This book is the companion to Difference and Disavowal: The Trauma of Eros (Stanford University Press, 2000), which dealt with the psychoanalytic clinical problem of resistance to interpretation. The key to this resistance is the unconscious registration and repudiation (disavowal) of the reality of difference. The surprising generality of this resistance intersects with Nietzsche's, Heidegger's, and Derrida's understanding of how and why difference is in general the “unthought of metaphysics.” All three see metaphysics engaged with a “registration and repudiation of (...) difference,” and all three rethink interpretation in relation to this question. The synthesis of these theories of interpretation and difference provides the philosophical foundations for a new thinking of how interpretation functions, and is a critical intersection of deconstruction and psychoanalysis. (shrink)
Differences in ethical ideology are thought to influence individuals'' reasoning about moral issues (Forsyth and Nye, 1990; Forsyth, 1992). To date, relatively little research has addressed this proposition in terms of business-related ethical issues. In the present study, four groups, representing four distinct ethical ideologies, were created based on the two dimensions of the Ethical Position Questionnaire (idealism and relativism), as posited by Forsyth (1980). The ethical judgments of individuals regarding several business-related issues varied, depending upon their ethical ideology.
The reduction of a quantum mechanical wave function by the entry of a datum into the consciousness of an observer is used, in a semirealistic neurochemical model, to bring about excitation of a nerve cell in that observer's central nervous system. It is suggested that mind can induce muscular movements by choosing to note data originating from specialized elements of the nervous system. Only the freedom to note or not to note a relevant datum is postulated for the observer's mind; (...) the consequences of either choice are deterministic on the neural scale of events, so that quantum indeterminacy is consistent with physiological determinacy. The proposed mind-body coupling depends on the possibility of the biological evolution of a macroscopic device which has strikingly different neural correlates of its pure and mixed quantum states, respectively. An example of such a device is outlined in terms of components which are familiar from existing nervous systems. (shrink)
Several different positions are classified as contractarian. Though there are variations among them, they all include the assumption that practical or action-guiding principles, among which are principles of moral justification and of political legitimacy, somehow have their basis in consent. A contractarian may or may not believe that there are other practical principles that are based on or justified by something besides consent. If he believes there are any others, there will be delicate issues to address as to whether they (...) yield prescriptions incompatible with prescriptions arising from the appropriate kind of consent. Roughly speaking, contractarians could be ordered in terms of the weight that they attach to principles grounded in consent. If we call the appropriate kind of consent contractual, then there are several options available, ranging from the admission of nothing but contract-based principles to the admission of noncontract-based principles that can sometimes conflict with principles based on contract. The pure form of contractarianism which will be our main focus admits only contract-based principles. (shrink)
The present study extends the study of individuals' ethical ideology withinthe context of marketing ethics issues. A national sample of marketing professionals participated. Respondents' ethical ideologies were classified as absolutists, situationists, exceptionists, or subjectivists using the Ethical Position Questionnaire (Forsyth, 1980). Respondents then answered questions about three ethically ambiguous situations common to marketing and sales. The results indicated that marketers' ethical judgments about the situations differed based on their ethical ideology, with absolutists rating the actions as most unethical. The findings (...) are consistent with those of two earlier studies that utilized samples of business students (Barnett et al., 1994, 1995). The results suggest that personal moral philosophy is an important influence on ethical decision making that should be considered in empirical studies of business ethics. The results also support the utility of the Ethical Position Questionnaire (Forsyth, 1980) as a means for researchers and practitioners to assess individuals' ethical ideology. (shrink)
Peer reporting is a specific form of whistelblowing in which an individual discloses the wrongdoing of a peer. Previous studies have examined situational variables thought to influence a person's decision to report the wrongdoing of a peer. The present study looked at peer reporting from the individual level. Five hypotheses were developed concerning the relationships between (1) religiosity and ethical ideology, (2) ethical ideology and ethical judgments about peer reporting, and (3) ethical judgments and intentions to report peer wrongdoing.Subjects read (...) a vignette concerning academic cheating, and were asked to respond to a question-naire concerning the vignette. Data were analyzed using structural equation methodology. (shrink)
In this in ter view, the pres ti gious an thro - pol o gist, his to rian and T.V. anaouncer, Alan Macfarlane com ments on some of the is sues that have been ad dressed in his writ ings. His main the o ret i cal con cern has been to study the pe cu - liar con di tions that gave rise to the mod e..
This small book packs a considerable theoretical and practical punch. Alan Ware challenges much received wisdom about the dynamics of two party politics. In the process, he adds considerably to contemporary discussion of the intersection of structure and agency in the development and adaptation of political systems. Ware picks out two party systems for concentrated attention because of their relative tractability in his words: these systems are ideal for analysing the capacity of parties to pursue their interests in (...) the face of both other actors within the political system and also of elements within the party itself. (shrink)
Alan Turing is known for both his mathematical creativity and genius and role in cryptography war efforts, and for his homosexuality, for which he was persecuted. Yet there is little work that brings these two parts of his life together. This paper deconstructs and moves beyond the extant stereotypes around perceived associations between gay men and creativity, to consider how Turing’s lived experience as a queer mathematician provides a rich seam of insight into the ways in which his life, (...) relationships, and working environment shaped his work. (shrink)
A major voice in late twentieth-century philosophy, Alan Donagan is distinguished for his theories on the history of philosophy and the nature of morality. The Philosophical Papers of Alan Donagan, volumes 1 and 2, collect 28 of Donagan's most important and best-known essays on historical understanding and ethics from 1957 to 1991. Volume 2 addresses issues in the philosophy of action and moral theory. With papers on Kant, von Wright, Sellars, and Chisholm, this volume also covers a range (...) of questions in applied ethics--from the morality of Truman's decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to ethical questions in medicine and law. (shrink)
Writing, the exigency of writing: no longer the writing that has always (through a necessity in no way avoidable) been in the service of the speech or thought that is called idealist (that is to say, moralizing), but rather the writing that through its own slowly liberated force (the aleatory force of absence) seems to devote itself solely to itself as something that remains without identity, and little by little brings forth possibilities that are entirely other: an anonymous, distracted, deferred, (...) and dispersed way of being in relation, by which everything is brought into question – and first of all the idea of God, of the Self, of the Subject, then of Truth and the One, then finally the idea of the Book and the Work so that this writing (understood in its enigmatic rigor), far from having the Book as its goal rather signals its end: a writing that could be said to be outside discourse, outside language. – Maurice Blanchot ( The Infinite Conversation , xi) The Compendium * Beginning with the idea and practice of writing, and moving to the subject or self, then to truth and the One, and arriving at the Book and the Work, Blanchot’s words reflect the trajectory of the following work of writing. True to the embeddedness of the subject in the work of writing, the term “Compendium” has been a metonym for me over the past few years as I have thought about the concept of totality alongside its expression in figures such as the One, the Whole, or the All. In the following I aim to share some of the content of this metonym, and to enrich it by making some distinctions. 1 Here the term “Compendium” will refer to a concept of totality that is ontological (pertaining to being, and the copula) and also textual (pertaining to the symbolic, and the signifier-signified relationship). The Compendium is a figure for thinking the world as a Book, in the broadest sense—an approach to reality that is by no means new, but one that is due for renewal. 2 In partial answer to the question of the Compendium we will say that the word ‘Compendium’ stands in for expressions which seek to totalize, or concepts which seek to approach the concept of ‘everything,’ particularly when these expressions are bound up in the question of the Book (both the book as a physical object and the Book as a metaphysical figure: a way of thinking about the work in and of writing). The question of the Compendium is strongly associated with the physical and metaphysical form of the Book, like the mysterious and symbolic books which are opened in the Biblical book of Revelation, the book of life and the book of death, which together constitute an important couplet. 3 Parataxis & Hypotaxis There are two helpful distinctions that will bring us closer to an answer to the question “What is a Compendium?” The first distinction is between two figures in and for writing: parataxis and hypotaxis . Typically paired in contrast to one another as literary techniques, with parataxis indicating a side-by-side placement of textual elements and hypotaxis referring to subordinate arrangements of textual elements, the two figures can be understood as having a philosophical significance in addition to their practical function as devices for writers. For us these two terms will remain between philosophical theory and writing practice, and serve as a perspective for our writing and creation of texts. Here I take texts to refer to anything from the concrete written words in a book, to the ontological text of the world that we experience. Parataxis , as a figural way of thinking about the ontological structure of texts, refers to texts which are tightly woven and interdependent – texts within which each sentence bears the weight of the entire work. Parataxis often involves repetition, great density, and fragility. One of the best examples of this sort of text is Theodor Adorno’s posthumous magnum opus , Aesthetic Theory . In addition to the text itself, the translation history of the book may also help us to better understand parataxis and its relation to hypotaxis . The final published version of Aesthetic Theory , in German, was a text that Adorno intended to revise and rewrite, but this intention was never realized because of his untimely death. Where the German text of Aesthetic Theory certainly exemplifies the concept of parataxis , the first English edition took this densely woven text and carved Adorno’s lengthy paragraphs and lengthy sentences into manageable ‘bite-sized’ pieces of English text. The first translator took further liberty and inserted headings and new paragraph breaks where there were none in the original. Aesthetic Theory was eventually retranslated by Robert Hullot-Kentor and is now available in a form that is much more faithful to the original work. 4 The pertinent idea that this translation history points to is the distinction between parataxis and hypotaxis . Where parataxis describes texts which are repetitive, densely woven, and often fragile, hypotaxis describes texts which are hierarchical and in which the primary relation is linear – the latter of which is very similar to the first English translation of Aesthetic Theory . On the other hand, the original German text that Adorno wrote was very dense, often repetitive, and contained long sections of text unbroken by paragraphs or headings. This example of parataxis was then turned towards hypotaxis through the initial translation which took a text that was, in many ways, nonhierarchical and nonlinear, and artificially subjected it to a hierarchy that was not its own (and here I take the word of Fredric Jameson who comments on the two translations in a note at the beginning of his book Late Marxism ). 