Archive for June, 2013

Timothy C. Campbell “Improper Life”

Campbell, Timothy C. 2011. Improper Life: Technology and Biopolitics from Heidegger to Agamben. London; Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Practicing Bios

Foucault assumes that as security comes to be a managed event, it is increasingly necessary to govern populations by never allowing the death of individuals to go unnotices. […] Foucault is suggesting that for the population to be secured, doing away with scarcity is precisely what is not required. Instead, scarcity, understood as managing the death of multiplicity, is crucial for the administration of the population. (121)

„freedom is nothing else but the correlative of the deployment of apparatuses of security,“ adding that freedom is „no longer the exemptions and privileges attached to a persion, but the possibility of movement, change of place, and processes of circulation of both people and things.“ (123, Foucault)

My project is to see in attention and play possibilities for weakening the borders of the self, which are continually reinforced by a technē that no longer has any relation to life. I hope to find in attention, therefore, a technē of bios that avoids any complicity in proper and improper forms of life – that resists the division between bios and zoe that a Heideggerian reading of technē seems inevitably to call forth. (127-128)

We can sum up Foucault’s view on care of the self this way: the sense of belonging to a group as what gives proper form to life results form an apparatus of the letter that is already at hand only to the degree that it originates in and from a collective form of being across time. (131)

[…] throughout these pages [„Hermeneutics of the Self“], Foucault does not draw a clear-cut distinction between care of the self and technē of bios, which is to say that though the latter is associated with a care of the self, it is not completely captured by the self. The self emerges, instead as one among a number of possible forms of living or forms of live. In other words, Foucault does not make forms of life conditional on a mere care for the self. (132)

My impression is that for Foucault, such a dominating role for the test is something to bemoan because the test, so integral to a later and limited care for the self, shifts the ground from under bios such that bios now merely stands in as homologous to the self. At the same time, another change takes place in the relation between technē and the world. In a kind of mobile overlapping, technē moves outside the domain of life to the world such that technē as a subject of bios now becomes the subject of the world. A possible conclusion is that introducing technē outside any link to forms of life that reside outside the self leads to mastery over the world and, at the same time, to the distancing of technē from the forms of life. (134)

[…] can we imagine technē today as a practice of bios that might lead to forms of life that are not specifically limited to the self and mastery over it? (135)

An attention that holds together elements in a kind of compositional space does not posit a division between proper and improper but notes where they are located in such a space. It provides coordinates and fails to negate. (147)

[…] we can go further in linking creative attention and bios through the notion of play. Play and attention also share how they withdraw from possessing, a mode that does not immediately make the object of perception or the toy one’s own. Play may become the ground for other forms of life or modes of being to arise, in which the supposed content of bios as self will determine how it is that one plays at life. (153)

The move from the bordered self to the slackened subject of the practices of bios minimizes the contact that borders inevitably share with thanatos. Let’s also note that the object of a pracitce of bios would not necessarily be virtuous either. If there is a question of virtue, it concerns the virtue of the nonvirtue of bios – a virtue in seeing the self as too limited and limiting. (155)

Perspectives preserve borders. They preserve and protect. The cost of such a valuing and evaluating, however, is to set up borders around a self that will continue to require defending. (155-156)


Michel Serres “The Parasite”

Serres, Michel 2007 [1982]. The Parasite. London; Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. serres_walkback

Interrupted Meals. Logics

The modern illness is the engulfing of the new in the duplicata,  the engulfing of intelligence in  the  pleasure  [jouissance]  of  the  homogeneous.  Real  production  is undoubtedly  rare,  for  it  attracts  parasites  that  immediately  make  it something  common  and  banal.  Real  production  is  unexpected  and improbable;  it  overflows  with  information  and  is  always immediately parasited.  (4)

I call the language of many portals „philosophical“. (6)

There is no system without parasites. This constant is a law. (12)

Mistakes,  wavy  lines,  confusion,  obscurity  are  part  of knowledge;  noise  is  part of  communication,  part of the house. But is it the house itself? (12)

The difference is part of the thing itself, and perhaps it even produces the thing. Maybe the radical origin of things is really that difference, even though classical rationalism damned it to hell. In the beginning was the noise. (13)

One of  the  first, he jumps to \ the  last  position. But  the  one  in  the  last  position  wins this  game. He has discovered the position of the philosopher. (13)

Theorem:  noise  gives rise to a new system, an order that is  more  complex than the  simple  chain.  This parasite interrupts at first glance, consolidates when you look again. The city rat gets used to it, is vaccinated, becomes immune. The town makes noise, but the noise makes the town. (14)

