miércoles, 5 de mayo de 2010

Alien Theory -Chapter II (Henry's Material Phenomenology)


Heidegger’s Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics (1928) equates the transcendental imagination’s schematizing temporal synthesis of concept-intuition with the temporalizing function of Dasein’s ekstatico-horizonal transcendence:

Transcendental split: phenomenon / in-itself = Ontico-Ontological split: entity / being

Henry’s The Essence of Manifestation questions that this allocation of the transcendental within ekstatico-horizonal temporality misses the radically transcendental atemporal essence of phenomenological being. Like Husserl, Heidegger situates the phenomenon within the worldly ascription in which the asymmetry of ideal ekstatic temporality apprehension and givenness to consciousness; and absolute immanence-to-itself as en-static auto-affection as real but non-intentional essence of phenomenalisation. Henry maintains that ekstatic transcendence distinguishes itself unilaterally from enstatic immanence, while the latter does not distinguish itself in return, it remains plainly indifferent. So ekstatic-visibility is constituted by enstatik invisibility, never disclosed within ekstasis: It is only as an un-seeing, in not relating to itself in a seeing, in not revealing itself through a seeing, and thus as un-seen, as invisible, that seeing effectuates itself.” (Henry, 1990, p.111) This seems at this point all too reminiscent of the traditional Kantian appeal to a noumenal beyond which lays outside the causal realm of phenomenal experience; in an updated phenomenological register. But the idea is that this unilateral differentiation does not allow to posit the immanence of enstasis as that which is showing-itself, given to apprehension even as the backdrop of ekstatic phenomenal sense. However, as Brassier remarks, enstasis is auto-affecting and constitutes the phenomenon all the same, so it still functions in some way as a background, sense-giving constitutive split. Phenomenality in itself, as material real condition, is occluded by ekstatic differentiation; the former is nothing but auto-affecting absolved of empirical externality. It is auto-position and self-impressing, indistinguishing of given and givenness. But in order to reach these scandalous conclusions, we need some serious clarification, which leads the way to old Husserl’s theses on internal temporal consciousness.

For Husserl, consciousness temporalizes itself automatically, rendering all immanent flux intrinsic to the phenomenological and transcendental subjectivity of consciousness, the given coincides with the givenness, constituted with constituting, insofar as they are in and as consciousness of the living present. But this auto-temporalizing has three modalities of givenness:

1) The ‘now’ or punctual present.

2) Retention

3) Protention

Husserl acknowledges that this tripartite structure is interiorly implying instances of a noetic (constituted, thus not purely noematic) intra-temporal distinction in logical-order or sequence (a before and after) of these modalities (what is protended is after the pure now); and that which is given through the synthesis and that which does the synthesizing. But Henry identifies this latter divide as phenomenological-transcendental rather than logico-temporal, and acknowledging this fully makes impossible a logical-consecutive temporal articulation of the three synthesis as explained by Husserl. For to assume the logico-temporal ordering is to relapse to a ‘worldly’ transcendental-empiricism rather than transcendental immanent phenomenology: empirical consciousness retains synthetically in succession that which is given to consciousness in the present in succession; the noetic synthesis of ideas succeed the noematic impressions.

Husserl does this reinserting a continuous flux of undetermined ‘nows’ to be re-retained in the living present by retention in the form of a ‘noematic impression’. So he must presuppose the already constituted synthesis of the ‘now’, what does the constitutive is rather anonymous in this regard. In this sense, it is hard to make sense of Husserl’s insistence that the structures of givenness and those of the given cannot be isomorphic. This is so since the given presupposes its constitution or givenness in the immediate contraction of the punctual present, seized by retention continuously, and so transcendentally-reintegrated folded into what is always-already empirically pre-given in synthesis, rather than guaranteeing the gap and the immanent’s independence: “Husserl carefully traces the genesis of the given back to the originary noetic syntheses of givenness, only to collapse the genesis of givenness qua givenness back into the realm of the given.” (Pg. 39) This circularity conceals the auto-positioning essence of transcendental consciousness, shifting between phenomenological-transcendental conditioning and the worldly-empirical condition. Because it remains constrained to the punctual now qua ‘what’, constituted form of Oneness, rather than the pure ‘how’ of phenomenalization, of givenness as givenness, the absolute auto-position of the phenomenon’s enstatic immanence.

- Ur-Impression as Coincidence of Phenomenon and Phenomenality -

Henry detects the clue out of this circularity in Husserl’s own appeal to the Ur-impression as the non-intentional, sub-representational condition for ekstatico-horizonal transcendence and phenomenality: “Why impression is continuously there anew is something we have begun to understand: because nothing comes into being unless it be in the site wherein being first grasps itself in the pathos of its original Parousia. Because the origin is a pathos, because the latter is always in effect as such, nothing comes forth unless it be as an impression, which for that reason ‘is always there’” (Henry, ibid, p.49) Pure affectivity is an absolute pathos, the self-impressing, self-giving, and thus auto-affecting enstatic immanence which conditions intentional ekstatic time consciousness. The ‘how’ and ‘what’ achieve perfect synchrony in their auto-affecting ipseity, givenness is self-positing or self-impressing as the essence of the phenomenon and giving ekstasis the material background for its passive intentional syntheses and the temporal articulation of phenomena.

