxical world-in-itself is grounded by scientific inquiry – both the production of scientific knowledge of the world and the technical means of acting on and intervening in the world.  

The world-for-us corresponds to the world in our various comportments, to the world as it correlates to human cognitive and instrumental projects. The world-for-us is the world of the human interior, the one that our perception and philosophies have constructed. To it belongs all of human endeavour such that any scientific disclosure of that world is a necessary and accidental elusion of it. It is impossible to represent the world-in-itself because to do so draws it into a system of reference that always closes the circle on that human interior, returning us continually to ourselves.
Thus the paradox that our knowledge of the world-in-itself comes from methodologies incapable to making genuine contact with it. This can be taken as a simple statement of epistemic humility, a recognition that the map is not the territory. In a stronger variant it risks the humiliation of modernity. The world-for-us is the world-simulation that we live inside and that is the subject of all our scientific discourse. Notice that this doesn’t imply that the world-in-itself is fundamentally inaccessible, only that our best mode of access operates inferentially.
Consider the deep mysteries of quantum mechanics and the logical entailment of Darwinian inflected neurobiology. These are probably our most advanced scientific projects and the world they describe is one that doesn’t resemble anything even vaguely like our naive ontologies. Worse, they suggest that the classical ontology of objects is systematically erroneous because the mind-independent environment has selected for them. Perception is adaptive rather than veridical. We know these things about the world-for-us through the scientific successes that allows us to tentatively describe the world-in-itself. Yet in doing so we’re returned to the fact that even these feats are components of our world-simulation, the world-for-us, and that behind the mathematics the world-in-itself continues to recede.
Thacker will explain that

Even though there is something out there that is not the world-for-us, and even though we can name it the world-in-itself, this latter constitutes a horizon for thought, always receding just beyond the bounds of intelligibility.

The world-in-itself recedes beyond the bounds of intelligibility. The deeper we go the more incomprehensible the world shows itself to be.
Thacker’s concerns link up to my own directly in the next sentence. There he will write that

Tragically, we are most reminded of the world-in-itself when the world-in-itself is manifest in the form of natural disasters. The discussions on the long-term impact of climate change also evoke this reminder of the world-in-itself, as the specter of extinction furtively looms over such discussions.

This is the dynamic of global weirding. It is the slow and sudden upsurge that reveals the real as that which lay always on the other shore of reality.
From this he will go on to discuss another distinction, the-world-without-us. This is the world as imagined in all our post-extinction fantasies. It’s the world of an apparently morbid imagination that conjures scenes of humanity’s utter desolation. An inhuman thought that thinks species-being as species-disappearance; an absolute proletarianisation that tempts us to believe with utter despondency that impersonal destiny lies in ruin. It’s a temptation that ends in the thirst for annihilation and that crests on the heights of despair.
Yet the world-without-us incorporates us as our own witness, a paradoxical survivor able to survey its own world-simulation running in its absence. For Thacker it’s this world-without-us that intrigues. It’s the world-without-us that harkens from world to planet. The world-in-itself is earth and it’s that manifestation that occludes the planet in its very manifesting. Thacker will tell us that planet presents us with an antinomy because it too is another conceptual demarcation, another categorisation of discursive thought. To think the planet is to have the planetary slip beyond our thinking.
In fact these paradoxes resemble the structure of the ko’an. The ko’an is a device used in Rinzai Zen that is a problem that lacks a solution that is given to the student. The novice must come before the master in ritual context to present his solution to the insoluble. The point is to demonstrate the deep inadequacy of conceptual thinking in an embodied experiential way. In Thacker’s language, it’s to show how the world fails to solve the planet. What’s striking in the ko’an is that it uses logic to show the inadequacies of logic and deploys language to gesture allusively beyond language. In this sense then, global weirding is the earth that refuses containment in either world or planet.
At this point where are we but in mysticism? Haven’t we been there for some time? The paradoxes that mount around us. The deepening mystery of the world that Thacker reads as tragic. There is undoubtedly tragedy in natural disasters and climatic breakdown but that derives from the suffering they cause and the threat of extinctions, human and nonhuman, and our apparent powerlessness in the face of them. The other side of the equation, the humiliation of thought, has another aspect, one less bathed in pathos. It’s this turn towards mysticism understood as an attentive immersion in the mystery of experience. To put it another way, it’s to awaken our participation in the mystery of the world.
That could sound dismissive. It could come over that I’m minimising the realities of climatic breakdown and its various horrors. Yet I’m very alive to those grim scenarios and my thinking about patchwork is entirely oriented by them. The deeply adaptive ecotechnic community is one seeking to mitigate and prevent whatever harm it can. Looming always in the darkness, behind every particular jolt or laceration we could endure, is death, and, exceeding that, the “existential risk” of human extinction.
This will lead Thacker to draw his tripartite division of world/earth/planet into that thought of extinction. In lurid and poetic prose he will tell us that