The bit of noise,  the  small  random element, transforms one system or one order into another. To reduce  this  otherness to contradiction  is  to  reduce everything  to  violence  and  war. (21)

You  are  sleeping quite  peacefully,  and when  you  wake  you  find yourself in debt. You live with no other need, and  suddenly,  someone  claims  to  have saved your country, protected your class, your interests, your family, and your table. And you have to pay  him  for  that,  vote  for  him,  and  other  such  grimaces. (22)

One day we will have to understand why the strongest is the parasitethat is to say, the weakestwhy the one whose only function is to eat is the one who commands. And speaks. We have just found the place of politics. (26)

[…] anyone who wants to  sit  on the shoulders of an athlete  does not want him  to see well. He who likes to  command can  do  so,  but  on  one  condition:  the  eyes  of  the  producers,  of  the energetic  and the  strong,  have  to be poked out. Those who have energy necessarily  cannot have  information ; thus, those with  information  can do  without  energy.  Information  is  as  precious  as  it  is  rare. (36)

Or rather,  to those points as operators, as sources of relations. And that is  the  meaning  of the prefix para- in the word parasite:  it is on the side, next  to,  shifted; it is not on  the  thing, but on its relation.  It  has  relations, as they say,  and makes a system of them. It is always mediate  and never  immediate.  It has  a  relation  to  the  relation,  a  tie  to  the  tie; it branches onto the canal. (38-39)

More Interrupted Meals. Technique, Work.

Noise is the person – that is the lesson of the Pentecost. It is the third person. (51)

In the  system, noise  and  message  exchange  roles according to  the  position of the observer and the action of the actor, but they are transformed into one another as well as a function of time and of the system. They make order or disorder. (66)

[…] whoever belongs to the  system perceives noises less and represses them more, the more he is a functioning part of the system. He never stops being in the good, the just, the true, the natural, the normal. All dogmatism lives on this division, be it blind or decided. (68)

Maybe I understand the message only because of the noise. (70)

The system is very badly named. Maybe there is not or never was  a system. As  soon  as the world came into being,  its  transformation  began.  The  system  in  itself is a space of transformation.  There  are only metabolas. (72)

The only  systems, instances, and substances come  from  our lack  of knowledge. The system is nonknowledge. The other  side  of  nonknowledge.  One  side  of nonknowledge is chaos; the other, system. Knowledge forms a bridge between the two banks. Knowledge as such is a space of transformation. (73)

You can’t eat  an image but you can fight to the death for an idea. The longer struggle  is  all the  rage,  and the  longer  it  goes  on,  the  more  the objects disappear.  In a world lambent with lights and shadows, the war goes on. History. (75)

Rigorously  speaking, there  is  never  silence. The white noise is always  there.  If  health  is  defined  by  silence,  health  does  not  exist. (78)

Health  remains  the  couple  message-noise.  Systems work because  they do  not  work.  Nonfunctioning  remains  essential  for  functioning.  And that  can  be  formalized.  Given,  two  stations  and  a  channel.  They  exchange messages. If the relation  succeeds, if it is perfect, optimum, and immediate ;  it  disappears  as  a  relation.  If  it  is  there,  if  it  exists,  that means  that  it  failed.  It is  only  mediation.  Relation  is nonrelation. And that is what  the  parasite  is.  The channel carries the flow, but it cannot disappear  as  a  channel,  and  it  brakes  (breaks)  the  flow,  more  or less. But  perfect,  successful,  optimum  communication  no  longer  includes any mediation. And  the  canal  disappears into immediacy. There would be no  spaces  of transformation  anywhere. There are channels, and thus there  must  be  noise.  No  canal  without  noise.  The  real  is  not  rational. The  best  relation  would  be  no  relation.  By definition it does not exist; if it exists, it is not observable. (79)

What is  work? Undoubtedly, it is a struggle against noise. If we allowed things to happen without intervening, stables would fill up with manure, the fox would eat the chickens, and the phylloxera would cross the seas to dry out the vine leaves. The channel is filled with  mud. At low  tide, you  see  the  port filled with sand.  Soon, the  ships will not be able to get through. Things mix; don’t move, don’t stir with the spoon; the sugar will  sooner or later dissolve in the water. Sometimes there are convenient,  useful mixtures, but most of them are  obstructions  or encumbrances. To  work is to sort. Maxwell’s demon is unavoidable, just like the parasite. Alas, they are twins perhaps. There is an objective base or work without which the temporal flow toward disorder or complexity would be quicker. Contrary to what is said in both classical and contemporary  philosophy, men  are  not  the  only ones who work. We are never  that  exceptional.  Animals  work,  as  do  living  organisms. What I mean by that is that life itself works-that it is life through its struggle against the tendency to death, through sorting,  through the activity of Maxwells  demon’. (86)

