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.

martes, 4 de mayo de 2010

Alien Theory - Chapter I



When, in its better moments, materialism abandoned its empiricist concept of matter, on the whole it never proved able to go beyond the hyle, the identity of thought and the real, of ideality and matter -the level of relative materiality or of materiality ‘as such’[comme telle] rather than of matter ‘itself’ [telle quelle] or absolute matter.” (Laruelle, 1981, p.78)

A non-relative materiality subverts the identity of thought and real, ideal and matter. In short, it replaces materiality ‘as such’ with matter in-itself, i.e. absolute matter. To conceive of matter outside the concept and distinct form every concept of matter, without thereby folding back into pre-Hegelian metaphysical innocence; these are the proximate goals expounded by Brassier through Laruelle. But we first go back to Kant’s transcendental difference between the inherently relational representational realm of the ideal given to the subject; and the real realm which is independent from the subject, negatively defined as the absence of relation, i.e. the transcendent absolute or in-itself. Hegel famously postulates that the split between ideal as relative and real as absolute is internal to thought: subjectivity is self-related negativity, self-synthesizing Notion which in a process of continual sublation Ideally relationally identifies ideal identity (relative) and real difference (absolute): the relation of relation and non-relation.

On its part, Heidegger inherits part of this transcendental-idealist legacy in its identification of phenomena as that which shows itself from itself, as a self-showing which is bound to the discursive apophantic logos of ideality. The self-showing or auto-positioning of the phenomenon coincides here with the self-saying or discursive conceptuality as the transcendental bond of phenomenon-logos. This bond is assured in the presupposition that the phenomenon needs apophantic disclosure to manifest itself as phenomenon, as some-thing in its coming-to-presence against the background of Dasein’s horizontal ekstatic opening of intelligibility: its being-in-the-world.

The expression ‘phenomenology’ may be formulated in Greek as legein ta phainomena, where legein means apophainesthai. Thus, ‘phenomenology’ means apophainesthai ta phainomena -to let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself… “The logos lets something be seen.[...]Discourse ‘lets something be seen’ apo (from itself) [...]that is, it lets us see something from the very thing which the discourse is about. In discourse (apophansis), so far as it is genuine, what is said is drawn from what the talk is about, so that discursive communication, in what it says, makes manifest what it is talking about[...] This is the structure of the logos as apophansis.”(Ibid, p.56)

The phenomenon is bound to every other insofar as it becomes disclosed in discursive apophasis, and so through the logos, as belonging to a structural whole. So phenomenality is bound to the relational ideal logos, the meaningful/intelligible holistic being-in-the-world. So Laruelle’s idea of a separable matter ‘itself’ from all relationality and every horizon of ideal/apophantic disclosure is a rejoinder to Kant’s transcendental workings, but radically different from Heideggerean phenomenology. Matter is different from all ideal sublation of difference in the concept, from all self-relating negativity, and an non-phenomenologizeable in-itself: ‘something’ which is neither a phenomenon showing itself from itself, nor even the inapparent phenomenality of showing as such.” That is to say, it is not a self-positing, relational structure of subjective mediation between ideal/real which furnishes the phenomenon. The latter is given-without-givenness, without ‘phenomenality’ qua conditioning givenness to mediate it. However, Brassier acknowledges the apparent difficulty of conceiving of such an idea, separable from all ontico-ontological differentiation. It is precisely this privilege to difference that Laruelle forces us to ask, considering that perhaps the transcendental separation of matter as such from matter itself needs to be rethought of in terms of immanence and Identity rather than transcendence and Difference. So maybe this separation can be carried in thought without going through conceptual thought, and not mediated by being-in-the-world. A separation anterior to transcendence and the World and which subjects them: matter as immanent Identity of matter-itself, rather than the transcendent difference of matter as such and matter itself. This requires us to subtract matter from idealized materiality of representation/intentionality and the subtraction of thought from reified ideality of phenomenological presencing:

“Only in this way does it become possible to forestall both the Hegelian identification of real and ideal within the domain of the Idea itself; and Heidegger’s phenomenological idealization of the transcendental difference through Da-sein’s unobjectifiable circumscription of the ontico-ontological caesura between real and ideal.” (Pg. 32)

