How the Absolute Might Move
Considering The Science of Logic and Modern Counter-Enlightenment alongside Alex Ebert and Layman Pascal
In my conversation on “Absolute Knowledge” with Cadell Last, I channeled Wittgenstein to claim that “The Truth” was “everything that was the case,” while “The Absolute” was “everything that was the case, plus us.” This paper is focused on exploring the movement, unfolding, and structure of “The Absolute,” and it will be focused on Alex Ebert, Layman Pascal, and Science of Logic by Hegel. To cut to the case, Hegel’s “(be)coming” of Science of Logic is described brilliantly by Alex Ebert in his paper “The Sublation of Mathematics,” which is the A/B-foundation that makes “The Metaphysics of Adjacency” of Layman Pascal the case for human subjects, given that we deal with “The Absolute” and not merely “The Truth.”
Science of Logic is the most profound book of philosophy I have encountered, and I am convinced it has not had the impact on us as it should have (I also question if humanity had any chance of understanding it before the internet and all the resources it provides). I am convinced that what I call “The Modern Counter-Enlightenment” can be said to begin in this book, and yet ironically many MCE thinkers position themselves as opposed to Hegel, suggesting that much of MCE ends up Hegelian without knowing Hegel (which may or may not suggest “the anxiety of influence” discussed by Harold Bloom). I cannot claim mastery of this book, and everything I write might be entirely wrong; for better readers, please turn to Cadell Last, Dr. Filip Niklas, and Dr. Stephen Houlgate.
(Re)constructing “A Is A” argues that “The Metaphysics of Adjacency” created by Layman is brilliant and aligns with the work of Hegel, as does the work of Alex Ebert. Aligning with “The VORD,” Pascal tells us that ‘[r]eality is a variable situation of same-difference,’ and he notes that ‘[t]o think of sameness and difference as a single adjustable phenomenon takes us to the very edge of our capacity to think about things.’¹ I completely agree, and I argue through David Hume and “nonrationality” that what Layman describes cannot be thought, only “approached in experience” via the dialectic between “thinking” and “perceiving,” which can only be known in the context of phenomenology and “common life.” I would describe the ‘variable situation of same-difference’ as “A/(A-isn’t-A)’ is ‘A/(A-isn’t-A)’ (without B)” (or A/B for short), a formula which resulted from my considerations of Aristotle’s “A = A,” which is the ontology “under things” which makes possible relation, dialectics, and the like — this is the condition of “the fundamental gap” which Layman notes must be present for things to relate without being identical.² ‘[B]etween any two or more types of things we are relating to a connective-separation of some kind’ — I agree, and I think this is the case because of A/B instead of A/A (the second of which thinking naturally trains us to fall into thinking), and it is this condition which makes his “Metaphysics of Adjacency” possible.³ And the very fact that Layman’s metaphysics seems phenomenologically validated (and also justified by philosophical paradoxes like “The Ship of Theseus” and those of Zeno) provides “reason to think” that indeed the ontological underpinnings of reality are A/B versus A/A. As touched on in The Conflict of Mind, certainty is impossible, but there can be reason for confidence.
In his amazing essay, “The Sublation of Mathematics,” Alex Ebert tells us that ‘some of today’s foremost mathematicians, including Jacob Lurie, are calling to do away with equality all together and replace it with the more complete accuracy of equivalence [which] speaks to the extreme prescience of Hegel.’⁴ Ebert stresses how Hegel focuses on ‘ ‘isomorphism’ — sameness of form — which is not to say ‘equality.’ The difference between that which is equal is equal in all ways, while that which is equivalent is equal in one or some ways.’⁵ This strikes me as similar to the “approximation” which is stressed by Layman, and indeed if it is foundationally and ontologically impossible for us to gain “equality” or “completion,” then what Layman writes here is utterly justified:
‘There is no pragmatic or ontological conflict between approximation and certainty. When it is understood that “=” (formal absolute equivalence) has always meant simply the maximal degree of performable approximation (i.e. the highest achievable degree of proximal adjacency to truth) then we also must understood that approximateness can be relied upon to secure and provide all the desirable effects we associate with absoluteness.’⁶
In fact, if equality is impossible (just as Ebert notes), then anything other than “approximation” is false: it is indeed the case that “99% is the new 100%,” as Layman puts it, because 100% was never possible in the first place. Trey at telosbound, considering the work of Zizioulas and Pavel Florensky (two other powerful critics of A/A-thinking), notes that imagination is why we can miss the “essential openness” of being itself, for imagination makes it possible for us to “imagine that A = A” is the case and that 100%-ness might be achieved. Inspired by Florensky though, this is when imagination can lead us into “self-relating effacement,” which causes pathology, neurosis, and worse. Trey associates this with “descending into hell,” and I agree, which would suggest that failing to take Layman Pascal, Alex Ebert, and Hegel seriously could be an incredibly terrible mistake. To humble ourselves and accept approximation over the temptation of equality (100%-ness) is to accept the nature of fundament reality (A/B) and align better with truth. Ironically though, imagination tempts us to believe equality and completeness are more real, even scientific, which paradoxically means imagination, which is often considered “anti-scientific,” is why we are able to imagine science as in the business of A/A and fundamental completeness. Imagination has been pulling our strings.