5 The point here is not about translation, but rather the distinction between parataxis and hypotaxis precisely as they are figures for discourse, written or otherwise. The concept of parataxis looks far more postmodern and rhizomic than the concept of hypotaxis which remains very modern and arborescent. This is a more figural way of talking about the distinction. However, if we wanted to take a more precise and analytical approach we could say that on the level of form parataxis involves a relationship between sentences and paragraphs in which each part bears an equally crushing responsibility to present the whole content of the text. As well, on the level of content, parataxis requires that each concept in a work take on the full conceptual weight of the total work. Continuing the analysis, we could say that parataxis describes texts in which there is no (or very little) linear or causal move from antecedent to consequent, whether in content or form. Instead, parataxis describes texts which weave together concepts via conjugations or associations. The concept of hypotaxis , on the other hand, requires that texts submit themselves to hierarchy, one example of which is logical argumentation. The contingency of the conclusion upon premises in hypotaxis is certainly distinct from the repetition, re-presentation, and conjugation of concepts in parataxis , and I think that this is evident in the difference between the writing styles prevalent in contemporary Analytic philosophy and Continental philosophy. It is not the case that the distinction between parataxis and hypotaxis absolutely corresponds with the writing styles of Continental and Analytic philosophy (respectively). There are thinkers who take exception to this pattern, such as Badiou’s more formal approach in the discourse of Continental philosophy to give one example. However, when Analytic philosophy takes its writing lessons from the sciences, and seeks to do philosophy via the clean linear move from antecedent to consequent, then I think that Analytic philosophy writes with hypotaxis in mind. On the other hand, when Continental (particularly German and French) philosophy takes its writing lessons from narrative or poetry then Continental philosophy writes with parataxis in mind. It is not fair to say that all those writing Continental philosophy are looking to narrative and poetry for stylistic direction, just as it is not the case that all those writing Analytic philosophy have mathematics and science as their writing format, however there are some striking ways in which the differing epistemologies of Continental and Analytic philosophy encourage writing with parataxis and hypotaxis in mind (respectively). For some, writing with parataxis or hypotaxis in mind is a conscious decision and a product of stylistic self-consciousness, and for others it is an unconscious discursive and epistemic requirement that must be met in order to be involved in a particular discourse. Before moving on to our second distinction, and then an examination of the question of the Book, it is important to point out that both totality and figurations like the One, the Whole, and the All, come out of very human desires to totalize or to actualize our being-towards-totality. The relationship between identity and totality then can be construed, with Heidegger in mind, as striving toward wholeness, completion, or fulfillment, each of which is a quality of compendia. 6 Compilation & Selection The first distinction between parataxis and hypotaxis pertains to both form and content, and to both the mechanics of writing and the ideas to which writing refers. The second distinction pertains to both as well. In the process of writing and in the process of perception as well, there is a tension between compilation and selection . To begin with, in the work of theory-writing there is compilation, and this is because writing theory requires a broad perspective and certain measure of totalization. On the other hand, writing theory requires that the writer select an idea or a combination of ideas to individuate out of a radical and infinite multiplicity of identities and combinations. The concern here is not primarily for the writing of a theory about a specific idea, like a secondary work or a reference text. But rather the concern is with the writing of grand theories: Marx and Marxism, Derrida and Deconstruction, Husserl and Phenomenology, Sartre and Existentialism, Saussure and Structuralism —each of which strives along a trajectory towards being all-encompassing, whether it intends to or not. Today, we could even say that Speculative Realism has embarked on this journey, and perhaps now we could say that the discourse of Speculative Realism has reached the inevitable point after which a grand theory leaves the hands of its writer or writers and becomes a possession of the collective consciousness of the academy, or (perhaps now) the mass consciousness of the blogosphere—and this is a true pharmakon , a poison and a cure, a blessing and a curse. 7 When we write theory, whether the scope is that of a grand theory or a particular theory, we write in the tension between compilation (making good on the desire to be all encompassing) and selection (being required to decide and discern and to judge what is included in the work and what is deleted or appended or abridged or given over to ellipses). Generally speaking, the work of theory-writing often comes out of a desire to totalize, that is, to develop a theory of everything that is able to apprehend new experiences and ideas while still remaining whole. I grant that this is not a universal desire, and that not everyone who sits down to write a work (or book) of theory does so because of their will-to-totality, but it remains that this drive to totalize does condition a great many writers of theory (especially those who seek to develop grand theories like those mentioned previously). At the beginning of his book of interviews, Between Existentialism and Marxism , Sartre is quoted as saying, after completing the first volume of his Critique of Dialectical Reason : “I no longer feel the need to make long digressions in my books, as if I were forever chasing after my own philosophy. It will now be deposited in little coffins, and I will feel completely emptied and at peace—as I felt after Being and Nothingness . A feeling of emptiness: a writer is fortunate if he can attain such a state. For when one has nothing to say, one can say everything .” 8 This is where our two initial distinctions come to bear on the being-towards-totality as it is expressed in the concrete practice of writing: the first being between parataxis and hypotaxis , and the second being between compilation and selection. Where this second distinction is concerned there is a certain paradox at play given that selection is inescapable, and compilation is unachievable. Selection is inescapable (with the figure of the Compendium in mind) because, even when the imperative to compile is followed to excruciating lengths, selection still has the last word. This is why the Compendium is a figure rather than some material thing that can actually be accomplished or actualized. No matter how far one goes along with the will-to-archive and the will-to-compile, it is only ever a question of minimizing selection and never eliminating it. This leads to the second point, which is that total compilation is unachievable. The closest thing to total compilation that we have before us is the ontological and textual fabric of the world. Even in the case of the world, compilation cannot be enacted in a total fashion because of the need to include both the sphere of the actual and the sphere of the possible or potential. This as another way in which compilation is always-already selection, and further evidence that total compilation is practically impossible. Discursive Figuration and Total Writing Rather than figuration referring to a figure of speech or an image, here the term points to a way in which to think about the work of writing, both the work put into writing, and the work that is the result of writing: the finished yet incomplete final piece. As figures or figurations, the Book and the Compendium are ways of thinking about the work of writing and the human desire for the wholeness, completion, and fulfillment that are made manifest in the completed form of the book (whether a published or printed or saved document put to rest by the author). These two figures bear more strongly upon works that seek to be all-encompassing, and works that strive towards expressions of totality such as the One, the Whole, or the All. Moving on to the topic of the subtitle, and on a more prescriptive note, I would say that there is more hope for theory-writing to be found in parataxis than hypotaxis . Part of the reason for this claim is the poststructuralist critique of hierarchies, and yet another part is the compelling line of thinking called “weak thought” (in theology by John D. Caputo, and in philosophy by Gianni Vattimo, among others). 9 The consequences of these two convictions are such that if one is to strongly assert the truth of a grand theory without leaving the realm of hierarchy-critique and weak thought, then one must write paradoxically with parataxis in mind, and in so doing write weakly and non-hierarchically. This does not mean avoiding a sort of topography or topology when writing theory, rather it means avoiding both subjugation and oppression in thought by pursuing a nonviolent sort of ontology. In order to do this, theory writing does not present itself as an exercise in logical analysis where one mechanically moves from a set of premises (via contingency) to the inevitable conclusion (via necessity). Instead, theory approaches the idea of a Compendium. Given that the figural Compendium places parataxis and compilation above hypotaxis and selection, then the question becomes: is placing one part of a binary term before another not just another way of selecting, or another expression of hypotaxis ? Counter to the urge to resign oneself to the reign of selection, with some qualification one can nonetheless write without deciding whether selection and hypotaxis should be subservient to compilation and parataxis (which is to say that writing-without-decision is somewhere between and beyond possibility and impossibility). This dilemma can be disarmed by stating that theory writing is not about primacy, and not about having-decided-beforehand, both stylistically and also where content is concerned. This is the paradox of writing: always striving along a trajectory ( telos ) towards totality via parataxis and compilation, but always being drawn back to finitude and making selections, and placing one idea before another with hypotaxis in mind. In light of this paradox, the question of the Compendium as a figure for discourse and a figural Book has resonance with Jacques Derrida’s essay on Edmund Jabès’ Book of Questions , found in his Writing and Difference . The Question of the Book “Little by little the book will finish me.” 10 Derrida quotes Jabès, and proceeds to outline the reflexive relationship between the author of the book and the book itself, each of which are subjected to the other through a sort of chiasmus, both ontological and textual (not that the two are entirely separable). The Book, for Derrida like Blanchot in the introductory quotation, “infinitely reflects itself” and “develops as a painful questioning of its own possibility”, and in light of this we can draw an association with the painful tension between the practical reality of selection and the ideal trajectory of compilation. 