Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Brassier and speculative idealism: the vital negative (MP3 download)

HT noir realism for originally posting this HERE, the text and citation are his.  I think this is important because it further clarifies the new directions that Ray's thought seems to be taking (the quote is older - from 2010 - but it is a fairly strong statement that isn't mentioned much).

I find these directions extremely congenial, actually.  Alot of this matches up with the hints that Brassier provided in the After Nature interview, where he stated that his work now converges and overlaps with the work of Iain Hamilton Grant. To be fair to Ray, he is remarking about the appropriate role reason and concepts play in speculative philosophy, where Hegel may be a model (a complete transcript of the talk can be found HERE).

Despite this emphasis on reason, much emphasis is also placed on "the vital negative" - that "absolute intensity" which produces and powers intensive matter in-itself.  The trick is to understand how thought, conceptual rationality, is infused within this matter as a form of its self-representation in a way that "necessitates transformation at the level of practical existence."  
…I consider myself an idealist, opposed to a materialist, as I insist on the need to preserve the relative autonomy of thinking, and the cogency and the consistency of thinking, and of conceptual rationality, precisely in order to be able to adjudicate the relationship between thinking and reality, between theory and practice, and also it’s an enabling condition for practice. In other words, if you try to fuse thought into material reality indiscriminately, I think that leads to an impotent short-circuit. So I would insist on defending the representational structures that are simply attacked… it’s a caricature of representation that’s being attacked, it’s a straw man. Representation here, and theoretical representation in particular, is a straw man.
I want to defend the imperatives of conceptualization, and even a kind of dialectics, as although I agree with what Nick says about the way in which death is a marker for real identity of matter itself, the point is that you should never confuse the symbolic marker for the thing in itself. You need a much more careful and subtle articulation of those terms–actually, between zero, one, and two–to explain the autonomy of thought and rationality and of thinking. Not to put too fine a point on it, so that you can maintain and generate a locus of rational agency. In other words, keep a space of subjectivation open that provides a prism for practical incision, a point of insertion. And that has to be done, and I think this involves re-examining the legacy of Hegel, and of Hegelianism. In other words, to maintain a kind of conceptual rationality that necessitates transformation at the level of practical existence. It requires a lot of theoretical work to do this. I would insist on the need to preserve the autonomy of rationality as something that allows you to intervene, to cut, in the continuity.