Beyond these specters there is the impossible thought of extinction, with not even a single human being to think the absence of all human beings, with no thought to think the negation of all thought.

The thought of extinction is impossible because in extinction there is no one left to think it. The disappearance of humanity is the end of thought and thus the end of thought of extinction. In relative extinction of one mammalian species there is the absolute extinction of thought itself. Thacker will present a history of the thought of extinction that situates it firmly as a scientific concept deployed in scientific contexts. The thought of extinction is very much a thought, a cognitive designation, and it’s one that possess a peculiar relation to ontology. Thacker elaborates his history in order to draw us into the knotted relationships between the thought of death and the thought of extinction, the thought of the life-and-death of the individual and the thought of the life-and-death of the species, ‘the dichotomy of existence and non-existence’.

We will follow Thacker through a series of questions that terminate in what is the ramifying question. He will ask

Who is the witness of extinction? In the case of the extinction of all human beings, who is it that gives testament to this extinction, to the very thought of extinction? In this sense extinction can never be adequately thought, since its very possibility presupposes the absolute negation of all thought.  

So we return to the impossibility of the thought of extinction and to the thought of extinction as the impossibility of thought. This antinomy of extinction is another insoluble problem for thought in thought. And doesn’t this reveal the antinomy as ko’an, a thought that points beyond thought, towards its own intimate outside?
Thacker will point towards another outside, the ‘world outside’ that Xenogothic highlights when he draws on Thacker in his reply. This is another kind of intimate outside, an unredeemable hollow. Thacker will argue that  

if absolute extinction implies that there can be no thought of extinction, then this thought in itself leaves but one avenue open: that extinction can only be thought, that it can only be said to exist, as a speculative annihilation.

There is a subtle but important ambiguity here. If extinction is a speculative annihilation this is because it can only be said to exist if it can be thought. This seems unproblematic on first blush. How could something be said to exist if it couldn’t be thought? On a second reading we can see that this is exactly where the problem lies.
Is Thacker saying that something can be said to exist only if it can be thought or is he saying that is can only exist if it can be thought? This is an epistemological problem that takes us to the heart of the context his Horror of Philosophy was written in: speculative realism. Is Thacker’s suggestion that extinction only takes place if there is a witness to designate it or is he saying that extinction only “takes place” if there is this witness. Extinction as an event belongs to the silence of the planet and its thought can only be part of the furniture of the world. Thus we’re enmeshed in an ever spiralling paradox.
Nonetheless it seems like Thacker is intimating that the category of extinction has priority over the event. The event of extinction that takes place is not “extinction” but to consider it a speculative annihilation seems to risk the negation of the real because of the collapse of reality. Extinction as concept and as articulation are dissociable from the actual disappearance of the species. Has Thacker gotten so caught up in the paradoxes of discursive thinking that he’s lost sight of the world? The possibility of extinction is, after all, the possibility of the disappearance of worlding. Speculative though this may be, it would comprise a very real annihilation.
Thacker will conclude that

Extinction is a void – or, perhaps, a biological void, a form of life that is neither biological life (the death of the organism) nor the existence of a set (the persistence of a species). In extinction, the set is related to life by the way in which the death of life leads to emptiness or the empty set. Extinction is the null set of biology… Extinction is the non-being of life that is not death.

