A Short Note on Nothing
Being is a small, odd, rare thing, probably the smallest, the rarest—“next to nothing”; if not the Nothing itself, then the infinitesimal stylus, Lucretius’ clinamen, writing and creating traces on simulated sheets projectable upon or before or in front of, as a problema, the very Nothing, not unlike, perhaps, what modern physics is doing, still, right now. There one, in the miniscule registers of Being, trace traces of existence, left on “sheets.” Seeking positive Being these scientists find matter composed of planes of increasing porosity, “voidity,” to the point of the matter being predicated by the concept of the infinitesimal; it is generally assumed that only the localization of “atoms,” or indivisibles, or “untoucables,” possibly yields an explanation of the universe, which in turn is generally assumed to be of vital importance: installing oneself in Being to program it, steer the atoms, write them, at least as co-author—starting “to have a say” [phoncentrism]—, making the transubstantiation of God complete. Who said that the Hegel was dead? His lettery sketches are still ours, ours only its variations, petit exercises by superenthused calligraphers of the beauty.
One never writes ugly the analuein of building-blocks, the loosening up, the resolutions of an archaeology of which is the way toward the monarchy without future. We are all radicalists. When the plot is laid, bricked, braced, with capital letters, no matter how many axes across which they are dialectically spread, time gets engulfed in analytical geometry—and chemistry finds its lost and forlorn alchemy. Such spatiality is to virtualize temporality totally—discernable in conceptions of temporality as in its tripartite ontological modulations where presence synthesizes past and future, right and left, discernments of which science itself long ago found exhausted, superfluous and redundant to its mission. Science is all about total space, wherefrom speed gets its function, the last remains of time. What is speed if not, not an attribute of time, but a certain spatiality that is eager to expand its domains and regimes? The anthropogenic project of power must get rid of time to actualize; here potentiality is clearly no longer sufficient, as its concept only tastes of past, whence its eating future necessitates the operation of the virtual. No vestiges of possible, or im-possible, remains, wells, of a-power, anti-power, another power, must be still to-come. The virtual installs to block such. Anachronicity is already, as is well known, common theme become. Except for its grammatical lure, as if it was time itself against time itself, ‘anachronicity’ is an anthropogenic program. If not anthropoi are time itself—clearly not of empirically testimony since power is heterogeneous to the coming of the times to come, time fluking all sand castles of grains of causality and the shortest line. One need not be ascertained that Gödel’s incompleteness theorems provide a crucial, critical well from which to deconstruct the Euclidean geometry, logic, method. That one cannot have completeness and consistency at the same time.
The internal contexts of science are such that they are structural, and from which no escape and of which no mastery is possible—never to be reduced to anthropological, psychological, sociological, technical, historical, etc., regions, never to be written off as secondary and derivative. Among other constituents, some of which are anthropological, psychological, etc., certain internal contexts are constitutive of anything positing/posited as ‘science.’ Whether physics, mathematics, cybernetics, genetics, or, say history or political economy, psychology or astronomy, all sciences, insofar as they are such to be called, and insofar as they are to operate at all, there are first structural internal contexts. Internal contexts introduced by Derrida’s superyou—to use Hélène Cixous’ fine expression—will be grafted onto science, then. And: “At this very moment here the superimpossible takes place. It takes place where.”
Derrida writes nothing—nothing writes “Derrida”-“itself.” On “the other side” of his writing—thither, hither irrespective, yes; “Being” is proliferating its sides as there are no sides, no siding to be done, to nothing, and how many sheets are there not—is the applicable program, where no events ever occur, only the machination of historically constituted rules/sides. But nothing, that is nothing of what is imagined to be implicated of Being, is before the gramma—in the sense neither in front of facing faced nor chronologically antecedent to it—before the trace, the incision, and the mark; gramma is first, but before beginning, and the gramma in general is what is split a priori according to structural laws pertaining to, e.g., general iterability: the first is always already not the first, not one, not simple, coherent, homogeneous, and so everything within the spatiotemporal is postgrammatic in essence. Now, what Derrida shows—“dans le cours d’une écriture sur l’écriture, d’une écriture dans l’écriture aussi”—is that the dominant conceptual systems are presupposing what it never admits of, never acknowledges as such, which even is condemned and repressed. The system is utterly incoherent. Its conclusions, its surface concepts, the conceptual appearances, say, of responsibility, beginning, origin, decision, appearing, friendship, hospitality, all contradict the basis upon which they are said to issue from. With systems of programmation you can never, de jure and de facto, have decisions, responsibility, moral, politics, etc. These things streams from what for the programmatic system appears irrational, hostile, nihilistic, satanic. Now one will always be able to say that so is how the system works, but more safe still, we say that that’s how it works this or that certain way. We have no reason to say that our existing ways are the natural, inevitable, the right, and the best. One should deconstruct very systematically and with a view to concrete and determinate contexts and motivations.