11 This tension in writing, between the will to total compilation and the necessity of abridgment, is an ontological tension between part and whole just as it is a textual tension between signifier and signified. The ontological tension in writing that Derrida expresses in his essay on Jabès is between everything and nothing – a contradiction which Derrida finds in Jabès’ Book of Questions and also in the divine, in God. When one writes between compilation and selection one writes towards totality, and here we can follow Derrida who states that the lapse in signification, presumably in the signifier-signified discrepancy, is a “ rupture with totality itself” and furthermore that this lapse cannot be rectified through deductive reason or even philosophical discourse. 12 This rupture with totality, found in the troubled relation between signifier and signified, can also tell us a lot about the Book and about writing. Given an understanding of writing as an ontological act that strives towards (but never accomplishes) totality, we can see the written book as the manifested and given body of that striving. Perhaps in other disciplines or even other schools of philosophy there is a cultural climate within which the article is prized above the book, but I am fairly confident, especially when referring to the grand theories of Continental thought, that there is a respect for the book as a uniquely meaningful object capable of apprehending totality. Derrida writes, Between the too warm flesh of the literal event and the cold skin of the concept runs meaning. This is how it enters into the book. Everything enters into, transpires in the book. This is why the book is never finite. It always remains suffering and vigilant. 13 Here the vitality of the literal event is compromised by the deadening weight of the concept, and the figure of the Book assists in this lapse of meaning. The Book is a totalizing object, much like the figure of the Compendium, and yet this totalization lacks its final object of completed totality both because the figural Book is necessarily incomplete, and because the physical book is always-already a product of selection. Instead of achieving its end of being a place where everything takes place, it suffers from the lapse of writing, the discrepancy between event and concept. Derrida continues his exposition on Jabès by bringing to light yet another reflexive relation, a reversal of the relationship between the Book and the world. Derrida writes that, for Jabès, “the book is not in the world, but the world is in the book.” 14 In addition to what was stated before, I take figuration to mean that the concepts employed, such as the Book or the Compendium, are not subject to the supposed rigor of analysis that is so prized by Enlightenment or Capitalist realisms. The figure of the Book and the figure of the Compendium cannot be held accountable to standards imported from scientific method, given an understanding that these standards require a concept to be replicable, consistent, falsifiable, measurable, and so on… This is an important point to make, especially in the present atmosphere within which theory must justify itself under conditions that are not its own. Instead of being held to these standards, figuration serves as a way in which to think about writing that leaves thought open to idealistic speculation, imperfect analogies, and most importantly the ever-present gain and loss that occur in the relationship between thought and being. By extension the figural way of addressing writing indulges in enough generalization to accommodate the excess/lack relationship between the ideal form of the Book or the Compendium, and the manifested and given body of a text (as it is practically completed and closed). Here we speak against the hostile atmosphere which would have theory submit itself to hierarchical rigor, rather than Blanchot’s “enigmatic rigor”, by being explicit about the discursive conditions and epistemic conditions under which theory operates. To write with parataxis in mind is, to a certain degree, to write with weakness as one’s methodology (with weak thought being in opposition to hypotaxis and hierarchy as much as weak thought can be in opposition to anything). Rather than asserting the strength of hierarchical theory, and rather than employing antagonistic argumentation with the goal of refutation different discursive and epistemic conditions for theory writing must be cultivated (and these are by no means new). First the critical and theoretical spirit reveals itself as being concerned with the task of complication—especially the complication and critique of binaries, dichotomies, dualities, polarities, paradoxes, parallaxes, hybridities, and especially antinomies. Second, theory positions itself as a sort of showing or revealing, rather than being ultimately focused on coming to full agreement or disagreement. This is where figuration can help theory-writing, both by placing emphasis on teleologies and trajectories (like parataxis and compilation), and by shifting focus away from pure primacy, power, or absolute origin. Figuration then, assists theory writing by placing the concern of theory outside of the concerns of the hard or soft sciences, and into the realm of thought or the idea. To speak of ‘the’ Compendium or ‘the’ Book, here, is to generalize not regarding the perfect form of the Compendium or Book, but to engage speculatively with an abstract idea which remains singular and yet complicated by multiplicity. The question of the Book that Derrida asks through Jabès is a question of everything and nothing, totality and nonbeing, and this question is a concern for writing and a concern for the figure of the Compendium so defined by the tension between compilation and selection, and parataxis and hypotaxis . On the note of nonbeing, we can look to the final page of Derrida’s first essay on Jabès in Writing and Difference and notice the introduction of his neologism, différance (with an ‘a’). Derrida writes: Life negates itself in literature only so that it may survive better. So that it may be better. It does not negate itself any more than it affirms itself: it differs from itself, defers itself, and writes itself as différance . Books are always books of life (the archetype would be the Book of Life kept by the God of the Jews) or of afterlife (the archetype would be the Books of the Dead kept by the Egyptians). 15 This introduction of différance into the equation of the Book, alongside ontological affirmation and negation, hearkens back to the discussion of the symbolic lapse earlier in his essay. Differing and deferring, the Book is always a Book of Life and a figure for the intersection of the vital (life) and the total in writing. In a way, the writer of the Book may be someone who lives life, and in another way the writer of the book-as-object may be someone who engages in the act of writing, both practically (by inscribing words on paper, or typing script on a computer) and ontologically or symbolically (by investing their existence and inexistence into a work worthy of the figural Book). In addition to the writer as writer, the writer also serves as an editor, and the editorial role alongside the idea of the Compendium shows the editor to be one who collects and compiles, while being restrained by eventual selection and decision. Beyond this the editor of works and texts, in both the Book and the world, is engaged in a process of inscribing notation—of annotating (on) the Compendium. Eternal commentary is a feature of the textual Compendium, just as open-ended totality describes the ontological Compendium. The writer as writer does not simply write texts, but rather engages in a profoundly ontological act of inscribing their existence into the world, and the writer as editor does not merely annotate or alter texts as they are, but rather comments upon the text of the world. In/Conclusion So as we create texts, and as we write and create theory, let us be and remain attentive to the figure of the Compendium and the figure of the Book. These two concurrent metonymies are essential for total writing (grand theories, etc.), and may be forgettable for those concerned with fragmentary or hierarchical writing (which are valid in their own right). From the ontological and symbolic text of the world and phenomenological experience, to concrete texts such as books or mixed media, the figure of the Compendium and the figure of the Book are important for the actualization of the human will to be all-encompassing. The figure of the Compendium teaches writers of theory that the repetition, density, and fragility of parataxis offers a strong sort of weakness which does not become yet another variety of oppressive and hegemonic thought. Rather than write with hypotaxis in mind, subjugating one thought to another via cause and effect or antecedent and consequent, I would hope that theory-writing could guiltlessly indulge in the dialectical and contradictory conjugation of ideas, and take this as a legitimate methodology. Rather than being ashamed of showing resonances or giving way to abridgment or ellipses, it is my own authorial (but not authoritative) conviction that one need not give up on totalizing and constructing grand theories because of the fact that complete totalization is impossible, and one need not give up on totalizing and constructing grand theories because of the worry of violence, for the Book and the Compendium lack their completed object and are ever incomplete trajectories. NOTES * UPDATED 7/19/13: we've updated the HTML version to reflect the (correct) PDF version. Our apologies to the author—eds. 1. I would like extend thanks to Dr. Peter Schwenger of the University of Western Ontario for his comments on this paper and his hospitality as it was presented as a Theory Session at the Centre for Theory and Criticism on October 26th 2012. I would also like to thank Andrew Weiss for conversation and critique. 2. I should clarify my use of the term ‘figure’ at the outset. Given the use of the term by Jean-Francois Lyotard in Discourse, Figure (and also Gilles Deleuze in Francis Bacon ), I should state clearly that my use of the term will not correspond to the term ‘figure’ understood as the representation of an object. Instead, my use of the term ‘figure’ and its variations (‘figural’, ‘figurative’, ‘figuration’) will refer to the illustrative or metaphorical use of the Compendium or the Book as models or ways of thinking about writing and discourse. 3. Cf. Revelations 20:12-15. 4. Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory , Trans. Robert Hullot-Kentor (London & New York: Continuum Press, 1997). 5. Fredric Jameson, Late Marxism: Adorno, or the Persistence of the Dialectic (London & New York: Verso, 1990), ix-x. 6. I have written about this concept of being-towards-totality elsewhere in two pieces of writing: the first is called Notes on the Compendium (an unfinished draft) which addresses some very wide theoretical concerns, being structured as a sort of itinerary or archive, and the second is Dialectics Unbound (Punctum Books, 2013) which outlines a concept of totality without the violence of totalization. While these works are more concerned with ontological totality, here I would like to focus on the idea of the Compendium as a textual totality. 7. Cf. Louis Morelle, “Speculative Realism: After Finitude and Beyond, A vade mecum” in Speculations: Journal of Speculative Realism . Issue 3 (Brooklyn, New York: Punctum Books, 2012), 241-272. 8. Jean-Paul Sartre, Between Existentialism and Marxism . Trans. John Matthews (London & New York: Verso, 1974), 9. 9. Cf. John D. Caputo, The Weakness of God (Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2006). 10. Jacques Derrida, “Edmond Jabès and the Question of the Book” in Writing and Difference . Trans. AlanBass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), 65. 11. Ibid, 65. 12. Ibid, 71. 13. Ibid, 75. 14. Ibid, 76. 15. Ibid, 78. (shrink)