Heidegger failed to spot the true dichotomy was not between temporalized phenomenon (ontic time) and temporalizing phenomenality (ontological temporality). Rather, the real difference according to Henry is in the asymmetry of:

1) Temporalized and temporalizing ekstasis (ontological) vs. 2) Atemporal enstasis (ontic)

In Henry’s estimation, both Husserl and Heidegger fall to the trap of the circular, bilateral co-constitution of ekstatic conditioning temporalization and temporalized condition, where givenness is ultimately refurnished by the tropes of the given. Both in noetic-noematic intentional consciousness transcendence-in-immanence, and Dasein’s horizonal projection standing-out-of-himself are caught in the straightjacket of ekstasis in their hybridization of phenomenon and phenomenality. Additionally, Henry remarks this auto-affectivity is essentially subjective, an original Ipseity of self-feeling and absolute infinite enstatic Life in its immanent self-development, underlying finite ekstatic transcendence. It grounds the historic development of absolute Life, its non-spatio-temporal ‘kinematicity’ or perpetual self-impressing. Henry thus strives to root the finitude of Dasein’s ekstatico-horizonal transcendence and projection and the privilege granted to the future in the eternal affect of absolute immanence as unrepresentable past.

However, Brassier reminds us, we cannot simply compare enstasis and ekstasis as two metaphysical principles on account of the purported unilaterality separating only the latter from the former. So we must stipulate the dual hypothesis that even if one must ultimately agree in that the unobjectifiable withdrawal of ekstatic transcendence is distinguishable from the withdrawal of enstatic immanence, they are indiscernible. Brassier will retain the reworking of the transcendental distinction between real and ideal in terms of indiscernible difference or unilateral duality.

The Idealisation of Immanence: Laruelle’s Critique of Henry

Laruelle imputes Henry for phenomenologizing and thus ontologising immanence as absolute auto-affection, which devolves in an ‘ultra-phenomenological vitalism’. It thereby re-idealises immanence and re-envelops matter in-itself to the transcendence of the ‘as such’. Auto-position creates a transcendent hybridization of the immanence to itself which reproduces the transcendental coup on immanence. Brassier isolates two aspects in this idealisation:

1) Ideological/Superstructural – The arbitrary equation of matter with affect. This equation between matter and subjective pathos makes his ‘materialism’ suspect, insofar as it spiritualizes matter to the point where it’s irrecognizeable and insensitive to any the natural sciences might say of it.

2) Substantive/Structural – The ultimate complicity and inseparability between immanence and transcendence in the triadic structure of Decision. This is so since it is simultaneously autonomous and coordinated within the dyad constituting/constituted, absolute non-relation and the relation between invisible immanent essence and visible eksistence. The indivisible immanence in-itself is divided by the transcendental dyadic division between visible and invisible.

But of course, this seems sloppily argued at this point; since it is not clear how Henry’s appeal to unilateral distinction between immanence/transcendence becomes vitiated so that there is an idealizing ‘sub-division’ or bilateral determination of immanence. Brassier argues that the exteriority of ekstasis vis its ultimate exclusion from enstasis generates this bilaterality between immanence and transcendence, absolute and relative. In excluding itself from ekstasis it becomes relative to it again:

“Absolute immanence bears a latent, implicitly constitutive reference to transcendence within itself by very virtue of the fact that it expels it. As a result, Henry’s phenomenology of absolute immanence does not succeed in interrupting the quintessentially philosophical (or quasi-Hegelian) circle that always posits the relation of relation (transcendence) and non-relation (immanence); the ultimate relativity of absolute and relative.” (Pg. 47)

However, it seems strange to say that ‘the appeal to exteriority’ suffices to idealize Henry’s purported materialism. For it seems that there is no substantive distinction in saying real immanence is foreclosed to ideal transcendence and to say real immanence is not ideal transcendence. So when Brassier avows Laruelle’s construction of radical immanence around its foreclosure or indifference rather than exclusion or opposition to all dyadic oppositions: immanence/transcendence, thinkable/unthinkable, absolute/relative, unilateral/bilateral, asymmetry/symmetry, identity/difference; one can’t help but wonder how exactly this foreclosure can be effected whilst saving the possibility of distinguishing a real and ideal realm, or speaking of immanence at all. For such indifference, in not excluding itself from transcendence, would seem to risk its utter indistinguishability from it, not just unilateral distinction of the kind Henry proposes. This should lead us to anticipate the much hyped difference-without-distinction and givenness-without-givenness proper to Laruelle’s non-philosophical maneuver. Radical immanence, says Laruelle, must be neither thinkable nor unthinkable, it’s foreclosure must not determine its immanence. The nominal characterization of immanence as foreclosed to Decision does not retroactively constitute immanence qua immanence. The description cannot be held as constitutive without relapsing into idealism; not even the differance between the two terms. The immanent must remain indifferent to all nomination to break free of ideality. Presumably, it is this indifference which furthermore guarantees the possibility of adequation between ideal nomination and the real of immanence, although the explanation is left for later.