Derrida writes about a certain nothing, wanting a coherence where none before has ever ventured. He desires a choice to be made; either stick with colloquial interpretations and admissions, or with what makes its key concepts possible at all. There is a decisive crack between its denegated, repressed structural presuppositions, and what it openly acclaims, confesses to. The decisive conceptual operations of the system would be impossible—vain and empty, purely imaginative construals beyond any reality principle—if not its architectonic was not untenable. When thrown into existence, thrown into language constituted by certain internal contexts as much as external ones, thrown into a given cultural circuit, and then is required to already be constituted as a subject, or else become such, as responsible and moral and political individuality, with a secure identity, we could have before us a case of determinism. Responsibility, the free, autonomous subject acting according to moral and political norms, would here be simply not the case. And such we are indeed thrown, into existence, into this or that polis, into this or that affiliation, this or that idiomatics, etc. where is the ‘I’ to be located in this throw, where can it possibly take place? Then even Kant’s I that accompanies all representations, gathering, synthesizing, would consist of the same throw, only now that what you were thrown into was not, in this case, the fact of all of a sudden being existing, with this or that language, culture, history, geography, etc., but being thrown into what Kant calls the transcendental I. so where and when does the free, autonomous, responsible, politically aware I enter the scene? Could not even such requirements follow the same order? Then again, where is the I? Alternatively, we could, and we could so just as well, take such throws to be the very freedom, autonomy itself, the event, the occurrence, the coming itself. In this case we would in the very being thrown instantiate the free, the responsible, the decision, the event, etc. What contradicts, works against and denegates the gift of the free would then be all the assumptions met with here that we are not yet enough of a free being, that something needs to be done, before we could claim reasonably status as responsible, autonomous, accountable, etc. we are always already the event, in the event, from inception and before. With something, with a Being, positive or negative, there would never be allowances for the event. Against measures there are no events. Therefore, only a certain nothing can at all approach acute questions of responsibility, accountability, legibility, autonomy, democracy, etc. Here everything looses its ground, necessarily so, and so the does the ground from which power in general grows and is sewn and reaped. Also why all Godheads appear so infinitely small when compared to the Nothing—which is the pure gift being the pure event. The immensity, the vastness, the beyondicity, of such is what compels us to device our small instruments: Gods, political parties, truth, origin, etc.
Teleontological science, grammageneous, proliferius with its internal contexts it tries to negligate, denegate, decimate, annihilate, ignore, ecodestructive—to mention but a few of the characteristics we have opted for in this text—is of the viral. Therefore, we shall find in the texere made here of science and writing also a thread of virology; when Derrida admitted that his work was one of virology, we shall have to graft it to our context here. Recent interest in the viral, be it in computer, genetic, or political sciences, need not remain restricted such. There is all reason to believe that the viral constitutes science in general from its very structural “inside,” in its internal context, as sine qua non condition.
Derrida’s motifs are not concepts, are not of conceptual nature; they rather perform a logic of structural conditioning of concepts in general, and so Derrida’s philosophical project remains indebted to the Kantian philosophy. The vital difference is, however, that the transcendental questions in Derrida, learning from Husserl the necessity of not again reinstating an uncritical, confused empiricism, takes into account not simply conditions of possibility, but just as much conditions of impossibility, in such a way that the latter constitutes the former. How is my project here then possible, that is, if the deconstructive motifs seized for this project are not conceptual? If the motifs have no clear and distinct meaning, how can they possibly be made use of outside their performative and strictly historically determined position in determinate texts? At the same time, all such motifs are explicitly claimed to be citational, graftable, and this due to their very conditions of possibility. The problem remains, however, how one is to make use of such textual interventions so closely tied up to the texts it writes on. Any concept, insofar as it remains such, will, for one of its structural conditions of possibility, have to be graftable, and so beyond a factual, actual consciousness, intention, context, etc.; precisely what the Derrridean motifs makes account of. But these are no less graftable; they constitute a chain subject to indefinite displacements, interventions, performances, alterations, etc. No gramma is a transcendental signified; any gramma is—since there is nothing outside of contexts, and since any context is structured according to textual logic too—graftable, quotable, reproducible, interpretable, beyond what science in general claims is already accomplished or about to due to its telos however this latter is termed and understood. Science in the making and the tradition depends upon certain structural laws whose salient features are to make science both possible and impossible, subject to indefinite aporia, an aporia, therefore, about which one cannot hope for eventual redemption. Scepticism concerning knowledge, or episteme, is today not a matter of speculative taste; evidences abound that what we have obtained is not, or rather cannot be, knowledge as we have defined it. Were it knowledge we must presume that its practical ramifications would not be eco-destructive. Insofar as we do have to acknowledge that our knowledge production has acute split consequences, such as more or less obtaining what in fact intended on the one hand, and producing non-intended