This void is a ‘non-being that is not nothing’. Thacker will draw on Levinas to characterise non-being as provoking ‘the quite gothic fear of a something whose thingness is under question’. This gothic non-being takes Thacker into a discussion that takes him into the heart of horror and towards into the heart of his own cosmic pessimism.
Yet elsewhere, outside the horror of philosophy, Thacker will encounter that Zen Buddhism that brought forth the ko’an as a methodology for awakening to enlightenment. Thacker will write a short essay for the Japan Times on the work of Kyoto School founder Keiji Nishitani. Here we meet Thacker’s haunting void head-on. He will write of Nishitani that

At the center of his philosophy lies the problem of nihilism, what he called “the abyss of nihility” — the absence of any meaningful relationship between the human being and the nonhuman world into which it is cast. But this was not just a subjective dilemma for Nishitani. Attentive to the rapid changes in mid-20th-century Japan and across the globe, Nishitani sought to comprehend “the tendency to lose the human” in a world at once post-industrial and postmodern. The questions he posed are still relevant, specifically to our recent concerns about the climate and planet. Rather than ignore this abyss, Nishitani sought to go deeper into it. As he once put it, “the fundamental problem of my life has always been, put simply, the overcoming of nihilism through nihilism.”

The overcoming of nihilism through nihilism could express the founding spirit of synthetic zero, beginning as it did as a site for the collective search for what we then called a post-nihilist praxis. It may be small wonder that I would turn from that towards Buddhism.
Thacker writes that Nishitani’s philosophy orbits around an abyss. That abyss is the void at the heart of cosmic pessimism – the failure of the ‘meaningful relationship between the human being and the nonhuman world’. Thacker will use Nishitani as a pivot to introduce what he calls ‘the concept of sunyata’. Thacker will explain that sunyata is the sanskrit term for emptiness that is often translated as nothingness. He will further explain that

this is not nihilism as typically understood, this nothingness is no void that must be filled: sunyata is not some thing in itself nor some empty container in which things exist and persist. It is, paradoxically, “the point at which everything around us becomes manifest in its own suchness.”

And here we see the error that explains Thacker’s pessimism. In fairness it’s an error that rests on a fundamental misperception that most of us make at one point or another. It’s the same misperception that lead the first wave of Westerners to encounter Buddhism to consider it a nihilistic and death worshipping cult of nothingness. Hegel would write of the Buddhists that

They say that mere Nothingness is the basis of all things; that all things are brought out of this Nothing and out of the mingling of the elements, and must tend back there again; that all phenomena, both living and non-living, are only different from one another in form and in superficial properties: upon examination/contemplation of phenomena or basic elements, however, nothing besides remains.

