Organic and the Orgiastic. Cartography of Ground and Groundlessness in Deleuze and Heidegger. Thought of the Day 43.0

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In his last hermeneutical Erörterung of Leibniz, The Principle of Ground, Heidegger traces back metaphysics to its epochal destiny in the twofold or duplicity (Zwiefalt) of Being and Thought and thus follows the ground in its self-ungrounding (zugrundegehen). Since the foundation of thought is also the foundation of Being, reason and ground are not equal but belong together (zusammenhören) in the Same as the ungrounded yet historical horizon of the metaphysical destiny of Being: On the one hand we say: Being and ground: the Same. On the other hand we say: Being: the abyss (Ab-Grund). What is important is to think the univocity (Einsinnigkeit) of both Sätze, those Sätze that are no longer Sätze. In Difference and Repetition, similarly, Deleuze tells us that sufficient reason is twisted into the groundless. He confirms that the Fold (Pli) is the differenciator of difference engulfed in groundlessness, always folding, unfolding, refolding: to ground is always to bend, to curve and recurve. He thus concludes:

Sufficient reason or ground is strangely bent: on the one hand, it leans towards what it grounds, towards the forms of representation; on the other hand, it turns and plunges into a groundless beyond the ground which resists all forms and cannot be represented.

Despite the fundamental similarity of their conclusions, however, our short overview of Deleuze’s transformation of the Principle of Sufficient Reason has already indicated that his argumentation is very different from Heideggerian hermeneutics. To ground, Deleuze agrees, is always to ground representation. But we should distinguish between two kinds of representation: organic or finite representation and orgiastic or infinite representation. What unites the classicisms of Kant, Descartes and Aristotle is that representation retains organic form as its principle and the finite as its element. Here the logical principle of identity always precedes ontology, such that the ground as element of difference remains undetermined and in itself. It is only with Hegel and Leibniz that representation discovers the ground as its principle and the infinite as its element. It is precisely the Principle of Sufficient Reason that enables thought to determine difference in itself. The ground is like a single and unique total moment, simultaneously the moment of the evanescence and production of difference, of disappearance and appearance. What the attempts at rendering representation infinite reveal, therefore, is that the ground has not only an Apollinian, orderly side, but also a hidden Dionysian, orgiastic side. Representation discovers within itself the limits of the organized; tumult, restlessness and passion underneath apparent calm. It rediscovers monstrosity.

The question then is how to evaluate this ambiguity that is essential to the ground. For Heidegger, the Zwiefalt is either naively interpreted from the perspective of its concave side, following the path of the history of Western thought as the belonging together of Being and thought in a common ground; or it is meditated from its convex side, excavating it from the history of the forgetting of Being the decline of the Fold (Wegfall der Zwiefalt, Vorenthalt der Zwiefalt) as the pivotal point of the Open in its unfolding and following the path that leads from the ground to the abyss. Instead of this all or nothing approach, Deleuze takes up the question in a Nietzschean, i.e. genealogical fashion. The attempt to represent difference in itself cannot be disconnected from its malediction, i.e. the moral representation of groundlessness as a completely undifferentiated abyss. As Bergson already observed, representational reason poses the problem of the ground in terms of the alternative between order and chaos. This goes in particular for the kind of representational reason that seeks to represent the irrepresentable: Representation, especially when it becomes infinite, is imbued with a presentiment of groundlessness. Because it has become infinite in order to include difference within itself, however, it represents groundlessness as a completely undifferentiated abyss, a universal lack of difference, an indifferent black nothingness. Indeed, if Deleuze is so hostile to Hegel, it is because the latter embodies like no other the ultimate illusion inseparable from the Principle of Sufficient Reason insofar as it grounds representation, namely that groundlessness should lack differences, when in fact it swarms with them.

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Of Phenomenology, Noumenology and Appearances. Note Quote.

Heidegger’s project in Being and Time does not itself escape completely the problematic of transcendental reflection. The idea of fundamental ontology and its foundation in Dasein, which is concerned “with being” and the analysis of Dasein, at first seemed simply to mark a new dimension within transcendental phenomenology. But under the title of a hermeneutics of facticity, Heidegger objected to Husserl’s eidetic phenomenology that a hermeneutic phenomenology must contain also the theory of facticity, which is not in itself an eidos, Husserl’s phenomenology which consistently holds to the central idea of proto-I cannot be accepted without reservation in interpretation theory in particular that this eidos belong only to the eidetic sphere of universal essences. Phenomenology should be based ontologically on the facticity of the Dasein, and this existence cannot be derived from anything else.