continent. 2.1 (2012): 44–55. Philosophers are sperm, poetry erupts sperm and dribbles, philosopher recodes term, to terminate, —A. Staley Groves 1 There is, in the relation of human languages to that of things, something that can be approximately described as “overnaming”—the deepest linguistic reason for all melancholy and (from the point of view of the thing) for all deliberate muteness. Overnaming as the linguistic being of melancholy points to another curious relation of language: the overprecision that obtains in the tragic (...) relationship between the languages of human speakers. —Walter Benjamin 2 Prologue. Any text with an inflection of the word “thesis” in its title risks closing the borders of what is posited in it. However, perhaps it would be possible to think this act of defining in a way that is less, so to say, definitive. I would like to recall the opening line of Aristotle’s De Interpretatione , a constellation of theses, if anything. “First it needs to be posited [ thesthai ] what a noun and what a verb [is].” 3 Upon closer inspection, the definitions of the noun ( onoma ) and verb ( rh?ma ) do not at all appeal to any notion of strictly bordering-off, but are merely captured in a movement toward definition, establishing their own horizons. 4 It is therefore not a coincidence that Aristotle deploys the aorist medio-passive infinitive thesthai to describe this process. It is an infinite, self-instigating movement without proper horizon or telos . 5 It is this sense of thesis in relation to the basic components of language that I will attempt—perhaps in what may prove to be a gesture of what Walter Benjamin called “overnaming” 6 —to posit as cumposition , the composition of philosophical discourse that is conscious of the abyss of language in which it moves. 7 1. In her essay “When Philosophy Meant the Love of Wisdom,” Avital Ronell evokes the following question: What if philosophy’s love for wisdom has gone bad? The perversity of philosophy’s love not only appears in its recursiveness as the love of love for wisdom, first presented in Plato’s Symposium , but also “in all its brutality, especially when it’s set against literature and poetry.” 8 Philosophy’s love is a brutal one, perverse. Indeed, Immanuel Kant famously described the scene of metaphysics as a ‘battleground of … endless controversies,” 9 and “destined for exercising its forces in mock combat, and upon which no combatant has ever been able to gain even the least ground for himself by fighting.” 10 Because of the many modalities of love from the onset of philosophy onwards, Ronell signals the difficulty of addressing in any universal way the question of love in philosophy, unless she would consider it “in its essentially sado-masochistic dimension.” 11 As Heidegger already remarked parenthetically in his Introduction to Metaphysics , polemos as war and confrontation is the same as the logos . 12 Philosophy has always been a polemical discourse. 2. At the same moment, however untimely this moment may be, love has been conspicuously absent from Heidegger’s work. Nevertheless, Giorgio Agamben has been able to tease out Dasein’s love as a “passion of facticity.” 13 Agamben develops from out of Heidegger’s war-struck logos the following definition of love, which will allows to proceed to a reading of the origin of philosophy itself as the love of wisdom, a relation that in itself may hide “a kind of original fetishism.” 14 What man introduces into the world, his “proper,” is not simply the light and opening of knowledge but above all the opening to concealment and opacity. Al?theia , truth, is the safeguard of l?th? , nontruth; […] Love is the passion of facticity in which man bears this nonbelonging and darkness, appropriating ( adsuefacit [ ereignet ]) them while safeguarding them as such. Love is thus not, as the dialectic of desire suggests, the affirmation of the self in the negation of the loved object; it is, instead, the passion and exposition of facticity itself and of the irreducible impropriety of being. In love, the lover and the beloved come to light in their concealment, in an eternal facticity beyond Being . 15 Truth as al?theia , “unhiddenness” or “unconcealment,” which has in recent times again gained a special prominence in certain regions of philosophical discourse, is thus the ultimate expression of Dasein’s love, even if, for the philosopher, the beloved is love itself. 3. In Plato’s Symposium , Socrates famously introduces the philosopher as a figure in love with wisdom. But also Love himself is a philosopher, a lover of wisdom; he is an interpreter ( herm?neuon ), 16 a hermeneutic, a messenger between the gods and men. He organises all intercourse and dialectic interaction between them. 17 Plato’s definition starts with Socrates invoking Diotima of Mantineia, who had instructed him in eroticism. 18 Diotima inseminated Socrates with the seeds of philosophy, taught him how to love. We can imagine young Socrates paying his first visit to her, seeking affection and pleasure in her maternal body. “What then,” we hear Socrates asking, “may love be?” And here we find Diotima answering his call: “the love of the good is always to its own [ aut?i einai aei ].” Socrates answers: “that is the very truth [ al?thestata ],” 19 or, as Heidegger would translate it, “the most unhidden.” 20 So already in this primal scene of philosophy’s love we find the intimate relation between love and unconcealment. 4. If Love is a philosopher who practices the love of the good as the highest truth, an abyss opens: what is the truth of philosophy itself? Necessarily, this must be a truth outside the logic of (un)concealment, outside the logic of the Ereignis or the event, if it doesn’t want to fall into an infinite regress. Some have argued that there is no such thing as philosophical truth, yet this truth has appeared, albeit marginally, in another discussion of love, as the etumos logos , true discourse. 21 This was already pointed at by Michel Foucault, 22 and later commented upon by Christopher Fynsk: “the exigencies to which Foucault answered in seeking his 'truth,' [ etumos ] […] are linked to an exigency met in any consequent meditation on the essence of language.” 23 Any consequent meditation on the essence of language, perhaps a meditation as it takes place within philosophy on its own language, will have to arrive at a certain truth, even when as unstable, incoherent, and assaulting the borders of finitude as etymology may be. Etymology is the truth of philosophical discourse. 5. Our meditation on the relations between philosophy, love and truth means in no way to move toward a philosophy which would take “Desire” as its transcendental signified, distributing different desires for truth through different discourse levels, nor discard it as an extra-philosophical affect. A position such as would be assumed by any philosophy of desire is ferociously attacked by Jean-François Lyotard in his book Libidinal Economy , but in doing so he hits upon a—for him despicable—condition of the philosopher, the one who is “nothing but thought,” the one with whom we tend to sympathise; the condition of the “as if.” This is philosophy’s meta-ontological mask. Philosophy’s love is the love of the as if: “[A]nd so, to be, I have only to place myself as well in the circumference, turn with the intensities, act as if I loved, suffered, laughed, ran, fucked, slept, shat, and pissed, I, thought.” 24 Even though Lyotard wishes that “this supreme effort of thought die,” 25 we, in our turn and not so afraid to die, may now also perhaps define etumos as truth “as if” al?theia ; the former makes an appeal to the latter’s affect, but is not “the real thing”—or wherever the quotation marks need to take hold to stabilise our discourse. 6. Even a philosophical discourse as self-asserting and sanitised from any affective overtones as Alain Badiou’s does not escape this condition. In his work, the philosopher is a figure of circulation, someone who, at the end of the day, can only act “as if.” This typology of the philosopher is first hinted at in Being and Event , when Badiou claims that, “philosophy is not centred on ontology—which exists as a separate and exact discipline—rather it circulates between this ontology […], the modern theories of the subject and its own history.” 26 Philosophy is thus in the first place separated from ontology and therefore merely circulates along it. Beside ontology, which in Badiou’s work appears as a fully atonic axiomatization of set theory, 27 philosophy circulates through the theories of the subject, which, under the procedure of poetry, are subtractive of ontology, thus allowing for the appearance of a truth as an event ( Ereignis as the unconcealment of concealment) and subjective fidelity, and the history of philosophy itself: its discourses and the story of its limitless love of wisdom. For Badiou, the right of philosophy is the right to cite its conditions, the right to cite their truths. The text of philosophy is the text of citation. 28 The philosophical act thus is “an act of second thought.” 29 7. If, as Plato suggested, the love for the good is the highest truth, the bursting forth of this truth as event happens outside philosophy. Either as the ultimate idea that is sought or as uncounted inconsistency exploding into maximum existence, registered on philosophy’s seismographs, this truth as event remains tightly bound to a philosophical desire for truth. Mehdi Belhaj Kacem even claims that “the event […] is the ontological structure of Desire,” 30 and “Desire wants the event.” 31 Superlatively (perhaps: most truthfully), “The event has the structure of rape.” 32 Although we should place a number of question marks in the margins of Kacem’s philosophical project and his rapid conflation of multiple textual registers, he does point out a certain sedation of philosophy’s love of wisdom in Badiou’s work. However, that philosophy would be a place to house multiple truths, circulating among them, again opens us to the ‘perversity’ of this love that Ronell pointed out. Philosophy cruises truths. 8. How does philosophy’s “second thought” arrive, if ever? Philosophy’s lovely circulation through what is already presented by mathematics, theories of the subject and its own history is first conditioned by a sustained belief in the possibility of formalisation. But what if this formalisation itself is bound to fail? What if we deny formalisation, or at least point to the discomfort we experience of such forcing to formal appearance such as painstakingly described in Witold Gombrowicz’ literary oeuvre. Jacques Derrida already pointed out in reference to Husserl’s final appeal to geometry, that “the institution of geometry could only be a philosophical act.” 33 Similarly, we could criticise that the act of formalisation on which Badiou’s citational appropriation of mathematics, and therefore the circulation of philosophy, rests: “As soon as we utilize the concept of form—even if to criticize an other concept of form—we inevitably have recourse to the self-evidence of a kernel of meaning. And the medium of this self-evidence can be nothing than the language of metaphysics.” 34 At the end of the same essay Derrida sketches out the consequences this has for philosophy, which, however, strangely resonate with what Badiou proposes as philosophy’s circulation. One might think […] that formality—or formalization—is limited by the sense of Being which, in fact, throughout its entire history, has never been separated from its determination as presence, beneath the excellent surveillance of the is : and that henceforth the thinking of form has the power to extend itself the thinking of Being. But that the two limits thus denounced are the same may be what Husserl’s enterprise illustrates[.…] Thus, one probably does not have to choose between two lines of thought. Rather, one has to meditate upon the circularity which makes them pass into on another indefinitely. And also, by rigorously repeating this circle in its proper historical possibility, perhaps to let some elliptical displacement be produced in the difference of repetition: a deficient displacement, doubtless, but deficient in a way that is not yet—or no longer—absence, negativity , non-Being, lack, silence. 35 In many ways this resounds with what I have stated above. Although Badiou radically separates the “thinking of form” and the “thinking of Being” to respectively the meta-ontological/philosophical domain and the ontological/mathematical domain, the remainder within philosophy itself appears as this “ circle in its proper historical possibility.” And indeed we may have traced a “deficient displacement” which is not yet or no longer an “absence” as would be the truth subtractive to ontology: the “as if”–truth 36 of the etumos as truth in philosophy itself, the truth of philosophy as love of wisdom. 9. We may want to ask whether the two lines of thought theorised by Derrida and again separated by Badiou both exhibit this circularity. If that would be the case, this would allow us to consider their intertwinement more in depth. What Derrida calls the “thinking of Being” and Badiou refers to as “ontology” is thoroughly unbound by what is commonly referred to in an economic discourse as capitalism. The sudden insertion of a materialist trope may seem infelicitous here, however, capitalism has, as Badiou put it succinctly, also a “properly ontological virtue.” 