Interlude. Full-length portrait of the parasite

Fortunately, the rare exists, exceptions come about,  novelty  appears-the  improbable  miracle.  Through  this  rarity, the  world  comes  into  existence,  we  live,  and  we  think.  These  three events  are  improbable  but  are  there  nevertheless. (122)

The collective is not a preestablished  harmony,  or  to  put it  another  way,  it  is  not  the  always already there. Noise comes out of the black box. Noise and shivarees. (123)

No,  we  know  nothing of the  “we” except  for what we  think we know of the ego, body and soul. In  sum, we know nothing, and once more, the collective is black and makes noise. (124)

Noise  destroys and horrifies.  But order and flat repetition are in the  vicinity  of  death.  Noise  nourishes a  new order.  Organization, life, and  intelligent  thought  live  between  order and noise, between disorder and perfect  harmony. If there were only order, if we only heard perfect harmonies,  our  stupidity  would  soon  fall  down  toward  a  dreamless sleep; if  we  were  always surrounded by the shivaree, we would lose our breath and our consistency, we would spread out among all the dancing atoms  of  the  universe.  We  are; we  live; we think on the  fringe, in the probable fed by the unexpected, in the legal nourished with information. There are  two ways  to die, two ways to sleep, two ways to be stupid-a head-first  dive  into chaos  or  stabilized  installation in order and  chitin. We  are  provided with enough senses and instinct to protect  us against the  danger of explosion, but  we  do not  have enough when faced with death from order or with falling asleep from rules and harmony. (127)

There  is  only  something  new  by  the  injection of  chance  in the  rule,  by  the introduction  of  the  law  at  the  heart  of disorder.  An organization is born  from circumstances, like Aphrodite rising from the sea. (128)

But as for me, separated from them and from everything, who am I myself? (130)

The more I write, the less I am myself. (134)

Fat cows and lean cows. Economy

The signal proper is noise for a third, who is excluded. Yes, of course,  that  is the origin of the central point and  the centralization of power. (142)

Parasite. The prefix para- means  “near,” “next to,” measures a distance. The sitos is the food. In this open mouth that speaks and eats, what  is  next  to  eating,  its neighboring  function,  is what emits  sound. Para measures a difference between a reception and, on the contrary, an

expansion.  The latter makes  one’s  own  what is in common and what will soon be even more one’s own, the living body. It already eats space. (144)

I  shall call  this  object  a joker.  The joker is often  a madman, as we  know.  He  is  wild, as they say in English. It is not difficult to  see  the double  of  the  sacrificial  king  in  him,  come  from  the  Celebration  of Fools, come  from the  Saturnalia.  This  white  object, like  a white  domino,*  has  no value  so as to have  every  value.  It  has  no identity, but its identity, its unique character, its  difference,  as they say, is to be, indifferently, this  or that unit of a given set. The joker is king or jack, ace or seven,  or deuce. Joseph is  a joker; Tamar, queen, just, despised, whore, is also a joker. A is b,  c,  d,  etc. Fuzzy. (160)

That joker is  a logical  object that  is both indispensable and fascinating.  Placed  in  the  middle  or at  the end of a series, a series that has a law  of  order,  it  permits  it  to  bifurcate,  to  take  another  appearance, another direction, a new order. The only describable difference between a  method  and  bricolaget  is  the joker.  The  principle  of bricolage  is  to make  something by means  of something else, a mast with a matchstick, a chicken wing with tissue meant for the thigh, and so forth. Just as the most  general  model  of  method  is  game,  the  good  model  for  what  is deceptively called bricolage is the joker. (160-161)

A new principle: the association of the included and excluded third. The  joker  changes; it is a token  of exchange; it is multivalent, and bivalent at first. (161)

The joker, in the position of bifurcation, makes it possible by the confluence of values  that  it  insures.  It  is  both  what  has been said and what will be said.  It  is  bi-,  tri-,  or  poly-valent,  according to  the  complexity  of  the connection.  The ramification of the network depends on the number of jokers.  But I  suspect  that  there  is a limit  for  this number. When  there are too many, we are lost as if in a labyrinth. What would a series be like where there were only jokers? What could be said of it? (162)

