Notes on Telos: A Short Critique of Transcendence

Below; It is interesting that Land wrote about this stuff near 15 years ago. Though I have only recently come across Nick Land, his thing sounds very similar to my ‘destruction of the transcendent’. But then again, this has been going on for a while (Nietzsche, Meillassoux, to name two 150 years apart) my question would tend to stem then not so much concerning that a transcendent must be removed, but first why or what is going on that people keep coming to this conclusion (it is not merely a simple rejection of religion, btw), and also, can we yet admit that there is not going to be any destruction going on in the, what I term as, conventional estimation of things? From my angle, there is not going to be some grand reckoning, neither where some aggregate of humanity is going to ‘suddenly understand’, on an individual level or social level, nor on some global scale of destruction. This is my point: Humanity, for all it thinks it changes, does not change, rather the objects of its determination change.

The dialectic that Land is talking (below repost link) about keeps arising and it is not going away. It keeps arousing a kind of discourse that proposes to be able to change humanity to some sort of ‘awakening’. But I tend to disagree with Land, perhaps; it appears that he is saying we need to get over this ‘enlightenment’ type movement and attitude, and I tend to say this also; but Im also saying that this particular kind of view upon ‘history’, or ‘the world’ is not necessarily one that occurs ‘since’ any temporal period, for there is an argument to be made that this type of thinking has been going on ever since humanity arrived on the scene. Michel Foucault did not ‘discover’ Man as a category; he merely  problematized it for the purpose of creating an opening to allow more creatures to be considered with reference to the category ‘Man’, and to substantiate history as material. In other words: He opened the door for more material product, more production of capital, allowed for there to be more capital. In so doing, he was just as involved in the modern enlightened estimation of things. Our present further analysis then seems to say that this time we have really done it, because the discrepancy between the enlightened dialectical meaning and the conventional ‘post-everything’ meaning itself amounts to a festering mistake whereby we are this time gonna destroy ourselves.

So, I will argue, that it is a particular reality, a particular function of consciousness, to make sense out of the moment in a manner that transcends the moment itself, which is to say, so as it looks at the past it sees progress occurring relative to itself, but as it is indeed involved through its discovery of its own (displaced) transcendence of existence, the dialectical aspect of a particular manner of consciousness’s functioning must solve for its novelty, its uniqueness, its segregated identity. What I am saying is that it is not so much that ‘at some moment in time’ humanity began to have some sort of distorted view upon the world; it is that in this moment consciousness is having a particular view that justifies itself with reference to its redundant projection of the past, to justify itself, to glorify itself. I would say that if indeed humanity does function in its stupidity and ignorance to destroy itself then it has already occurred. But since it has not already occurred, obviously, something else is going on that has little to do with the content of material, and more to do with the fact that there is material being acted upon in whatever manner.

Crazy as it sounds (and I don’t even know what Im really saying 😉 despite this argument, and despite everyone’s ethical imperative to be PC and globally responsible, it most likely will not cause any sort of real solution to be able to be enacted, neither reactionary pessimism nor progressive empowerment (but it probably could); it moves somewhere beyond the reckoning of applied real materialistic solution, beyond the relativity of the necessarily negotiated economy of living and sustaining the ideo-politico-social creature of human life, and instead moves at the level of metaphysical facts. Highly speculative in its base, it is meant for those who already understand, not those to whom it needs be proven. As I have said: We are involved in argument for the sake of verification, not argument for the sake of proving. I do not know how it can play out, and we will see if it ever can.

We need look at authors such as Land and begin to see what they are doing, and not so much what they are arguing or what material point they are trying to make about history and the present situation; this latter is indeed interesting and indeed may be applied to reality (this is the project Badou has outlined and he and others are caught up in). We need begin to look at what universal function is being enacted by the human object.





Western dialectic is a disease of the eye, a broken promise of transcendence. Open your mouth and taste reality; follow your snout into the world. “Telos lends itself to discourse, whilst even the silence of terminus is effaced. Death has no advocates.” (Land) I gathered together a few notes from Nick Land’s The Thirst for […]


20 thoughts on “Notes on Telos: A Short Critique of Transcendence

  1. But i would say that this mite be a new wAy. But not in method necessarily, but in viewing. Hence this present phase is one of showing how all these philosophers are addressing the same thing, and in many cases saying the same thing. The ‘old way’ is thus reall involvec in viewing the organization of terms as indicating various differentiated ibjects, like if i describe a bottle and then a chair. The problem is that conventional philosophy sees authors as a culmination of segregationsl meanings, then they compare differences and commonalities.

