The New Image of Thought As Fusion of the Quantum and Philosophy

The New Image of Thought As Fusion of the Quantum and Philosophy
François Laruelle
From Tétralogos: un opéra de philosophies (Paris: Cérf, 2018), p.152-156; p.157-161.
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1. As An Undulatory Aspect
The first phase of our construction is the constitution of the matrix or quantization under the double sign Marx with Planck. A new image of thought is announced here under two aspects: the undulatory and particulate or quartial collision, both aspects understood within the vectoriality of thought. We call “generic” the sought entity, specifying this term little by little. The second phase will be of messianity and its forcing [forçage] of quantization, the completion of the generic.

The deconstruction of “representation” by the Contemporaries is a very general critique because the signifier, the molecular, alterity, difference, the simulacrum, etc., remain of a corpuscular and realist spirit, two traits that the quantum can bring back into question. Why? Philosophy is in no way simple as these philosophers implicitly assume it. Therefore, it is not critiqued thoroughly by this genre of operators that leave an essential presupposed to subsist: a horizon of the sufficiency of philosophy, the ultimate master of knowledge. It is always a specular doublet, a double strata or double face, either parallel or on a Möbius band. We believe to critique the ensemble of representation whereas, in fact, only one stratum is critiqued. Hence, the return of doublets and specularity that oblige critique to begin again and prohibits it from transforming itself into an activity of full invention.

Standard non-philosophy brings about another experience of thought. The real is no longer made of objects, autonomous terms or terms in-themselves, and furthermore not made of elementary micro-objects (signifiers, partial objects). It is the end of specular realism and modern micro-fetishism that wrongly believes to have been done with it. The new model of the real is a quantum type: it is ultimately constituted by asymmetrical or strange dualities, continuous on one side, discontinues on the other, like unilateral quanta. These entities are sometimes grasped as dualities, and sometimes as uni-facial phenomena. They are no longer doublets or modalities of a complete circle, a basic macrocosmic model that impregnates any philosophy and is extended into the modern Möbius band. They are the Real in the state of a half-circle, undulation with one face configuring one particle that is inseparable from it. This is the undulatory morphē as the non-separable correlation (“unilation”) of the curve of thinking and its content, a curve with which the aimed-for object is confounded, both in excess over it and included within it. The wave is defined by its amplitude or wave-length, not by the objective and straight scope of objects in-themselves or corpuscular representations “stretched out in front” of the subject. Amplitude is the periodic variation of the maximal value of an interval. It is distinguished from phenomenological or ek-static distance. The latter emerges from the complete circle: the depth that is stretched out in front of the subject is a circle crushed upon itself, the identity of a forward/backward that can be laterally opened and ends by crossing and inverting itself (Lacan). However, amplitude is not ekstatic, just semi-ekstatic, with only one fold or only one face without a return or without enclosure. Undulation is one apparently incomplete form: it is simply inaugurated; rigorously, it is completed by its object and as identical to it (which is not an in-itself). It is no longer eventually inverted phenomenological distance that is closed or making a return to itself. Undulation is completed within its objects but without making a return to itself or an in-itself like a great object. In the same fashion, if the curve is completed as a curve yet non-closed, its object, which is the particle that bears and contains the wave, is partial like a demi-whole, a semi-object with one face that is the completion of undulation. Undulation is the commencement of the object, and the object is the completion of undulation. Undulation and the particle in the narrow sense of these terms are two halves of a demi-circle that they share.

Let us grant one comparison with Deleuze’s desiring machines. First difference with Deleuze: the undulatory-particulate real is made of unilateral machines rather than molecular machines, it is oriented rather than disoriented. The wave-particle or unilateral machines are complexes of non-separability and unexchangeable separability or which cannot permute. The undulatory flow is also – but only in one sense, non-reciprocally – the objective morphē of the particle. Deleuze’s break-flow machines first in reality presuppose the multiple “in-itself” of partial objects or breaks and introduces different types of their reversibility, including the body-without-organs. This is to basically conserve a priority of the multiple or the empirical of the continuity of the One-All that Deleuze molecularizes, and this is to admit an inversion between the particulate and undulatory. The generic model invested within the quantum imposes a slippage in relation to this philosophical One-Multiple. The priority is no longer of the wave over the particle or inversely. However, there is a priority of the only wave as a priori over the particle and a before-priority of the wave-particle as an inseparable bloc of unilateral duality over the corpuscle or the wave both assumed in-themselves, and which are the same duality but seen on the other side, on the more empirical side of the particle.