37 The logic of capitalism, even though it operates in the “most complete barbarity,” 38 has an ontological virtue of its own, namely the destruction of the One as viable metaphysical point of departure. The “barbarity” of capitalism’s destructive character operates by “brute force,” but also sometimes by, as Walter Benjamin put it, “the most refined” 39 one. In any case, it unbinds all. As Lyotard stated in one of his seemingly unending sentences: Capital is not the denaturation of relations between man and man, nor between man and woman, is the wavering of the (imaginary?) primacy of genitality, of reproduction and sexual difference, it is the displacement of what was in place, it is the unbinding of the most inane pulsions, since money is the sole justification or bond, and money being able to justify anything, it deresponsibilizes and raves absolutely, it is the sophistics of the passions and at the same time, their energetic prosthetics; […] it has certain anti-unitary and anti-totalizing traits [...]40 Thus capital and capitalism are figures of unbinding and circulation. We find ourselves here in the metaphorical domain of philosophy that both in Lyotard and Badiou has its recourse to an economic discourse. Derrida has addressed this tendency at length in his essay “White Mythology,”41 and in a different register I will attempt to address it below, acknowledging that indeed philosophical language may be a “fund of 'forced metaphors.'”42 10. How is it that truth emerges from the ontological wasteland of capitalism, to be captured by philosophy’s love of wisdom? What is this love responding to and how is it that philosophy refuses to turn the other cheek to reality? Perhaps a beginning of an answer to this question may lie in the way in which Marx parenthetically defined capitalism: “the universal relation of utility and use” as “universal prostitution.” 43 which includes everyone: Prostitution is only a particular expression of the general prostitution of the worker, and because prostitution is a relationship which includes both the person prostituted and the person prostituting—whose baseness is even greater—thus the capitalist, too, etc. is included within this category. 44 It may prove fruitful to read general prostitution here in the logic of unbinding and circulation, following Benjamin, who speaks of an “erotology of the damned.” 45 Benjamin’s work on the German translation of Charles Baudelaire must definitely have influenced his work on the destructive character of capitalism. The tropes of prostitution and destruction already appear in his note on the poem “Destruction” from Les fleurs du mal . “The bloody apparatus of destruction,” Benjamin asks himself, where is this phrase in Baudelaire? 46 In Baudelaire’s poem, the demon of destruction takes on the “most seductive form” of women, and seduces the visitor to the “planes of Boredom,” where he is introduced to the “filthy clothes' and “open wounds” and the “bloody apparatus of Destruction.” Is it from these “planes of Boredom, profound and barren” 47 that philosophy gleans its truths. 11. If philosophy thinks ontology as prostitutional, whom does it cite? Although to some authors, it would suffice to use the indicative quality of language as such to open such an ontology, 48 we should perhaps focus here on the atonic desert where the prostitutional machinery is blithely at work as captured in the work of Pierre Guyotat. He opens up to such an interpretation when he states that his novel Tomb for Fifty Thousand Soldiers is, “in spite of everything, metaphysical; a metaphysics of history, certainly not religious; it is also a somewhat ontological.” 49 Several philosophers that I have addressed above refer to his work; for example Badiou, who refers to the “neo-classicism” of Guyotat as a resurrection of the “cosmological aim” of grand literature hearkening back to Lucretius. 50 Guyotat’s “prostitutional universe,” 51 which reduces “all vital norms to the immediate commercial potentials of the body.” 52 On the other side of the philosophical spectrum, Lyotard digs deeper, describing the actual jouissance of the worker submitted to the capitalist machinery, “the machine of the machine, fucker fucked by it.” 53 And he continues: “And let’s finally acknowledge this jouissance , which is similar […] in every way to that of prostitution, the jouissance of anonimity, the jouissance of the repetition of the same in work, […]. Jouissance is unbearable .” 54 This is what Guyotat so “admirably” expresses in his work, and is also professed by himself. The same logic as Lyotard’s clearly appears upon reading a few sentences from his seminal essay Langage du corps (Language of the body). But on reflection, what spectacle is more brutally exciting than that of a child wanking with his left hand, in this system, and writing with his right. In the resultant disarray. There must be seen one of the terms of this contradictory pulsional will, being at the same time seen and voyeur (“seeing”), pimp and whore, buyer and bought, fucker and fucked. 55 Lyotard described this—within a philosophical discourse that is—as a “superbly capitalist dispositif ,” 56 a mode of writing-masturbating in which production and consumption coincide, truly a “bloody apparatus of destruction.” This logic equally distorts the clear distance that is regularly maintained by writers—and nearly always by philosophers—toward their own work. To me, the most concise formulation of this contracted distance can be located in the neologism that Guyotat coins in his novel Prostitution: “ nhommer ,” ringing with both homme (man) and nommer (to name). For example in the otherwise “untranslatable” sentence: ma e s’renâcl’ chuya se l’mâl’ le nhomme’, lui prend la fess’ o lui frott’ la mostach. 57 Nhommer is therefore an en-hommer , an insemination of a man, life-giving and naming, as well as a n’hommer , its own negation and undoing. This is echoed by Benjamin when he says that in the Bible, “the 'Let there be' and in the words 'He named' a beginning and end of the act, the deep and clear relation of the creative act to language appears each time.” 58 Nhommer is a creative act philosophy cannot accomplish but only approach. The writer always n/mam/nes , the philosopher may only cite, at the risk of introducing prostitutional logic, the shortcuts between naming and creating, creating and exploiting the fabric of philosophy. 12. Prostitutional ontology, materially captured by the bloody, short-circuiting apparatuses of capitalism, can only be cited by philosophy, acted out, at the risk of unbinding the whole of philosophical discourse itself. The events and miracles on the atonic planes of boredom may not affect philosophy itself. This could be one of the reasons that sex and sexual difference have largely remained outside of the realm philosophy. Derrida has already done a considerable amount of work on this curious lack, especially in two essays entitled “ Geschlecht ” on Heidegger’s work and Dasein’s sexuality. In “ Geschlecht 1: Sexual Difference, Ontological Difference,” Derrida investigates the role of sexuality in Heidegger’s definition of Dasein, and his general silence on the topics of sex and gender. “It is as if […] sexual difference did not rise to the height [ hauteur ] of ontological difference. […] But insofar as it is open to the question of Being, insofar as it has a relation to Being, in that very reference, Dasein would not be sexiferous [ sexifère ].” 59 The material that I adduced above might give us a frame in which to interpret this repression of Dasein’s sexuality in Heidegger. In philosophy, sexual difference is cited as ontological difference. Prostitution is cited as the unbinding of Being. However, the unbinding or separating force, hailed as the virtue of capitalism and eagerly imported into philosophical discourse, perhaps even brought to the “height of ontological difference,” is also always already at work in philosophy itself, be it as a separation between ontological and theological domains in Aristotle or the separation between a truth procedure and the citational dispositif of philosophy in Badiou. The truth, as Anne Dufourmentelle put it in her book on sex and philosophy, extracted from the “torture chamber” 60 of philosophy is that this separation is always already sexualized. If etymology is not the key to Bluebeard’s seventh door, it at least opens up a little skylight in the chamber of horrors. In Latin, sexus means separation. The Church Fathers to whom we owe the development of the Latin language thus anticipated by several centuries Lacan’s too famous remark: “There is no sexual relation.” 61 The truth of Lacan’s statement that “there is no sexual relation,” in the precise sense that the term “sex” derives from “separation” and vice versa is only etymologically validated within philosophy. The power of its truth only appears etymologically as philosophical truth. 13. Literature does not need to prove this point. It immediately participates in the circulatory logic of sexuation, without the need to distance itself from it through citational checkpoints and border patrols. It allows language to derange freely, as literature often reminds us of. Dufourmentelle clarifies to us once again, illustrating Guyotat’s point that I cited above. The act of writing is performative: writing and thinking are acts. What philosophy cannot tolerate is the nonresponse to which the enigma of sex refers it. No philosopher can bear up the boudoir. What philosophy does not succeed in conceptualizing is the traversal of a disaster. […] It may be that traversing the impossibility of the relation to sex is what founds philosophy. The black sun of thought about sex. Sex is what leads to traversal, to exile; it orients and disorients. From this exile, literature is born. Literature is the other, hidden guest at this blind date in the boudoir. 62 In her introduction to Dufourmentelle’s book, Ronell even goes as far as suggesting that certain regions of philosophy may be coinciding with the realm of “obliterature,” a space of thought’s disavowal of sex. 63 Indeed, sex induces in philosophy an anti-Platonic “black sun of thought,” that is, following Julia Kristeva, melancholy, when the words don’t come: “Recall the speech of the depressed: repetitive and monotonous. Within the impossibility to link up, the phrase interrupts itself, depletes, halts.” 64 To refer ourselves to Aristotle’s first thoughts on properly philosophical language with which we opened this text, for Aristotle the mind suddenly “halts” the moment it hears a noun or verb that is not well inflected, not properly disseminated into language. 65 Already the minimum of grammatical failure is enough for the philosopher to fall into a stupor. The unworking of grammar is the melancholic condition of philosophy. 14. We need to find the language in which philosophy writes, a writing that organises the “ elliptical displacement” of philosophy blindly circulating through its conditions, perhaps even a “language of decentering, or a dispositif of acephalic writing.” 66 But as Ronell has brilliantly argued in her reading of Freud’s case of the Rat Man, “The Sujet suppositaire ,” the circulation of philosophy should always be read through a lexicon of intervention and insemination which she calls an “Oedipedagogy,” 67 a mode of obsessional neurotic thinking, that is, a mode of cir- cul -ation: around the arse, around the riddles of the sphincter. 68 As a mode of what Ronell calls with Freud the “obsessional neurotic style,” a style of punning, the cir- cul -ation of philosophy rests on paronomasia, that is, the domain of paronomy and etymology. This is however not without scandal. In some circles of truth’s closure, pun has remained the name of an indictment, an accusatory identification of that which takes too much pleasure, disarranging academic languages, promoting a rhetoric of looseness within the parameters of a recreational linguistics, valuelessly succumbing to the most indefensible copulations of meaning, related […] to the temporal succession of shame over pleasure, incriminating the grammar of some strict order of things, and so forth. 69 That punning and its avatars of paronomasia and etymology are already present in one of the most philosophical grammars of a “strict order of things” provides us with a clue that in composition of philosophical language itself, something may be “indefensibly copulating.” 