If you  increase the number of jokers or their percentage in a series, a cut, or a sequence, and go  to  the  maximum, the saturation point, polysemy overtakes the space with  multivalence  and equivocity.  Near the end is the world of dreams, completely  filled  with  polyvalence. At the  limits  of the dream ,  at  the limits  of  the  universe,  the  discourse  composed exclusively  of jokers is money. When there  are  only jokers, that’s  capital,  a bank account, the general equivalent. They overvalue the world. (163)

If the  researcher is in his  niche, if he has his method, his cup of tea,  his  pressure  group, he  stops producing and starts  reproducing.  He no longer  goes  out; he no longer heads toward the pitch-black attic; his whiskers  no longer twitch  at  imperceptible  signs; he  falls  asleep  in  the cradle  of the  same.  Do you want to discover? Forget about the cheese. (165)

Agriculture  and culture have the  same  origin  or the  same  foundation,  a  white  spot  that  realizes  a  rupture  of  equilibrium,  a  clean  spot constituted  through  expulsion.  A  spot  of  propriety  or  cleanliness,  a spot  of  belonging. The jo ker  is changed  into  a white  domino. It  is  fitting  to  understand  this  white  spot  that  appears  in  the ancestral  savannah s,  this rent in  the  middle  of their  fluctuating  stability. Have  we  ever  produced  other  objects  during  the  moments  that  history suddenly bifurcates? (179)

The  relation  upsets  equilibrium,  making  it  deviate.  If  some equilibrium  exists  or  ever  existed  somewhere,  somehow,  the  introduction  of  a  parasite  in  the  system  immediately  provokes  a  difference,  a  disequilibrium.  Immediately,  the  system  changes;  time  has begun . Change  comes  from  a rupture  in  equilibrated  exchanges.  Change is  the  disequilibrium  of  exchanges. (182)

The  parasite  gives  the  host  the  means  to  be  safe  from  the parasite.  The  organism  reinforces  its  resistance  and increases its adaptability.  It  is  moved  a  bit  away  from  its  equilibrium  and  it  is  then  even more  strongly  at  equilibrium. The  generous  hosts  are  therefore  stronger than  the  bodies  without  visits ;  generation  increases  resistance  right in the  middle  of  endemic  diseases.  Thus  parasitism  contributes  to  the formation  of  adapted  species  from  the  point  of  view  of  evolution. (193)

Midnight suppers. Society

The  parasited, abused,  cheated body no longer reacts; it accepts; it acts as if the visitor were its  own organ.  It  consents  to maintain it; it bends to its demands. The parasite plays a game of mimicry. It does not play at being another; it plays at being the same. (202)

This  quasi-object  is  not  an  object, but  it  is  one  nevertheless, since it is not a subject, since it is in the world; it is also a quasi-subject, since it marks  or designates  a subject who, without it, would not be a subject. He who  is not  discovered  with the furet in  his hand is anonymous,  part  of  a monotonous chain where  he remains undistinguished. He  is  not an individual; he is not recognized, discovered,  cut; he is of the chain and in the chain. He runs, like the furet, in the collective. The thread in his hands is our simple relation, the absence of the furet; its path makes our indivision. Who are we? Those who pass the furet; those who don’t have it. This quasi-object, when being passed, makes the collective, if it  stops, it makes the individual. If he is discovered, he is “it” [m ort] .  Who is the subject, who  is  an  “I,” or who am I? The moving furet weaves the “we,” the collective; if it stops, it marks the “I.” (225)

I learn more on the subject of the subject by playing ball than in Descartes’ little room. (227)

This  quasi-object  that is  a marker of the  subject is an astonishing  constructer  of  intersubjectivity.  We  know,  through  it,  how  and when  we  are  subjects  and  when  and  how  we  are  no  longer  subjects; “We”:  what  does  that  mean? We  are  precisely  the  fluctuating moving back  and forth  of “I.” The  “I” in  the  game is a token exchanged. And this passing,  this network of passes, these vicariances of subjects weave the  collection.  I  am  I  now,  a subject,  that is to  say,  exposed to  being thrown down, exposed to  falling, to being placed beneath the compact mass of the  others; then you take the relay, you are substituted for  “I” and become it; later on, it is he who gives it to you, his work done, his danger finished, his part of the collective constructed. The “we” is made by the bursts and  occultations of the “I.” The “we” is made by passing the  “I.” By  exchanging the  “I.” And by  substitution  and vicariance of the “I.” (227)

