On the real as transcendental

In Le principe de minorité (Paris: Aubier, 1981), p.163-169.

Under the names Technological Continuum, Difference, the Completed Amphibology or Continuous Multiplicities, we have identified the syntactic invariant kernel that rules the economy of the Same or Being-as-difference, the highest concepts that reached metaphysics at the same time it reached its utterly avowed essence of techno-metaphysics. The title “Techno-metaphysics” does not solely designate the always possible inscription of technics in general and its numerous sub-systems (politics, computer sciences, theory, sciences, mechanics and the machinic, etc. …) within the formation of “metaphysics,” but more profoundly the inscription of technics and their reciprocal transformation, the critique and dis-appropriation as the domination and conquest that one has always lead against the other and against itself through its identification with the other. The Technological Continuum is the unlimited amphibology under way (but it is more and more perceptible)  of metaphysics and technics, their fusion within a techno-metaphysical complex.

This complex is more-and-less than political, more-and-less than theoretical, more-and-less than scientific, more-and-less than ideological, more-and-less than economic, etc. … The problem is now to evaluate to what extent the unlimited Technologos is not yet otherwise-than-technological, otherwise-than the relative powers and unpowers of Being. The unilateral bringing into relation (without relation) of techno-metaphysics with the Absolute (Dispersive Multiplicities), bringing “technics” in general into relation with “the mystical” [le mystique], is now our object. For example, the possession of the eidos of this syntax was the condition of the transvaluation of the transcendental method, of its transformation into a Universal Techno-logos that only Dispersive Multiplicities could “supersede” without being content with “reversing” them. The same problem of an absolute displacement, rather than a reversal, is now posed as for its value as reality. In general, the method in its techno-metaphysical essence is also a technē: it defines the productive side of the real. However, to what extent can the real still be a production? Does it always concern a “real” which projects an ensemble of techniques of breaks through and for itself? What of a techno-logos which is itself affected by breaks that it renders possible? The transcendental apparatus is rather put to the service here of the primacy of one real, of one real condition or one cause that tolerates ideality, but which does not introduce it within its own essence, which is not confounded with a transcendence like Ur-handlung or Ur-produktion. A whole new distribution of reality and ideality is required to be able to bring the transcendental, without contradiction, without falling into a “transcendental realism,” towards the function of an absolute subject or a monad-without-monadology.

In general, when the One is sought and “found” by philosophies, it is under the form of a principle of identity, and when this identity is no longer analytically conceived as non-contradictory, it is conceived as synthetic. What we seek is the One of Uni-laterality and Uni-city. It is not the One of identity or unity, but the One beyond the unity that is always unifying-unified (Sameness, Selbigkeit). We can no longer conceive this principle as A = A and it cannot be more synthetic than it is analytic. In the transcendental idealist tradition, one thinks to have made a considerable progress by substituting the logical principle of identity with a real principle of identity, where the real is not conceivable otherwise than as synthetic. It is in this way that, from Kant to Nietzsche and Heidegger, the real transcendental condition is distinguished from the logical or non-contradictory condition. But the word “real” can designate three problems that we need to distinguish:

1) The transcendental condition is real because it the transcendental condition of the real, objective reality or “possible experience.” In this sense, “possible” is not opposed to “real” but it can no longer be confounded with it.

2) The transcendental condition is real because it is first synthetic; the couple logical/real then falls into the couple of complementariness: analytic/synthetic,  and the term “real” exceeds nothing of the synthetic.

3) Finally, the transcendental condition is in-itself real, its reality is defined outside of the complementariness of the analytic/synthetic and not prejudiced by the latter. Transcendental Idealism can so much less think a real transcendental principle that it hastens to subordinate (as we have seen) the real breaks to ideal breaks. This is an idealizing break and itself taken from the ideality that it baptizes uniquely “real” because it is synthetic. The problem is rather to extricate an intrinsically real condition beyond any synthetic constitution of experience and the individuals that fulfill it. We call “essence” in a sense that is neither logical-analytic nor the result of a synthetic process of idealization, nor itself a synthetic process, this living, real, immediately given or transcendental condition by itself, which we would call “essencifying” [essencifiante] and “productive” if these words haven’t characterized a synthesis or a production.