15. In the opening paragraph of Aristotle’s Categories , otherwise a work of remarkable philosophical rigour and properly purged language, we may track down the “elliptical displacement” or “acephalic writing” of philosophy. This is not to be found in the first two semantic relations described by Aristotle—homonymy and synonymy, or the grand metaphysical concepts equivocity and univocity—but in the third one, largely neglected in the corpus of occidental philosophical discourse, or so it seems. This relation, or perhaps more felicitous, movement in language, is called paronymy , and is defined as follows: “Paronymous are called those which, differing from something through case, have an appellation according to the name [of those], like 'grammarian' [ grammatikos ] from 'grammar' [ grammatik?s ] and 'courageous-man' [ andreios ] from 'courageous' [ andreias ].” 70 Paronymy, which is regulated through case ( pt?sis ), the way in which words fall into a sentence, is addressed to the form of the word, the manner of its signification, and not its meaning. 71 Case is also the driving force behind ontological differentiation, regulating the formal aspects of Being falling into beings. What is regulated by case in philosophy is regulated by the supposedly unrestrained punning and paronomasia in the process of sexual differentiation. Paronymy and case offer philosophy a window to peek into modes of discourse it does not like to associate itself with. But at the same time, philosophy is already contaminated by paronymy, which introduces the problematic of formalisation itself, the form of the name and of language at the heart of many metaphysical issues. The glorious theories of accident and substance, subject and object, Being and beings, and so on, cannot be inserted in the philosophical discourse without the lubricant of paronymy. 16. Paronymy, moving from form to form, is not without its methodology. Aristotle’s logic of the paradigm closely mimics the movement of case, neither from particular to universal, nor from universal to particular, but from particular to particular. 72 We are confronted here with what Agamben calls a “paradoxical type of movement,” 73 a movement that moves along itself and away from the doxa , the rule, and which should only be deployed when other means of deductive of syllogistic reasoning are no longer available. The paradigm signifies an insufficiency of properly philosophical thought. It should therefore not surprise us that the paradigm finds its modern inflection in what Lacan calls the “signifying chain,” where “no signification can be sustained except by reference to another signification.” 74 Metaphor is here the name for “the effect of the substitution of one signifier for another in the chain, nothing natural predestining the signifier for this function of phoros apart from the fact that two signifiers are involved, which can, as such, be reduced to a phonemic opposition,” 75 whereas at same time it is the “sole serious reality for man.” 76 It is here that Lacan explicitly chooses the reality of the etumos , the material cause of psychoanalysis, over the revelation al?theia . We might therefore interpret psychoanalysis as the only inflection of philosophy that insists on etumos as the sole source of truth. 17. If it the case, again according to our teacher Aristotle, that all meaningful philosophical discourse is essentially composed in an organised manner, we may insert in the composition of that word itself, in its philosophical circulation, a foreign element. Perhaps this also means that I insert myself in a lineage of paranoia and obsessional neurosis, but then again, as Guy Hocquenghem remarked, homosexuality itself is commonly associated with paranoid persecution mania, 77 “the apparition of the word curiously drives a cascade of lapses, or at least of the interpretation of common words as lapses. There is no innocent or objective position toward homosexuality, there are no situations of desire in which homosexuality doesn’t play a role.” 78 So why would I pretend otherwise? As Ronell adds, and I should have warned you before, “neologisms are much more common in persecution mania patients than in others.” 79 In recognition of what composes philosophy always remains in circulation, no matter whether approached from an “ontological” or “linguistic” perspective, no matter how “meta” the separation machinery drives us, it is circulation itself that justifies the term, if it is one, cumposition . In naming the decentering force of philosophical discourse thus, I not only intend to stress the “with” ( cum ) of the philosophical sum-plok? or com-positio , that is present in it already since Plato, 80 but also the position of philosophy itself, whenever it will have arrived or cum, shooting for the stars of wisdom on the metaphysical firmament. NOTES 1. A. Staley Groves, Poetry Vocare (The Hague/Tirana: Uitgeverij, 2011), 86. 2.Walter Benjamin, “On Language As Such and the Language of Man.” trans. Edmund Jephcott, in Select Writings. vol. 1, 1913-1926 , eds. Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004), 73. 3.Arist. DI 16a1. 4.If only because already the translational issues with these two words are in themselves breaching the constraints of sound definition. 5.Giorgio Agamben’s work has focused extensively on this mode, see for example Potentialities , trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), 234-5. 6.Walter Benjamin, ‘On Language As Such…,’ 73. 7.This is not to say that philosophy only resides in certain language games, as Wittgenstein would have it, but that negotiating the limits of those games—which, etymologically speaking, already carries in it the “com-” of philosophy’s “composition” as the morpheme “ga-,” cf. Gothic gaman , ‘participation’ or ‘communion’—determines to a large extent how much liberty philosophy is willing to grant itself in placing certain truths inside or outside its domains. 8.Avital Ronell, Fighting Theory , trans. Catherine Porter (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010), 1. 9.Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason , trans./eds Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 99 (Aviii). 10.Immanuel Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics , trans./ed. Gary Hatfield (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 143 (Bxv). Cf. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, 109 (Bxv). 11.Ronell, Fighting Theory , 2. 12.Martin Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics , trans. Gregory Fried and Richard Polt (New Haven: Yale University Press), 65. 13.Giorgio Agamben, “The Passion of Facticity,”in Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy , trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen, 202. 14.Ibid. 196. 15.Ibid. 203-4. 16.Plat. Sym . 202e. 17.Plat. Sym . 203a. Philosophy as the love of wisdom is therefore recursively defined. Here we could perhaps trace one of the origins of philosophy’s auto-immunity that Ronell has commented upon on several occasions. She signals the so-called “end of philosophy” as one of the tropes characterizing the developing auto-immunity in the body of philosophy, and while at the same distancing herself from this trope she insists that we “continue to interrogate the figures used to designate the end, and to recognize the difference among such terms as closure, finality, terminus.” (Ronell, Fighting Theory , 3) 18.Plat. Sym . 201d. 19.Ibid. 206a. 20.Martin Heidegger, The Essence of Truth , trans. Ted Sader (New York: Continuum, 2002), 48. 21.Plat. Phaed . 244a. 22.Michel Foucault, The Use of Pleasure, The History of Sexuality, vol. 2 , trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage Books, 1990), 235. 23.Christopher Fynsk, The Claim of Language: A Case for the Humanities (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004), 65. 24.Jean-François Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , trans. Iain Hamilton Grant (New York: Continuum, 2004), 13. 25.Ibid. 13. 26.Alain Badiou, Being and Event , trans. Oliver Feltham (New York: Continuum, 2006), 3. 27.That is, the Zermelo-Fraenkel axiomatization, explicitly including the axiom of separation which does not allow for any inconsistent multiplicity, i.e. the appearance of the event. Nevertheless, ever since Richard Montague’s dissertation Contributions to the Axiomatic Foundations of Set Theory (Berkeley: University of California, 1957), we know that set theory can never be finitely axiomatized. 28.Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei and John Van Houdt, “Circulating Philosophy: A Note on Two Apparent Misquotations in Alain Badiou’s Logics of Worlds,” Theory and Event 14.2 (2011). 29.Alain Badiou, Conditions , trans. Steven Corcoran (New York: Continuum, 2008), 290, fn. 4. 30.Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, Événement et répétition (Auch: Tristram, 2004), 208. 31.Ibid. 209. 32.Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, L’affect (Auch: Tristram, 2004), 93. 33.Jacques Derrida, Edmund Husserl’s ‘Origin of Symmetry’: An Introduction , trans. John P. Leavey, Jr. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989), 127. 34.Jacques Derrida, “Form and Meaning: A Note on the Phenomenology of Language,” Margins of Philosophy , trans. AlanBass (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 157. 35.Derrida, Ibid. 172-3. 36.Or, if you like, the “false truth.” See for an indictment of etymology along these lines Jean Paulhan, La preuve par l’étymologie (Paris: Minuit, 1953). 37.Alain Badiou, Manifesto for Philosophy , trans. Norman Madarasz (Albany: SUNY Press, 1999), 57. 38.Ibid. 57. 39.Walter Benjamin, “The Destructive Character,” Selected Writings, Vol. II.2, 1931-1934 , trans. Edmund Jephcott (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), 541-2. 40.Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , 135. 41.“In signifying the metaphorical process, the paradigms of coin, of metal, silver and gold, have imposed themselves with remarkable insistence. Before metaphor—and effect of language—could find its metaphor in an economic effect, a more general analogy had to organize the exchanges between the two 'regions.'’ Jacques Derrida, “White Mythology: Metaphor in the Text of Philosophy,” Margins of Philosophy , trans. AlanBass, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), 1982, 216. 42.Ibid. 257. 43.“The exchangeability of all products, activities and relations with a third, objective entity which can be re-exchanged for everything without distinction—that is, the development of exchange values (and of money relations) is identical with universal venality, corruption. Universal prostitution appears as a necessary phase in the development of the social character of personal talents, capacities, abilities, activities. More politely expressed: the universal relation of utility and use.” Karl Marx, Grundrisse: Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy , trans. Martin Nicolaus, New York: Random House, 1973, 163. 44.Karl Marx, “Private Property and Communism,” Karl Marx Selected Writings , ed. David McLellan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 90. 45.Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project , trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), 347. 46.Ibid. 256. 47.Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal , (Paris: Le Livre de Poche, 1999), 161. 48.For example, Jean Pierre Brisset, Le grammaire logique, suivi de La science de Dieu . Paris: Tchou, 1970, pp. 155ff. But we could equally point to the work of Jacques Lacan or refer to the intimacies between sexual and ontological differentiation as investigated by Jacques Derrida. 49.Pierre Guyotat, “L’autre scène,” Vivre (Paris: Denoël, 2003), 45. 50.Alain Badiou, Logics of Worlds: Being and Event 2 , trans. Alberto Toscano (New York: Continuum), 76. 51.Alain Badiou “Guyotat, prince de la prose,” unpublished lecture (Paris: 21 October, 2005), n.p. 52.Ibid. 53.Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , 109. 54.Ibid. 110-1. Lyotard formulates a position here parallel to Lacan’s analysis, which argues that the slave “can accept to work for the master and give up jouissance in the meantime.” (Jacques Lacan, Écrits , trans. Bruce Fink, New York: W.W. Norton, 2006, 259) This renunciation of jouissance founds the obsessive subject that I will discuss below, in an extension of the prostitutional logic developed by Lyotard. 55.Pierre Guyotat, “Langage du corps,” Vivre (Paris: Denoël, 2003), 24. Translation quoted from Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , 139. 56.Lyotard, Libidinal Economy , 139. 57.Pierre Guyotat, Prostitution (Paris: Gallimard, 1975), 90-1. In relation to his work we would also do well to recall the Lacanian dictum that “Punctuation, once inserted, establishes the meaning.” (Lacan, Écrits , 258) 58.Benjamin, “On Language As Such…,” 68. 