Participation is the passing  of the  “I” by  passing. It is the abandon of my individuality or  my  being  in  a quasi-object that  is  there  only to  be circulated.  It  is rigorously  the transsubstantiation  of being  into  relation.  Being is abolished  for the relation. Collective  ecstasy is the abandon of the “I” ‘s on the  tissue  of  relations.  This  moment  is  an  extremely  dangerous  one. Everyone is  on  the  edge of his or her inexistence. But the “I” as such is not  suppressed. It  still circulates, in and by the quasi-object. This thing can be forgotten. It  is on the  ground, and the one who picks it up and keeps it becomes the  only  subject, the master, the despot, the god. (228)

Our  quasi-objects  have  increasing specificity.  We  eat  the bread of  our  mores;  we  drink  the  wine  of  our  culture;  we  speak  only  the words  of our tongue-I am speaking,  of course, of unfit people like me. And love,  I ask you:  what  about love between two people? Here, then, is the specificity. We  are  not  individuals.  We have  already been divided; we are always  threatened anew by  being. (232)

The  symbolic  is there; it  is divided  and  is not  divided. What is the symbol? A stereospecificity? It  is  also  a  quasi-object.  The  quasi-object  itself is a subject. The subject can be a quasi-object. (233)

Quentin Meillassoux “After Finitude”

Meillassoux, Quentin 2012. After Finitude. An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency. London; New Delhi; New York; Sydney: Bloomsbury.

(Correlationism): In short, nothing sensible – whether it be an affective or perceptual quality – can exist in the way it is given to me in the thing by itself, when it is not related to me or to any other living creature. (1)

Whether it be affective or perceptual, the sensible only exists as a relation: a relation between the world and the living creature I am. (2)

In order  to  reactivate  the  Cartesian  thesis  in  contemporary  terms, and in order to state it in the same terms in which we intend to uphold  it,  we  shall  therefore  maintain  the following:  all  those aspects  of  the  object  that  can  be  formulated  in  mathematical  terms can be meaningfully conceived as properties of the object in itself. (3)

The  thesis  we  are  defending  is  therefore  twofold:  on  the  one hand,  we  acknowledge  that  the  sensible  only  exists  as  a  subject’s relation to the world; but on the other hand, we maintain that the mathematizable  properties  of  the  object  are  exempt  from  the constraint  of  such  a  relation,  and  that  they  are  effectively  in  the object  in  the  way  in  which  I  conceive  them,  whether  I  am  in relation with this object or not. (3)

By ‘correlation’ we mean the idea according to which we only ever have access to the correlation between thinking and being,  and  never  to  either  term  considered  apart  from  the  other. We  will  henceforth  call  correlationism  any  current  of  thought which maintains the unsurpassable character of the correlation so defined. (5)

We  will  call  ‘real  necessity’  this  ontological register of necessity which states that such and such an entity (or determinate  res)  necessarily  exists.  And  it  would  seem  that  this type  of  necessity  can  be  found  in  all  the  variants  of  dogmatic metaphysics.  For  to  be  dogmatic  is  invariably  to  maintain  that this  or  that  –  i.e.  some  determinate  entity  – must  absolutely  be, and be the way it is, whether it is Idea, pure Act, atom, indivisible soul,  harmonious  world,  perfect  God,  infinite  substance,  World-Soul,  global  history,  etc.  But  if  we  characterize  a  metaphysics minimally in terms of this kind of claim, viz., that such and such an  entity  must  absolutely  be,  we  then  begin  to  understand  how metaphysics  culminates  in  the  ontological  argument,  viz.,  in  the claim  that  this  or  that  entity  must  absolutely  be  because  it  is  the way  it  is.  The  ontological  argument  posits  a  necessary  being  ‘par excellence’ insofar as the essence of this being provides the reason for its existence – it is because God’s essence is to be perfect that He must necessarily exist. (33)

The  critique  of  ideologies,  which  ultimately  always consists  in  demonstrating  that  a  social  situation  which  is presented  as  inevitable  is  actually  contingent,  is  essentially indissociable  from  the  critique  of  metaphysics,  the  latter  being understood as the illusory manufacturing of necessary entities. (34)

Contingency expresses the fact that physical laws  remain  indifferent  as  to  whether  an  event  occurs  or  not  – they  allow  an  entity  to  emerge,  to  subsist,  or  to  perish.  But facticity, by way of contrast, pertains to those structural invariants that  supposedly  govern  the  world  –  invariants  which  may  differ from one variant of correlationism to another, but whose function in  every  case  is  to  provide  the  minimal  organization  of representation: principle of causality, forms of perception, logical laws,  etc. (39)

