0.013 – The Hegelian Transcendental Operator

Nevertheless, this notion of a struggle for the unities of mind remains a fruitless quest and an unintelligible toil unless we posit a Science of Logic through which intelligence sees itself in terms of a regulative and necessary form conceived from nowhere and nowhen. This necessary form is what we might call the Hegelian transcendental operator, which, in contrast to Kant’s idea of the transcendental method, is decoupled from the conservatism of particular and contingent experiences – experiences that have not yet been fully suspended in the self-experience of the Absolute. It is the logical excess of the Transcendental that crafts intelligence, initiates and regulates the mind’s strivings for new unities, and sets the mind into a permanent state of alienation where ‘the Spirit is at home’.

Negarestani, Intelligence and Spirit (pp. 22 / 23)

Hegel’s basic epistemic insight can be summarised in the assimilation of the investigation into the correspondence between our apprehension and the ‘object itself’ with the investigation into the correspondence between our own conceptualisation of the object and another conceptualisation of that same object. This is the basic structure of the movement which I have been referring to by the terms ‘blocking’ or ‘spreading’ and what Derrida calls ‘spacing’. Instead of being grounded in some fundamental substance or foundation, symbolisation becomes a ‘circuit’ grounded only in further symbolisation – in Derrida’s language, it is a structure of deferral. The difference of language is no longer framed as the difference between subject and object, but instead between subject and subject; it is a difference inherent to language and constitutive for it. In Negarestani’s terms, there is a “dynamic link” between intelligence and intelligibility, instituted by the “unities of mind” expressed in transitions of qualitative form (this is the same point I am making in using the term ‘spreading,’ and what Derrida means by ‘spacing.’)

But the reason this move doesn’t end in some simplistic kind of solipsism, is that it has a flip side. Just through relating to itself in this way, language in fact does relate to substance. It is in self-relating discourse that consciousness relates most concretely to substantial reality. This is because the constitutive centre of consciousness is outside it. The substance of consciousness is its object (not its abstracted form or content) and its object is consciousness as such, self-relating consciousness as philosophical logic. Thus phenomenal knowledge, being constituted in consciousness, contains within itself the prompt for its own immolation and transcendence. Phenomenal genesis is an articulation, a congealing into Notional form of immediate sensory input. The direction of this movement already contains the standard from which will be derived the whole transcendental totality which will constitute the forms of judgement outlined by Kant.

Articulation (as spreading, transcendence) however, is not inference. It is not yet even discursive. In fact, it is a mechanical reaction, an alien, involuntary process which invades from outside the familiar social process. The most strange and perhaps even symptomatic element in this strange dimension is that of naming, something which Derrida saw incredibly clearly. The process of naming and immediate recognition (with its correlate in language, the institution of the proper name) suggests itself as the most obvious hinge with which language is related to the material world. As Adam began by naming each creature of the animal kingdom, it seems that the proper name is the foundation of the whole edifice of human property and the state. Civilisation rests, it seems, most basically upon naming and allocation.

A post on the Xenogothic blog includes an important quote from Negarestani regarding the meaning of speculative dialectics:

The point of a so-called speculative dialectics is […] you begin with a set of very abstract universalities (like, we are all humans), then you fragment it, then you begin to determine what the fault lines are, then you integrate these fragmentations on a higher level, then you arrive at new differences and so on. However, the problem with Hegel as I see it is that this process seems to be already determined by a finality (historical telos).

The unification or conceptual spiralling movement Negarestani has in mind is thus framed, importantly, in terms of formal modelling and not teleological enchantment or predetermination. Negaresatani takes this constructivism to the point of using the analogy of ‘toy models’ for these conceptual constructs. The toy model as a unity of mind, means that intelligence finds in it a condition of its own realisation, and modifies through it its own actuality. While the toy is then a medium through which consciousness manifests itself, consciousness is also a medium for the toy, and intelligence then becomes a condition for the manifestation of the toy model. This is why, while the toy is not conscious – it is not intelligence itself – it is a toy model of intelligence, as recursive instantiation.


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