General Update (Garfield, ‘me’ and the Black Box)

There are some developments worth mentioning.

Mr. Pepper has reactivated his blog The Faithful Buddhist and intends to write a new series of texts “to develop [his] philosophical position in a systematic way, ” as he writes in the about. The first text is The Metaphysics of Dependent Origination: an attempt at a systematic presentation of full-strength anatman.

Mr. Pepper mentions the most recent book by Jay Garfield Engaging Buddhism: Why it matters to Philosophie. This book is indeed a very welcome text about Indian Buddhist philosophy. The core chapters of it – chapter 4 to 9 – are a concise curriculum in this regard and are worth reading for everybody interested in the topic. Especially it enables one to deconstruct x-buddhist ataman-like views via Buddhist philosophy. Garfields main conclusion in chapter 6 is, I think, that from a introspective phenomenological perspective consciousness is unreliable (this regards to the x-buddhist claim that just to meditate in the right way long enough will clarify any question), at the same time from an ontological point of view this view doesn’t makes sense because it would only be possible from a perspective outside the phenomenologically unreliable consciousness. The nice thing about this is that it is a double-blow deconstructive bomb against any naïve view on selfhood. Garfield combines here a phenomenological analysis by Vasubandhu – whom he reads as an phenomenologist, not as an idealistic – with the ontological scepticism of Chandrakirti and the syncretist approach to both by Santaraksita. What results is a powerful explosion of the x-buddhist myth of introspection as a means to gain access to the ultimate truth (the latter being that of Madhyamka).

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Badiou: The Racism of Intellectuals (translation)

Patrick jennings:

Here is a great article by Alain Badiou on the situation in France at a time when the chorus is baying a unanimous condemnation of Islāmic fundamentalism while neglecting to name its opposite and necessary collaborator

Originally posted on Guava Purée:

below is a provisional translation of Alain Badiou’s article “The Racism of Intellectuals” published May 5, 2012 in Le Monde.

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The Racism of Intellectuals

by Alain Badiou, philosopher, dramatist and writer

The extent of the vote for Marianne Le Pen is surprising and overwhelming; we search for an explanation–The political class comes out with a handy sociology: the France of the lower classes, the misled provincials, the workers, the under-educated, frightened by globalization, the decline in purchasing power, the disintegration of their districts, and foreign strangers present at their doors, wants to retreat into nationalism and xenophobia.

Besides, aren’t these those French “stragglers” who were accused of having voted “No” in the referendum on the draft European Constitution? As opposed to the educated, modern urban middle classes who are the social salt of our well-tempered democracy.

Let’s say that this French “underclass” {Joe Publique Francais?–GP} is in these…

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Ruthless Criticism of all that Exists

Here is a little piece written by Marx in 1843 to his friend Arnold Ruge.

It’s a concise formulation of the practice of critical thought, anti-absolutist and yet forcefully polemical, original and yet openly acknowledging its influences. As you will see it references preoccupations and discourses very much of their time. And yet Marx here ruminates on issues of thought and practice which are as relevant today, at the start of 2015, as when  written some 172 years ago.

Hence, our motto must be: reform of consciousness not through dogmas, but by analysing the mystical consciousness that is unintelligible to itself, whether it manifests itself in a religious or a political form.

Letters from the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher

Marx to Ruge

Kreuznach, September 1843

I am glad that you have made up your mind and, ceasing to look back at the past, are turning your thoughts ahead to a new enterprise. And so – to Paris, to the old university of philosophy – absit omen! [May it not be an ill omen] – and the new capital of the new world! What is necessary comes to pass. I have no doubt, therefore, that it will be possible to overcome all obstacles, the gravity of which I do not fail to recognise.

But whether the enterprise comes into being or not, in any case I shall be in Paris by the end of this month, since the atmosphere here makes one a serf, and in Germany I see no scope at all for free activity.

In Germany, everything is forcibly suppressed; a real anarchy of the mind, the reign of stupidity itself, prevails there, and Zurich obeys orders from Berlin. It therefore becomes increasingly obvious that a new rallying point must be sought for truly thinking and independent minds. I am convinced that our plan would answer a real need, and after all it must be possible for real needs to be fulfilled in reality. Hence I have no doubt about the enterprise, if it is undertaken seriously.

The internal difficulties seem to be almost greater than the external obstacles. For although no doubt exists on the question of “Whence,” all the greater confusion prevails on the question of “Whither.” Not only has a state of general anarchy set in among the reformers, but everyone will have to admit to himself that he has no exact idea what the future ought to be. On the other hand, it is precisely the advantage of the new trend that we do not dogmatically anticipate the world, but only want to find the new world through criticism of the old one. Hitherto philosophers have had the solution of all riddles lying in their writing-desks, and the stupid, exoteric world had only to open its mouth for the roast pigeons of absolute knowledge to fly into it. Now philosophy has become mundane, and the most striking proof of this is that philosophical consciousness itself has been drawn into the torment of the struggle, not only externally but also internally. But, if constructing the future and settling everything for all times are not our affair, it is all the more clear what we have to accomplish at present: I am referring to ruthless criticism of all that exists, ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.