    In contrast, we might admit that the reason behind everyone keeps avoiding what is common to the authors manifests political and ideoligical reality that then argues itself reductivly to nihilism but positivly to a failing state (underdetermination and overdetermination. Ala Harman )

    But this is not to say that the ‘old’ is wrong or that we should do away with it somehow.

    It is to say that this other view is not contained by the ‘old wAy’

  2. Rorty would be quite happy with your position. The whole basis of philosophy is accepting antinomies (Kant) or trying to synthesize them (Hegel). Philosophy, as it were, is some kind of arbiter between what is deemed “true” by means of different optics and methods. I like your distinction between verification and proof. It highlights very well the spirit of Western philosophy insofar as it has been a project that has tried to “prove” what philosophers want nature to “reflect” back at them. This is precisely Rorty’s point, that philosophy is an ongoing quest to try to “prove” nature as some sort of mirror which reflects something computable by the brain (think Kant, Descartes, etcetera). This point caused a big problem to philosophers in the analytic tradition that were obsessed with examining logical truths in language (Quine did a fine job in dismantling their whole project, but I think it was Rorty who hit the final nail in their coffin). In our times, however, “truth” is a myth of the past and philosophy has concentrated in examining political and cultural practices, because they are the closest things we can come to calling “truths”, communicative practices (Habermas), power (Foucault), texts within texts (Derrida), libido (Lacan) and pragmatics (Rorty), among other projects that are antirealist at the core. My intuition, however, is that their projects bracket the trascendental and metaphysical project in some ways (by sleight of rhetoric, I may demonstrate that Rorty’s antirealism holds some metaphysical premise at heart, as well as the work of other classic authors that have criticized realism in some way, shape, or form -this move would only please those that like dialectics, but then again, what method are we to count as a “proper” method of enquiry in philosophy?). Now, regarding your claim, if I have indeed interpreted you well, I’d be curious as to what you think is presently the “universal function”, because it seems to me that you are on to something, and it’d be profitable to flush the concept a little more. And, insofar as I have only stumbled upong your blog (and I have not had the opportunity to read you), would you care to share what you deem an “alternative way” of doing philosophy? Forgive me if I missed something in your text that would allow me to flush out both questions by myself, I think your answers to these questions will help clarify your main points and will foment further profitable discussion. Thanks!

    1. Thank you FJV. To be honest, i am not sure how this alternative way might manifest. It seems to me sensible and a logical conclustion to come to given the matter at hand.

      Yet, i say that my present works ‘describe’ the situation, and inso verify that a particular experience is valid. I see this then as an indication that we would no longer need to argue the point, but would at some time agree that indeed a truth has been verified. We could then get into what is actually constituting the criterion of what has bern verified. Then, similar to what Latour attempts in his aime, we might open a space for this ‘alternative way’.

      At least, this seems logical, as i say, given the situation at hand.

      1. Landzek, make sure that you take a look at Philosophy and the mirror of nature, (for what I like to call Rorty’s antirealism and antirepresentationalism). If you like his kind of philosophical flavor (it seems to me that you will, because you are in the business of untangling “given” truths), you can refer to Contingency, irony and solidarity, where he flushes out his core position in the shape of a political program intended for liberal ironists, inasmuch as he thinks philosophy has arrived at an impasse: it can either continue to have faith in the correspondence theory of language and content (closely related to empiricism), or deny it.

        He supports the latter move, and so, articulates a political position which is purely pragmatic, and so, historically contingent. But what I find most interesting is that he bites the bullet and willingly accepts his status as a philosopher of contingency (which, if you are in the business of philosophic academia in the West, is analogous to spitting on the face of traditional philosophy as done over the past 100 years). Accordingly, he thinks that his political program needs no justification whatsoever inasmuch as it involves pragmatism at its best: coming up with teleological vocabularies that allow for better practices, while denying the superiority of some vocabularies over others.

        As it were, his “redescription” (he would deny that he is making an “argument” because it would involve the premise that languages should be in the business of unveiling hidden truths, truths “given” by nature), is that the intellectual is in the business of fomenting different vocabularies and practices, which themselves (in a sort of darwanism) “better” people and their lives by becoming tools for particular ends. Therefore, “solidarity” is the core concept of liberal ironism, as it allows multiple vocabularies and practices to coexist so as to foment democracy, and greater liberties in the public and private domain.

        I’m coauthoring a paper on this topic as related to other philosophers that came before Rorty, particularly Wittgenstein. If you are interested, I’ll let you know when it becomes available. I think you will find ideas in Rorty’s work that will help you clarify your own philosophical program. Cheers.

      2. That is exactly the conclusion i csme to: contront and accept it, or deny it. Interesting though: I would say that the ‘old wY’ denies the impass; it functions thru denial.