For  if  contingency consists  in  knowing  that  worldly  things  could  be  otherwise, facticity  just  consists  in  not  knowing  why  the  correlational structure  has  to  be  thus.  This  is  a  point  that  should  be  borne  in mind  throughout  what  follows:  in  insisting  upon  the  facticity  of correlational  forms,  the  correlationist  is  not  saying  that  these forms could actually change; he is merely claiming that we cannot think why it should be impossible for them to change, nor why a reality  wholly  other  than  the  one  that  is  given  to  us  should be proscribed a priori. (39-40)

Consequently, the  most  general  thesis  of  the  strong  model  pertains  to  the existence  of  a  regime  of  meaning  that  remains  incommensurable with  rational  meaning  because  it  does  not  pertain  to  the  facts  of the  world,  but  rather  to  the  very  fact  that  there  is  a  world. (41)

Far  from abolishing the value of the absolute, the process that continues to be  referred  to  today  as  ‘the  end  of  absolutes’  grants  the  latter  an unprecedented  licence  -philosophers  seem  to  ask  only  one  thing of these absolutes: that they be devoid of the slightest pretension to  rationality. (45)

[…]facticity will be revealed to be a knowledge of the absolute because we are going to put back into the thing itself what we mistakenly took to be an incapacity in thought. In other words, instead of construing the absence  of  reason  inherent  in  everything  as  a  limit  that  thought encounters  in  its  search  for  the  ultimate  reason,  we  must understand  that  this  absence  of  reason  is,  and  can  only  be  the ultimate property of the entity. We must convert facticity into the real  property  whereby  everything  and  every  world  is  without reason,  and  is  thereby  capable  of  actually  becoming  otherwise without  reason.  We  must  grasp  how  the  ultimate  absence  of reason,  which  we  will  refer  to  as  ‘unreason’,  is  an  absolute ontological  property,  and  not  the  mark  of  the  finitude  of  our knowledge.  From  this  perspective,  the  failure  of  the  principle  of reason  follows,  quite  simply,  from  the  falsity  (and  even  from  the absolute falsity) of such a principle – for the truth is that there is no reason for anything to be or to remain thus and so rather than otherwise,  and  this  applies  as  much  to  the  laws  that  govern  the world  as  to  the  things  of  the  world.  Everything  could  actually collapse: from trees to stars, from stars to laws, from physical laws to  logical  laws;  and  this  not  by  virtue  of  some  superior  law whereby  everything  is  destined  to  perish,  but  by  virtue  of  the absence  of  any  superior  law  capable  of  preserving  anything,  no matter what, from perishing. (53)

By  way  of  contrast,  speculation  proceeds  by accentuating  thought’s  relinquishment  of  the  principle  of  reason to  the  point  where  this  relinquishment  is  converted  into  a principle,  which  alone  allows  us  to  grasp  the  fact  that  there  is absolutely no ultimate Reason, whether thinkable or unthinkable. There  is  nothing  beneath  or  beyond  the  manifest  gratuitousness of  the  given  –  nothing  but  the  limitless  and  lawless  power  of  its destruction, emergence, or persistence. (63)

This is to say that in order to be contingent and un-necessary,  the  entity  must  conform  to  certain  determinate conditions,  which  can  then  be  construed  as  so  many  absolute properties  of  what  is.  We  then  begin  to  understand  what  the rational  discourse  about  unreason  –  an  unreason  which  is  not irrational  –  would  consist  in:  it  would  be  discourse  that  aims  to establish the constraints to which the entity must submit in order to exercise its capacity-not-to-be and its capacity-to-be-other. (66)

Consequently,  we  know  by  the  principle  of  unreason  why non-contradiction  is  an  absolute  ontological  truth:  because  it  is necessary  that  what  is  be  determined  in  such  a  way  as  to  be capable  of  becoming,  and  of  being  subsequently  determined  in some  other  way.  It  is  necessary  that  this  be  this  and  not  that,  or anything else whatsoever, precisely in order to ensure that this can become that or anything else whatsoever. Accordingly, it becomes apparent  that  the  ontological  meaning  of  the  principle  of  non-contradiction,  far  from  designating  any  sort  of  fixed  essence,  is that  of  the  necessity  of  contingency,  or  in  other  words,  of  the omnipotence of chaos. (71)