Nevertheless, Heidegger’s complete reversal of reflection and its redirection of it toward “Being”, i.e, the turn or kehre, still is not so much an alteration of his point of view as the indirect result of his critique of Husserl’s concept of transcendental reflection, which had not yet become fully effective in Being and Time. Gadamer, however, would incorporate Husserl’s ideal of an eidetic ontology somewhat “alongside” transcendental constitutional research. Here, the philosophical justification lies ultimately in the completion of the transcendental reduction, which can come only at a higher level of direct access of the individual to the object. Thus there is a question of how our awareness of essences remains subordinated to transcendental phenomenology, but this does not rule out the possibility of turning transcendental phenomenology into an essence-oriented mundane science.

Heidegger does not follow Husserl from eidetic to transcendental phenomenology, but stays with the interpretation of phenomena in relation to their essences. As ‘hermeneutic’, his phenomenology still proceeds from a given Dasein in order to determine the meaning of existence, but now it takes the form of a fundamental ontology. By his careful discussion of the etymology of the words “phenomenon” and “Logos” he shows that “phenomenology” must be taken as letting that which shows itself be seen from itself, and in the very way in it which shows itself from itself. The more genuinely a methodological concept is worked out and the more comprehensively it determines the principles on which a science is to be conducted, the more deeply and primordially it is rooted in terms of the things themselves; whereas if understanding is restricted to the things themselves only so far as they correspond to those judgments considered “first in themselves”, then the things themselves cannot be addressed beyond particular judgements regarding events.

The doctrine of the thing-in-itself entails the possibility of a continuous transition from one aspect of a thing to another, which alone makes possible a unified matrix of experience. Husserl’s idea of the thing-in-itself, as Gadamer introduces it, must be understood in terms of the hermeneutic progress of our knowledge. In other words, in the hermeneutical context the maxim to the thing itself signifies to the text itself. Phenomenology here means grasping the text in such a way that every interpretation about the text must be considered first as directly exhibiting the text and then as demonstrating it with regard to other texts.

Heidegger called this “descriptive phenomenology” which is fundamentally tautological. He explains that phenomenon in Greek first signifies that which looks like something, or secondly that which is semblant or a semblance (das scheinbare, der Schein). He sees both these expressions as structurally interconnected, and having nothing to do with what is called an “appearance” or mere “appearance”. Based on the ordinary conception of phenomenon, the definition of “appearance” as referring to can be regarded also as characterizing the phenomenological concern for the text in itself and for itself. Only through referring to the text in itself can we have a real phenomenology based on appearance. This theory, however, requires a broad meaning of appearance including what does the referring as well as the noumenon.

Heidegger explains that what does the referring must show itself in itself. Further, the appearance “of something” does not mean showing-itself, but that the thing itself announces itself through something which does show itself. Thus, Heidegger urges that what appears does not show itself and anything which fails to show itself can never seem. On the other hand, while appearing is never a showing-itself in the sense of phenomenon, it is preconditioned by something showing-itself (through which the thing announces itself). This showing itself is not appearing itself, but makes the appearing possible. Appearing then is an announcing-itself (das sich-melden) through something that shows itself.

Also, a phenomenon cannot be represented by the word “appearance” if it alludes to that wherein something appears without itself being an appearance. That wherein something appears means that wherein something announces itself without showing itself, in other words without being itself an “appearance” (appearance signifying the showing itself which belongs essentially to that “wherein” something announces itself). Based upon this argument, phenomena are never appearances. This, however, does not deny the fact that every appearance is dependent on phenomena.

Heidegger’s Bridge to Latency. Note Quote.

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We can understand Heidegger’s choice of the term hermeneutics over alternatives as interpretation when we remember that implicit in the Heideggerian project is the effort to regain a grasp of being that has been lost in modern times and indeed since the time of Plato and Aristotle. One seeks the “hidden weight” of ancient words precisely in order to go behind what is self-evident in modern thinking. This special and intense listening Heidegger calls for is necessary in order to break away from the confines of the modern world view. Hermeneutics, it will be remembered, is the discipline concerned with deciphering utterances from other times, places, and languages–without imposing one’s own categories on them (the hermeneutic problem). It is significant that Heidegger attempts to sharpen his reflection by a conversation with a person from a radically alien world–a Japanese. The atmosphere of the conversation is an effort to understand the most difficult and ineffable conceptions–beauty, utterance, language. A Japanese tentativeness and delicacy pervades the dialogue, and one can understand Heidegger’s fascination with a people whose art strives for the letting-be of what is.

But the use of a Japanese dialogical partner is not the only indication of Heidegger’s effort to transcend the westernized, modern world view. Heidegger explicitly states that the careful listener will put in question “the guiding notions which, under the names ‘expression,’ ‘experience,’ and ‘consciousness,’ determine modern thinking. If one thinks of these conceptions as constituting the make-up of one’s “world,” then what Heidegger has in mind is that interpretation as hermeneutics should be “world-shaking,” a fateful message that shakes the foundations of thought. Only an interpretation that goes outside the prevailing conceptualities can move toward what Heidegger has in mind–“a transformation of thinking.” Unfortunately, the word interpretation fails to suggest a mediation from something outside and alien, but hermeneutics, since it customarily has reference to interpreting ancient texts in another language, has precisely this sense of relating to something essentially other yet capable of being understood.

