Notes on Iain Hamilton Grant's Lecture From
Symposium: Nature After Nature
"Nature is only nature insofar as nature after nature is the only nature that there is."
I want to announce the end of nature. My question is where am I going to do that?
Am I making a prophecy?
Can I announce the end of nature as a past event?
Is there a present in which the end of nature occurs such that I can announce it, in it?
If any of these things obtain, then the ‘end’ of nature – that is to say, an end of nature which is simply ‘after nature’ – is conceivable. If not, it is not. Why is this important?
Physiocide (the murder of nature) concerns the end of nature having already taken place.
John Mcdowell conceives ‘second nature’ to be the realm of ‘reasons’. This ‘second nature’ has no location other than in this space of reasons.
If this is ‘second nature’, what then, is first nature? For Mcdowell, first nature is that which issues from the ‘best of our natural sciences’, i.e. natural science tells us what nature is.
Nature is thus divided into 2 parts: (i) a first nature, and (ii) a second nature – neither of which is ‘nature’, since both are creatures of the space of reason – which is, by definition autonomous – and its existence is therefore conditional upon the idea that nature doesn’t exist.
The announcement of the end of nature has already (always) occurred, but the issue of where from has not been solved.
In fact, philosophers have been trying to murder nature for a long time – the notion of ‘physiocide’ has been occurring for 400 years – in this supplanting of nature by something which is not nature – an ‘X’ after nature.
Nature after nature is a permanent state of affairs, it is ubiquitous.
However, if we put this together with the claim that ‘I am going to announce the end of nature’, the ‘end’ of nature is both ubiquitous, and impossible, since from where can the claim for the end of nature be made?
If I can’t find a space in nature from which to claim the end of nature, so the claim as to its end is both impossible and ubiquitous - which is a straightforward contradiction.
There is no need to think about physiocide as a philosophical imperative.
We often think that a species of philosophy, born with Plato, consists in the separation of two worlds – a world of reason (logos), and a world of things (which aren’t permanent things, but ‘becoming’ things, a series of becomings which are by definition never complete).
Plato asks a riddle: “what is it that always is and never becomes, and what always becomes and never is?”
The key is not in the difference, but the identity between the two: There is an eternity in what ‘is’ (the realm of ideas) and there is also a realm of eternity in the becoming; that is to say, becoming is as eternal as being.
Why did we ever think Plato abolished the physical world? – How did the physical world become, as Nietzsche claimed, a ‘fable’?
This fable of the physical world came about precisely because Nietzsche said it did: we hold that the end of nature has in fact happened, as an article of faith.
Plato: “when I was young, Thebes, said Socrates, I studied natural history. Now I want to know the causes of things.”
In his search for the ‘causes of things’, Plato finds the following claim, ‘everything is mind’ (mind is the cause of things). We thus have a space of reasons which consists in a causal operation; there is no distance between the mind that ‘minds’ (thinks), and the nature that ‘natures’, i.e. mind is purely causal).
How did the two worlds arise? – certainly not in Plato.
Plato, The Sophist: Battle of Gods and Giants – at the end of that battle, Socrates is told, by the eleatic stranger, “I hold it as a mark of being, that whatever is, is power”.
We can align this with the idea that mind is causal (nature and mind are intimately connected), and, thereby, with natural history, since what is natural history but tracing the history of nature?
The history of nature is only completed when nature can be seen to emerge from what it is not, i.e. ‘non-being’ must be the consequence of an investigation into natural history, i.e. we can discover an origin of nature only if it is the case that nature at some point did not obtain that there was some ‘not-nature’ at some point.
Plato doesn’t find ‘not-being’, however, he finds mind that is causal with respect to being, i.e. the root of nature lies in mind.
This claim is ubiquitous amongst humanists, artists and philosophers.
The claim is that it is not because there is being that there is thinking but rather, because there is thinking, there is being: Mind is the causal nexus from which nature emerges.
The account in the Sophist yields problems:A power is a ‘power’ only if it is resisted by another. If this were not the case, we would be dealing with a power that’s non-finite, i.e. not limited by its products. In the case of a power unlimited by any products, the power does absolutely nothing – so is it a power at all?
To posit that there is a power, assumes that there is more than one power: there is no single power.
That is to say, the idea that there is no finality in a force that has a specific result is moot from the first since, if the force is coincident with its product, then no power has taken place – no force has been exerted.
In fact, there must be an infinite amount of forces if there are finite products, since without an infinite number of forces, finite products could not exist at all, since if we think of a finite quantity of forces, what makes them finite? – they reach a level of exhaustion (i.e. they’re wholly converted into ‘things that are’). This is the principle of sufficient reason, i.e. because there are powers that have these objects as their consequence, then these powers consist in their full actuality, only when exhausted in the objects they produce. So if there are powers, these powers can’t be exhausted in these objects.
Thus objects aren’t coincident with Being/ power.
If that were the case, there would be no need for a hypothesis of powers, since all would be objects – indeed all would be an eternal domain of objects.