eco-destructions on the other, we must either accept that we have yet to know and obtain true knowledge or that the very conception of knowledge is fundamentally flawed. Method suggests that we investigate the latter; the former has been given enormous attention. This is yet not simply scepticism; scepticism is defined by and defines episteme. We want to transgress that traditional scheme. Adjusting the Kantian set of epistemic conditions of possibility with the Derridean set of conditions of impossibility does not imply scepticism, since these latter are part and parcel of the former. We just want a more modest conception of knowledge. Besides, eco-historical states yield our empirical material. We therefore want to see if not certain conditions of impossibility can provide theoretical tools for better understanding the tremendous split in the productions of present science, and which makes, say, the Husserlian or the Heideggerian crisis diagnoses look rather insignificant. They are both radicalist thinkers, and nostalgia never is far from a thinking of the origins. As when crisis obtains due to sedimentalization, tradition, forgetting, etc., and only a reactivating of a past origin is remedic. Such thinking misses what Derrida staked out: the irradical futuristic aspects of meaning and truth, that to participate in episteme’s conditions of possibility it must also participate in certain conditions of impossibility, conditions, namely, that all incorporate future uncertainties or undecidables into the very internal contexts of meaning and truth production. At the inner vestiges of meaning production there is an irradical undecidability, which, however, is what structurally necessitates determining in general; determination gives only meaning where there is undecidability at the supplementary, split origin. There is no need of determining if there is no undecidability. Such is not therefore a gesture of scepticism. Scepticism is speculative; the debate between various forms of realism and scepticism was until recently undecidable, since no unequivocal evidence pointed in favour of one of the positions. Such is no longer the case. Thus, what is undecidable is decided by history; what at one point appears undecidable may later show itself to be strictly decidable, where a determination is made that is superior in terms of empirical backing and theoretical strength. Connect this with Nancy’s interdiction.
Man looks, and sees difference. Man is difference. Looks at mountains, trees, flowers, skies, planets, universes—only to see that identity all was difference, that identity was on its way, to, not non-identity, but difference. Man is allogenic. What is clear only today. Why the theme of decision has gained acuity. In difference there is to come decision. And the decision is—”as always”—being difference. From man comes simulation.
A Philosophy of Nothing:
“The simulacrum is never that
which conceals the truth—it
is the truth which conceals that
there is none. The simulacrum
is true.” (Jean Baudrillard)
A rather ruthless claim perhaps, but nevertheless critical to expose: what within computer technology is termed ‘simulation machines’ should for its philosophical exegesis cease to be content with post-modern philosophies of simulacra of simulation, like Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation from 1981, and go back to Edmund Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology, yes, even to Immanuel Kant’s first critique of 1871. We should open ourselves up to the possibility that simulation machines were not first developed within the complex of military industry and computer science, and then, in the aftermath yielding to philosophical reflection. Though surely not intended as simulation machines, certain aspects of the philosophies of Kant and especially of Husserl may indeed be interpreted as the first coherent and systematic appearances of simulation machines. Before they were materialized as technics they were thought systems; they entered the mind before they got replicated technically. The ideational systems were machinated into the human mind, exercised for their replicability there, before replicated as regular auxiliary machines.
This perspective will enforce us to understand that such machines have been in our history for more than two centuries. The banal understanding of this—affirmed as a recent technoscientific evolution—is in itself an unlucky simulation machine: the fact of the more than 200 years old history of mental simulation machines are obscured by that discursive simulation machine where the technical simulation machines are affirmed being the first ones. By that token, there will be operated a certain distancing into our historical as well as systematical conceptions of this, making us believe that those machines are of recent date, and that they simply are an empirical eventuality on our outside. Being arbitrary, of recent date, and an empirical outside, these machines will not be as problematizable as if interpreted as having been induced into the mind a long time ago, and that this seems, for certain reasons, to have necessitated its repression.
Our minds have for two centuries been assimilated to the simulation machine, as an abstract machine of course. This assimilation we are not aware of; its means are ever more efficient, especially so because of the proliferation of such machines on the outside of the brain. Fiber optical networks, mediating all other medias, immune even to the electromagnetic pulse, constitutes the external dissimulation of the human brain as already a simulator. The technical machines in Kant’s contemporaneity signal the possibility of this relation, and when investigated: surely simulation machines was very well articulated, and made part of a globalizing pedagogy. Already at that time. Thinking becomes simulation; thinking technology, in Heideggerian terms, is impossible: thinking is technology. Or, if what we call thinking lead to the simulation machine inside our brains it never was thinking, and thinking is still what is to come, it still has a future. Of course simulation always has been part of what Derrida calls writing in general; but the Kantian claim that the human mind is irreducibly cut off from reality and that only a mysterious schematism ensures knowledge is surely to graft simulation and machine systematically onto the human brain stem.