Ebert argues that we can find in Hegel ‘modern interpretations of equivalency,’ not equality, and “equivalency” is another term that basically means “approximal,” which is the language of Layman.⁷ In Hegel, there is a stress on “I as other” (A/B, “being-other”), but we know “I = other” (100%) is impossible; however, it is not impossible for “I (to be) like other” (99%). If 100%-ness was possible, there’d be no fundamental “gap/open-ness” in a self to be possibly and essentially incorporated with “otherness,” and so the very impossibility of 100%-ness is why “I as other” is possible. Love itself almost seems fundamental to being in reality proving to be a great 99% (or at least “love” seems to be an appropriate term by which we might describe “I as other”). Under this schema, it is not the case that “I” and “other” are ontological alternatives into which things might be “thrown” (Heidegger), but ultimately indivisible in their very indeterminacy. Similar to this point, Layman writes:
‘Dualism, monism, non-dualism, etc. are not philosophical alternatives. In the degree to which any of these kinds of positions are fully explicated they increasingly reveal the same basic arrangements of the same basic classes of ontological necessity — differing in style, mood and emphasis. The divergence between these adjacent styles of reality-theory is also a convergence. As we develop an intuition for this kind of functional simultaneity, we find that it can be described usefully as an unfolding of phases or layers which en-fold, but do not replace, each other.’⁸
Nothing is identical, but it’s also the case that nothing is divided from everything else, a “self-enclosed-ness” that would actually be possible where A/A was the case versus A/B. On this point, we can turn to The Science of Logic, Section Two on Magnitude (Quantity), where I believe we find Hegel aligned with the thinking of both Layman Pascal and Alex Ebert:
‘Quality is the first, immediate determinateness, quantity is the determinateness which has become indifferent to being, a limit which is just as much no limit, being-for-self which is absolutely identical with being-for-other — a repulsion of the many ones which is directly the non-repulsion, the continuity of them.
‘Because that which is for itself is now posited as not excluding its other, but rather as affirmatively continuing itself into it, it is otherness in so far as determinate being again appears in this continuity and its determinateness is at the same time no longer in a simple self-relation, no longer an immediate determinateness of the determinately existent something, but is posited as self-repelling, as in fact having the relation-to-self as a determinateness in another something (which is for itself); and since they are at the same time indifferent, relationless limits reflected into themselves, the determinateness in general is outside itself, an absolutely self-external determinateness and an equally external something; such a limit, the indifference of the limit within itself and of the something to the limit, constitutes the quantitative determinateness of the something.’⁹
Right or wrong, I interpret these two paragraphs as aligning with “a wave-structured metaphysics” described by Ebert in his paper, which to me is a visual representation of Layman Pascal’s “Metaphysics of Adjacency.” This is not to say all the thinking is identical but that they might harmonize in their differences. What do I mean by “wave-structured metaphysics” of Ebert? In the section titled “On Treating Gaps as Mathematical Objects” of his amazing essay, Ebert writes:
‘The central argument herein is the establishing of isomorphic equivalencies of the indeterminate and undefined forms in mathematics — which I will refer to collectively as mathematical indeterminacy — to the Hegelian notion of sublation, the complexity science of emergence, and ultimately to new vectors of being. Specifically, that sublation is the moment at which mathematics typically breaks down, the point at which new vectors of dimension arise, and likewise the moment in which the non-linear leaps of so-called ‘strong’ emergences (qua the arrival of space, time, matter, biology, and consciousness) present themselves as vectors.’¹⁰
In Ebert’s description, we see how “fundamental gaps” make possible an ontological unfolding necessary for sublation, emergence, and being. ‘Sublation refers, broadly speaking, to an operation of infinite self-relation which transforms becoming into being,’ a “being” which then functions as a new starting/ending place for further “becoming” — on and on.¹¹ I frankly cannot describe all this any better than Mr. Ebert does, and you will find in his paper numerous graphics which show the metaphysical and ontological development which I am attempting to describe — please see his paper in Enter the Alien. It’s a masterpiece that clarifies how the “(be)coming” of The Science of Logic is fuller than the “becoming” of The Phenomenology of Spirit.¹²
