Thursday, October 9, 2014

Negative Pragmatics

One evident consequence of the wonderful text Hello is the general deflationary tone against obligation, a tone that seems partially originary in pragmatic accounts of truth. It is worth considering this position. Metaphysical truth has always been accounted for by an epistemological stance.

Getting the thing right, according to the way things really are would be the high standard of metaphysical truth; and it has always been met with confusion, perhaps in the order of a category mistake.

The subject object split is present in modern philosophy; yet its origin can certainly be found in medieval epistemologies. For instance, the subject(object) is not given in Aquinas, but is merely assumed to cohere with the phantasm, the final end of the movement of the thing in the senses, and that from which universals are abstracted and then put back onto the thing. In Aristotle, the active intellect becomes the universal of the thing, ceteris paribus. (Presumably this is done without violence to the thing. How might that work? The trick would be to not make the substance of knowledge an 'undergoing' and therefore an undergoing pushed back onto the thing. Rather, there is a mirroring stemming from the thing: its universal is recognized).

Aristotle's caution to listen to the thing, and what it permits, is of course a step in the right direction; and it would certainly be a guardrail against absurd imposition. But there is a lot of wiggle room. The deflationary point here, from an angle, is either that truth is not available because we cannot get beyond appearances; or, in a pragmatic articulation, that

P1 if truth doesn't depend on what we make of it


P2 If truth cannot depend on what we make of it


P3 if we can't even see truth anyways,

C1 truth doesn't make a difference to practice.

"Truth" would therefore be a useless concept; and then, false, if we define truth in terms of usefulness, would be here a matter of uselessness, such being truth's contrary.

Is truth given in P1-P3 available to us? Obviously not if our having it is impossible (P2). It is often said that truth doesn't depend on what we make of it; and similarly, by analogy, doing the right thing is right, no matter what. Hence--and this is the intuition surrounding truth--it might go against our desires.


P4- Just as truth doesn't depend on how we feel about it, so too doing the right thing doesn't depend on how we feel about it. 

While it is irrelevant from the indifferent planetary perspective of truth (and so correct moral acts) per se if our desires line up (de Acosta, Green Nihilism or Cosmic Pessimism. ), doing the right thing may be something that we desire; and it may be something that we wish to have. Its being had is irrelevant to it; but our having it, may matter to us. Can we have it? Can we know? If we wish to have it, it makes a difference to our practice; if we cannot have it because our dispositions would be the substance of an improper medium, say because such can only be had by God, the latter would be our deflationary target. 

In another sense, the sense presupposed in reformist practice, we might say the truth does depend on us. What is the truth about climate change? One truth, certainly, is that the planet will be just fine, no matter what. For there will always be being. Now, of the beings that there are, perhaps we want to say that their being in the modes that they are, has to be addressed. Then their-truth does depend on what we make of them; they do depend on being seen in a better light. For instance, a chicken is certainly food for four; but how much more is the chicken? Getting things better functions in counter-propaganda. Does it move us out from a perspective of nature (wild, not yet exploited) to one of the anti-humyn (and any other thing else) planet? Not necessarily. But it certainly might move us out of the humyn-world perspective.

Getting the thing better, whatever the thing, is always a reformist project, especially to a degree; and the degree to which we are tending, the final form of the thing, is a true derivation of predicates that follow from it in every possible respect. If we are medieval epistemological reformists, we would say that we need to account for the thing in terms of its quantity, its many qualities, including habits, or any other undergoing, possible and actual, etc., Having an adequate account of the thing will be ultimately a matter of knowing the predicates of the thing, those that actually follow from the thing. Tall task; certainly one for a God. Certainly not for our Scientific gods; certainly not for us. 