Therefore I am not in favour of raising any dogmatic banner. On the contrary, we must try to help the dogmatists to clarify their propositions for themselves. Thus, communism, in particular, is a dogmatic abstraction; in which connection, however, I am not thinking of some imaginary and possible communism, but actually existing communism as taught by Cabet, Dézamy, Weitling, etc. This communism is itself only a special expression of the humanistic principle, an expression which is still infected by its antithesis – the private system. Hence the abolition of private property and communism are by no means identical, and it is not accidental but inevitable that communism has seen other socialist doctrines – such as those of Fourier, Proudhon, etc. – arising to confront it because it is itself only a special, one-sided realisation of the socialist principle.

And the whole socialist principle in its turn is only one aspect that concerns the reality of the true human being. But we have to pay just as much attention to the other aspect, to the theoretical existence of man, and therefore to make religion, science, etc., the object of our criticism. In addition, we want to influence our contemporaries, particularly our German contemporaries. The question arises: how are we to set about it? There are two kinds of facts which are undeniable. In the first place religion, and next to it, politics, are the subjects which form the main interest of Germany today. We must take these, in whatever form they exist, as our point of departure, and not confront them with some ready-made system such as, for example, the Voyage en Icarie. [Etienne Cabet, Voyage en Icarie. Roman philosophique et social.]

Reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form. The critic can therefore start out from any form of theoretical and practical consciousness and from the forms peculiar to existing reality develop the true reality as its obligation and its final goal. As far as real life is concerned, it is precisely the political state – in all its modern forms – which, even where it is not yet consciously imbued with socialist demands, contains the demands of reason. And the political state does not stop there. Everywhere it assumes that reason has been realised. But precisely because of that it everywhere becomes involved in the contradiction between its ideal function and its real prerequisites.

From this conflict of the political state with itself, therefore, it is possible everywhere to develop the social truth. Just as religion is a register of the theoretical struggles of mankind, so the political state is a register of the practical struggles of mankind. Thus, the political state expresses, within the limits of its form sub specie rei publicae, [as a particular kind of state] all social struggles, needs and truths. Therefore, to take as the object of criticism a most specialised political question – such as the difference between a system based on social estate and one based on representation – is in no way below the hauteur des principes. [Level of principles] For this question only expresses in a political way the difference between rule by man and rule by private property. Therefore the critic not only can, but must deal with these political questions (which according to the extreme Socialists are altogether unworthy of attention). In analysing the superiority of the representative system over the social-estate system, the critic in a practical way wins the interest of a large party. By raising the representative system from its political form to the universal form and by bringing out the true significance underlying this system, the critic at the same time compels this party to go beyond its own confines, for its victory is at the same time its defeat.

Hence, nothing prevents us from making criticism of politics, participation in politics, and therefore real struggles, the starting point of our criticism, and from identifying our criticism with them. In that case we do not confront the world in a doctrinaire way with a new principle: Here is the truth, kneel down before it! We develop new principles for the world out of the world’s own principles. We do not say to the world: Cease your struggles, they are foolish; we will give you the true slogan of struggle. We merely show the world what it is really fighting for, and consciousness is something that it has to acquire, even if it does not want to.

The reform of consciousness consists only in making the world aware of its own consciousness, in awakening it out of its dream about itself, in explaining to it the meaning of its own actions. Our whole object can only be – as is also the case in Feuerbach’s criticism of religion – to give religious and philosophical questions the form corresponding to man who has become conscious of himself.

Hence, our motto must be: reform of consciousness not through dogmas, but by analysing the mystical consciousness that is unintelligible to itself, whether it manifests itself in a religious or a political form. It will then become evident that the world has long dreamed of possessing something of which it has only to be conscious in order to possess it in reality. It will become evident that it is not a question of drawing a great mental dividing line between past and future, but of realising the thoughts of the past. Lastly, it will become evident that mankind is not beginning a new work, but is consciously carrying into effect its old work.

In short, therefore, we can formulate the trend of our journal as being: self-clarification (critical philosophy) to be gained by the present time of its struggles and desires. This is a work for the world and for us. It can be only the work of united forces. It is a matter of a confession, and nothing more. In order to secure remission of its sins, mankind has only to declare them for what they actually are.

What now?

I’ve spent time thinking about how things should go here and have come to some conclusions. First some preliminary thoughts. I think Matthias’s text tells it as it is.