The weak interpretation of the principle can be formulated as follows:  to  say  that  contingency  is  necessary  is  to  say  that  if something  is,  then  it  must  be  contingent.  The  strong interpretation, by way of contrast, maintains the following: to say that  contingency  is  necessary,  is  to  say  both  that  things  must  be contingent  and  that  there  must  be  contingent  things.  The  weak interpretation  claims  that  it  is  not  just  a  fact  –  one  more  fact alongside  others  –  that  existing  things  are  factual,  as  opposed  to necessary; but the strong interpretation also claims that neither is it a fact – one more fact alongside others – that factual things exist, as opposed to not existing. (73)

Thus  the  solution  to  the  problem  is  as  follows:  it  is  necessary that  there  be  something  rather  than  nothing  because  it  is  necessarily contingent  that  there  is  something  rather  than  something  else.  The necessity  of  the  contingency  of  the  entity  imposes  the  necessary existence of the contingent entity. (76)

Accordingly, the principle of factiality can be stated as follows: only facticity is not factual – viz., only the contingency of what is, is not  itself  contingent.  But  it  is  important  to  bear  in  mind  the following:  the  principle  of  factiality  does  not  claim  that contingency  is  necessary;  its  precise  claim  is  that  contingency alone  is  necessary  –  and  only  this  prevents  it  from  being metaphysical.  For  the  statement  ‘contingency  is  necessary’  is  in fact  entirely  compatible  with  metaphysics. (80)

So long as we believe that there must be a reason why what is, is the way it is, we will continue to fuel superstition, which is to say,  the  belief  that  there  is  an  ineffable  reason  underlying  all things. Since we will never be able to discover or understand such a reason, all we can do is believe in it, or aspire to believe in it. (82)

And indeed, one unavoidable consequence of the principle of factiality  is  that  it  asserts  the  actual  contingency  of  the  laws  of nature. (83)

This  reformulation  can  be  stated  as  follows: instead  of  asking  how  we  might  demonstrate  the  supposedly genuine  necessity  of  physical  laws,  we  must  ask  how  we  are  to explain the manifest stability of physical laws given that we take these to  be  contingent.  Once  reformulated,  Hume’s  question  is  in  fact the one we raised earlier: if laws are contingent, and not necessary, then  how  is  it  that  their  contingency  does  not  manifest  itself  in sudden and continual transformations? How could laws for which there is no permanent foundation give rise to a stable world? Our wager is that this formulation of the problem, unlike its canonical version,  allows  of  a  satisfactory  solution  which  requires  nolimitation of the capacities of rationality. (91-92)

To  sum  up:  the  Humean-Kantian  inference  is  an  instance  of probabilistic  reasoning  applied  not  to  an  event  in  our  universe, but rather to our universe itself considered as merely one among a totality of possible universes. The nub of the argument consists in registering the immense numerical gap between those possibilities that  are  conceivable  and  those  that  are  actually  experienced,  in such  a  way  as  to  derive  from  this  gap  the  following  probabilistic aberration  (which  provides  the  source  for  the  frequentialist implication): if physical laws could actually change for no reason, it would  be  extraordinarily  improbable  if  they  did  not  change frequently,  not  to  say  frenetically.  Indeed,  they  would  change  so frequently  that  we  would  have  to  say  –  and  here  we  move  from Hume  to  Kant  –  not  just  that  we  would  have  noticed  it  already, but  that  we  would  never  have  been  here  to  notice  it  in  the  first place, since the ensuing chaos would have precluded the minimal degree  of  order  and  continuity  required  for  the  correlation between consciousness and world. Thus, necessity is proven by a fact  of  immensely  improbable  stability,  viz.,  the  permanence  of the  laws  of  nature,  and  by  the  subjective  obverse  of  this permanence,  which  is  the  consciousness  of  a  subject  capable  of science. Such is the logic of the necessitarian argument, and more particularly, of the frequentialist implication that underlies it. (98)

We will retain the following translation of Cantor’s transfinite:  the  (quantifiable)  totality  of  the  thinkable  is unthinkable. (104)

What the set-theoretical axiomatic demonstrates is at the very least a fundamental uncertainty regarding the totalizability of the possible.  But  this  uncertainty  alone  enables  us  to  carry  out  a decisive  critique  of  the  necessitarian  inference  by  destroying  one of  the  latter’s  fundamental  postulates:  we  can  only  move immediately from the stability of laws to their necessity so long as we  do  not  question  the  notion  that  the  possible  is  a  priori totalizable. (105)

