Brassier, Enlightenment & Nature: A Reciprocity

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A lapse back into nature is a tendency that is inherent in all living things, and the overcoming of this tendency is the hallmark of development. This lapse is more like a blind conformity to nature and in a way is reason’s own fatal submission to the dictates of nature. As Ray Brassier tries to juxtapose this reason with the Enlightenment’s reason (specifically taking his reading of Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment seriously), he calls this reason as a function of adaptational constraints. He does this precisely because as the two authors talk about the Enlightenment reason’s drive to conceptually subsume particularity, heterogeneity and multiplicity to universality, homogeneity and unity and in the process rendering everything equivalent to everything else, but in a way such that nothing is identical to itself. This is conceptual identification that stipulates differential commensurability and in their own words ‘amputating the incommensurable’. The evolution of this reason is undoubtedly the case of the confrontation between the dominated and the dominating powers that subjected the humans under the sway of the all-powerful nature. Brassier takes his reading of sacrifice from the Dialectic of Enlightenment as an attempt to propitiate these incommensurables. Adorno and Horkheimer claim in their book that enlightenment equates the living with the non-living, just as the mythical tales equated the non-living with the living.

The authors accord to reason a reflexivity that is capable of understanding and resolving the incommensurability that is generated as a result of the enlightenment science’s knowledge of the actual and the existence. This reflexivity of reason is purely centred on its own historicity. They claim that the reason is independent of nature by virtue of its reflexivity on its own dependence on nature and this is where science fails to reach for somehow it depicts its incapability of engaging with reflexivity. The subject that postulates absolutes is sick in their view, passively succumbing to the dazzlement of false immediacy and the only remedy to cure the ailment is by inaugurating a mediation in the form of remembrance that would encompass the human history in its socio-cultural milieu. This kind of nature is different in that now, we, the humans belong in it, as compared with the earlier version, where we were excluded from nature.

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