59.Jacques Derrida, “ Geschlecht 1: Sexual Difference, Ontological Difference,” trans. Ruben Bevezdivin and Elizabeth Rottenberg, in Psyche, vol. 2 , eds Peggy Kamuf and Elizabeth Rottenberg (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008), 8. 60.Anne Dufourmentelle, Blind Date: Sex and Philosophy , trans. Catherine Porter (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007), 56. 61.Ibid. 57. 62.Ibid., 101. 63.Avital Ronell, “The Stealth Pulse of Philosophy,” introduction to Anne Dufourmentelle, Blind Date: sex and philosophy , trans. Catherine Porter (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007), xv. 64.Julia Kristeva, Le soleil noir: Dépression et mé?ancholie (Paris, Gallimard, 1987), 45. 65.Arist. DI 16b20. 66.Alain Badiou, Logics of Worlds: Being and Event 2 , trans. Alberto Toscano (New York: Continuum), 545. 67.Avital Ronell, “The Sujet Suppositaire: Freud, And/Or, the Obsessional Neurotic Style (Maybe),” Finitude’s Score: Essays for the End of the Millennium (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998), 108. Cf. also: “As mere reversal, this maintains the 'intervention' of which Lacan speaks in its classic column, still following the marching orders and route traced out by the commanding symbolicity of male homosexuality whose structures, in place since the time of Plato, continue to assure the paradigm of the transmission of knowledge.” (Ibid., p. 106) 68.“The anus can be said to mark a locus of privileged transaction between at least two gendered entities. It organizes a space from which rental agreements are negotiated, leases are taken out by one gender to permit the other gender provisionally—depending on the terms of the agreement—to occupy its space. The other of genital sexuality, determinable neither as masculine nor strictly speaking as feminine, anality nonetheless constitutes a sexuality, a shared space that is often vaginized.” (Ronell, “The Sujet Suppositaire,” 108) One could, and perhaps ought, to read Guyotat’s Prostitution , as exactly a constant negotiation of this sort, where language itself succumbs to this logic of “indefensible copulations.” (Ibid., 110) 69.Ronell, “The Sujet Suppositaire,” 110. 70.Arist. Cat . 1a12-15. 71.Cf. Pierre Aubenque, Le problème de l’être chez Aristote (Paris: PUF, 1962), 184, fn. 3. 72.See Rhet . 1357b26-30 and APr 69a13-16. 73.Giorgio Agamben, The Signature of All Things: On Method , trans. Luca D’Isanto with Kevin Attell (New York: Zone Books, 2009), 19. 74.Lacan, Écrits , 415. A similar idea, originating from a different perspective, but with a similar foundation in Aristotle, can be found in the work of Paul de Man: “The convergence of sound and meaning […] is a rhetorical rather than aesthetic function of language, an identifiable trope (paronomasis) that operates on the level of the signifier.” (Paul de Man, Resistance to Theory , Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1986, 10) 75.Lacan, Écrits , 756. 76.Ibid., 758. 77.“Psychiatry supposes in general an intimate relation between homosexuality and paranoia, but gives it often the following form: the homosexual frequently suffers from persecution paranoia.” (Guy Hocquenghem, Le désir homosexuel , Paris: Fayard, 2000, 32) 78.Ibid., 59. 79.Ronell, “The Sujet Suppositaire,” 117. 80.See Plat. Soph . 262c. (shrink)
In his article, 'Gratuitous evil and divine providence', Alan Rhoda claims to have produced an uncontroversial theological premise for the evidential argument from evil. I argue that his premise is by no means uncontroversial among theists, and I doubt that any premise can be found that is both uncontroversial and useful for the argument from evil.
Alan Musgrave has been one of the most important philosophers of science in the last quarter of the 20th century. He has exemplified an exceptional combination of clearheaded and profound philosophical thinking. Two seem to be the pillars of his thought: an uncompromising commitment to scientific realism and an equally uncompromising commitment to deductivism. The essays reprinted in this volume (which span a period of 25 years, from 1974 to 1999) testify to these two commitments. (There are two omissions (...) from this collection: “Realism, Truth and Objectivity” in Realism and Anti-realism in the PhilosophyofScience(1996,Kluwer)and“HowtoDowithoutInductiveLogic” (Science&Educationvol.8,1999.Iwillmakesomereferencestothesepapersin what follows.) In the present review, instead of giving an orderly summary of the 16 papers of Essays, I discuss Musgrave’s two major commitments and raise some worries about their combination. (shrink)
This paper concerns Alan Turing’s ideas about machines, mathematical methods of proof, and intelligence. By the late 1930s, Kurt Gödel and other logicians, including Turing himself, had shown that no finite set of rules could be used to generate all true mathematical statements. Yet according to Turing, there was no upper bound to the number of mathematical truths provable by intelligent human beings, for they could invent new rules and methods of proof. So, the output of a human mathematician, (...) for Turing, was not a computable sequence (i.e., one that could be generated by a Turing machine). Since computers only contained a finite number of instructions (or programs), one might argue, they could not reproduce human intelligence. Turing called this the “mathematical objection” to his view that machines can think. Logico-mathematical reasons, stemming from his own work, helped to convince Turing that it should be possible to reproduce human intelligence, and eventually compete with it, by developing the appropriate kind of digital computer. He felt it should be possible to program a computer so that it could learn or discover new rules, overcoming the limitations imposed by the incompleteness and undecidability results in the same way that human mathematicians presumably do. (shrink)
Alan Shewmons article, The brain and somatic integration: Insights into the standard biological rationale for equating brain death with death (2001), strikes at the heart of the standard justification for whole brain death criteria. The standard justification, which I call the standard paradigm, holds that the permanent loss of the functions of the entire brain marks the end of the integrative unity of the body. In my response to Shewmons article, I first offer a brief summary of the standard (...) paradigm and cite recent work by advocates of whole brain criteria who tenaciously cling to the standard paradigm despite increasing evidence showing that it has significant weaknesses. Second, I address Shewmons case against the standard paradigm, arguing that he is successful in showing that whole brain dead patients have integrated organic unity. Finally, I discuss some minor problems with Shewmons article, along with suggestions for further elaboration. (shrink)
Alan Gewirth's Reason and Morality , in which he set forth the Principle of Generic Consistency, is a major work of modern ethical theory that, though much debated and highly respected, has yet to gain full acceptance. Deryck Beyleveld contends that this resistance stems from misunderstanding of the method and logical operations of Gewirth's central argument. In this book Beyleveld seeks to remedy this deficiency. His rigorous reconstruction of Gewirth's argument gives its various parts their most compelling formulation and (...) clarifies its essential logical structure. Beyleveld then classifies all the criticisms that Gewirth's argument has received and measures them against his reconstruction of the argument. The overall result is an immensely rich picture of the argument, in which all of its complex issues and key moves are clearly displayed and its validity can finally be discerned. The comprehensiveness of Beyleveld's treatment provides ready access to the entire debate surrounding the foundational argument of Reason and Morality . It will be required reading for all who are interested in Gewirth's theory and deontological ethics and will be of central importance to moral and legal theorists. (shrink)
As is well known, Alan Turing drew a line, embodied in the "Turing test," between intellectual and physical abilities, and hence between cognitive and natural sciences. Less familiarly, he proposed that one way to produce a "passer" would be to educate a "child machine," equating the experimenter's improvements in the initial structure of the child machine with genetic mutations, while supposing that the experimenter might achieve improvements more expeditiously than natural selection. On the other hand, in his foundational "On (...) the chemical basis of morphogenesis," Turing insisted that biological explanation clearly confine itself to purely physical and chemical means, eschewing vitalist and teleological talk entirely and hewing to D'Arcy Thompson's line that "evolutionary 'explanations,'" are historical and narrative in character, employing the same intentional and teleological vocabulary we use in doing human history, and hence, while perhaps on occasion of heuristic value, are not part of biology as a natural science. To apply Turing's program to recent issues, the attempt to give foundations to the social and cognitive sciences in the "real science" of evolutionary biology (as opposed to Turing's biology) is neither to give foundations, nor to achieve the unification of the social/cognitive sciences and the natural sciences. (shrink)
D. Alan Shewmon has advanced a well-documented challenge to the widely accepted total brain death criterion for death of the human being. We show that Shewmon's argument against this criterion is unsound, though he does refute the standard argument for that criterion. We advance a distinct argument for the total brain death criterion and answer likely objections. Since human beings are rational animals – sentient organisms of a specific type – the loss of the radical capacity for sentience (the (...) capacity to sense or to develop the capacity to sense) involves a substantial change, the passing away of the human organism. In human beings total brain death involves the complete loss of the radical capacity for sentience, and so in human beings total brain death is death. (shrink)
I live just off of Bell Road outside of Newburgh, Indiana, a small town of 3,000 people. A mile down the street Bell Road intersects with Telephone Road not as a modern reminder of a technology belonging to bygone days, but as testimony that this technology, now more than a century and a quarter old, is still with us. In an age that prides itself on its digital devices and in which the computer now equals the telephone as a medium (...) of communication, it is easy to forget the debt we owe to an era that industrialized the flow of information, that the light bulb, to pick a singular example, which is useful for upgrading visual information we might otherwise overlook, nonetheless remains the most prevalent of all modern day information technologies. Edison’s light bulb, of course, belongs to a different order of informational devices than the computer, but not so the telephone, not entirely anyway. Alan Turing, best known for his work on the Theory of Computation (1937), the Turing Machine (also 1937) and the Turing Test (1950), is often credited with being the father of computer science and the father of artificial intelligence. Less well-known to the casual reader but equally important is his work in computer engineering. The following lecture on the Automatic Computing Engine, or ACE, shows Turing in this different light, as a mechanist concerned with getting the greatest computational power from minimal hardware resources. Yet Turing’s work on mechanisms is often eclipsed by his thoughts on computability and his other theoretical interests. This is unfortunate for several reasons, one being that it obscures our picture of the historical trajectory of information technology, a second that it emphasizes a false dichotomy between “hardware” and “software” to which Turing himself did not ascribe but which has, nonetheless, confused researchers who study the nature of mind and intelligence for generations.. (shrink)
Englantilaisen yleisneron Alan Turingin kuoleman yllä lepää salaperäisyyden verho. On hyvin mahdollista, ettei kenenkään muun nykyajan ajattelijan kuolemaan liity yhtä paljon legendoja ja spekulaatioita. Kiistattomat tosiasiat ovat lyhykäisyydessään seuraavat: siivooja löysi Turingin kotoaan kuolleena 8. kesäkuuta 1954. Turingin todettiin kuolleen edellisenä iltana syanidimyrkytykseen, ja hänen viereltään löytyi puoliksi syöty omena. Hän oli kuollessaan 41-vuotias. Loppu on enemmän tai vähemmän arvailujen varassa.