I will—under the call of a philosophy of nothing—remark the invention of the simulation machines: the invention of the association between transcendental conditions and epistemology leads to the very first simulation machines which in turn leads to what I propose to call prosthesia. Prosthesia is the whole planet metamorphosed by a network of prostheses, mediated in the outer, spatial, and macro registers by satellites, and in the inner, temporal, and micro registers, for instance, by fiber optics. Prosthesia is the totality of the world framed into stratospheric Panoptical, the visual and spatial, and biospheric Panspectral, the non-visual and temporal, prostheses. The philosopher’s sketchy simulation machine ends circumscribing the sum total of everything meaningful to us, threatening man from everywhere.
To understand this evolution I would like, paraphrasing Heidegger, to ask a question about the ontic-ontological difference between nothing and Nothing—and by that imply that we have lost the Nothing of nothing. Our historically explainable rudimentary understanding of nothing has led us to avoid the Nothing of nothings that laughs at every discourse and institution of be it truth, arche, morality, radicalism, progress, derivation, system, adequatio, messianism, logos, and by the same token the et cetera. As yet we have refused to recognize that the nothings are not arbitrary, disconnected, and meaningless, not to be eventually reduced,—that is to say, not recognized the Nothing of Being. Truth is actually something that against the Nothing of nothings eventually, very much like a Derridaean qualified Husserlian material a priori, will produce that simulation machine that will keep on until it embraces the whole earth. And Heideggers’ Being of beings we can interpret as a plain simulation: he framed the saying that something is that really is not, and he insisted that our freedom was “letting beings be”. He actually simulated the simulation machines of Kant and Husserl. Already in Kant we do see the first sketching out of such simulation machines. As we already know, Kant’s Kritik der reinen Vernunft from 1781 was a critical distinguishing between what is transcendental and what is transcendent. Though I would like here, for reasons both of authority and system, to stress Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology, I will first share with you some aspects of Kant’s prolegomenic works on the simulation machine. I will then go from Kant to Baudrillard and then to Derrida and Husserl to Prosthesia. In between will be the deposited various frequencies of texts from various writers.
The essence of, and what justifies the concept of, simulation machines is that of an organized device simulating reality. The purpose of such a machine is to come as close to the real as possible, approaching the threshold where the real and the simulacra in all significant aspects is if not indistinguishable then irrelevant for the given purpose of the given simulation machine….
We rejoice, and will never forget it seems: the transcendental aesthetic and the transcendental logic deals with, first, whether we possibly can know, as appearing in space and time, empirical objects, and, second, the relationship between appearing and concept, and a priori principles [please click http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kritik_der_reinen_Vernunft]:
Ausgehend von der Beobachtung, dass Erkenntnis auf der Erfahrung der Natur beruht, stellt Kant die Frage nach der Bedingung der Möglichkeit der Erkenntnis bzw. als Aufgabe der reinen Vernunft die Frage: „Wie sind synthetische Urteile a priori möglich?“.
Kant fulfilled contemporary physics philosophically, yes, but it is now, 225 years after, due to investigate into other possible functions of that highly prominent transcendental machine. Let us quote a scheme depicting the relation between the world, what Kant called Dinge an Sich, and the transcendental apparatus:
Installed within reality is this transcendental computational processing, where man as we knew him, from now on is reductively designated by the terms ‘Sinne’/‘Erscheinungen’. Man is depicted, so to speak, as being processed by decisive computational procedures, forever detached from reality—called a ‘thing’. And as if this was not enough: his authoritative I is no longer his concrete, empirical, and enduring I, but what is called ‘Transzendentales Selbstbewusstsein. And next, what is outside is either noise to be discarded, or God, Soul, and Freedom. The thing that is nearest to man in 1871 is so the system of transcendental computational processes. That this system of thought has appeared so strong and so compelling tells us something, not necessarily about the truth of Kant’s theory of knowledge, but about how far the thought of the simulation machines had come already for two centuries ago.
I will not in this text try to demonstrate—simulate—further the truth of my thesis as concerns Kant. But I do think it would be enlightening to reread Kant in the light of this hypothesis of his texts being a crude form of a simulation machine: in the unconscious of Kant’s texts there is the wish for simulation machine. In parenthesis written: of course we with Derrida today is able to say that every text was a simulation machine; this is not the point in this text, though. Herefrom, then, will I rather, through a re-detour into Baudrillard, go on into Husserl’s texts. When we eventually will have a closer look at Husserl I bet you will agree that Kant, too, was into this—implying that Baudrillard was a very late articulation, and that mine is even later.