Thacker at least can’t be judged as mistaking emptiness as ‘mere Nothingness’ or as an absolute negation. Nor does he make the mistakes of Buddhist Romanticism or make a repackaging of German Idealism in exotic garb (cf. Edward Conze). Nonetheless Thacker does make a serious error here and it’s telling for development of pessimism. I don’t say for his pessimism because ther error extends to all those who gaze into the abyss as though it were the case that over here is the gazer and over there is the abyss.
Thacker’s error is there in his Nishitani article when he talks about ‘the concept of sunyata’. If there is one thing that all Buddhist traditions and lineages share across vast geographical and temporal distances it’s that emptiness is not a concept. If emptiness were a concept then Buddhism would only be philosophy. The fact is that Buddhism is not a philosophy, although it contains aspects very like it (View) and, in some of its guises, makes use of it, instrumentalising it for soteriological purposes. In Buddhism we don’t seek to speculate for speculation’s sake but in order to live the view.
I risk getting ahead of myself so I’ll come back to focus on sunyata. Emptiness is experienced directly in sitting meditation as the cessation of discursive thought and the abundant presence of awareness. Emptiness as an experience that the word “emptiness” points to are distinct, the experience being irreducible to the pragmatic concept that tries (and fails) to pick it out. Emptiness is not nothingness of any kind and is experienced as and within its own self-expression as form. Roughly, form corresponds to stability, solidity, permanence, to an ontology of things that are discrete and discontinuous with one another. Form is the world of things (including the world of persons). Emptiness is insubstantiality, impermanence, indistinctness. Where form is certain and clear, emptiness is all shimmering ambiguity. In the kind of Buddhism I’m learning, trying to learn, hoping to learn, there is the third term “nonduality”. The recognition of nonduality is the recognition that our recognition of the world of form is a misrecognition. Nonduality is the continuous oscillation or wavering that takes place between form and emptiness.  In this View the nondual experience is the open awareness of the dance of forms that takes place within and as emptiness. In the Zen Buddhism of Dogen we will likewise find that the world of form is the world of emptiness in its creative self-expression.
In the last few years David Chapman has been rearticulating this distinction as pattern and nebulosity. I think this is helpful given the use of pattern in Western philosophy. It’s also helpful because nebulosity casts emptiness at a far remove from any idea of emptiness. If there is another language we could cast it in that would be more familiar to readers of patchwork theory it might be DeleuzoGuattarian. This is an unthought-out suggestion that is being articulated more as a rough guide than as a serious scholarly translation. That said, we can risk suggesting that form is something like reality and emptiness is something like desiring-production. The goal of living the view is akin to an aesthetic goal that seeks to attain the purposive purposiveness. To live the view is to awaken to the always already being within the nondual state.
This endless oscillation is neither gloopey flux nor the abyss or void of nonbeing. The very categories of being and nonbeing, existence and nonexistence, seem to fail to apply to the nondual nature of experience and reality. The ‘quite gothic fear’ of the abyss is a deeply mistaken perception that takes patterns-in-nebulosity (or nebulosity-as-patterning) as if they were patterns-without-nebulosity; it is the very basic neurosis that constitutes the dual state that function to produce the separation between self and world to begin with. That the planet slips behind the world is to miss the fact that the planet continuously comes forth as the world. The world is the self-expressive experience of the planet. Thus the horror of the outside is the horror of duality when it realises that there is nothing but impermanence and nonseparation.
At the core of the Buddhist view is the diagnosis of this neurotic pattern of duality throughout human experience. This is as true for ontology as it is for morality (good and evil) or hedonic tonality (pleasure and pain). In the ontological realm duality manifests itself in an extreme version of the dichotomy between Eternalism and Nihilism. Briefly, eternalism refers to all doctrines that assert some kind of Oneness or Order to the order of things, and that treats things and people as permanent and distinct. When people come to realise the error of eternalism they tend to jump to Nihilism with its symmetrically opposite set of beliefs. This is where the thought of being and nonbeing, existence and nonexistence, even of nonbeing that is not a negation, comes from. It is this pattern of duality that Buddhism departs from.
Spiritual Agorphobia
Thacker’s gothic fear is the common human fear that arises when the belief in permanence is threatened. It’s the fear that comes from our belief in our own ontological security is taken away from us and we’re left exposed and raw and overwhelmed. This experience can happen in sitting meditation as much as it can in the face of climatic breakdown. It’s the fear of a self that doesn’t exist (in the way it thinks of existence) being swallowed up by a void that doesn’t exist (in the way it thinks of existence). It’s the fear of the breakdown of the relationship between human beings and the nonhuman world that culminates in the nihilism that despairs over its ability to locate meaning in the face of extinction. It’s nothing less than the fear of the outside that is sunyata.
This is what it means to ask Thacker’s ramifying question: ‘Who is the witness of extinction?’ The question asks about subjectivity. It asks about the persistence of subjectivity beyond its own existential and speculative limits. It hints towards posthuman dreams of immortality. The witness remembers and in being remembered we will have been witnessed and allowed the dignity of the concept of extinction. It’s the paradox at the heart of the nondual state: if there is no self then who is it that is enlightened?
Ultimately, it’s a fear that grips us all and that can only be proliferating in the face of the our global weirding. It’s that fear that draws us towards the need for anticipatory and open adaptive responses. Meditation is great and all, but it can’t stop the event of extinction in the real any more than philosophy can.
And so we return to the ko’an of extinction and the realities of climatic breakdown, endless and terrible meditations on interpenetration and impermanence that can, perhaps, be taken as the impetus for the active cultivation of new subjectivities and new practices of living, and grieving, in these, our beautiful charnel grounds.
Does the thought of extinction end in the morass of pessimism and speculative annihilation? Or does it produce the seeds of rebellion and experimentation? Do we wilt in resignation, or act with the nobility of compassion even as we relinquish that which must be let go?