2. As a Collision or the Particulate Aspect
How do we return to the source of the wave as an undulatory-particulate morphē? If undulation is a demi-circle, one can still divide it and isolate one quarter-of-the-circle or quarter-turn within which the Real is now concentrated. The quarter represents not an arithmetical number but a complex or imaginary number that the quantum utilizes to define the quarter and generate undulation. The essence of thought is no longer especially the curve, which is still too intuitive, but the vector proper to the Hilbert space and what characterizes the imaginary number that is typical of the wave-function. The vector is a machine that is even more elementary than undulation but repeats the generic structure within it. It is a quasi-atom of thought, an inseparable fusion of arrow and angle, module and phase. If the undulatory form was noematically oriented as an a priori over the particle, the vectorial form is noematically oriented towards the subject as Last Instance.

Anticipating what will follow and to indicate some stakes, we will say that the curve is the a priori form of thought as the mixture of the quantum and philosophy, giving rise to an undulatory, non-corpuscular aesthetic like the Kantian form, but that the vector is in very first approximation the condition of real possibility, the Real itself, of quantum experience qua “transcendental” – to say it provisionally in a classic fashion. However, it is obvious that our matrix qua generic prohibits us from remaining in this traditional solution. Moreover, it defines a theoretical strategy of invention or design of concepts, philo-fiction, and not only the struggle against philosophical sufficiency. The matrix prescribes the fusion of the quantum and philosophy (this is what we have done) but under or within a quantum regime, not a dominant philosophical regime. Therefore, we now need to retrench the excess of philosophy that we no longer want, and, in the same gesture, give the vector or the “quartial” object its own consistency and genetic power. Because the fusions and distinctions we have posed are carried out in a quantum regime, it is the reversal of the primacy of the philosophy of sciences, but which does not result in a positive science of philosophy because the reversal is done by quantum but philosophized means, and that it is enacted by generic unilateralization. The point is to carry out a unilateral or broken transference, through subtraction and addition, of retrenching the excess of transcendence where the vector bathes and thicken its immanence, according to a distribution that follows the divisions of the circle but through unilateral duality. Inversely, the philosophy of the quantum is a counter-transference of generic science.

Three Differences With Deleuze
First difference with Deleuze. The generic is the process of a “broken transference,” a continuous but also discontinuous operation, a power of determination. It is a transference twice from philosophy towards individuality, from transcendence towards complex immanence, from the corpuscle towards the wave, and finally from the wave towards the quarter turn. However, it is not the same reality that would be transmitted or exchanged, or which would permutate from one side to the other. It is not a redistribution of wealth placed in equivalency, but a radical redistribution of the means of production, as Marx would say. Or, again, a redistribution of the power of reality towards the real. On the side of reality we subtract, on the side of the real we add or sum up: this complex method is dualysis.

Second difference with Deleuze: there is no body-without-organs or eternal return of the same, but a Last Instance. Stopping in the treatment of the Whole to the simple demi-circle or undulation would be to remain within the orbit of the philosophical circle or the Whole. The point is to bring up an extreme and perhaps fictioning experience of thought; therefore, to introduce into the generic the passage through quantum means, a quarter-circle or “imaginary number” and not as a simple demi-circle that we do not possess the genetic key of. On another side, Deleuze is very close to the quantum but as a positive science that he wants to philosophize: it is the passage to the generic that makes up a defect and therefore also the quantum insofar as it allows for this passage. By testifying to the themes of the One-All, the Body-without-Organs [BwO] and the Eternal Return of the Same [ERS], the twisting plane of immanence that is reduced [se rabattent sur] to desiring machines, the constant practice of the certainly non-metaphysical yet very insistent doublet (disjunctive synthesis), the empirico-transcendental style in general. It is towards disjunctive synthesis that non-philosophy has always opposed the unilateral duality which is no longer a doublet centered on transcendence, but a superposition centered on immanence. The matrix of quantization is not precisely structuralist or set-theoretical, nor is it philosophical or transcendental; it is unilateral and any splitting into two of itself is a unilateral supplementarity.