In his essay ‘The Precession of the Simulacra’, Baudrillard recalls a tale by Borges in which a map (i.e. a representation) is produced so detailed that it ends up coming into one-to-one correspondence with the territory (i.e. everything that had once been directly lived), but argues that in the postmodern epoch, the territory ceases to exist, and there is nothing left but the map; or indeed, the very concepts of the map and the territory have become indistinguishable, the distinction which once existed between them having been erased.” [http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Baudrillard#Precession_of_Simulacra] If we took for granted that this is as Baudrillard describes this, we would anyway have to say that this didn’t happen in what he calls the “postmodern epoch”; there is no epochality in this. With Derrida we may say that the différanceial logic of “map and terrain” is coextensive with every writing, every inscription and gramma. The history, then, is also about the gradual elaboration—or ever new frozened versions of the différance—of this simulation machinery. Writing is in its own evolution, with its own mutations. In parenthesis just let me note that a mutation is not a totally arbitrary thing according the structure of writing; it’s an irreducible absolution of chance and necessity.
Besides, there could never be a “one-to-one correspondence” to this différanceing/-ed writing, to the point where “the very concepts of map and territory have become indistinguishable”. How could there ever be differance with only transcendental signifieds? The distinction between writing and its other can never be erased; still they are irreducibly inseparable. They are not two, not one, but always more or less and more and less than one: this is the machine. Now, what is interesting here, in this context, here in this simulation, is that though Derrida’s texts are intolerably irradical in these matters and therefore lend themselves so strong to the notion of the simulation machine, we will never be able to end up with Baudrillard’s position. In the postmodern we simply have no criteria, no outside, no reality principle; we have to ask ourselves — continuing the necessity to still ask transcendental questions — how this is possible to say.
Baudrillard says: “The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth–it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true.” Baudrillard is still inside of Kant and Husserl’s transcendental machines. Both would have to yield to this simulacrum; das Dinge an Sich mean nothing but this. The simulacrum is the transcendental conditions of possibility for knowledge. We will never know if this knowledge answers to reality; Kant’s vocabulary is stringent on this point. Husserl tries to justify this scandal of simulation, especially through his concept of intentionality: if epistemic matters are confined to the transcendental-phenomenological simulation machine, then the concept of intentionality at least will ensure the consciousness-of, the reality reached by the modulations of intentionality, retention, intention, and protention. It grants discourse to what The Kantian simulation machine simply dismissed under the title of Das Dinge an Sich. Intentionality is something that Heidegger stresses in his essay on Husserl’s greatest discoveries, History of the Concept of Time.
Why are they both stressing this quasi-solution? This will only function so as to make this unheard of integration of man and machine easier. This is unheard of because from this moment on—and I think Kant was unaware of this historical moment no matter how much he accelerated its itinerary—the machine is already inside of man’s mind. We are frightened when thinking of the possibility of microchips inside our brains, but we have already been there for a very long time. Only that these machines of Kant and Husserl are abstract machines. So the fact that we today have this talk of concrete, material microchips, means that this version of writing is about to come to an end. That will, by the way, also give us another interpretation of the quote above.
Of course, it was not Kant or Husserl that invented nor discovered simulation machines; the possibility of these are language. We remember Leibniz and Spinoza, for instance. And Husserl evokes Descartes as the grounding father of the first true prima philosophiae, as the figure of cogito, ergo sum institutes the possibility and necessity of a procedural consciousness as the foundation from which absolute certainty alone is ensured. In a way every idealism is tracing the simulation machine; in a way every language is idealistic. But Kant was not the first to articulate it; how could we ever establish a criteria for this? But he’s articulations suits our purpose here, especially through the keywords of the-thing-in-itself, transcendentalism, a priorism, and schematism. Husserl articulated it not better, but in yet another way: keywords being transcendental reduction, bracketing, and psycho-physical parallelism. And the two articulations complement each other. Nonetheless I think Kant marks a decisive threshold through his inauguration of a systematized transcendentalism.
Let us cite Baudrillard on the religious dimension of this:
One can live with the idea of a distorted truth. But their metaphysical despair came from the idea that the images concealed nothing at all, and that in fact they were not images, such as the original model would have made them, but actually perfect simulacra forever radiant with their own fascination. But this death of the divine referential has to be exorcised at all cost. It can be seen that the iconoclasts, who are often accused of despising and denying images, were in fact the ones who accorded them their actual worth, unlike the iconolaters, who saw in them only reflections and were content to venerate God at one remove. But the converse can also be said, namely that the iconolaters possesed the most modern and adventurous minds, since, underneath the idea of the apparition of God in the mirror of images, they already enacted his death and his disappearance in the epiphany of his representations (which they perhaps knew no longer represented anything, and that they were purely a game, but that this was precisely the greatest game – knowing also that it is dangerous to unmask images, since they dissimulate the fact that there is nothing behind them).