In Chapter 3 of Science of Logic, we find a section called “The One and the Many,” where we are told that a single entity or ‘[t]he one is the simple self-relation of being-for-self in which its moments have collapsed in themselves and in which, consequently, being for-self has the form of immediacy, and its moments therefore now have a determine being.’¹³ I believe that a being that has undergone determination is a being that’s being-ness we can not determine as what it is, and what we see here is Hegel describing an entity that is determinable as “a collapse of a multiplicity” into something singular. Ebert notes the language of “collapse” and “repulsion” throughout his essay as evidence of “a wave-structure of being” (as hopefully is also clearly depicted in “The VORD”), and critically if entities can undergo “wave-like being” of “(be)coming,” then there must an underlying ontological condition that makes this possible, just as Layman Pascal argues. Indeed, that is A/B versus A/A, for A/B is why we must take seriously ‘fully trans-conceptual experience.’¹⁴
To expand further on Mr. Ebert’s model, I will note a particular description of Hegel’s ontology, which ultimately for me is epistemologically relevant, for ontology always has epistemological consequences:
‘Self-repulsion (self alienation, becoming ‘other’) is rather what destroys the isomorphic state of being and initiates the flux of becoming. It is then self-attraction that works to re-constitute this diaspora of self back into a One, wherein ‘plurality has been brought together into a simply unitary determination, determinate being has returned into being-for-self.’ ’¹⁵
Ebert then offers a useful metaphor:
‘It may help to think of this repulsion-attraction-collapse cosmologically: before the start of our universe the entire materiality of the cosmos was compressed into an ‘infinite self-relation’ about the size of a baseball. Let’s call that baseball 𝔸. Then, in a fit of self-alienation, 𝔸 exploded into baseballish strings (the big bang, big bounce, doesn’t matter which). Almost immediately, though, self-attraction returned — as gravity — conglomerating atoms into molecules, molecules into gaseous stars, and stars into super gravitational black holes that compress matter back into sub-planck length baseballs 𝔹 and ℂ. 𝔹 and ℂ, carrying infinite planck-length density, are isomorphic to 𝔸. But in order for 𝔸 to have become them, 𝔸 had to become not like them — through self-repulsion.’¹⁶
This is brilliant, and shows why Hegel’s thinking cannot be entirely captured by words like “being” or “becoming,” for in Hegel both are simultaneously occurring and yet not in a manner that makes them similes. Furthermore, I would submit to you that 𝔸, 𝔹, and ℂ are all “like” one another without “being one another,” which is to say that they are approximate. If the universe was 100% versus 99%, everything Ebert described would not be possible, for the missing 1% is needed for the possibility of repulsion, attraction, and collapse to occur (everything would be “solid” if everything was 100%).
When we “become other,” we do not literally “become other,” because that would simply be to leave one A/A into another A/A. Mr. Ebert stated the point well:
‘It is tempting (especially philosophically) to translate A Û B Û C as a statement of becoming, such that A will be B and B will be C — but that is not what is meant. Isomorphism is, instead, a statement of an immediacy which relays that something about A is already B, and that there is something about both A and B that is already C. A statement not of becoming, but of being. This simultaneity of being may seem, at first, to present the (also philosophically tempting) paradox of ‘being self while being other,’ such that A is both A and other to A. But such an assumption is also incorrect and would leave the issue as the sort of unworkable paradox Russel and others mistook Hegel as promoting.’¹⁷
As argued by Trey, Pavel Florensky stressed that we do not start in A/A and enter into A/B, but rather we are always A/B to begin with: the need to “work through” A/A is ultimately a subjective and phenomenological requirement to grasp the ontological and metaphysical nature of reality; A/A is not in itself ontologically substantive (the great Alfred Korzybski describes the consequences to mental health if we make this mistake). If at any point in our thinking we think such is the case, our thinking could be contaminated with the mistake throughout. It is not that A/A becomes A/B, but rather “A/B = A/B” (“(be)coming”) while we imagine A/A.