Here is the issue. Truth and being true to a thing is a matter of constitution, the former fixing the latter. Being truer to a thing, depends then on knowing that one is tracking Truth. Or, alternatively, being truer to to a thing doesn't depend on Truth at all. The humyn socius cannot accept that the planetary perspective is indifferent. Hence, what is useful is a reformist concept that refers back to how we improve. Presumably those that make others be truer to them (A approaches B) either muddle with things (B), or not. Reform ultimately points the way to an Aristotlean epistemology outside of justice modified with the term 'social', therefore; for listening to the thing and what it permits, as though one were to host the thing, to actually approach it, rather than what we make of it, would be better if such is a matter of mattering to them, whereby they make our knowledge.

Now, let's just suss out a few more ideas. Another big important concept pertinent to de Acosta's piece on Desert and Dust is Being. What is 'being'? What does it mean for something to be? Presumably being is a necessary condition for truth. But everything that is, is; and everything that is becoming also is. What was, is-no-longer; what will be, is not-yet. There is then only that which is present. However, we can certainly have beliefs about events that are no more. Once true, always true. It is true that I went to the store yesterday. It is true that I am now writing this text. It may be true that I will meet some friends tonight. If so, then something makes the truth about those things true. Being true to something, on this score, is almost trivial. Getting to the essence, behind the accidents, is the thirst for Truth. I'm saying we can be true to something without worrying whether such will fit into an ultimate story only known by God. Of course triviality must, either way; for there is nothing about any future perspective that will negate these banalities, provided all goes well, and we keep up the good fight against those that would rewrite history. 

One might object here. Isn't truth univocal? Of course. We are only affirming 'truer to'; for we have deflated 'truth'. Hence, we are not equivocating, and we do not require the analogy here. What of 'truth' and 'being', however? Truth is just an isomorphic mode of being, a tracking. But every utterance or thought of truth is not nothing, but being. Whether being requires language is an open indeterminate question. Hence, being is analogous in itself and in truth. The being of truth is derivative and how it turns up (accidentally) is subsequent to how it is already, in its prior mode. The analogy we have in mind is one of attribution, then. That which is, is the first, always related to the accidental tracking of truth. The being of truth and the being of reality are different, yet one. Being as necessary indifferent, is, if so, quite indifferent to accidents of thought. And such is the planetary perspective, the demonic anti-humyn perspective.

Here are some summary thoughts.

1. Being, from the cosmic planetary perspective, doesn't depend on us. It just is, and language, humyn or divine, alien or animal, could be getting it right. But it's possible that we are failing in knowing essential respects. So, why bother? Since we have deflated this concept of truth, we leave it behind. But, it hasn't been left behind by those that would provide a story to bludgeon us. Essentialisms are alive and well (for now). If the universe doesn't give a shit about us, it's up to us to give a shit about ourselves. Yet, no one really gives a shit about anyone precisely because giving a shit negates distributive civilege in all its modes of domestication, which is always a destroying. What then is the value of the planetary perspective? It is this perspective that gives us strength to always push the envelope; to never see things as clear and crystal, but potentially something darker. It is the root of negation, but it is not nothing; it is an indifferent something that forever trivializes. It goes to work against others in their positive projects and it also potentially goes against us, until we are free because we do not need, because we have become its indifference, its armed subsequent thought. 

2. Dependency. Being doesn't need us. We are beings; but we don't need to be. We do not require being, then, but insofar as we are actual beings we cannot do without it in any sensible analysis. What of truths? Well clearly, we need truths to get around. And we need truths to get out from others and their efforts to control us. Or maybe we don't, if we don't care. So maybe truth doesn't matter to us. But in the trivial sense, it probably does to to a degree. To what degree does the trivial sense get us into a posture that is useful? The planetary perspective is literally the limit. How then do we get out from under the tent of passive nihilism? Two Qualifiers. Clearly we shouldn't have hope for the anarchist utopias to be realized. On the one hand, such would always be insufficient for us individuals; but more importantly, there doesn't seem to be any fucking way because there are a whole lot of sheeple in the way. People are fucked and they'll die for their civileges. Does this make us useless from a building a socialist utopia perspective? You bet! But does this mean we're just going to passively consume? Please. What are we to do? Something, Nothing, Whatever We Want (de Acosta). (Whatever our others permit us to get away with!) ("Rorty")