The progression of Baudrillard’s simulacrum has four main momentums, namely when it is thought of as simply the reflection of a basic reality, a tool, then as what masks and perverts a basic reality, an evil, then as masking the absence of a basic reality, a play, and last as bearing no relation to any reality whatever, here become its own pure simulacrum. I think that both Kant and Husserl participates in the transgression from the third to the fourth momentum.
In terms of its ambitions the Husserlian transcendental phenomenology is strangely out of joint with contemporaneous developments, yes, even developments that already had effected Husserl’s own ways of working in profound ways, namely concerning the new revolutionizing relations that obtain between machines and thinking, the breathtaking recognition that thinking perhaps was mediated and so thoroughly formed through the chances and necessities of the new media technics of language, such as the typewriter and grammophone, and techniques of phonography, photography, and cinematography, transposing thinking into light and sound waves.
In the wake of the wave of new media technologies Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology appears anachronistic. What is the motives for Husserl’s insistence lasting four decades? Was he simply in profound mistake, or had he something else in his mind? I think that Husserl was ahead and not back of his time: though Husserl never described his thought in terms of simulation and machination — how could he? —, I think such terms make sense to his work. While revolutions of new media were breaching through, Husserl were one of those preparing for the next revolution of machines: virtuality and simulation. If Friedrich Kittler says that 1900 was about external thinking machines, making their impact on thinking from the outsides of the brain, we will say that what Husserl’s work expresses is the will to internalize the thinking machines, making machine and mind one, only separated by a mysterious sheet of nothing, inscribing the psyche and the transcendental ego onto a universal parallelism.
When Husserl gives the example of a perception where what appeared as a man turns out to be a mannequin — this is his articulation of what Kant called the true scandal of philosophy, namely Descartes’ hyperbolical doubt that opens a crack in the most ancient conviction of philosophy and common sense, the fissuring of kriterion tes aletheias according to which all sensations are true — this will strangely not only serve as justification for the totality of reductions ending with the universal transcendental reduction, but also serve our purpose here. Husserl makes the mind a mannequin. It is decisive that mannequin belongs to the commercial realms. What could be more profitable than make human mind operated so as to be of one and only one constitution? Then the human mind will be manipulable more easily than otherwise.
The Husserlian simulation machine comes through by way of the operation of bracketing, or the epokhe, or what he also terms the ‘transcendental reduction’. What is transcendentally reduced is a variety of so called “natural”, that is to say naive, confused and prejudiced, attitudes towards the things themselves. Through the transcendental reduction Husserl institutes the primordiality of consciousness and therefore ends up with construing an abstract brain implant that will function as the universal chronotopoi from which to deal with what is its outside. Husserl was constructing a mind machine.
For Husserlian transcendental phenomenology any empirical psychology will necessarily regress to relativism and scepticism. Every phenomena possible for an empirically attuned psyche must be bracketed for so as to give way to the pure realm of transcendental phenomenology. When the transcendental phenomenology is revealed, everything that enters the empirical psyche will always already have been filtered through pure and evident essences. Empirical psychology is dismissed but will be taken back when complying with transcendental phenomenology; the human psyche will from that universal simulation machine on never go beyond the machinating rules, or be discarded as irrational.
Psyche will be with the things themselves, in the closest possible nearness, only separated by what it thinks is the thinnest possible sheet, the sheet of nothing constituting a pure parallelism. This is exactly what occupied Husserl’s mind: first separate transcendental phenomenology from empirical psychology, so that transcendental phenomenology becomes universally irreducible to the realm of empirical psychology, second put psyche back in place, but now mediated by an universal transcendental thinking machine. A large scale effect of this will be the split between the machine-psyche functioning according to principles of simulation and its exclusions as irrational whatever still resists machinating; Husserl’s effect is to reduce the residues of irrational currents, and end up with a global mind-machine, where every ego is a monad obeying the same sets of rules. The call for the first authentic first philosophy — philosophia perennis — is so only the attempt to establish and proliferate a newer and hopefully better modification of the Kantian simulation machine, a machine of which laid out the prospects of this but which in Husserl’s time had become unsatisfactory.
The advance would be the Husserlian claim to the contingent a priori, a many facetted adumbration, and intentionality and the will to the Zu den Sache Selbst! The simulation machine is thus through the contingent a priori opened up for breaking up the fixed and linear Kantian a priori machine [Derrida, Husserl and the Origin of Geometry]; through the operations of adumbration it is opened up for multiplied, perspectival and surrounding uses (is this a kind of a phenomenological virtuality?); and through intentionality and the Zu den Sache Selbst it is offering what the Ding an Sich never promised: Husserl claims that his simulation machine will gain access to the very thing itself.