Whereas Kant thought of the noumenon as a pure limit concept (that which remains foreclosed to phenomenality), Brassier follows Laruelle’s Principe de Minorite to realize Deleuze’s avowed liberation of the ‘prodigous domain of the transcendental’ from idealist relativity and think of matter in immanent Identity; without materiological subordination to the logos and access matter-itself. It is in this work that Laruelle begins to identify in every philosophical materialism the infection of ‘materiality’ qua transcendent ideal abstraction: they are really materiological idealisms. That is to say, in the last instance they subordinate matter to the logos instead of rendering it independent of it. Laruelle approximates the distinction between materialism and its materiological equivocations as follows, which we cite in full, with some clarification (Ibid, Pg. 34):


1. Primacy of immanence over transcendence – being as independent or the in-itself determines transcendental mediation or the for-itself, not the other way around.

2. Primacy of the real over the ideal – the being (ontic) is conditions onto-logical constitution; the phenomenon antecedes the discursive or ideal logos.

3. Exteriority of being to thought – being as immanence must be foreclosed to thought.

Materiology =

1. Confusion of real or ontic immanence with ideal or ontological immanence – One confuses the in-itself for the as such (Non-Decisional), the absolute immanence with relative ontological mediated immanence (Decisional).

2. Confusion of irreversible or unilateral determination of the ideal by the real with a bi-lateral or reversible co-respondence, whereby the real ends up being co-constituted in return through the ideality which it is supposed to determine.

3. Confusion of the exteriority of the entity ‘itself’, as instance of unobjectifiable immanence, to all forms of presentation, not just thought, with the unobjectifiable transcendence of the entity’s Being ‘as such’ relative to intentional consciousness. Confusion, in other words, of the unobjectifiable immanence of the phenomenon ‘itself’ with the unobjectifiable transcendence proper to the phenomenality (=Being) of the phenomenon ‘as such’. The key here is the complicity between the presentation of x and the transcendence of x vis its status as transcendent unobjectifiable excess to the phenomenon’s constitution as that which is negatively external to the phenomenon and ideally co-constitutive of it.

So we get finally three idealizing materiological confusions: amphiboly of ontic and ontological, real asymmetry and ideal reciprocity; indifferent exteriority of immanence and negative exteriority of transcendence. Materiology conflates the unobjectifiable dimension of real/ontic immanence in-itself with the unobjectifiable dimension of ideal/ontological transcendence ‘as such’; hybridizing or mixing the two in a bilateral co-constitution rather than in the unilateral separation required by unobjectifiable immanence. Unilateral asymmetry is therefore key in the separation of real and ideal for non-materialism. The unobjectifiable ontic immanence of the real is necessarily non-relative unlike unobjectifiable ontological transcendence, which must always remain negatively posited as dis-closed and co-constituted through the Concept.

lunes, 3 de mayo de 2010

Ray Brassier's Alien Theory - Introduction

Francois Laruelle identifies philosophy with a structure he calls ‘Decision’; every philosophy repeats it with different variations. The general form of this structure will be laid out below. In turn, as an autonomous discipline which suspends philosophical Decision, non-philosophy can be simply equated with non-decision. The aim of this ‘close reading’ is simply to clarify the nature of non-philosophy, the structure of Decision, and the way it becomes reflected in the particular philosophical registers Brassier chooses to formulate his own thesis: non-materialism - constructing a ‘rigorously transcendental theory of matter’ by using some examples from philosophical materialism as its object of study.

This, of course, seems to already reveal something constitutive about non-philosophy and, consequently, about the non-materialist suspension of philosophical Decision: thought can somehow maintain a
relation to matter as explained in some form of transcendent structure, and as such, distributed in the bipolarity between a constituted and constituting term. It can be furthermore expected that this bipolarity be ultimately bidirectional in thought’s postulation; since that which is internal to mediation as transcendent coincides with that which is absolutely external to mediation immanently in thought. However, we will see that Laruelle’s coup against philosophical Decision consists precisely in rendering thought’s ideal relation to matter problematic, so that the transcendent duality between ideality and reality can be effected without the bilateral reciprocity which ultimately situates the real as co-relative to thought. For Laruelle, this bidirectional correlativity always falls short of granting to the immanent its due independence, transforming it into a phenomenon of transcendence always relative to ‘man’ and thereby enacting idealism over and over again. A non-materialist transcendental theory of matter is therefore to challenge philosophical Decision by mining the differential complicity of thought and the real, concept and matter, without thereby compromising their separation, insofar as even philosophical materialism ultimately devolves in the idealist trap:

”The materialist Decision to identify the real with matter is seen to retain a structural isomorphy with the phenomenological decision to identify the real with the phenomenon. Both decisions are shown to operate on the basis of a methodological idealism:- materialism on account of its confusion of matter and concept; phenomenology by virtue of its confusion of phenomenon and logos.” (AT: Pg, 5).

The idealism corresponding to the equation of phenomenon and the real is termed phenomenological, while the one corresponding to the isomorphic equation of matter and the real is termed materiological. Both share the intrusion of thought which results in the final hybridization of 1) concept-matter and 2) phenomenon-logos, in the failure to achieve their transcendental separation. So non-philosophy proposes to deploy a fleet of non-decisional concepts which do not reproduce a similar hybridization: ¬1) matter-without-concept and ¬2) phenomenon-without-logos, correspondingly.

As ¬1) A transcendental theory of matter, non-materialism breaks free from:

¬1a) empirical perception - (i.e. representation of the empirical object in the concept)
¬1b) phenomenological appropriation - (i.e. of intratemporal beings opened by ekstatic temporalization)

As ¬2) A transcendental theory of the phenomenon, it likewise breaks free of:

¬2a) eidetic intuition (i.e. of the noematic eidos intentionally directed to by consciousness)
¬2b) apophantic disclosure (i.e. of the discursive clearing of beings in the open against the backdrop of Dasein's being-in-the-world)

Here we hear intuitively the names of Kant, Husserl and Heidegger, but we will also cross the intricate paths of Henry and Deleuze. All be brought to court to reveal their complicity in the perpetration of Decision and thus of a philosophical wedding to indiscernibility to idealism or, as Brassier (2007) will later develop in continuity with Meillassoux (2006), to correlationism.

In his initial expository remarks, we can rescue some quick general clarifications about non-philosophy:

- Non-philosophy is not anti-philosophy; not is it a variant of deconstruction. It does not solicit an interruption of metaphysics in favor of thought’s undecideability.

- Non-philosophy is a theory for or about philosophy, and that once applied to philosophy reconfigures its material. Non-Decision does not interrupt Decision but broaden its possibilities. It allows one to escape the constraints Decision imposes on theoretical rigor, as well as their ontological, aesthetic and political implications.

- Thus, although it doesn’t produce philosophical theses of its own, non-philosophical theory can be used by philosophy: advancing a non-ontological Identity of ontology, non-ethical Identity of ethics, and the non-aesthetic Identity of aesthetics.

- Where philosophy introduces a bilateral philosophical envelopment between thought and its object, non-philosophy enacts the non-relational Identity and unilateral duality of ideal/real, theory and its object X, irreducible to bilateral correspondence.

- The materiological amphiboly of matter and logos (Henry) or phenomenon and hyle (Deleuze), enacts the indiscernibility between materialism and idealism. Non-materialism seeks to render matter as not encompassed by the concept, and which determines materialism in being-foreclosed to the concept. Non-materialism obtains when materialism requires its own annulment qua system of discursive statements about matter.

- Non-philosophy as non-materialism is capable of producing a non-synthetic/non-dialectical unified theory of ‘phenomenon’ and ‘matter’, phenomenality and materiality.

“Where materialism implicitly presupposes that matter remains commensurate with thought, non-materialism lifts the premise of commensurability in order to universalise the parameters of materialist theory on the basis of matter’s foreclosure to thought.” (Ibid: Pg. 4)

Here we can begin the actual argumentation, which Brassier begins by clarifying the choice for materialism. Why materialism?