        Thanks so much. Indeed. You are verifying a possible truth for me.

    2. I get to interact thoughtfully with others so infrquently. Your input goes far.

      There is a certain ‘danger’ , i supose, of some vectors of topic. I feel that many philosoohers/authors are not only addressing the same thing, but actually often enough, actually saying the same thing. The emphasis upon the objectivity of the presented text, as a particular orientation, comes accross as though there are a bunch of ‘opinions’ on various real situations. Most often these thus reside in the political-ideological realm; but i see obstinancy where authors claim that every route involves ideo-politico. I see effective denial; like an alcoholic who cant see she has a problem. But i do see this situation as real, as true in as much as it is real.

      By contrast i see an alternative route that lay along side the ideo-politico. Similar to Laruelle: a unilateral duality. Hence i say there is two routes: of the One reduces all truth to itself, the ideo-politico. Of the other, what i say is an ‘object oriented’ view, accounts for the route of the One, but itself cannot be said to be of a One, but niether multiple or plural. It merely ‘is’; it describes truth.

      But likewise it does not contain the One, it only accounts for it. The one does not reduce to this other; reduction is of the One, of a religious situation.

      The alternative manner presently only describes. At some point there will be agreement. But this manner is not concerned with Being as such; becusse it only describes it thereby is involved with a teleology that is segregate from the One.

      I suggest that it is not so much about ‘doing’ philosophy, i guess, but more about how terms are being approriated, how meaning is come upon, how it operates. The alternate manner attemepts to expose what is being denied so as to take as given, to there by maybe bring about a more honest and productive manner of philosophical interaction. Because to me, all the political commentary (though i love zizek, his copy cats are missing something vital, likewsie the ‘spiritual’ philosophers offen enough) is not so much philosophy as it is critical thoery, critical method.

      Thank you again. I yearn for input of any form or taste. For that, as you said, allows me to learn and grow, as well refine and develop a more accessible manner of comminicating.

    3. …5/14…the idea of deep time is operative. 100 years is only politically a long time, but in the process of human learning it might be seen as one semester…
      While for 300 years we have been arguing over the nature of a thing, part of human leArning is to see that, say from 1500bce to say 300ad was like 1 yeAr of school. Mid eval maybe another year. 1200-1800, 1800-present may represent grade paradigms. The political merely like what occurs at recess. It is the ideological cycle of teleology, coming to terms with how it is objects that determine reality.
      But this is always missed in the last instance by an ideological ‘pass’.
      Hence we are not dealing with ontology directly, but are more involved with history and teleology.

      There is not some larger real human learning, only universal objects unfolding.

      Political ideology will always proceed by its own estimation, progressing by the real details, in the forgetting of history for the sake of human transcendental agency.

      Hence, as i say, a devergence in the undetstanding of things, a different teleological dynamic, a different route.

      1. This is roughly Rorty’s point. In a sort of darwinism, practices evolve, and so nature is “perfected” in this sense. Intellectuals have the responsibility of discussing “better” practices for particular and possible ends (accounting for the teleological “nature”, as it were, of practices and vocabularies in general). There is clear optimism in his arguments in favor of the thesis that nature is void of metaphysics, or “hidden truths” postulated either in a kantian sense, or held as the logical product of hyper-rationalism, in the hegelian sense. Two critical routes: idealism, or naturalism, clearly Rorty is against both because he does not think much philosophical sense can be thoroughly accounted for in defending that mind, as subjectively mediated concept, is able to represent nature -that there is correspondence between “mind” and “nature”- a move which has been thoroughly discussed in the analytical, anglophone tradition: or that vocabularies can tap into “nature” through metaphors. Roughly, his claim is that vocabularies use metaphors to represent “things” in nature, and so, that mind reflects nature through appeal to logical-positivist moves. Some philosophers take it that this is a valid point, others, reject it, suspecting that Rorty is a relativist. My intuition is that he is not, because Rorty is not placing weight on the power of mind over nature, merely, he is a skeptic in the postmetaphysical sense, a sense similar to the late Wittgenstein who thought vocabularies cannot demonstrate nature, but merely, express it. It is in this sense that I support some of his philosophical moves, particularly because his negative project is supplemented by a positive one, the one I brushed upon above, ironic liberalism. But to wholly commit to Rorty’s legacy, is denying that there is any “God-point-of-view”, which boils to denying that we can, as Kant said in the transcendental tradition, speak of the noumenon. The ironist is left with accepting that we can only express things about nature, as Hume claimed much, much earlier. We are left with practices. The problem is, I’d suspect, that thinking in teleological terms necessarily implies setting a bar, to evaluate practices from others. It falls back on the claim it is trying to deny. However, Rorty could argue that there is no problem in so doing, so long as the ironist is aware that his criterion is just a representation, an opinion (imperfect in the platonic sense, yet significant in the aristotelian sense). This is the point you should take home, that anglophone philosophy has done little to “connect” metaphysics with nature, because dialectical philosophy has made sure (in a sort of historicism) that skeptics cancel out “findings” by deflationary moves. So deflationists would be happy to commit to your claims, however, those on the other camp would rigorously defend realism or naturalism. My intuition is that as a philosopher you do not need to take sides, the question that posits what side a philosopher should take in these matters is another important question: why should there be a correct position? What is at stake in this matter? Philosophy is indeed a slave to dialectical tension, perhaps Derrida was right in pointing out that real philosophy, deconstructed philosophy, is a topic for the person capable of bracketing reason so as to speak significantly about what is “not there”, the gap between noumenon and representation, which is practically Žižek’s whole project in reading Hegel through a lacanian optic. A fruitful project? It depends on whether you are a hegelian deflationary, or not, whether you stand on the camp that thinks metaphysics is some sort of witchcraft, or the end product of reason.