26 responses to “The Ko’an of Extinction

    • I just call it Buddhism. In the last few months as its dawned on me how I am consistently not living the view I’ve become happier to call myself a Buddhist. I’d sooner call myself a Buddhist than a communist (not that these are necessarily at odds).

      • It really is kind of the time of the meeting of western and eastern philosophy I think.

        I’m not up on all the hip terms though 😄. I just kind of made up my own terms. Lol.

        I’ll have toook Into it

      • I love it . But I am prone to saying like why do we need such an extensive rhetoric about something that is so simple?

        It’s like difference as difference.

        Nothing as nothingness.

        I appreciate you calling at a Koan. Because it implies a teaching. But a teaching that cannot be conveyed directly.

        I would submit that the annihilation or extinction that everyone seems so bothered about are interested in however one would put that, is indeed punctuated by a break that is completely non-philosophical. And so I think the irony of the Koan is it is an effort of contradiction, founded Soli within the contradiction, and attempt to teach something which cannot be Learned through kind of academic knowledge. The academic knowledge needs to come to an understanding of its hole futility, then the message is conveyed, but still the meaning the event the extinction may not occur.

        My work tens more in this area. I have realized that there is no teaching anyone this “ultimate truth” however anyone would want to phrase it where to find it or put it into whatever types of terms. And so I feel that your post here serves a purpose absolutely.
        But indeed I think what is more significant is the problem that it presents.

        Thank you so much because I need to be challenged.

  1. I am a little curious (perhaps you could direct me to) of why the indication is to ‘what does not belong’ in relation to what is familiar. It kind of sounds like a hedging if bets. Like one never takes the step.

  2. So should I imagine that the same way fundamentalist Christians cannot entertain ideas that do not conform with the terms of Biblical discourse and basically discount any discussion that does not agree with their theological sense therein, that Landian runoff accelerationalist philosophers are incapable of entertaining thoughts that do not conform with their own dogmatic schema?

    Perhaps that really is what ‘patchwork’ is? A theological system that accounts for itself through a justification of not considering ideas that do not use their jargon ? Like thus the ‘patchwork’ tells of where the dogmatic lines should be drawn for the congregants ?

    And, should I feel I will get my affirmative answer through silence ?

    • All dogmas anchor certain semantic connections such that you will find resistance when they are challenged. That is that nature of doxic thought. It will depend on the person whether they are cognitively flexible/agile enough to consider competing illusions and reform them into something bridgeable between individuals or groups. One thing to remember about us postnihilists is that ALL our ideas are on auto-destruct. What is constantly negated is the theological mindset itself. With this as key operator, persistence in following any strain of thought or conceptual cluster to reach some productive conclusions (which are then also to be dismantled) is a sign of due diligence and hard-work rather than subscription to the spectacle of discursive idols. And silence is sometimes just mental hygiene when a particular line of thought or discussion might not yield positive results.

      • Thx. Yes. I agree: All dogmas. But this is not the same as saying “all Beings occur through dogmas”or that “interaction of dogmas yield beneficial results”.

        And I am not sure that I am a post nihilist. these ways of referring do so in reference to an implicit argument, as though the argument and the discussion is Not only getting to root causes of ontological establishment, but Also as if toward or from an essence of being human.

        I’m not sure that nihilism has left me in anyway. I’m not sure that I am post nihilist. Except that post nihilist is something that I have to deal with in the situation I find myself in reality.

