Ray Brassier: LIQUIDATE MAN ONCE AND FOR ALL (2005)

 

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TAKEN FROM IN/APPEARANCE BLOG 

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Philosophers are familiar with reason but are only beginning to discover intelligence. Presaged by the dark illumination of the Enlightenment, intelligence culminates with the delirium of the sufficiency of reason. The intelligence of science and the science of intelligence have together averred that neither the real nor thought are rational. Science glimpses the real as an indecipherable noumenon at the margins of the intelligible, conveying an incompressible amount of information as encrypted by the random numbers of Chaitin. Irreducible, the real to which science points undoes all reasonable control. Rumbling within the quantum interlacings of matter, gargling by the edge of computing, emerging at the limits of calculation, it remains, as the Omegas of Chaitin, without reason. The intelligence of the real adopts reason solely as a provisional skin.

There are two vectors of research which unearth intelligence: cognitivism, the approach from below and; hyperspeculation, which exhumes from on high.

The former, seeking the reality of reason in a thinking already objectified as a natural phenomenon, dissolves it through a codification of intelligence according to computational processes, whether sequential or parallel. The latter, following Heidegger, strives to identify the real of reason with more and more “primordial” conditions of objectivation, such as the tracing of finite transcendence by temporalising ekstasis, and exposes the disjunction between the rational sufficiency of thought and its originary givenness.

Cognitivism undermines the philosophical confusion of intelligence and reason. Man? A cunning ape. The “reason” praised or slandered by philosophy? A series of strategic ploys utilised by mammals. Humanity falls on intelligence by an accident of evolution. Impersonal, anonymous, and disinterested, intelligence may find contingent support in the mammalian nervous system but certainly not a home. The “norms” of pure reason, no less than the concerns of biological knowledge, are perfectly foreign to it. Intelligence shares neither the ends of the latter, nor the interests of the former.

Panicking at the prospect of this deterritorialisation of intelligence, transcendental orthodoxy exhausts itself constructing a priori obstacles to the naturalisation of a capability of thought hitherto restricted to being a mere characteristic of man. Defenders of Reason (critical, legislative, normative); elders of Sense (phenomenological, pragmatic, propositional); partisans of Life (auto-affective or an-organic) – contemporary philosophers are divided among a conservative rationalism, a liberal hermeneutics, and a Leftist vitalism. Though despite their ideological differences, they accede in their desire to maintain the honor of man against the philosophical incursions of “scientism”.

unearthing

Shrewdly, scientism does not detect in these philosophical escalations of Reason, Sense, or Life anything but pre-texts dissimulating fundamentally biological interests. Yet even cognitivism is not immune to the return of its own repressed transcendental. Its pure empiricism and speculative innocence leave it beset by the lecherous advances of a phenomenological transcendentalism looking to introduce the delights of Intentionality, World, and Flesh. Hence the attempts, as predictable as they are distressing, to screw thought to the flesh of the world through the biases of intentionality and integrate cognitive research in a speculative framework managed by the “supposedly superior opinion” (ur-doxa) of phenomenology.

But intelligence is neither reasonable nor sensible nor lived. It is time for philosophers to choose between carnal reasoning and “excarnate” intelligence. In selecting the latter we would prevent the spontaneous act of self-defense by which philosophers have tried to effect a transcendental immunisation of man against the contagion of an intelligence aiming for its release from the shackles of the human. Post-Kantian criticism remains the greatest barrier to this transcendental emancipation of intelligence and the concomitant liquidation of la bête humaine since it was scheduled by the black dawn of the Enlightenment. Liquidate man to liberate intelligence: such is the hyperspeculative program that will destroy all that slowed the dissolution of mammalian stupidity.

Against Reason, Sense, and Life, against the glorification of the human which underlies them, hyperspeculation must mobilise the non-individual, the impersonal, the void, the multiple, the insignificant, the real-nothingIt is a matter of opposing the impersonal to life and asserting liberatory destruction over blissful creation; affirming the non-being of the One and the insignificance of multiple-being while refusing any recourse to an evental supplement; claiming that annihilation according to the transcendental identity of the void has nothing to do with Dasein, consciousness, or man.

We require the theoretical means of François Laruelle to allow for this identification of the void. Nevertheless, we cannot accept his identification of the real with man. To privilege the irrecusability of the ‘name-of-man’ over and above the contingency of other occasional nominations of the real is to re-introduce a “rigid designator” which is supposed as sufficient for fixing the essence of the real in a manner finally indiscernible from its constitution via philosophical decision. From “I think according to my ultimate identity with a real that is already given” to “this real of the last-instance is the human that I am” is a leap as precipitate as that between “I think” to “I am”. It envelops a decision: “I am human.” But what can ‘being-human’ mean given that the radically immanent real is not? To say that the human knows itself through radical immanence abuses the word “know”, re-introduces thought into immanence and renders it co-constitutive thereof, and finally re-phenomenologises- which is to say, substantialises – real immanence. To be in the real does not imply that you are aware of this rather than that, a man rather than a thing. We know ourselves to be nothing. What I think I am can have no privilege with regard to the identity of a real already given independently of anything I may happen to think about it. And it is this fundamentally arbitrary identification of the real with the human individual and transcendental individualism which must be abolished in order to definitively separate the real from being. The real is nothing – which is certainly not to equate it with the void for-itself puncturing the fullness of the in-itself (Sartre). This is ultimately due to the real not being bound to the human instance which uses it as its nominal support given that there is no “all” of the effectuation of the real that instances the human. The real is not effectuated “once for all time” according to a multiplicity which is conclusively nothing other than those empirical beings (supposedly) human, but occurs never and for nothing; this is precisely why liberating the intelligence-(of)-the-real from its bio-phenomenological base liquidates man once and for all. 

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