Only materialism seems ‘respectable’ theoretically in the wake of Darwin, Copernicus and Einstein, as well as the comparatively minor revolutions of Freud, Nietzsche and Marx, insofar as they allow us to overcome anthropocentrism and do away with the epistemological privileges assigned to the human subject. Along with physics, evolutionary biology has advanced this cause through algorithmic modeling by dynamical systems theory and in the fields of Artificial Intelligence/Life through the complexity paradigm. These furnish the idea of a possibly unitary theory to encompass all kinds of phenomena; as in for example a generalized thermodynamics (Churchland, 1979, Pg. 151). Binding the physico-chemical with bio-organic realm in generalized thermodynamics promises something of a unified field theory for Neo-Darwinian synthesis, this promises to bind not only the natural-scientific registers but also to naturalize irreducibly complex socio cultural phenomena. In physics, the superstring paradigm reconciles quantum microcosm (subatomic quantum field theory) with the cosmological macrocosm (gravitational field theory) supplementing four-dimensional space-time with seven dimensions: the so called 11-dimensional hyperspace in which all physical phenomena and forces are articulated under a single geometrical framework. The division between the two fields can be thereby conceived as abstractions from the singular, 11-dimensional field, so that the distinction between neutrinos and galaxies results finally from four-dimensional abstraction univocally determinable (Green, 2000; Kaku, 1994). The human can no longer be thought of as the unobjectifiable ontological exception to grant privilege to the natural ‘empirical’ sciences’ grant on objective reality. But Brassier timidly reminds us in a footnote that this putative priority granted to subjectivity is usually gratuitously assumed as a pre-conditioning datum for philosophy by conceiving the phenomenon as that which is given to consciousness; the kernel of phenomenological intentionality, but also more broadly what Meillassoux (2006) and Brassier will later characterize as the correlationist dogma. So, Brassier also remarks how the abandonment of an explicit reference to ‘subjectivity’ or ‘consciousness’ in substituting for it ‘Dasein’ ‘Life’ or ‘Geist’ is any less guilty of the same noocentrism (all the way to Henry’s purported materialist phenomenology’s hylecentric appeal to a pre-intentional/representational Life as auto-affecting ipseity). Against this grain of phenomenological insistence on granting man this privilege, Brassier challenges with the possibility of a materiality void a priori from ekstatic phenomenality and subjective ipseity altogether (AT: Pg 14). It is precisely this ultimate unbinding from all such correlational kernels that Brassier identifies a site of resistance in contemporary philosophy. But the scientist is not as ill-equipped to answer the phenomenologist in need of an account of human sapience as the phenomenologist is when having to account for the variety and overarching unity of scientific phenomena broached above:

“Human sapience, like many other instances of negentropic energy capture, is a carbon based variety of information processing system17, and nothing besides. The philosopher of course will immediately protest that the response is ‘inadequate’ vis a vis the phenomenon in question because hopelessly reductive. But it is no more reductive than the claim that water is nothing but H2O; that temperature is nothing but mean molecular kinetic energy; or that the colour red is nothing but electromagnetic radiation with a determinate spiking frequency. All scientific truth is ‘reductive’ precisely insofar as it dissolves the veneer of phenomenological familiarity concomitant with the limited parameters of anthropomorphic perspective. The real question the philosopher has to ask him/herself is this: what is it exactly about the scientist’s banal but remarkably well-supported statement that he or she finds so intolerably ‘reductive’? Is not part of the philosopher’s unease concerning scientific ‘reduction’ directly attributable to the unavowed wish that, as far as man is concerned, there always be ‘something’ left over besides the material: some ineffable, unquantifiable meta-physical residue, some irreducible transcendental remainder?” (AT: Pg 15)

In them becomes prophesized the prescription that a unified theory of reality demands the suspension of the idea of the world derived from perceptual intuition, where phenomenology remains entrenched to an epistemological purchase insensitive to the unperceivable physical domain. In this sense, superstring theory could offer a rigorously materialist vindication of Plato’s myth of the cave, whose inhabitants were deluded by the illusions of the flickering shadows, mistaking them for things-in-themselves.