        The difference is what I call in an orientation upon objects. And by this I do not mean to indicate that there is a multiplicity of orientations upon objects.

        So I could say that your response there is defending a dogma, And add that in a sort of redundant fashion; because it indeed this was the case then the case has already argued it self and doesn’t really need to be stated as such – for if I have to stayed it, if I have to spell it out I’ve actually created a nihilistic argument about the state of things.

        But I do not say this to set you aside or say that somehow you were wrong or that a dogma is necessarily incorrect against some sort of essential exit stencil mandate or something. I mean it only in the sense that that is one way to view things; not one way in like I have my own opinion and so that’s one way to view things: this very idea would be a dogmatic way of viewing the world based on this traditional idea of philosophy. But indeed that is one way of viewing: it is a particular way of viewing that corresponds with ideological notions of cosmology that extend not merely only from or to the individual agent. I’d say

      • But yes.: cognitive flexiblity. Perhaps that is what I am addressing. Can this be taught? Perhaps we should teach this aspect of philosophy before we get to the argumentative positions ??

        • That’s all the postnihilist turn is: working towards cognitive flexibility for the purposes of adapting to various situations. The nihilist has realized the fantasy character of semiosis, but the postnihilist does not stop there, because embodied and embedded life continues – so they accept the illusory production of signs and begin to move through dogmas as detritus to be sorted in order to use it for varying projects, always in the interest of optimizing coping and creativity.

          Should we train for that? Absolutely. I’m not a philosopher so I don’t have dog in this fight, but I think philosophy always need to be aligned with it’s roots in the search for practical wisdom and improved social relations.

          • I think Deleuzian completion is a kind of self-contradicting contradiction. It thus is not necessarily incorrect as a description of things, but it describes how consciousness is able to function. But precisely because it does very well as justifying how worlds are constructed, ie its conceptual and structural defaults lead to a further confirmation of its own sensibility. One can not argue into this. Cannot discount such a self-fulfilling sense: It is how consciousness is Able to function. And while it can describe and anticipates certain results, a view of such mechanism can be viewed as a cars eingines can be viewed. Most Deluezians will argue from the operation of the motor running For Everyone. This is why no inroads can be made to show where it fails: Becuase it is unable to view its ‘running’ without including all things into this relational ‘running’.

            • Landzek,

              Are you critiquing Deleuze, or Deleuzians, and if the latter, which Deleuzians? It’s not enough to say that they fail, or that they fail to account for their failings. No doubt this is true in many quarters, but assaulting things in such a broad generality is hardly a passable critique, no? (might also be worth mentioning that approaching things, both the critical process and the object of critique, through the lenses of generality is precisely the sort of thing Deleuze attacks)

              You’re correct that Deleuze (both solo and in his work with Guattari) advances a transcendental structure, and that there is no recourse to pre-Kantian assumptions about the nature of experience. But there is a world of difference between this and mechanistic philosophies; beginning from the position of difference or that of pure surplus means that the structure is also subjected to the threat of explosion, and therefore the positing of a whole that can be grappled with is an impossibility (is the whole what you mean by completion?). Hence the ‘working while breaking down’ or ‘working because it breaks down’ dynamic brought to the surface in Capitalism and Schizophrenia – though it already exists in Deleuze pre-C&S work, albeit in a somewhat different guise. That’s hardly a comfortable ground for the development of mechanistic philosophy.

              Deleuze called philosophy the creation of concepts. It’s a misunderstood labeling – what he is saying is that for philosophy to cut reality at the joints, it can never be a complete venture, but must be subject to constant transformation. Thus again the specter of the impossibility of the whole, the total, or completion — which compels, at some point, the turn against Deleuze himself!

              • I am going to try to voice dictate a reply; so forgive me if some of the editing is missed.

                And then when I get back home I’ll actually type up a response if you don’t mind. I don’t know why, but when ever anyone gives me a thoughtful and considerate response to my comments I feel the compulsion to say thank you. I think it’s because I really have no intact network of friends or colleagues with which to have a discussion. So I am trying not to say thank you to everyone who gets me a thoughtful reply. lol

                …. OK!