The mediation Heidegger has in mind here is ontologically significant. It would seem to be a kind of bridge to non-being. The transcending of the already-given world is elsewhere in Heidegger even called the “step back”: a “step back” from presentational thought as such. This “step back” is a movement back from embeddedness in a set of fixed definitions of reality, in order to regain access to a certain realm of “latency” which we might also call our deeper sense of the meaning of being. Heidegger roots his thinking in a latency lying below the level of manifest consciousness. It is not nonbeing in the sense of a mere emptiness but rather a source of being for which the word “latency” seems rather apt. The mediation, in this case, is not between two well-lighted but incommensurate realms of being but between the well-lighted daylight of consciousness and something more like the mysterious night of what lies below and above consciousness. Heidegger clarified in his well-known letter to Richardson that this realm, as ontological nonbeing, is not the transcendental in the sense of Kant’s conditions for the possibility for phenomena but a kind of creative foundation and source for our being-in-the-world.

Indian Thought and Language: a raw recipe imported in the east

In his Philosophy of History, Hegel mistakenly believed that

“Hindoo principles” are polar in character. Because of their polarity which vacillates between “pure self-renouncing ideality, and that (phenomenal) variety which goes to the opposite extreme of sensuousness, it is evident that nothing but abstract thought and imagination can be developed”. However, from these mistaken beliefs, he rightly concluded that grammar in Indian thought “has advanced to a high degree of consistent regularity”. He was so impressed by the developments that he concluded that the development in grammar “has been so far cultivated that no language can be regarded as more fully developed than the Sanscrit”.

This is enlightening to the extent of what even Fred Dallmayr in his opus on Hegel titled aptly “G. W. F. Hegel: Modernity and Political Thought” would be most happy to corroborate. This is precisely what I would call ‘Philosophy in the times of errors’ (pun intended for Hegel and his arrogance).

About the nature of language, I quote in full the paragraph:

“Language is intimately related with our life like the warp and weft in a cloth. Our concepts determine the way we look at our world. Any aberration in our understanding of language affects our cognition. Despite the cardinal importance of language, the questions like “What is the nature of language?” “What is the role of semantics and syntax of language? ” What is the relationship between language, thought and reality?” How do we understand language—do we understand it by understanding each of the words in a sentence, or is the sentence a carrier of meaning?” “How does the listener understand the speaker?” are the questions which have been an enigma.”

Philosopher Christopher Gauker created quite a ruckus with his influential yet, critically attacked book called “Words without Meaning” and I quote a small review of it from the MIT press (which published the book):

“According to the received view of linguistic communication, the primary function of language is to enable speakers to reveal the propositional contents of their thoughts to hearers. Speakers are able to do this because they share with their hearers an understanding of the meanings of words. Christopher Gauker rejects this conception of language, arguing that it rests on an untenable conception of mental representation and yields a wrong account of the norms of discourse.

Gauker’s alternative starts with the observation that conversations have goals and that the best way to achieve the goal of a conversation depends on the circumstances under which the conversation takes place. These goals and circumstances determine a context of utterance quite apart from the attitudes of the interlocutors. The fundamental norms of discourse are formulated in terms of the conditions under which sentences are assertible in such contexts.

Words without Meaning contains original solutions to a wide array of outstanding problems in the philosophy of language, including the logic of quantification, the logic of conditionals, the semantic paradoxes, the nature of presupposition and implicature, and the nature and attribution of beliefs.”

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This is indeed a new way of looking up at the nature of language and the real question is if anyone in the Indian tradition comes really close to doing this, i.e. a conflation of what Gauker says with that of the tradition. Another thing that I discovered thanks to a  friend of mine is a book by Richard King on Indian Philosophy. He quotes about Bhartṛhari/भर्तृहरि thus:

Bhartṛhari/भर्तृहरि, like his Lacanian and Derridean counterparts rejects the view that one can know anythin outside of language.There is an eternal connection between knowledge and language which cannot be broken”

If this identity between knowledge and the word were to disappear, knowledge would cease to be knowledge. (Bhartṛhari/भर्तृहरि himself)

Thus he equates Śabda and Jñāna as they become or come identical in nature.

Language could indeed be looked as a function that may take the arguments as getting passed on to it that need not specifically base itself upon communication as an end, but could somehow serve as communication as a means. I would somehow call this as the syndrome of language (or maybe even a deficit of language, to take the cue from the ‘phenomenological deficit’), as in whatsoever way it is looked upon, i.e. transcendental realization or an immanent force (‘play’ would be better suited here) ‘in-itself’ for the sake of establishment, the possibilization of keeping out communication cannot be ruled out. Language would still be communico-centric for all that.