If we let us inspire by Derrida’s early work on Husserl, viz. Husserl and the Origin of Geometry, we may say that the only difference between the transcendental-phenomenological cognizant intuition and the thing itself is the thin sheet of nothing separating transcendental phenomenology and empirical psychology. There is really nothing separating the two except for it being two and except the one being not transcendental and the other transcendental, the third, the mediator, being the intentional consciousness, something of which implies that reality is dependent upon Husserlian consciousness:
Reality, that of the thing taken singly as also that of the whole world, essentially lacks independence. […] Reality is not itself something absolute, binding itself to another only in a secondary way, it is, absolutely speaking, nothing at all, it has no ‘absolute essence’ whatsoever, it has the essentiality of something which in principle is only intentional, only known, consciously presented as an appearance.
Thus, Husserl thinks that in nullifying reality methodologically we lose nothing. What concerns the phenomena the same structure obtains; it is a matter of locoi. From this point on the totality of empirical being will be dependent upon the transcendental Husserlian simulation machine; everything not bending to its laws will be discarded as noise in the system. The gradual elimination of noise will make the simulation machine work better, and the machine will by itself furnish the procedures and criteria according to which eliminations are to be done.
As we saw it in the quote above: independence is the key, then. What is dependent is defined in terms of what is not dependent; actually what is not dependent is dependent on the dependent for its very definition. Husserl discovers nature as essentially dependent and posits the human mind as alien to the total regime of dependency; in his poverty, and furthermore speaking in the name of the highest being, namely the human consciousness, his mind is not able to name itself otherwise than in negation. How is this operation not a dependent one? This linguistic dependency structure, so obvious, is actually transposed onto reality, only now turned upside down and using the adequate words describing this kind of linguistic relation, not of course thematized by Husserl, to describe reality as “nothing at all”, where the Husserlian consciousness all of a sudden appears independent and what makes this nothing appear. Husserl’s performative act betrays a total repression of its own linguistic laws of mediation. Husserl transposes mind to a certain nothing, claiming that its true function and full powers only obtains when every dependent thing is bracketed. It is amusing how the key operation of Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology is in need of yet another linguistic operation. Every text is bracketed; mind is what is bracketing; bracketing as a means to locate mind, behind both text and brackets; when mind is located it will re-enter the text as a device, or as a pro-gram, “before the gramma”, for absolute writing. Absolute writing streams from what is no more anthropological, zoological, psychological, natural. What is it that writes? What is this autogenetic and automatic writing? What were the brackets? It is said that it is the with-holding of judgment. But why the term bracket for this?
To articulate what could justify this somewhat odd reading of Husserl, I will start out from a focus on the parallelism of Husserl’s philosophy. In A Taste for the Secret, Derrida says that he always has had to reconcile the Nietzsche that suggests that philosophy is psychology plus biography — a movement of the psyche — with Husserl’s critique of psychologism. He says:
For me, the critique of psychologism was an important matter; I took it very seriously. It was an essential philosophical lever. In this logic of the critique of psychologism, I recall how interested I was in Husserl’s idea (in fact I wrote about it in 1963, in a review of his Phenomenological Psychology) that between pure phenomenological psychology, transcendental psychology, on the one hand, and pure transcendental phenomenology of the ego on the other, there is no real difference, once all the reductions have been performed. There are parallels. There is a parallel or coincidence between the contents of pure phenomenological psychology (which remains a science of the psyche, i.e. of a region of the world, and of the region on the basis of which the world is organized) and constitutive transcendental phenomenology (the Ur-Region of transcendental consciousness, which is not in the world). Nothing separates them, no content distinguishes them. But there is a nothing between them that does not appear as such, and which is decisive. It is the question of this nothing that has always interested me. I have always situated myself, more or less comfortably, happily or uneasily, on the line or limit between the irreducibility of the psychological and psychoanalytical, and a thought that is philosophical or deconstructive of philosophy, where philosophy implies independence of the psychical, or at least of that psychical which is the object of a science called ‘psychology’. This, for me, has always been the locus of the problem.
[See: A Taste for the Secret, J.D. & Maurizio Ferraris, translated for the French and Italian by Giacomo Donis, edited by Giacomo Donis and David Webb, Polity Press 2001, pp. 35-6 (first published as Il Gusto del Segret, Gius. Laterza and Figli Spa, Roma-Bari, 1997]
This is what Derrida says of himself, autobiographically. This is something quite else than the operation that Husserl undertakes. Husserl wants a pure autograph to come forth inside consciousness, where even every trace of the graph and graphicity is reduced and bracketed, since these is still of the mundane realm. For Husserl this autograph without the graph or the gramma, this signature without hand, is the only possibility of objectivity, scientificity, and philosophy. Let me quote from Speech and Phenomena as well, where Derrida in his introduction ends up in quite delicate elaborations of the parallelism of Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology. For Derrida this concept of parallelity is really decisive, and what is at stakes in Husserl. We will have to see what Husserl himself writes about this. We will juxtapose Husserl with Derrida; first Derrida’s interpretation, and then in Husserl’s own words.