      2. Thanks.
        I so appreciate how you are able to speak of the issues, the points and problems. The clarity to me is impressive in as much as I am not regularly able to see in that way, even as I understand what you are saying. I am not able, on my own, to discern matters as you have, though I can agree in what you discern. I suppose I appreciate your mode because it allows me to see where I lack.

        If I am reading you correctly, I would have to say (and indeed I do say it) that I arise in the ‘gap’, which is that space that I somehow intuitively know, and cannot term differently ( at this point), is that place of truth, but not some subjectivity or relative truth: It must be true. It is interesting how it appears that some people have come across this. While I can know and understand the philosophical issues (I am lacking in Hume, I do need to look into him more), such a manner, the mode by which such discernments become apparent, are not native to me. In a manner of speaking, I can understand the products, but I am not able to ‘behave’ the same way to bring about the same type of products; my view is somehow different.

        When I read authors, often it is like I’m reading a facsimile of what is true, as if they have a sort of intuition of the issue and that it is enough to allow them to say things about it, but to me it appears that they are addressing ‘ideas’ of he issue, instead of the issue itself. It appears to me that they are remaining at a distance from the issue, and so it thereby obliges me to somehow describe how this might be the case, this odd situation.

        I must read Rorty, but right now I’m really trying to finish editing my book and publish it before I begin to take on other activities and research.

        In response to some of your suggestions of position, I am not sure how I would or could place myself. But I have come to be able to almost put to terms an approach: It is my admission that in order to reveal a truth, one cannot merely entertain it, that is, one cannot merely have a position and consider the possible arguments and rebuttals. Rather, one must become the rebutted state, must indeed understand that the present situation of oneself is inherently incorrect, and this is to say, one must be willing to fully expose his position, to thereby show that it is indeed false, to thereby allow for others to see the truth of the matter.

        I know, it sounds crazy.

        But Kierkegaard and of all people Zizek I see as willing to do this. Kierkegaard marks what we might say is the ‘positive’ assertion, and Zizek the ‘middle’ or ‘nihilistic’ assertion that marks a kind of conceptual hole, a singularity of sorts. Harman seems to exhibit a kind of enfolding, where what should have been the ‘negative assertion’ he has turned it into another kind of positivity; a kind of sign of our times, I suppose. I am eager to see how Rorty might appear.

        And be sure to tell me how I might read your paper.

      3. I would recommend that you revisit Kant, and Hegelto help you clarify your thoughts on perception, because, if I am understanding you correctly, you touch upon a whole variety of topics that have been examined by entire traditions of philosophic thinkers, particularly german idealism.

        On the other hand, if you are more inclined towards philosophic thinking that strives for poetic license, that is a whole different tradition, but I think you would do well in visiting (if you have not already) such authors like Derrida, Lacan, Deleuze, Benjamin and Heidegger.

        It is my intuition that your philosophical enterprise is more inclined towards the second (continental) way of approaching philosophic thought. I supplement one with the other, because I am not wholly committed to analytic, or continental philosophy (if you would allow me the distinction). They are tools of the trade, the more you do your homework, the better prepared you will be to discuss these issues within an academic format (normally philosophers that have received “formal” training read “important” authors to exhaustion, and, depending on their personality traits and contexts, end up marrying a set of authors and their traditions).