Ebert will describe “(be)coming” in terms of a sines wave in his amazing essay, and to quote him at length:
‘[…] self-repulsion, should be thought of as the negative (-) troughs of the -/+ oscillations of becoming, while self-attraction should be thought of as the positive (+) peaks of the same -/+ oscillations. Both -/+ precede the moment of sublation, and both are mutually negated upon their collapse into one another, which collapse represents their transition from becoming to being — into the ‘inert unity’ of being (the same sort that carry the relevant isomorphisms between 𝔸, 𝔹, and ℂ, as discussed). In other words, it is the very infinite saturation of self-relation caused by attraction (not attraction to otherness, but to self) that draws the -/+ oscillations of 𝔸 into self-unity — which consolidates its ink, as it were — and which makes it isomorphic, in its consolidation, to 𝔹 and ℂ. Not alienation alone, nor attraction alone, but the collapse of each into the infinite self-relation of its own -/+ contradictions.’¹⁸
Simulating “the oscillation of repulsing and collapsing” described by Ebert, in A/B, we try to “become other” knowing very well that we will fail, but this failure is good. We reach out to the “other” and “collapse” back into ourselves, and in the moment of realizing “that being,” we immediately reach out again (seeking “adjacency” and/or “touching”), but it is precisely the “being” which causes this “reaching of becoming” — never can the two be divided. We can seek to “touch” believing this is to unify, only for the “touch” to be the moment where we realize 99% is the best we can do: the last 1% is forever gone, as necessary for it to be the case that “touch = fully combine.” We never “are” ourselves while “being-other,” but rather we are as “the other,” which is to say “toward” them but never equal. There is always a failed reaching of becoming that collapses into being (notably I think at the act of thinking which seeks meaningfully-ness) — a reaching that thus attempts to reach again — on and on — “(be)coming.”
All of this has ethical, organizational, and political ramifications, as I believe Layman Pascal captures well in the remainder of his essay. He writes that ‘all theory and ethics [should] proceed from the asserted or queried & potential incommensurability between individual reality-tunnels and also group reality-tunnels.’¹⁹ In other words, ethics should not be about overcoming difference and indeterminacy, but instead be focused on how best to practice and live with 99%. ‘Here we find any theory and ethics proceeding from the declared or suspected commensurability of incommensurable, paralax-ical reality-tunnels,’ which begs the question: “How does A/B live?”²⁰ Indeed, that is a big question, one which I attempt to take up in “Dialectical Ethics” by O.G. Rose, which deconstructs “is and ought” to arrive at “ought from such-ness,” which is fundamentally A/B.
I very much appreciate Layman’s eighth point:
‘The security, empowerment, intelligence & healthy righteous freedoms of human civilization depend upon an arrangement of inner and outer life according to combined and flexible (i.e. vague or self-approximating) unity-as-difference.’²¹
Paradox is actually good for Democracy, for if we collectively stopped believing in 100% in favor of 99%, we would be better positioned to resist totalitarianism. Judge Learned Hand once said, ‘The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right,’ which suggests that “fundamental indeterminacy” might be the best ontology for preserving and sustaining “the spirit of liberty” (the 99% liberates). I furthermore associate 99% with a life of “Absolute Knowing” and being Deleuzian, which Belonging Again argues is necessary.²²
‘Our contemporary age is bringing into popular discussion the Metaphysics of Adjacency under various names — ‘post-metaphysics,’ ‘post-correlationism,’ ‘the end of philosophy,’ ‘the death of the subject.’ A major function of these signpost is to reflect the widespread shift in our sense of truth. It loses its fixity, centrality, independence. It becomes interactive, contextual, adjacent.’ — and so Layman Pascal opens his essay, “Almost Is Good Enough,” and I couldn’t agree more.²³ For me, though arguably Hegel is one of the most influential philosophers of all time, rivaled only by the likes of Plato, Aristotle, and Kant, strangely at the same time I’ve come to feel as if The Science of Logic was passed over. Hegel’s masterwork feels like it is a text of “Post-Metaphysics” before Modernism, which is to say that philosophy in the 19th and 20th Century missed a turn. For me, The Science of Logic can generally be viewed as a powerful critique and advancement of Aristotelian logic, which ultimately comes to claim that we cannot derive our understanding of the world from a place where we don’t take into account the subject and our historic moment. This brings to mind the debates of Whitehead and Bergson against Einstein, who warned that we cannot simply replace our “common sense experience of time” with the notion of “a block universe” where time is ultimately relative and even illusionary. For Whitehead and Bergson, Einstein was not wrong, only incomplete, and for them Einstein’s oversight could prove extremely consequential. Indeed, it could contribute to the mistake of “autonomous rationality” which I critique throughout my work, inspired by David Hume.²⁴