Henry’s absolute immanence, on the other hand and in spite of its unilaterality, is esteemed to crush the dyads together in mediation at the point of their enstatic ground. The problem seems to be that enstatic immediacy becomes co-constituted by dyadic mediation where immanence is unthinkable as thinkable and thinkable as unthinkable. This reproduces idealism, for Laruelle, since immanence is constituted as unthinkable through thought, as thought is constituted by unthinkable immanence (thus the alleged circular bilaterality inherent in all materiological efforts remains present). But this still seems quite unclear, since Henry is steadfast to point out that the unilateral distinction of immanence from transcendence is not reproduced in the distinction of transcendence from immanence. Here Brassier turns to Henry’s reconstruction of Descartes, and the appeal to a ‘primal sensing of thought to itself’ which opposes mere intuition. Accordingly, for Henry, thought’s self-sensing excludes ekstatic intuiting and by excluding it determines immanence as immediacy: “Thought’s essential self-sensing is not merely different from ek-static sensing; it excludes it, and precisely this exclusion determines the concept of immediacy.” (Henry, 1993, p.22). So enstasis constitutes thought’s immediate self-sensing and is construed as unthinkable as unrepresentable and invisible from the ekstatic realm, inhering in it as its invisible essence which remains excluded from it. It is this negative coincidence or inherence intrinsic to thought, insofar as it mixes together the self-affecting of matter with the self-affecting of thought that ultimately phenomenologizes matter and folds it back into idealism. Real immanence is only separable as unthinkable through and in thought; it is absolved by a transcendent operation. This ‘ideal inseparability’ is the negative exteriorization of the immanent in relation to thought; it is as thought’s putative exterior than immanence posits itself transcendentally as exterior to thought, and at the same time claims to be constituted by this immanence in return, effecting the bilateral determination Brassier and Laruelle deem responsible for the idealist coup. The positioning of immanence outside transcendence through thought’s purchase on the unthinkable qua exterior thereby co-constitutes the real immanence with transcendent ideality. Henry’s immanence-to-itself , self-inherent split of the immanent itself into its immanent and transcendental part- is thus vitiating the sought for materialism. Immanence phenomenalizes itself so it becomes the phenomenality of immanence as such and not immanence itself. Thought has ‘always already’ begun to think this immanence, tied to it inseparably as it is thought as unthinkable and external. So Brassier can conclude thus:

“Henry’s phenomenological immanence is posited as the absolute immediation of given and givenness; it is posited as absolute in virtue of a transcendent Decision through which the unilateral asymmetry between enstatic immediation and ekstatic mediation is surveyed from above, seen from a viewpoint of transcendent exteriority and circumscribed within an encompassing reversibility, an ultimately bi-lateral symmetry… Henry conflates the phenomenon of immanence as radically separate (but separate-without separation) and foreclosed to transcendence, with the phenomenality of immanence as absolute distinction that repels transcendence. The latter leads to an absolutisation of immanence through the expulsion of transcendence, but an absolutisation which merely reinforces the reciprocal co-dependence between immanence and transcendence; a reciprocity inscribed within the intrinsically circular structure of philosophical Decision as relation of relation and non-relation.” (AT: Pg, 49)

In contrast, Laruelle’s concept of immanence promises to be without all relation to self, with a phenomenal identity outside all mixture or hybrid: purely ontic and not an ontic-ontological hybrid. This it does by constructing a concept of immanence which does not exclude but gives-without-givenness transcendence’s relative autonomy and giving Identity without synthesis and Duality without distinction. The phenomenon without phenomenality unilaterally determines the Decisional mixture of phenomenon and phenomenality, the Real without givenness unilaterally determines the Ideal self-positing dual circularity between given and givenness. So it is capable of subverting the tripartite materiological crime mentioned above, to which Henry falls inevitably: “It deliberately synthesizes the real phenomenon of immanence ‘itself’ with the ideal phenomenality of immanence ‘as such’; it substitutes an ultimately bilateral co-determination of the ontologically ideal and the ontically real for the strictly unilateral determination of the ideal by the real; finally, it roots the unobjectifiable transcendence of ekstasis in the unobjectifiable immanence of enstasis only to render the ontological absolutisation of the latter constitutively inseparable from the former.” Interestingly, Laruelle detects here a development from vulgar Marxism in which the exteriority of being is posited at an empirical or ontic level. Henry instead posits the exteriority as the point of immediation of phenomenon and phenomenality, the essential ground of thought which is external to ekstasis and immediately grounds being and thinking as the self-sensing of thought.

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