                Yes you got me there: Deleuze or Deluezians. Well, yes I am making kind of an overgeneralization as to “those congregants of D”, And really it’s only those people that I have encountered through blogging on word press and such and whatever papers that I have may have read about here and there.
                But, it is the case that I have some difficulty in reconciling what I see of D himself, his ideas (and by the way I am by no means a scholar and D and G, so I don’t really make a distinction between the before and after, I don’t think that it really matters much so far is the point I’m trying to make) and what others use him for or what others argue about what he says I guess.

                There is so much going on here in your comment I could write a whole paper on it and I would love to and I would love to have an extended argument or extended discussion with you if that was possible. Perhaps if you’re into it we could have correspondence. The blog, at setting is somewhat limited.

                Anyways, I will try to keep to a specific points and I will try to be brief because it’s just the comments section.

                I think one of the issues that follows D everywhere I go is the question of whether we are talking about “thoughts of reason” or whether we are talking about something that is “actually occurring”. I know this is a rough discernment what I mean but hopefully you can glean what I’m getting at by those two terms.

                I feel that one of the problems with people who read D is that they do immediately conflate these two terms into one. And the reason why they do this is because D allows for this theoretically; And I mean this in the sense that what he is saying basically draws a circle around what is possible. And I understand this in the distinct sense of what D refers to himself as a metaphysician. In fact so thorough is his description of the situation at hand that I have difficulty arguing with anything he says throughout his discourses. And the things I do argue against really just confirm that there’s nothing about what he says that I can really argue against.

                It is the people who use his arguments for various types of positions (Which again, redundantly merely support what D has put forth).

                And so far as D and his works I really have nothing to say about them, because to me he is speaking factually, Such that there is very little to add or subtract.

                But I would say that it is precisely because I let his description lay where it is that what he is talking about what he is describing is able to be circumscribed as an object in itself.

                I am not able to at once be subject to what he’s talking about and his descriptions, while also being segregated from it. Due toD and his descriptions of the situation, I am able to remove myself from its reduction, from its argumentative machinery, let’s say. And though I don’t want to get into all the marks except kind of dialogue right now in this area, again I am merely reiterate and refi with D talks about by doing so. It is eternally correlational.

                The issue that I have with people that use D as an argumentative platform, is they constantly refer back to DC to make their point about how they are able to do this and that whatever. And I think my point is so long as I’m drawing upon his theoretical framework I am talking more about some “thought reason“, then I am about what is actually occurring. Again, just as D allows for in his theory.

                What is impossible given a certain set of conditions put forth by D there by circumscribes his ideas to mean a certain objectifable situation that does not fall back into having to be subject to his writ proclamations of metaphysical propriety.

                That was all voice dictated. I hope it has addressed a couple of things that you talked about, and I hope it makes a little sense enough that you might have something else to say about it. 😄

      • … I too get caught in my myopia.

        I feel like at least one of you to Mike and the guy who made this post which I’m not looking at his name right now, our educators of some sort. Perhaps that is a wrong assumption but I get the feeling.

        But perhaps you’ve touched upon something significant for philosophy.

        One of the things about the Internet is you can’t really tell who is a student (I mean we’re all students) or who is new were somewhat say novice, and someone who’s been around a while that is had a chance to have their mind opened, let’s say.

        But I find someone off and that the younger philosophers see that they’re supposed to be adamant and nearly vehement and what position they assert what position they argue. I wonder if that’s an institutional ideal?

        I mean because then perhaps what happens is as these people grow up and get in positions of authority they really have no cognitive flexibility because that’s not what they have been modeled for.

        Maybe cognitive flexibility should be one of the first things that we begin to teach young philosophers, and then emphasize that as we go forward instead of emphasizing the particular identity and career minded positions that people must develop for themselves if they are to make a living in this area, or really any area of our modern society

        perhaps if we are to enter this new world that appears in some discourses to be shut off from us, maybe one of the first things we should teach his cognitive flexibility..


      • …. I mean I feel like you guys might know Craig Hickman at least from the blogs.