The Science of Logic is not a text I feel mastery in, and I would turn readers to the work others for a deeper and better reading. Still, I feel comfortable to claim that what I call “The Modern Counter-Enlightenment” algins with Hegel, and that thinkers like Maurice Blondel, Alfred Korzybski, Benjamin Fondane, Paul Feyerabend, Pavel Florensky, Peter Geach, Alfred Whitehead, Henri Bergson, Michael Polanyi, René Guénon, and the like basically following Hegel’s critique of Aristotle and “hard objectivity.” Layman Pascal and Alex Ebert are two individuals I would consider as part of “The Modern Counter-Enlightenment,” which I believe is still occurring, for the line of thought has mostly been ignored. I would also associate the movement with “The Kyoto School,” Nietzsche, “The Scottish Enlightenment,” and Phenomenology, as well as some theological projects like that found in Balthasar — but those are claims I would have to defend. As brought to my attention by Dr. Terence Blake, Francois Laruelle also seems critical, whose “non-philosophy” strikes me as very much aligned with my thinking on “nonrationality.” For Laruelle, all philosophy requires a decision and orientation that comes prior to philosophy, which indeed sounds like my ideas on how we must ascent to a truth before we organize a corresponding rationality. For me, this is the “pre-move” and/or “dialectical move” arguably at the heart of all A/B-thinking.
Critically, “The Modern Counter-Enlightenment” is not Postmodernism, and if anything is more akin to the emerging Metamodernity we see today, which I think is actually a return to Hegel’s Dialectical Thinking (and so we return to Hegel from many angles). I’ve mentioned this to both High Root (O.G. Rose Conversations #80 and #73) and Greg Dember (an expert on Metamodernity), and mainly I have argued that Postmodernity might deconstruct A/A, that is not the same as sublating A/A into A/B. Postmodernity occurs within and according to an A/A paradigm, while “The Modern Counter-Enlightenment” operates according to an A/B framework. Arguably, Postmodernism is what the Modern Counter-Enlightenment admonished would develop if we didn’t transition into A/B, along with “The Meaning Crisis” in general. Yes, there have been benefits from Postmodernism, but I’m not convinced that those benefits can’t also be found in the Modern Counter-Enlightenment. Where Postmodernism is at its best, I find it like the MCE, and so it goes with Metamodernity. Though it depends on who you ask, what strikes me as the main difference Metamodernity and “The Modern Counter-Enlightenment” might be that the oscillation of Metamodernity is an external movement between Postmodernism and Modernism, whereas the MCE suggests an internal oscillation, which is to say things are oscillations, versus suggest that there are “solid things” which oscillate. Yes, the very fact that things oscillate between Postmodernism and Modernism might be evidence that things “are” oscillations (in line with a proof according to Austin Farrer), but there are still notable and technical differences which matter. To put it another way, Metamodernism might explore Hegel’s dialectic as what things unfold “in,” whereas “The Modern Counter-Enlightenment” might more so suggest that Hegel’s dialectic is what things “are” — though again I think there are easily versions of Metamodernism which cannot be described as such.
The key characteristic of an MCE thinker is a critique of A/A that leads into A/B, and there are additional thinkers I love but whom I’m not sure if they are MCEs or not. Ivan Illich, Susan Sontag, Philip Rieff, René Girard, Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Kurt Gödel, John Nash, and Marshall McLuhan are such examples, for though McLuhan understood that technology organized our thinking, I’m not sure if I would say that he directly critiques A/A in favor of A/B. Illich similarly grasps how “the medium of school” organizes our notions of “being educated,” which is a recognization of the relation between “nonrationality/truth and rationality,” as Sontag makes similar points about photography and “medical metaphors.” Girard is aware of how rationality after “the scapegoat” leads to ever-greater escalation with the possibility of nuclear war, and Horkheimer with Adorno made a convincing case for how the Enlightenment led to “total war.” Kurt Gödel is an interesting case, for he grasped that “a total system which grounds itself axiomatically” was not possible — a powerful move against A/A-thinking — and yet was ultimately a Mathematical Platonist, leaving me unsure where to place him. I feel similarly about John Nash, the father of Game Theory, who seems to have realized “the incompleteness of rationality” but for the sake of the Modernist Project (Game Theory is often said to “increase rationality,” not unveil the need for “nonrationality,” which for me is a terrible mistake). Regarding all of these thinkers, my references to them as MCEs will likely be blurred and uncertain (do forgive me).