There are a few points, though, I would like to expand on.

The non of non-buddhism, which is the anti-decisional non of non-philosophy, has never been developed beyond an intuition.

For me this is the central issue.

I don’t want to go into what the non would look like once developed beyond an intuition. Anyone interested can read what we have written on Laruelle here or do their own research.

But I would like to give one example of where it might have gone. Matthias has already touched on this:

At the same time Mr. Pepper appeared. He at once pointed out that Brassier and Laruelle both are beholden to an “atomistic” view which places the individual wrongly at the base of any analysis while in fact it is an effect of ideology. The dialectics of individual and ideology would have been a point of departure to begin to work on Laruelle’s thinking and how it solves the vicious circle such a relationship develops, but that never happened.

Exactly.

Here was an early opportunity to explore the disjunction between Badiou and Laruelle. This was essential given that Laruelle’s method is at the root of the non buddhist critique of Buddhism

Speaking of the genesis of non-buddhism Glenn Wallis described how:

[···] four concepts in particular were initially formative: decision, auto-position, specularity, and radical immanence.[···] Wallis: Nascent Speculative Non-Buddhism.

The question was this: given that decision and auto position transgressed against philosophic as much as against Buddhistic transcendence, and given that Laruelle had already explored the decisional nature of Badiou’s thought (Laruelle’s anti Badiou) how could we justify the introduction of Badiou’s thought into the practice of non–buddhism?

 When Glenn inaugurated the new phase “under the sign of Badiou’s thought” he structured the contradiction into the new phase of the project.

To put it bluntly the non of non-philosophy is as much a transgression against Badiou’s thought as it is against Buddhist thought. It is a transgression against all isms, philosophical, religious or ideological.

This is the reason we should persist with Laruelle’s thought, despite its difficulty. He offers a way of perceiving the human as an a priori given free from any determination by philosophy, ideology or any admixture of the so-called human sciences and philosophy. Further he proclaims the lived of human experience as the condition for philosophy, making philosophy serve the human and not the other way round. In this he aligns his thought with Marx in its essentially materialist bent while avoiding the decisional structure of later forms of “dialectical and historical materialism”

Some conclusions

1) Laruelle’s thought is central to the critique of absolutist philosophical and ideological systems and by implication of political practice.

2) Since political practice is central to any post Buddhist practice Laruelle remains central as we move on.

3) We are free to explore the usefulness of any philosophical postulate, once freed from the decisional structure.

4) Laruelle’s thought has as yet unexplored implications (unexplored by us) for the practice of politics.

5) We need to explore the relation between Laruelle’s thought, Marxism and the practice of radical politics.

6) Buddhism has no further role to play in the project, other than as an object of critique and a source of perhaps useful concepts or practices.

7) We need a name change.

The Zombification of Speculative Non-Buddhism

I see that you practice the rhetorical strategy of first misrepresenting what I say, then proving you are ever so much cleverer than I am because you can find a flaw in your own invention. (Tom Pepper)

What has become of Speculative Non-Buddhism? Mr. Pepper (alias Gabe Syme, alias Bill S.), has summarized it in his usual succinct way. Speculative Non-Buddhism has become a game of twisting and turning words, taking out of context and ignoring the development of arguments, confusing or intentionally misinterpreting meaning – all the while its proper and actual task has long been lost or hasn’t been achieved to any relevant scope ever. In short, the discussion degenerated into flamewars while François Laruelle went missing early on. The non of non-buddhism, which is the anti-decisional non of non-philosophy, has never been developed beyond an intuition.

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Bow to the Supremacy of Peace

 

I have recently visited the largest Polish internet x-buddhist forum, as I do from time to time to assess a general mood of this still fringe, virtual community subsisting in my dear Catholic Poland. There, in the header, spread across the whole page, I read the following message taken from one of the essays by Bhikkhu Bodhi:

If we trace external conflicts back to their source, we will find that they originate not in wealth, position or possessions, but in the mind itself.

Well, there we are, I thought, another fine example of x-buddhist rhetorics that rhymes so well with the general message of neoliberal hegemony, namely: blame the victim. It is you, you, and you, and your miserable minds that are the real source of all the external conflicts and misfortune, not some wealth, position or possessions.

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Real Work

The last thread once again developed in un-anticipated directions. Be it as it may, it is a rhizome-like structure and that’s good – but only when we somehow take with us some results and if we don’t always come back to the same questions.

Sadly the latter is the case. I think the reason is very much the unorganized, loose structure this SNB-blogging thing has and that there seems to be no one asking questions like 1) what is it that interests me really in this project, why do I come back reading and maybe commenting; and 2) what kind of commitment, if at all, would help to develop this further in the directions which are motivated and to some extent determined by the interests in the first question?

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