        He’s got to be one of the most narrow minded people that talk about philosophy I’ve ever encountered on blogging. Granted he’s even admitted that he’s not a philosopher about whatever.

        Is he the model of how philosophy should proceed? Bogged down in limited definitions as if these things are really getting to true essence is of how we are coming as world? As if the argument about the definitions is really what’s important here? As philosophers? If philosophy is supposed to mean anything at all beyond merely another career move?

      • …I have no mentors so I have to learn from the interactions that I do get.
        So: perhaps someone can assist me in my journey:

        “ What is constantly negated is the theological mindset itself. “

        I would rephrase that to say what is constantly denied.. in the same way that if someone is an alcoholic and they don’t want to admit it in the face of facts and in the face of people telling them out right, then they live in denial. I am not exactly sure of your meaning here but I feel like you’re saying that there is some sort of ontological mandate that requires that people not notice that their “working ideology” is like a theology.

        “With this as key operator, persistence in following any strain of thought or conceptual cluster to reach some productive conclusions (which are then also to be dismantled) is a sign of due diligence and hard-work rather than subscription to the spectacle of discursive idols.”

        Again, I would say this is completely opposite of how I see it. I would see this as a type of religious dogma: The opposite of say what Kierkegaard says of spiritual work. To me this indicates that you are not including what is actually occurring and actually limiting your view to a specific feature of ontological definition and saying that that it has Omni presence or Omni potency over reality or what is “there”. I would say exactly the opposite, that it is worshiping of these idols that allows reason to posit that somebody needs to put hard work into discerning what these individual discursive items might be , as though we might uncover something more true about that particular item. To me that is a religious venture, and effort of denying what is the fact of existence.

        As well I think that’s why, in what I call conventional philosophy, we cannot have any facts and people are constantly arguing over what would be the basis for a fact. To me, this is how religion functions, in the same way that if you get into a discussion with a fundamentalist Christian about the Bible they are constantly going to refer to the Bible as an obvious lexicon of truth, and if you don’t referred to that lexicon then they discount what you have to say as inherently falls on educated and generally ignorant. As well such fundamentalist Christians will take the Bible as a reflection of the definitional lexicon and will seek into such discourses as if they were finding something that is more true or more significant about their existence .

        I would say that the hard work is questioning these discursive clusters, of breaking free from these dogmatic assertions of a privileged ideal logical reason.

        Any comments?

  3. Pingback: A Quick Note on Patchwork Subjectivities – xenogothic·

  4. ***
    Coming empty-handed, going empty-handed — that is human.
    When you are born, where do you come from?
    When you die, where do you go?
    Life is like a floating cloud which appears.
    Death is like a floating cloud which disappears.
    The floating cloud itself originally does not exist.
    Life and death, coming and going, are also like that.
    But there is one thing which always remains clear.
    It is pure and clear, not depending on life and death.
    Then what is the one pure and clear thing?

    ~from Zen Master Seung Sahn

  5. Hi Arran,
    I’ve got a 2500 word comment on your post, (it grew despite myself) Should I post it here or would that be an abuse of this medium. There does not seem to be a way to send it directly to you. I would prefer that.
    Cheers, Patrick

  6. I’ve been away for several days and returned straight into work, so apologies on dropping out of the conversation Landzek.

    On the question of whether cognitive flexibility can be taught it can be and it is. There a numerous routes to this kind of training. What they all share is that none of them are limited to a textual-discursive academic training (although they don’t exclude that either).

    I have very little to say about Deleuze one way or another. I haven’t spent enough time with his work. What I’ll say is that what appeals to me in him are the resonances I find with Buddhist and Taoist sources. Any eventual reading I have of Deleuze will probably be heavily filtered through that. It’d also be filtered through a lasting early reading from Todd May, a reading that is very different from the current reception of his work. I will say that – as unsexy as it sounds – I’m far more drawn to late Foucault and other like him who deal with questions of practice and training.

    On Hickman, we’ve all interacted with him for years. I’ve only ever found him (frustratingly) helpful.

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