        On the other hand, philosophic thought just for its own sake, and/or for creative purposes, is a whole different enterprise, as powerful as academic, but for very different reasons. Some great thinkers and writers have done one or the other (officially), while others have spitted on the very idea of a “higher” way of doing philosophy, namely, institutional philosophy, but end up doing it because, philosophers cannot survive from pure thinking in an economy driven world.

        About my paper, it is forthcoming in Spanish (that might pose a problem), but I could sum up the main ideas of the text for you. Sorry for the late response, I have been extremely busy. Cheers, and I hope these comments help you.

      4. while my posts do grant various angles upon situations, perhaps I might get you to read a short excerpt from my soon to be published book. It is an endnote . Keeping i mind that I do concede that many authors here and there have most probably touched upon some of the ideas pout forth in that small note about a specific incident in the main body of the book about the Gospels, i am curious what you might see in what I express there.

        I am just making it my next post, but I will get the actual link and paste it here, in the reply/comments.

      5. I switch my layout. So its just the latest one (

        Im sure it will sound familiar to you.

        I suppose my issue is the primary experience, including how it is possible or what is iccurring that iam able to know where all *these authors* are coming from and likewise appear to know what they are saying even before i read them, if that makes any sense.

        So i am always founded in the experience itself in contrast to what authors might be proposing solutions for or what it means for pokitics.

        So it requires a certain approach, as ive said.

        And, this is a note of the main text; specifically concerning why Jesus would be calling for ‘belief’ and forwhat most often is understood as ‘conversion’. Of what is iccurring there.

        Anyways. Thanks.

      6. ..reason or witchcraft? Yes. I get that. I suppose a part of arising in the gap is sorting thru how how such polemics are instituationalized, but also how in that institution lay the seeds for the distictions dissolving. Quite Hegalian in a reasons sense, but the only way for it to apply is thru historical teleology. That is why, then, the idea of witchcraft comes in. Because 1) the solution rises above the sense that is common, what i call ‘real’, or reality. But 2) because the proof does not lay within a subjective limit (the subject’s lifetime). Hence Kiekegaards whole issue. The issue i deal i with ( ithink) is just how this Hegalian mode transcribes in actual reason; how it indeed is manifest.

        Yes id say it is witchcraft of reason, a reason that is a valid reason. Not put off into some supernatural realm. But exactlt that which consolidates the politico-ideology as religious dogma.

  3. “We are involved in argument for the sake of verification, not argument for the sake of proving.”

    I think this line is highly relevant to both a contemplation of transcendence or its destruction. In either case I think it is more about convincing those already convinced, verifying the already verified. Transcendence is a category that makes some of us feel good, but so is its destruction – that also makes some feel good. It is a Value in its nihilistic form, as a Value that pretends to have none. The most clever kind! Aren’t both involved in that “economy of living and sustaining the ideo-politico-social creature of human life”? The destruction of transcendence, this game philosophy has been playing for some time now, amounts to reinforcing the same tired, mythic mind, and sustaining the ideological horizon in its inverted form – I’ll give it points for being clever, but… They not that different at all – the one, an affirmation of something ‘beyond’ that would sustain the living, the other its destruction – they are a lot more similar than one would initially suspect. Transcendence may be the ultimate theory of capital accumulation, but destruction is just its inverted stance: it seeks to accumulate via its destruction, which doesn’t strike me as that much of an alternative at all, just an inverted apologetics.

    I am convinced to your line of thinking more and more Landzek that most of this or that sophistry is rubbish trying to verify itself and not trying to prove anything. At that point, it is all accumulation and even the destruction of transcendence is just an ever-more clever way of approaching it. The cliche, “preaching to the choir” is relevant. All of these monkeys walking around thinking they know everything: they drop one side of an argument to take up the other, thinking that this side or that side is the correct one, not understanding its all just a circle through which they fool themselves in their own mirrors.

    1. Yes. But i think there is no getting beyond this. There is no ‘getting anyone to see’. So. I think the first order of business is to expose what exactly is going on, in no apologetic terms. But this, again i say, is also to admit that if indeed this is what occurs and its not going to stop, then we need to also admit that sckowledgment of this fact is indeed a priviledge; to be aware of this is a state of priviledge. That this move to expose is an alternate base of power. And that further so many who rely upon the motion will not admit it but will fight to keep the ‘capital blind’, so to speak, ‘dont look behind that curtain. So there is a kind of ‘secret war’ going on. Ina way. 🙃🙂

      A bit ironic, but this is my point sypporting a divergent philosoohy. Admit and accept and be honest, and expose. For there are those who will not wish their method exposed, indeed who Cannot have it exposed because it is a functional myth, a true scheme of meaning that operates to supply truth.

      Absolutly absurd.

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