A. What Husserl strives with is delineating the philosophia protè from degenerated metaphysics, which always has been blind to the true modus of ideality, that ideality which is, which is infinitely iterable in the identity of its own presence, since it precisely does not exist, is not real, but irreal. The Husserlian irreal is not fiction, but is what is the condition of every writing on non-reality and the necessity of the essence, the noema, the intelligible object, and the non-mundane in general. Since this non-mundaneity is not just another mondaneity, and since it never fell down from the heavens, its origin will always be the possibility of the repetition of the instituting act.
B. The ideality is the salvation of the presence or mastering presence in the repetition. In its purity this presence is not a presence of something which exists in the world; it correlates with iterative acts which themselves are ideal. Does this mean that what opens the repetition ad infinitum or opens itself ad infinitum, when the movement of idealization is secured, is a certain relation between an “existence” and its death? And that the “transcendental life” is the scene of this relation?
C. When empirical life, or even the region of the pure psyche, is bracketed, what Husserl hopes to reveal is still transcendental life or what in the last instance is the living presence of transcendentality. The soulless consciousness (seelenloses], whose essential possibility is unleashed in Ideen I §54 is anyway a transcendentally living consciousness. If we would have to conclude that the relation between empirical life, or mundane life in general, and transcendental life were radically heterogenous, that the two names relate indicatively or metaphorically only, we would still have to recognize the possibility of this relation, a relation of which carries the whole weight of the question of transcendental phenomenology. Husserl says himself that there is a relation of parallelism between mundaneity and transcendentality.
D. What will allow the distinction between a phenomenologically psychology, as descriptive, eidetic, and a priori science, from the very transcendental phenomenology? What will distinguish between the epoche that reveals the immanent domain of the psyche and the very transcendental epoche? Because that realm thereby opened by this pure psychology has an advantage to all other regions, and its generality will dominate them all. This is why the dependency of pure psychology upon the arche-region of transcendental consciousness absolutely unique. The domain of what Husserl calls the psychological experience is actually covering the totality of that domain he calls the transcendental experience. Notwithstanding this complete covering there will be left a radical difference, a difference which has nothing in common with other differences: a difference which is not differentiating anything, a difference which never differentiate between beings or conceptions, some determinate signification, a difference which without ever making anything different still changes all signs, and of which alone makes possible such a thing as a transcendental question. Without the possibility and recognition of such a doubling, whose stringency never allows any doubleness, and without this invisible distance between the two acts of the epoche, the very prospect of a transcendental phenomenology would be destroyed before it got started. The difficulty is due to the fact that this doubling of meaning does not answer to an ontological doubleness. As Husserl says in Phänomenologische Psychologie [Vorlesungen Sommersemester, 1925, Husserliana IX, p. 324] my transcendental I is radically different from my natural and human I, and still it does never differ in any way which would answer to the ordinary signification of distinction. The transcendental I is not an other; it is especially not a metaphysical or formal shadow of the empirical me. In Cartesianische Meditationen §45 Husserl writes about a transcendental ego that makes a verweltlichende Selbstapperzeption.
E. In Phänomenologische Psychologie [p. 343] Husserl concentrates all these difficulties in the mysterious concept of “parallelity”. The one is so to speak implicitly living in the other; the one overlaps the other, both understood as eidetic disciplines. This nothing, which distinguishes the parallels, this nothing without which precisely no “explicitization”, that is, no language could freely express itself in truth without being contaminated by a real milieu, this nothing without which no transcendental, that is to say no philosophical, question could breathe, this nothing comes forth, so to speak, when the totality of the world is neutralized and reduced to its phenomenon. This parallelity does more than emancipate the transcendental ether; it will mystify the meaning of the psychical and the life of the psyche, namely the meaning of this mundaneity that is capable of carrying transcendentality, that is capable of fully satisfy the transcendental domain but without constituting some kind of perfect adequation. Walking the path from parallelity to such an adequation is the most tempting, the most subtile, but also the most perplexing of all con-fusions: the instituting of the transcendental psychologism. This must be withheld, though the transcendental consciousness is nothing more or nothing else than the psychological consciousness. If the world is in need of a supplementary soul, then the soul is in need of a supplementary nothing which is the transcendental, without which no world would ever be visible. Even if language never escapes analogy, even if language is analogical from beginning to end, when it has reached this point it has to freely destruct itself and play metaphor against metaphor. The war of language against language: this is the price for the will to think the meaning and the question of its origin. This war is not like any other war. As polemic for the possibility of meaning and world, this war takes place in that difference of which we have seen that in its transcendental anxiety it has not its home in the world but only in language. Far from only having its home in language, this difference is really the origin and home of language. Language guards difference, which guards language.