Essence is rather what renders possible, but what renders possible is not confounded with possibility as the pure logical form or rather as the more or less pure mixture to which is elevated a power or a real of the “I think” or “Ego” type and which remains secondary qua real. The rise of ideality in the Essence is the basis of all techno-metaphysics and not only transcendental logic, not only neo-Kantianism. This is to at least confound the possibilitas as wesen, as active and productive essence, otherwise as the real, pre-active and pre-productive condition, with a simply possible possibility and redoubling each other in an ideal and invariant form. Obviously, Kant distinguishes transcendental possibility (which is real) from logical possibility (which is the conformity to the principle of contradiction). But, at worst, it is only real because it renders possible (and real and necessary) the real itself, and not because it would be the real which renders the real possible. At best, the “real of possibility” (Kant) receives an idealized, sublated content to which we oppose the real of the being-(of)-being [l’étant-(d’)-étant] as the absolute transcendental condition. Of course this presumes that, in the same way that the Critique of Pure Reason according to Kant’s celebrated word teaches us to take the word “object” in two senses (as phenomenon and the thing in-itself), we must also learn to consider “being” in two senses – as empirico-ideal being and as being-essence – but unilaterally distinct.

What type of reality puts into effect under the name of this (transcendental) unpower of (a priori) power? Essence is not only what contains within its immanence the synthetic a priori in general which determines being on their side or what there is of the ideal within being. Essence itself determines the a priori in its relation to being. The whole anti-idealist thesis which is the ultimate step of dispersion consists in affirming that it is the real itself which is Essence, being as it is obviously when it is no longer seized within its ideal determinations of the object, in its objectivity: in its ideality. We are condemned to work out the concept of being, to cleave it on the one hand into an ideal, statistical and gregarious unity – what it designates in its vulgar and metaphysical sense – and on the other hand into an “ontic instance” that is unreflected and pre-phenomenal, the being-(of)-being or being as it is which is “before” – a priori – empirico-ideal being. From the empirical and “objective” being to ordinary [quelconque] being or a priori being, and from ordinary being to being-break: this is the trajectory of the dis-idealization of the object and the transcendental “realization” of the break (but this is not a “realization” or a production, if not for thought which thinks in view of Being).

Therefore, being intervenes twice, as “noumenon” if we may say. But we take the noumenon as well in two senses: in the negative Kantian sense (here the equivalent is the break having become universal, being-towards-the-One [l’être-à-l’Un] as the critical and repulsive edge of the technological continuum) which still marks a primacy of its function as limitation; and in the positive sense against Kant this time, to designate its nature as the immediate givens of the Absolute which is precisely no longer an “intellectual intuition” and the function that it thus fulfills within the determination of experience. As a positive but not empirical sense: this would be to fall back under the blows of the Kantian critique. Unlike Kant, we do not postulate that the empirical content is the real positive content (“empirical realism”). No. The Essence is a noumenon whose transcendental function and positivity are no longer exhausted within limitation. Limitation is rather subordinated to a unary function of determination which is not even genetic and productive. The noumenon is the auto-limitation of experience, and even, if you will, the auto-production or production-of-production (the unlimited Technological Continuum) because it is the unreflected “production,” an absolute non-production, a positive un-production by itself, immediate and not subordinate to a production. The being-(of)-being is the being or the real as it is immediately in-itself, determined by itself, deprived of Being which it does not lack. Here, “in-itself” designates the real transcendental and no longer obviously the empiricist concept of the in-itself. It is the In-itself because it is the absolute (the transcendental). The Absolute is the unreflected and radically immanent self (in itself). This self is the noumenon seized on the transcendental and constituent side of the a priori diversity and no longer on the empirical side of the spatio-temporal diversity of affection. To be very brief, the noumenon is the a priori diversity, but pre-intuitive and pre-intellectual, insofar as it is subject, the affection-(of)-itself, the unreflected essence or immediate given. The dispersive a priori no longer form a relative limit like the ontological breaks – but absolute and which “orders” [agence] within real immanence being as the genuine “noumenon” and the ideality of “being” or objectivity. At least when it is residualized and “dispersed” outside of any ideal objectivity, being is rather the noumenal or absolute limit in relation to “Being.” Therefore, it is another thing otherwise-than-limit.