Here perhaps we should take a first pit stop to ask some intuitive questions. Pace Meillassoux’s trenchant attack on the correlationist appeal to a distinction between a transcendental/empirical level of description, one can nevertheless be more skeptical about the prospect of these presumed reduction of ‘social phenomena’ and their integration into a self-sufficient unified theory provided by the natural sciences (thermodynamics, superstring theory...) For it is tremendously unclear how anything like social dynamics, subjective decision, theoretical discrimination, political experimentation, or ethical guidelines, can be at all reduced or assuaged by such a unified field theory. How exactly is the prospect of a welcomed reductionism to enable the appropriate distinctions for human interaction in other fields of social life by itself? Should we assume the natural categories provided by science are utterly sufficient by themselves, or can we envisage the prospect of a higher-level register of description for social phenomena which, although reducible or grounded in this natural register, is nevertheless maintainable, and if so on what grounds - isomorphism to scientific description? Or does naturalism entail eliminativism, of the sort Churchland spouses and which you seem to explicitly reject later in agreeing that paradigms of evolutionary success must remain theory-neutral? Or is the maintenance of supplementary registers of description merely pragmatic in choice; an option which also seems discarded in Nihil Unbound (Chapter 1)?

That these criteria cannot be ontological follows from the thesis of ontological univocity entailed by the emerging paradigm of scientific unification; thus allowing no room for anything like a transcendental separation between scientific fact and social condition, or any other such permutation. That is, unless one wishes to reinsert some sort of irreducible set of phenomena on the side of Man, social-being or otherwise. That it cannot be pragmatic follows from the naturalistic anti-noocentric prescription which guarantees that nothing like a vaguely subjective notion of 'free decision' could ultimately ground the choice between theories, since the very notion of decision requires its accommodation to the intrinsic demands of a naturalized register in order to remain irreducible to some form of ontological mediation and reintroducing the correlation in doing so. As such, it remains entirely speculative to assume unproblematically a notion of human freedom amenable to the demands of articulating a sufficient concept of decision that does not compromise the vaunted materialism in the same gesture.

Finally, what criteria, if not ontological or pragmatic, can be ultimately used to support the possibility of a non-eliminativist development of social, cultural, ethical or political concepts which may be 'grounded', analogous or isomorphic to scientific concepts, but nevertheless distinguishable and autonomous from them? At the very least, the outline of non-materialism does not show how these intricacies could be eventually worked out in accordance to the principles of univocity and naturalism.

Brassier seems all too enthusiastic in assuming the complexity of ‘social phenomena’ to be addressed by the prospect of a generalized naturalism without giving any sort of satisfying philosophical legitimation of how it is supposed to proceed in its practice or segmentation. In any case, this might be a mere matter of argumentative strategy and time, since at this introductory stage it seems early to delve deeply into these issues. However, given the section was presumed to give some sort of justification for the wager in favor of materialism, one can’t find Brassier’s defense of a materialist power to address human phenomena without compromising anything crucial in the process to be satisfying, i.e. ergo the tacit defense of reduction and eliminativism seems suspect. But let's move on.

In Brassier's eyes, it is phenomenology’s appeal to ‘phenomenality’ which finally represents the paradigmatic example of the longing for some metaphysical dimension compromising the prospect of reductionism by describing a realm of unobjectifiable transcendence/immanence; the ‘how’ of the phenomenon’s appearing which remains irreducible to its ‘what’. This reeks of anthropological imperialism to Brassier, and goes on to challenge Heidegger’s vaunted concept of the phenomenon as ‘that-which-shows-itself-in-itself’ and a ‘self-showing’ by demanding two conditions:

“1. A rigorously theoretical, rather than intuitive, definition of individuation in order to explain what is to count as an individuated appearance, one which does not simply reinstate the metaphysical circularity implicit in Leibniz’s maxim according to which, ‘to be is to be one thing’.

2. A rigorously theoretical, rather than intuitive, account of ‘appearance’ or ‘manifestation’ which does not surreptitiously invoke the predominantly optical paradigm of sensory perception with which we are empirically familiar.”