Therefore, even when it is mathematically enrooted within the quarter-turn, undulation is not enough: it is nothing but an a priori of a scientific origin, a level that physics attains. It is to the successive unilateral breaks – mainly the second that disengages the quarter – we must therefore add a supplementary operation that will treat it or the imaginary as generic, what the quantum alone does not do because it makes it a solely positive use. Let us insert this new object, the quarter this time, into our matrix. It poses the fusion of the imaginary number and the philosophical (therefore, as well, the geometrical and the physical). The fusion of the vector and its philosophical interpretation is determined as the vectoriality of the vector. It is this time generic, neither geometric nor transcendental or philosophical.

We must now walk the inverse path of the previous one. Instead of ascending from undulation to the quarter-turn, we can descend from the quarter but through the quarter-force that is itself towards or as undulation. Why? Because the generic becoming is still made by the quantum, that is, the superposition or excess proper to immanence. We pass beyond the imaginary by the imaginary itself in one sense, but it is not a reflexive subject, a consciousness nor even a transcendental ego filling itself up. It is a superposition of the quarter and undulation, which is possible because the quarter is that which generates undulation. In this operation, by superposing itself with undulation, the quarter superposes itself with itself, filling itself with itself. The quarter is not exhausted by undulation, but it is known and thought only through and as it: essence through existence. The quarter is not delivered to undulation like to an alienating exteriority, but it does not reach its effectivity or actualized except on the condition of being relaunched as immanent or superposed with itself, therefore consenting in receiving a solicitation or an impulsion of undulation. The Last Instance as “generic subject” is a causality that is not awoken except with an occasion but one alone that “decides” that there can be occasions to act on. As generic or superpositional (of) self, the quarter thus conquers a consistency that is undoubtedly no longer absolute or closed in on itself, but completed each time in this sense that undulation only falls (back) into itself to go further from the quarter-slope superposed with itself. This ultimate and highest point that non-philosophy can reach is the form still limited to quantization of what we will call later on generic messianity that we see is inaugurated in the depths of history, in the rigorousness of the quantum before undergoing the test of forcing that will bring it to light in the Universe.

Third difference with Deleuze: the generic or transfinite plane of immanence is also the plane of scientific reference. There is rather a plane of immanence called “the generic plane” or messianity. It transcends or “rises,” identical to the transcendence of undulation before falling “into itself.” However, this itself is not an infinite self or the band of a body-without-organs. Undulation is broken or stopped before having “looped” one turn of the circle. Deleuze conserves the circle as a Whole and molecularizes it rather than unilateralizing it. Undulation can only be repeated without ever closing itself in an infinite circle, even if it were divergent. It is transfinite and exits from its own immanence of the quarter. To even close itself ad infinitum is not possible here for one very simple reason: the plane of immanence is at the same time a plane of reference or a scientific plane and not absolute. On a circle or a whole, what can we do? Retrench the whole from itself, by assuming therefore that there still remains a whole = -1 even if one molecularizes it in a disjunctive fashion. Against the double of representation, Deleuze simplifies the Whole in the state of the One-All but does not pass through the quantum that ends by tearing down philosophical sufficiency without fail more than philosophy can do it itself. Deleuze does not introduce the whole of science – here algebra – into the quarter and does not reach a rigorous imaginary, a generic and scientific philo-fiction, as if it would disperse or molecularize the human Last Instance into ideology-as-a-whole. What Deleuze himself calls “non-philosophy” is an auto-simplified philosophy, one that hardly consents any more than Michel Henry to pass through science. It is nothing but generic-absolute, not generic-radical. That which consists is always the great macroscopic object, the body-without-organs, and not the broken system of individuality, the undulatory quarter as unilateral. This Last Instance is the generic vectoriality that is “our” renovated infrastructure. How and for what can the ones who are without-philosophy do to elaborate? We comprehend the ultimate vectoriality of thought as the messianity proper to the humanity of-the-last-instance or generic humanity. Messianity is the only righteousness capable of adding itself to itself and nevertheless is indirect. It is a transfinite task – neither finite or closed nor infinite. Let us call generic of the first generation this generic produced by quantum means, awaiting a generic of the second generation that produced by other means that are called forcing and exercised upon aleatory subjects produced by the quantum.

translated by Jeremy R. Smith

taken form here

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