Therefore, we can conclude that if there is power at all, there must be more than one. And powers must be non-finite, since if they were finite, they would consist in the exhaustion of their products, which is non-sensicle. Imagine there’s a universe in which one episode occurs wherein the end of that universe takes place. Has the end of the universe taken place? Yes: the end of the universe occurs just in that location where the end of the universe has taken place, but then the question arises, has the universe ended? – there exist more places which are not filled/ saturated by the end of the universe.
The end of the universe is a local event…
What is its location? Where does the end of the universe occur? Where is it claimed form that the end of the universe occurs?
Can the end of the universe be claimed from after the end of the universe? Then how would the claim occur? The end of the universe hasn’t occurred, because the end is being recorded.
This question arises when we consider what it is that autonomous cultural production by agents who consider mind – that is to say, ‘(my) making’ as the cause of the cosmos. If I think that my making is what makes the cosmos, i.e. if I’m completely independent from all that is, then can I affirm that I’m God, the ‘cause’ of the cosmos.
This same claim concerning the ‘autonomy’ of raitonal agents is at the heart of the ‘ethicism’, and the same as the claim we recognise in the agenda of self-fashioning, such as propounded by Foucault: I am my own causal agent, the product of myself.
This is ethicism and physiocide failing to recognise dependence, and it claims the end of nature .
Where can this claim be made from? – a second nature which arises in the form of a document, an aesthetic, cultural phenomenon, an idea: these recordings are tokens of the end of the cosmos, but where is it they occur?
Philosophers of logic tend to posit that logic doesn’t inhabit the same world as logic is made of, i.e. there’s nothing natural about logic. Logic enjoys a degree of objectivity, but not objecthood. This is a claim to exempt logic form nature insofar as nature is considered as a body of things, or some megabody/ protoplasm at the origin of all things.
Were there a ‘protoplasm’/ ‘hyper-egg’ as the origin of all things, what then IS the hyper-egg – which ONE is the hyperegg? how is it individuated, sicne it is the origin of all things? It cannot be one thing, since it is all things. If we manage to separate it from everything it’s claimed to be the origin of – what is the hyperegg? – it is no longer the cause of al things, bt only the hyperegg, i.e. the hyperegg becomes a subegg (since even a chicken egg is the cause of all things and not all).
If nature is generative, then isolating an egg is a false image of what nature ‘is’, just if nature consists of any generation whatsoever.
The claim that nature is generative implies looking for a cause of all things.
If the universe emerges from absolutely nothing except a claim which isn’t ‘in’ that universe, then no ‘genesis’ happens at all. Why? – because there’s no ‘nature’ priori to nature. Nature isn’t genesis, it’s just the fact of creation – the ‘createdness’ of creation:
Creation issues from such an act only if nature is already ‘finished’, and what is it to ‘finish’ all generation? – it is the ‘end of the universe’.
If the universe ends when all generation finishes, why is this? Because it turns out that powers are synonymous with their exhaustion in objects, but in this case – insofar as creation emerges only as the created – then no powers, in fact, have been expended – none have acted. All there is is a split second, peanut into the void species of universal origin.
If it’s the case that there’s a space where the universe comes to exist, where is it in the universe that that universe comes into existence? If it does (come into existence) then the universe doesn’t come into existence, because the space from which it does has already come into existence.
It follows that there can be no coming into existence of the universe, if that space is already part of the universe. If it’s not already part of the universe, how is there any causal contact with a non-existent universe (i.e. something that ‘is not’ – indeed the ‘is not-ness’ non-exisent-ness of everything – the non-being of Being). How is it there contact between that state, and the state where the universe maximally and competely ‘is’?
There can’t be such a contact unless that contact consists precisely in the universe
I want to take a bus from one space (where there’s no universe yet) to one where there is a universe. What happens to the bus on its journey?
I board an inexistent bus (this is Cartesian: I get on a bus that doesn’t exist, and it is from that that I get existence – ‘cogito ergo sum’ means I think before there is existence 0 Descartes is a universal creationist).
The bus is in fact the bus of all creation – creation occurs in that passage from inexistence to existence, and I must somehow not have existed before boarding the bus, or it’s not true that the bus is the passage from inexistence to existence.
I announce the end of the universe – the statement of the end of the universe has occurred – the end of the universe is at least preprared for. Has the end of the universe occurred?
Let’s say it does: that my announcement of the end of the universe is performative. If this is the case, where am I when I am making the claim? I’m making the claim from the position of a ‘nature after nature’, i.e. it’s not the case that nature has been illuminated in the end of the universe, since the only place form which that claim can be made is that universe – or ‘a’ universe.
If this ‘universe’ from which my proclamation of the end of the universe is not the performatively ended universe, but another universe entirely, then how is my statement of the end of the universe simultaneous with/ performative of the end of the (other, first) universe?
If there is coincidence between my statement of the end of the universe and the end of the (other) universe, then there must be causal connection between these universes. Without this connection, there can be no such coincidence between my announcement of the end of the universe, and the end of the universe.