Phenomenology fails to meet these two criteria insofar as it relies on a naïve optical paradigm of middle-sized objects, and insofar as it remains question begging by presupposing the necessity of a pre-theoretical dimension to explain the putative priority of phenomenological appearance with respect to natural objects: “Belief in this pseudo-originary, pre-theoretical dimension of experiential immediacy is the phenomenological superstition par excellence” (Pg, 16). If anything, it is the phenomenologist’s gross simplification of the variety of natural phenomena to the ontological conditions of intentionally directed eidetic consciousness (Husserl), Dasein’s ekstatic temporalization (Heidegger), the infinite responsibility against the absolute-Other (Levinas), or auto-affecting Life (Henry), which remain hopelessly reductive and install anthropological idealism. That a quark could be a mere object for a ‘regional ontology’, or the derivative machinic bleakness of the Vorhandenheit stripped from all life, reproduces the Hegelian idealist drive to reintroduce matter into its bilateral mediation through the subject. So the choice remains: Darwin or Husserl. The former leads to the possibility of a new speculative enterprise worthy of those revolutions celebrated by Brassier, while the latter leads into the ruin of philosophy as a veritable theoretical enterprise and into obscurantism. So there are two alternatives at this point:

1) Man is de jure irreducible to the phenomena of the ontological order of the natural sciences. This involves postulating that the essence of human being is transcendence, either in the form of subjective Life, Geist, Dasein, consciousness or, let it be said, in the fields of social being, cultural animal, symbolic construct, and the like. So when the natural sciences tell us man is ontologically derivative rather than transcendentally constitutive, they are not making a trivial statement but false.

2) Science is correct in that there is no ontological gap between man and the rest of natural phenomena and statements about man are true in the same way statements about carbon-based systems are true, and not just empirically/factually correct.

It seems that this basic layout seems nevertheless insensitive, at least intuitively, to the most extreme form of the post-Heideggerean deconstructionist doxa which stipulates that there is no fixed human essence of any sort, not even that of existence, just as there is no transcendent objective essence, and so that there is an ontological relativity which always affects all ontological domains, philosophical/scientific included. But it should become apparent that both for Brassier as for Laruelle even in the purported attempts to disassociate the mediation between discourse and reality into any fixed positivity in either the of the empirical or the transcendent it is the very bilateral mediation of the transcendental itself which guarantees that all transcendence is bound to a bilateral dependence between ideality/reality. This holds even in the alleged localization of transcendent immanence (the localization of immanence as that which is negatively located outside the relational field of mediation). It remains utterly incapable of thinking, as we will see, immanence absolutely, but only from the perspective of the relation between relation (ideal/real) and non-relation (the real as that which remains outside transcendent relation). So this twofold repetition of the transcendental, as one term inside the relation, and its negative exteriority or purported immanence, composes the structural edification of all idealist negative reintegration of the immanent to the relational field which separates it from transcendence. So the transcendent, as postulates outside the transcendentally regulated remains prone to idealization since it is negatively defined in relation as that which conceptually is co-constitutive to the immanent real; the ultimately ontological dual genesis of matter/concept in which they are bilaterally implicated, and the absolute primacy of the correlation. The obscurity of these observations will become clarified as we gallop along, but it is useful to use the jargon compulsively at this early stage to install a gradual familiarization with them.

In rejecting the ontological irreducibility of man we reduce man to be one commonplace phenomenon among others rather than an exception to the cosmos. This of course, makes the very status of philosophy vis ‘non-philosophy’ constant claim not to seek the interruption of Decision utterly enigmatic, since it is far from clear whether the Decision being suspended in favor of an eliminitavist account leaves a peculiar room for philosophical discursivity, or what exactly its position vis a vis the sciences is. But let’s leave this for later. Brassier can thus summarize his rejection of this seduction:

“Consequently, either the philosopher accepts the irrecusable pertinence of scientific truth, and a fortiori, the scientific truth about human being; or he rejects wholesale the notion that science is in any position to formulate truths about man, in which case he subordinates scientific truth to a higher authority: to wit, the putatively unobjectifiable transcendence of human being.” (Pg, 18)

Brassier immediately continues to define two crucial ontological theses advanced by his non-materialism.

1) Univocity – Brassier Reconciles two theses echoing Badiou so that ‘Being is said in the same sense of the untotaliseable multiplicity that it is’ (Ibid)
a) Ontological immanence - Being knows no difference in kind – There is no equivocal ontological transcendence.
b) Ontological multiplicity - Being is untotaliseable – There is no subordinating transcendental principle of unity; the One is not[1].