But  what  is  most  fundamental  in  all  this  –  and  this  was already  one  of  the  guiding  intuitions  of  Being  and  Event  –  is  the idea  that  the  most  powerful  conception  of  the  incalculable  and unpredictable event is provided by a thinking that continues to be mathematical  –  rather  than  one  which  is  artistic,  poetic,  or religious. It is by way of mathematics that we will finally succeed in thinking that which, through its power and beauty, vanquishes quantities and sounds the end of play. (108)

Our project can in fact be formulated as follows:  our  aim  is  to  supplant  the  contemporary  dissolution  of metaphysical problems by a non-metaphysical precipitation of these same  problems. (108)

Instead  of  laughing  or  smiling  at  questions  like  ‘Where  do  we come  from?’,  ‘Why  do  we  exist?’,  we  should  ponder  instead  the remarkable fact that the replies ‘From nothing. For nothing’ really are  answers,  thereby  realizing  that  these  really  were  questions  – and  excellent  ones  at  that.  There  is  no  longer  a  mystery,  not because  there  is  no  longer  a  problem,  but  because  there  is  no longer a reason. (110)

It is the  discourse  of  empirical  science  which,  for  the  first  time,  gives meaning to the idea of a rational debate about what did or did not exist prior to the emergence of humankind, as well as about what might  eventually  succeed  humanity.  Theories  can  always  be improved  and  amended,  but  the  very  fact  that  there  can  be  such dia-chronic  theories  is  the  remarkable  feature  made  possible  by modern  knowledge.  It  was  science  that  made  it  meaningful  to disagree about what there might have been when we did not exist, and  what  there  might  be  when  we  no  longer  exist  –  just  as  it  is science  that  provides  us  with  the  means  to  rationally  favour  one hypothesis over another concerning the nature of a world without us. (114)

It  is  this  capacity  whereby  mathematized  science  is  able  to deploy  a  world  that  is  separable  from  man  –  a  capacity  that Descartes  theorized  in  all  its  power  –  that  rendered  possible  the essential  alliance  between  the  Galilean  and  Copernican revolutions. In speaking of ‘the Copernican revolution’, what we have  in  mind  is  not  so  much  the  astronomical  discovery  of  the decentring of the terrestrial observer within the solar system, but rather  the  much  more  fundamental  decentring  which  presided over the mathematization of nature, viz., the decentring of thought relative to the world within the process of knowledge. (115)

Thus,  the  decentring  inherent  in  the  Copernican-Galilean revolution  proceeds  by  way  of  a  Cartesian  thesis,  viz.,  that whatever is mathematically conceivable is absolutely possible. But it is important  to  note  that  the  absolute  here  is  not  understood  in terms of the capacity of mathematics to designate a referent that is assumed  to  be  necessary  or  intrinsically  ideal  –  rather,  the absoluteness  at  issue  here  expresses  the  following  idea:  it  is meaningful  to  think  (even  if  only  in  a  hypothetical  register)  that all  those  aspects  of  the  given  that  are  mathematically  describable can continue to exist regardless of whether or not we are there to convert  the  latter  into  something  that  is  given-to  or  manifested-for. Consequently, this dia-chronic referent may be considered to be contingent while simultaneously being considered to be absolute: it can be construed as an event, an object, or a processual stability, that need not be shown to be unconditionally necessary, since this would be contrary to our ontology. On the other hand, however, the  meaning  of  the  diachronic  statement  about  a  radioactive decay  older  than  all  terrestrial  life  is  only  conceivable  if  it  is construed  as  absolutely  indifferent  to  the  thought  that  envisages it. Accordingly, the absoluteness of that which is mathematizable means:  the  possibility  of  factial  existence  outside  thought  –  and not:  the  necessity  of  existence  outside  thought. (117)

We  will  henceforth refer  to  this  ‘reversal  of  the  reversal’  as  the  ‘schism’  of  modern philosophy, which expresses the following paradox: it is only since philosophy  has  attempted  to  think  rigorously  the  revolution  in the  realm  of  knowledge  brought  about  by  the  advent  of  modern science  that  philosophy  has  renounced  the  very  thing  that constituted the essence of this revolution; that is to say, science’s non-correlational mode of knowing, in other words, its eminently speculative character. (119)

Thus,  philosophy’s  message  to  science  was:  ‘it  is  you (and  not  speculative  metaphysics)  that  holds  the  reins  of knowledge,  but  the  underlying  nature  of  this  knowledge  is  the very  opposite  of  what  it  seems  to  you.’  In  other  words,  in providing the impetus for philosophy’s destruction of speculative metaphysics,  science  also  destroyed  any  possibility  of  a philosophical understanding of its own essence. (120)