The conquest of a transcendental concept of being, immanent and thereby even distinct from the ens, one of the already ideal transcendentals of the scholastics, is indissociable from the unreflected break. We put an end to the empiricist-and-idealist apprehension of being, we “reverse” empiricism-and-idealism, we rather displace them absolutely by advancing the concept of an ontic transcendental dispersion, which is no longer a tendency nor the abyss of the “in-the-middle-of…”. This formula from Heidegger that thought is always-already thrown by its affects “in the middle” of being in general assumes the universal horizon of Being. A relative break among breaks, a relative mode among modes, is what “we” would first or transcendentally be. Heidegger could not rid this formula of its idealist meaning: we are in the middle of being because being is in the middle of ontological ideality. Nor did he give it an absolutely transcendental meaning even more so: the subject is “in the middle” of being because being is the subject itself, but being in the sense of the pre-objective and unreflected: being-(of)-being, and in no way this puppet who compensates their lack of reality by making an appeal to the “object.” Within techno-metaphysics, the transcendental content of the formula “in the middle of” is the reflexive-reflected division, and the subject is “in the middle of” the inclusive power of the break as the continuous multiplicity. It is this power that divides-itself, then idealizes-itself [il se-divisepuis s’idéalise] and thus transcends towards the unity = X, towards the Same or the One of the Continuum.

When the a priori takes on a dispersive form, it becomes necessarily monadic and individual [individuant]. But on a radical mode because by being by definition the internal genetic, in accordance to the way in which it is produced, the a priori is produced, it is the a priori for the relations and all of the ideals themselves, therefore also the a priori for contradictions, oppositions and all distinctions which presuppose the rule of a pre-existing whole or a concept, and an Idea – and which never comes to be reflected in itself. The a priori is the monadic undivided “anterior” to the monadology and has no need of it. The a priori is never acquired through abstraction and the generalization of the empirical, it contains no empirical, conceptual and even ideal property, but it is confounded with the real transcendental “operation” that gives it existence. This is why the dispersive subject is the internal condition and also the transcendental but absolute content of what Heidegger, on his side, calls Er-eignis, the becoming-proper of history through its dis-appropriation (–– here, dis-appropriation of the ideal forms which reduce it to the absolute individuum). For Kant, what is ideal (for example spatio-temporal relations) are at the same time subjectivity. Here, it is what is real which can be but subjective. The absolute reality of the subject as the break or divisio realis excludes by definition what it contains of relations. The subject is transcendental, but not in the sense of a relatio transcendentalis; rather it is in the sense of the real essence that renders transcendence itself possible as relation. Its sole transcendental content is henceforth “difference,” but, in its turn, the “difference” which was only in the scholastics and the contemporaries a relation is torn from the element of ideality and identified with reality and the absolute. This is the only means to protect the transcendental from decaying in ideality, then within the simple mental relation or the relation of reason. To prevent the transcendental, by the somewhat absurd fear of transcendental realism, from falling from idealism into nominalism. Difference is subject, the subject is real, the real is subjective and individual: this is the passive genetic essence of the technology of thought, of technics in general, the root of the phenomenon, the abyss of all ideality as well, of every being [être] and further still of the historical modes of representation.