But another way of looking at realizing (by not establishing or introducing) relations between two relata, and by this if it could indeed be thought of is, if we somehow attribute language to ‘Objects’ and therefore even call the untenability of interactions between any entities as based on a relation that is linguistic in ways we might not comprehend.

No wonder, why I am getting drawn into the seriousness of objects as a way of realizing their interactions, their language and this all, away from the mandates we (anthropocentrism) have hitherto set upon them.

Why I insist on the objects having a language of their own and that too divorced from the realm of humans is maybe the impact of Whitehead on reading the tool-analysis of Heidegger. It must be noted that Whitehead never shied of embracing inanimate reality, of never using words like ‘thought’, ’emotions/feelings’ for the inner life of the inanimate entities. If these things, in their hermeneutical exegesis get attributed to the inanimate entities, there can be no doubt of these ‘Objects’ possessing language, as I said that is far away from the human interference. This could indeed be a way of looking at language in the sense of transcendentalizing possibility, this time, maybe, through the immanent look……

Phaneroscopy/Phanerology de-agentify

Yes, it is a limitation to break the world/universe, or what have you into the binaries. A resolution of the same ain’t possible, until one either exercises an asymptotic progression/regression machine on it, and thus relegating the whole into an aporetic point of philosophical frustration that goes by the name of dialectics, or, one somehow experiences an event of binaries morphing into one another. Such a collapse of the one into the other gravitates the defining points of differences into identities, and this goes by the name of Laruellean “decisionism-in-the-last-instance”. So, dialectics with the second method goes on a honeymoon where minds of the left spend countless nights trying to get it back to the realistic domain (pun intended!!!).

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I’d be sorry to be getting into territories that speak the language of failed poets/prose writers, for otherwise, I’d not be able to justify how bad a writer I really am!!! The lightened poetry of non-sense and/of Being: Even if such a poetry did exist (for me, at least it never did), then it was probably the romantic ideal of the by-gone philosophical ages, and we seem to have come a long way out of it, but still cling on to the symptoms of such an era. Pity!! It is not conjoining the obscure with the nothingness, or the Other World. It is rather the tunnelling of the lyrical aspect with the nothingness, a Schellingian approach to when he says that without confrontation, there is nothing of the creation possible. Dialectical, yes, in a way, but also the underside of it, which is considered a pariah, an outcast, an avoided and avoidable theory of creativity, or what I understand as Leper Creativity. Yes, losing identity could be viewed as relative here. But as I said, “could be”, and I refuse to truck with it imposed-consciously. And hereby, I also answer a subsequent point: “it” is uncharacteristic of holding true to the pillars of what constitutes it. Far-fetchedly, “it” is like what Wittgenstein would say: rise up the rung of the ladder and then discard it. But, a difference is to be spotted here. For Wittgenstein, the climber discards the ladder, whereas in this the present context, with each rising up on the rung of the ladder, a sort of dehumanization takes place in terms of awe/sublime/incapacitation. In other words, a sense of belonging to the “it” is bred in the “we” (agents/agencies) undoubtedly, but is lost sight of due to the intense flows of the “it” in time. A sort of exponential hypertrophy of the “it” due to “we”, or loosely saying emergentism in which node/nodes of “we” are simply sucked in. So, “we” build up the “it”, and lose it identity-wise in the process.

On similar lines, the knowledge of surplus is bluntly replaced by the awareness of it, an excess that is wasted more than it is used, and a kind of “solar anus” in the Bataillean sense, truly. Philosophical aesthetics falling in the hands of terrorizing hermeneutics: yes, I concur on this. This is one of the reasons, why I have started advocating phaneroscopy/phanerology over phenomenology, and it comes close to your recent studies on the quantum physics. But, then do we have a choice? We are yet to be defeated by the exploding solar anus, even though we are well on our way to a crushing defeat. Analogically, when someone says that “a world without capitalism is possible”, I tell of such Occupy/World Social Forum pundits that it is, but in a way that is stripped of agencies, and not otherwise. Sorry for the hubris here on my part, but my way of looking into these aspects could either mean that I am going a bit too far in my analysis, or getting really cracked brain now. On the point of polarity between order and disorder becomes unidentifiable when I say of lemniscate obscuring the horizon. Why do I say this? For me, order is nothing but an echo of a disordered anarchy that still reverberates. With this, I quash ethics, and I have no qualms in doing so, for a whole new set of rules need to be rewritten/rethought in this very darkness, which incidentally is on the avoidable radar still, but is making a stealthy invasion upon us, and before time will annihilate us, and de-anthropocentrize. Can’t help feeling sorry for Kant now for sure.

“It” is the cosmic “capitalism”.