2) NaturalismThis thesis does not involve betraying univocity by reifying nature over culture, but seeks to affirm the interdependence of science and philosophy. There is no attempt of philosophy to provide a transcendental foundation for science, but science does effects a corrosive challenge to the phenomenological self-image, privileged-access and the first-person perspective. It is the stock of these myths supporting the permanence of subjectivity at the center of our philosophical and socio-cultural world which procreate the dream in sovereign individuals exercising their freedom to consume and that a free-market economy coincides with subjective freedom. Notice, however, that Brassier says nothing about what concrete relationship science bears with philosophy, or non-philosophy for that matter, and what will the ‘serious’ engagement with science provide that science cannot oppose by its own means. Is philosophy nothing but an ideological critique? In any case, Brassier sums up his case for naturalism with this assault on the by now abused phenomenological tenet:

“To sum up: philosophical naturalism, as far as we are concerned, entails taking the scientific world-view seriously, and accepting the profoundly anti-phenomenological consequences of that world-view insofar as it necessitates expunging all vestiges of folk psychological superstition and anthropocentric narcissism from philosophy. ‘Phenomenon’; ‘consciousness’; ‘intentionality’; ‘Ego’; ‘meaning’; ‘sense-bestowing act’: these are the folk psychological fictions which have provided the basis for an elaborately sophisticated, but disastrously misconceived theoretical edifice. Phenomenology is folk psychology transcendentalised. Belief in the phenomenological mysteries, in the transcendental sovereignty of intentional consciousness, or in the irreducible reality of such denizens of the intentional realm as ‘eidetic intuitions’ or ‘qualia’, are now the contemporary philosophical equivalents of faith in the immortality of the soul or confidence in the ubiquity of phlogiston. “Consciousness”, we might say paraphrasing Deleuze, “did not survive God” (Pg. 22)

Next, Brassier addresses why non-philosophy is needed transcendentally for materialism’s transformation. He doesn’t fear being called a ‘scientist’ is this means conviction in the truth of science and skepticism against the set of transcendental constraints by correlationist philosophies. Ultimately the goal is to circumvent naturalistic scientism and phenomenological idealism through a non-Decisional transmutation. What this does is a) withdrawing Man from the ontological while not making him an exception: Man qua radical immanence without essence is not in question because he is not in philosophy. He is given-without-givenness or Vision-in-One that it is devoid of all human attributes so it is unproblematiseable as such. As we know, Brassier (2007) will later criticize Laruelle for conserving the name ‘Man’ for this unobjectifiable immanence of the Real, since it threatens to vitiate the anti-noocentric prescription. Man is not man, the former has non-ontological Identity, the latter is ontologico-transcendent. Man is ontologically indifferent, it’s not inhuman or trans-human and thus equally indifferent to humanism/anti-humanism. It is Man’s or the Real’s foreclosure to Decision which minimally supports it and endows it with rigor and guarantee for consistency of materialist Decision:

“Accordingly, non-philosophy proceeds on the basis of the discovery that Man as the One-without-Being (l’Un-sans-l’Être) is not an exception to Being; nor a folding or a placeholder of Being; nor even a fissure or hole in being; but rather that radically immanent foreclosure which functions as the last-instance determining all thinking ‘of’ Being.” (Pg. 25)

This becomes urgent, since Decision does not allow materialism to operate without the reintroduction of idealism, so it must rethink its conditions to ensure consistency. This requires the change from the idea that Decision is an absolutely autonomous self-positing act to where it is relatively autonomous, non-synthetic unity of theory and practice (Ibid). To provide the theoretical scruple requires for consistency becomes the non-philosophical transcendental determination of Decision so that the latter is no longer autonomous or self-positing but relative. We will see how the Identity-without-synthesis and Duality-without-difference supplement all the mixtures/hybrids of philosophy and science.

[1] Yet Brassier is careful to point out that philosophies of the multiple have nevertheless ended up comprising the untotaliseable multiple instances of Being under a single immanent Being- ‘Matter’ qua anorganic Life for Deleuze, and the inconsistent void of ‘matter’ in the inconsistent void in Badiou.