In brief, being has, if not power, at least sovereignty over Being because it is no longer empirical being in its ideality, but noumenal being as the immanent unpower of the break-(of)-itself. It is perhaps not Being which we must bar – this is a project still marked by the old transcendental idealism – Being is only barred because it receives from being (which is itself barred) the bar of the transcendental break. What’s more: being is not only barred qua ideal, namely empirical in the new sense of the word. Qua Essence, being is only the bar itself in its sovereignty, in its absolute autonomy. The bar is dispersive yet unreflected like the absolute transcendental subject. As for the Ego and the I think, they are transcendent entities, our “beings of reason” [êtres de raison] for us, and which would gladly make us think that reason is itself only one being of reason. They are mixtures, empirico-transcendental doublets, they are necessary for transcendental logic and the Technological Continuum. They are not necessary for transcendental truth considered in its essence.

The dispersive determination never proceeds through negation. This syntax therefore excludes the foundation of the opposition derivatus/originarius, a theological opposition of the human mind and divine understanding, which grounds the idealist correlation of the phenomenon and the noumenon. It changes the content of terms and above all reverses it and absolutely displaces it outside of their opposition. Conforming to the matrix of uni-laterality, the ideal attribute is identical to real dispersion which communicates its dispersivity with it (a multiplicity of infinite attributes); inversely, the real dispersion is distinguished from attributes and any form of ideality. From the dispersive point of view, phenomenon (attribute) and noumenon (mode) cease from being opposed in a transcendent way and therefore still in an ideal way. The method ceases from formulating the “relations” of mode and attribute solely from the ideal point of view of the second (these are rather relations) to also formulate them from the real point of view of the first (they are no longer relations) and thus fulfilling the exigency of immanence. The mode within its dispersion is a noumenal but absolute limit which is no longer simply negative and limitative in the Kantian fashion – consequently still relative, this “noumenon” is a false absolute – which would thus still deny it any positive content. When the transcendental apparatus passes to the service of the Absolute, the noumenon = X is filled with a positive content, a transcendental dispers that conditions all kinds of ideality.

Despite his effort at the destruction of Transcendental Idealism, Heidegger could not perhaps perceive that the Transcendental Imagination or Original Time still occult the place of a positive and pre-ideal noumenon, of an ontological Time-without-Temporality. He could only reduce them to intuition that he did not succeed in piercing the closure, remaining within the onto-theo-logical framework of the transcendent and idealism inclusion of the phenomenon and the noumenon, instead of thinking them in transcendental but real, rather than ideal, terms, consequently in terms of absolutely positive difference rather than in terms of inclusion. This is to still seek an originary, ideal version of Essence by reducing it to an ontico-ontological synthesis, while synthesis does not come from Essence, but from Being which needs it for itself and to feed on the Essence. Heidegger does not recognize the necessity of taking the word “being” in two senses and identifies the unreflected deferral, which is no longer a power-to-defer, with being-noumenon. Hence as well the Heideggerian prejudice of a division of being in two domains-of-being: what I am not, what I am. There is the necessity to substitute it for another economy, the economy of the “two” uni-lateral meanings of the word “being”: there are not two regions or two domains there, it is no longer even the “same” being which must be cleaved as empirico-ideal and as transcendental, a cleavage which is obviously the subversion of two worlds and does not reconstitute an intelligible. This unreflected subject which is voided of its or their [son] psycho-socio-logical content can alone pose the problem of the Being of all and for all beings in general because it is no longer produced as the infinite attribute nor as the infinite of infinities or as Being. Essence is this really absolute “noumenon” that needs the phenomenon. This need is not co-belonging or inclusion of contraries. The strange unity where the attribute weds a mode that subtracts itself from it, where the “phenomenon” courts [poursuit] a “noumenon” that produces it by withdrawing itself from a step with which it only makes one, is only the work of ideality. Dispersions never fall from themselves into the element of transcendence and exteriority. They exclude the reflection of external Being, the empirico-ideal objectivity or pure-ideal objectivity within Essence. It is from itself that Essence individuates the attributes and even the transcendental field that they form from their unity.

translated by Jeremy R. Smith

taken from here

Foto: Sylvia John

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