The two books reviewed here are different efforts to embrace the vast subject called "social thought." The second edition of The Blackwell Dictionary of Modern Social Thought, edited by William Outhwaite with Alain Touraine, contains numerous updates; yet it also has some disadvantages compared to the first edition. Social Thought: From the Enlightenment to the Present, edited by Alan Sica, is a bold but controversial attempt at gathering in one anthology as many social thinkers as possible. Key Words: "social" (...) • social thought/theory • William Outhwaite • Alan Sica • explanation. (shrink)
Alan Carter's recent review in Mind of my Ethics of the Global Environment combines praise of biocentric consequentialism (as presented there and in Value, Obligation and Meta-Ethics) with criticisms that it could advocate both minimal satisfaction of human needs and the extinction of for the sake of generating extra people; Carter also maintains that as a monistic theory it is predictably inadequate to cover the full range of ethical issues, since only a pluralistic theory has this capacity. In this (...) reply, I explain how the counter-intuitive implications of biocentric consequentialism suggested by Carter (for population, needs-satisfaction, and biodiversity preservation) are not implications, and argue that since pluralistic theories (in Carter's sense) either generate contradictions or collapse into monistic theories, the superiority of pluralistic theories is far from predictable. Thus Carter's criticisms fail to undermine biocentric consequentialism as a normative theory applicable to the generality of ethical issues. (shrink)
For much of the second half of the 20th Century, the primary role logical empiricism played was that of the argumentative foil. The 'received view' on a given topic (especially in philosophy of science, logic, or language) was frequently identified with some supposedly dogmatic tenet of logical empiricism. However, during the last twenty-five years, scholars have paid serious, sustained attention to what the logical positivists, individually and collectively, actually said. Early scholarship on logical empiricism had to engage in heavy-duty PR (...) work: why should anyone study the now-discarded mixture of blunders and implausibilities collected under the label 'logical empiricism'? However, thanks to the efforts of the pioneers, people studying the logical empiricists today need not articulate an extended apologia for their chosen subject of study -- rather, they can simply get on with their work. Many of the best fruits of these recent labors are on display in The Cambridge Companion to Logical Empiricism (CCLE), edited by Alan Richardson and Thomas Uebel. (shrink)
Alan Gewirth has propounded a moral theory which commits him to the view that prescriptions can appropriately be addressed to people who have neither any moral reasons nor any prudential reasons to follow the prescriptions. We highlight the strangeness of Gewirth's position and then show that it undermines his attempt to come up with a supreme moral principle.
In his short life, Alan Turing (1912-1954) made foundational contributions to philosophy, mathematics, biology, artificial intelligence, and computer science. He, as much as anyone, invented the digital electronic computer. From September, 1939 much of his work on computation was war-driven and brutally practical. He developed high speed computing devices needed to decipher German Enigma Machine messages to and from U-boats, countering the most serious threat by far to Britain's survival during World War Two. Yet few people have an image (...) of him. (shrink)
Explaining his now famous parody in Social Text's "Science Wars" issue, Alan Sokal writes in Dissent ("Afterword", Fall 1996): But why did I do it? I confess that I'm an unabashed Old Leftist who never quite understood how deconstruction was supposed to help the working class. And I'm a stodgy old scientist who believes, naively, that there exists an external world, that there exist objective truths about that world, and that my job is to discover some of them. (...) There is much to note in this "confession." Why choose a hoax on Social Text to make these points? Did Sokal believe its editors were unabashed deconstructionists who doubted the existence of an external world or that they were anti-science? If so, he has either misread the burden of its seventeen-year history or was capricious in his choice. If not, then he has perpetuated the saddest hoax of all: on himself. For the fact is that Social Text, of which I am a founder and in whose editorial collective I served until this year, has never been in the deconstructionist camp; nor do its editors or the preponderance of its contributors doubt the existence of a material world. What is at issue is whether our knowledge of it can possibly be free of social and cultural presuppositions. (shrink)
In his short life, Alan Turing (1912-1954) made foundational contributions to philosophy, mathematics, biology, artificial intelligence, and computer science. He, as much as anyone, invented and showed how to program the digital electronic computer. From September, 1939, his work on computation was war-driven and brutally practical. He developed high speed computing devices needed to decipher German Enigma Machine messages to and from U-boats, countering the most serious threat by far to Britain..
The origin of my article lies in the appearance of Copeland and Proudfoot's feature article in Scientific American, April 1999. This preposterous paper, as described on another page, suggested that Turing was the prophet of 'hypercomputation'. In their references, the authors listed Copeland's entry on 'The Church-Turing thesis' in the Stanford Encyclopedia. In the summer of 1999, I circulated an open letter criticising the Scientific American article. I included criticism of this Encyclopedia entry. This was forwarded (by Prof. Sol Feferman) (...) to Prof. Ed Zalta, editor of the Encyclopedia, and after some discussion he invited me to submit an entry on 'Alan Turing.'. (shrink)
In his short life, <span class='Hi'>Alan</span> Turing (1912-1954) made foundational contributions to philosophy, mathematics, biology, artificial intelligence, and computer science. He, as much as anyone, invented and showed how to program the digital electronic computer. From September, 1939, his work on computation was war-driven and brutally practical. He developed high speed computing devices needed to decipher German Enigma Machine messages to and from U-boats, countering the most serious threat by far to Britain=s survival during World War Two.
It seems opportune to commemorate in ‘Augustinianum’ the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing, insofar as he is an outstanding figure whose theoritical insight gave birth to the computer revolution of the twentieth centur y. His theories are equally important for the methodology supporting studies in the humanities.
The mathematical genius Alan Turing (1912-1954) was one of the greatest scientists and thinkers of the 20th century. Now well known for his crucial wartime role in breaking the ENIGMA code, he was the first to conceive of the fundamental principle of the modern computer-the idea of controlling a computing machine's operations by means of a program of coded instructions, stored in the machine's 'memory'. In 1945 Turing drew up his revolutionary design for an electronic computing machine-his Automatic Computing (...) Engine ('ACE'). A pilot model of the ACE ran its first program in 1950 and the production version, the 'DEUCE', went on to become a cornerstone of the fledgling British computer industry. The first 'personal' computer was based on Turing's ACE. -/- Alan Turing's Automatic Computing Engine describes Turing's struggle to build the modern computer. The first detailed history of Turing's contributions to computer science, this text is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of the computer and the history of mathematics. It contains first hand accounts by Turing and by the pioneers of computing who worked with him. As well as relating the story of the invention of the computer, the book clearly describes the hardware and software of the ACE-including the very first computer programs. The book is intended to be accessible to everyone with an interest in computing, and contains numerous diagrams and illustrations as well as original photographs. -/- The book contains chapters describing Turing's path-breaking research in the fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Artificial Life (A-Life). The book has an extensive system of hyperlinks to The Turing Archive for the History of Computing, an on-line library of digital facsimiles of typewritten documents by Turing and the other scientists who pioneered the electronic computer. (shrink)
The theorem of Bell states that certain results of quantum mechanics violate inequalities that are valid for objective local random variables. We show that the inequalities of Bell are special cases of theorems found 10 years earlier by Bass and stated in full generality by Vorob’ev. This fact implies precise necessary and sufficient mathematical conditions for the validity of the Bell inequalities. We show that these precise conditions differ significantly from the definition of objective local variable spaces and as (...) an application that the Bell inequalities may be violated even for objective local random variables. (shrink)
The Early Han enjoyed some prosperity while it struggled with centralization and political control of the kingdom. The Later Han was plagued by the court intrigue, corrupt eunuchs, and massive flooding of the Yellow River that eventually culminated in popular uprisings that led to the demise of the dynasty. The period that followed was a renewed warring states period that likewise stimulated a rebirth of philosophical and religious debate, growth, and innovations. Alan K. L. Chan and Yuet-Keung Lo's Philosophy (...) and Religion in Early Medieval China is a welcome addition to the growing body of literature on medieval China. It is a companion volume to their coauthored work, Interpretation and Literature in Early .. (shrink)
The December 2008 White Paper (WP) on “Brain Death” published by the President’s Council on Bioethics (PCBE) reaffirmed its support for the traditional neurological criteria for human death. It spends considerable time explaining and critiquing what it takes to be the most challenging recent argument opposing the neurological criteria formulated by D. Alan Shewmon, a leading critic of the “whole brain death” standard. The purpose of this essay is to evaluate and critique the PCBE’s argument. The essay begins with (...) a brief background on the history of the neurological criteria in the United States and on the preparation of the 2008 WP. After introducing the WP’s contents, the essay sets forth Shewmon’s challenge to the traditional neurological criteria and the PCBE’s reply to Shewmon. The essay concludes by critiquing the WP’s novel justification for reaffirming the traditional conclusion, a justification the essay finds wanting. (shrink)