Therefore, the announcement of the end of the universe occurs only if the universe includes its own illumination – but it includes it regionally.
It’s true that nature has been killed – we’ve decided in advance of the answer to the question, ‘what is nature’, that it has finitude – and its finitude consists in its vulnerability to the space of reasons.
The claim that the space of reasons is fully autonomous with respect to nature falls foul of the question of what sort of bus it is I take in order to travel from the space of reasons to that nature.
If it’s a ‘space of reasons bus’ (run by the ‘space of reasons’ counsel), how does it transfer to the space that isn’t the space of reasons – it cannot – or if it does, there’s no true separation between the space of reasons and nature.
Nature is only nature insofar as nature after nature is the only nature that there is.
This means that if there’s nature, and if nature’s generative, then there is no nature until it has a sequel.
What does this mean that nature is NOT? – what is the species of non-being that properly attaches to what nature IS?
There is one space (not all spaces) within the universe wherein the end of the universe obtains, if that weren’t the case, the end of the universe couldn’t obtain. That’s one species of ‘not-being’.
There’s a necessary overlap between a power and its product; if there were not, the power and the product would be identical, and thus the product would be a product without being a product – an eternal object, that never came into existence, but always was and always will be.
‘Platonia’ is a name for the ‘configuration space of the universe’.
The universe is made up of whatever configuration space obtains , from which some configuration of the universe ‘results’, i.e. the configuration space of the universe is never exhausted in the universe.
Where is Platonia with respect to the universe?
If ‘Platonia’ is within the universe, then the configuration space of the universe from which possible configuration spaces emerge, is only a configuration space if it obtains in that universe -which makes it not the configuration space of the universe. Or, if it remains the configuration space of the universe whilst remaining in fact part OF the universe, if it contains all the possible universes, but is in fact part of that universe, then it follows that that configuration space of the universe is precisely the issuance of innumerable universes from the universe in which it occurs.
The configuration space of the universe is only the configuration space of the universe if it is within the universe; therefore it’s a local element within the universe that consists in the multiplication of universes.
That is to say, nature after nature obtains if the whole is contained in the part, not only to the higher scales of the universe, but also to the lower; so the whole is contained in the part just if the whole remains the whole but nonetheless local within a universe within which it occurs.
A universal, when stated, is locally environed by the universe in which it is stated; that is to say, there is no universal which can be stated which is not environed by an environment.
It follows, then, that the environment of the universal either reduces it to a particular – but then the universal hasn’t obtained – or the universal is only a universal because it is a local element in the universe by which it’s environed.
The universal is a local function by which ‘nature after nature’ is perpetuated.
Why is ‘nature after nature’ perpetuated?
If there is a hyper-egg is the hyper-egg only if it’s local, and if it continues to be the origin of all things. What is the hyper-egg then?
We located/ individuated the hyper-egg by virtue of its ubiquity – that is, it’s everywhere!
Nature after nature is the only condition under which the hyper-egg obtained.
The hyper-egg must be local, and al things must be ‘it’
Is everything reducible to the hyper-egg? – can everything ‘return’ to the hyper-egg?
Or is the hyper-egg the simple fact of the locateability of the particular within a universe being required just if that locate-able particular is to obtain at all.
The end of the universe obtains only if it obtains in that universe, and that end of the univese must be in some sense recorded in that universe, because if it’s not recorded, there is no ‘end’ of the universe.
However, if the end of the universe does occur and is recorded, is this the end of the universe? – yes, insofar as it’s a local event, and no insofar as such an event can only happen within a universe.
The end of the universe obtains all the time – it is ubiquitous – why? – because the end of the universe is consistently announced just when something arises that was not.
i.e. if there’s something, and that ‘something ‘has come into being, then the end of the universe must not be merely one local element within the universe, but ubiquitous.
This ubiquitous element which is the end of the universe obtains exactly when ‘nature’ is after nature.
Plato: after nature is ‘after powers’ – the ‘after’ should be regarded as meaning ‘after’ in the sense of ‘following’, but also in ‘accordance’ with. So nature acts in accordance with powers: it is not a collection of objects; nor, therefore, is it a hyper-object. There is no ‘one’ thing that nature ‘is’.
A completed nature is nothing more than a nature outside which its completion stands, i.e. once I can view nature as one thing, i.e. as being one thing, it’s no longer possible that that is all that is – a new space emerges – a new space in which I claim that this i all that is. But I can only make a claim insofar as I am environed – and I am precisely environed by nature.
Nature is never only a thing, but always after nature.
John Mcdowell’s space of reasons is not a space unless it obtains within the space that the theory of the space of reasons is premised on eliminating – nature.
What is it that requires nature’s elimination so that the space of reasons be what it is? – if the sae of reasons is causally responsible for any nature that can therefore inhabit that space of reasons, and, therefore, the space of reasons is the fundamental determining element that make s nature what it is.
What is nature according to Mcdowell? – nature is its own elimination as the act of a rational being.
What kind of rational being eliminates nature, just to make a point?!