I’m not sure if all these geniuses are focused enough on negating/sublating A/A to be considered MCEs versus only sharing overlap. Philip Rieff and Peter Berger are incredible, but what we see in their sociology is an examination of why Postmodernity is not an adequate response to Modernity in terms of sociology, which “points to” MCE, but at the same times doesn’t necessary fall under the category of MCE. Honestly, there is a part of me that wants to include them under the MCE label, but at the same time I don’t want the label to do be too broad to the point where it simply includes anyone who critiques Modernism and the Enlightenment. I adore Paul Virilio, Hayden White, and Charles W. Mills, but though all these thinkers profoundly critique “autonomous rationality” and A/A-thinking in favor of an acknowledgment of the role of the subjects, systems, race, ideology, and the like, I’m not familiar with any of these thinkers specifically critiquing A/A for A/B. That is the key move which distinguishes MCE from Postmodernity, for while Postmodernity might deconstruct A/A, MCE negate/sublates A/A into A/B. All the same, it still feels right to think of Virilio, White, and Mills as having something to do with the MCE, so I have no hard position (perhaps I should make a distinction between “MCE light” and “MCG hard”).
Adorno, Foucault, Derrida, Marcuse, Fanon, Beauvoir, and others are all Postmodernists, regardless how much I like them, precisely because they deconstruct A/A, all of which is useful but also incomplete. Though I respect him, Deleuze is unique in that he argues for “autonomous and/or essential difference” versus an “autonomous and/or essential unity” (A/A), which is to say Deleuze provides a metaphysics of A/A, B/B, C/C, D/D, E/E, etc., which is arguably an improvement over “autonomous A/A,” but it’s also not “different in kind” from Aristotle and is ultimately just the most extreme and logical end of Postmodernist deconstruction of A/A. Deleuze particularly refuses “epistemologies of representation,” which indeed means for me that he denies himself the resources needed for his critique of A/A to be negated/sublated into an affirmation of A/B. A very focused critique on A/A or “identity” for me defines MCE, and though the best Postmodern thinkers indeed critique identity, it often comes from a negative place of understanding that rationality can be problematic, but that’s different from a positive case for why A/B is the case. That positive case is what I’m looking for, without which a thinker can only be Postmodern, perhaps Metamodern. Generally, MCE includes Postmodernism, but Postmodernism doesn’t include MCE.
“The Scottish Enlightenment” and “The Counter-Enlightenment” are the traditions upon which the Modern Counter-Enlightenment continues, and for this reason we can see Isaiah Berlin as also playing a critical role in the development of awareness regarding MCE. The field of psychoanalysis is particularly interesting to me regarding this topic, for thinkers like Lacan and Zupančič both understand the trouble with “autonomous rationality” and suggest a need for Dialectical Reasoning, but that would put them in the camp of “Returning to Hegel,” though perhaps not MCE. I’m not sure, which brings me to the unique case of Slavoj Žižek, in whom Postmodernity and MCE overlap and mix. For me, the Žižek who I am most attracted to is the Žižek of Less Than Nothing, which is very much a MCE text. The book emphasizes The Science of Logic, which we have indeed argued is foundational (perhaps without being recognized) of the MCE, and in Žižek we see a critique of “self-relation,” which is the ontological expression of “A = A.” Both Cadell Last and Trey at telosbound have recorded incredible presentations on Žižek, and I will let them make my case for me, but ultimately my point is that to claim that we do see the MCE in Žižek, who perhaps was the first person to realize that grasping The Science of Logic could be aided by a profound incorporation of psychoanalysis (which indeed can lead us into A/B).
I realize that many Hegelian scholars disagree with Žižek’s readings of Hegel, but even if that is true I still see MCE in him (and I’m a fan of Harold Bloom’s emphasis on how “strong misreadings” can advance thought). Now, I do think the political, cultural criticism, etc. of Žižek are more Postmodern than MCE, hence why Žižek is easily considered “a Postmodern Thinker.” But I think taking this to far can be a mistake, for we can miss how Žižek can be fit into a conversation on our need to consider MCE. There is indeed a Postmodern Žižek who is more deconstructionist, but I believe Less Than Nothing is a book of the Modern Counter-Enlightenment and should be read as such (and testament to the uniqueness of The Science of Logic). A reason why I think it is important to see Žižek as a MCE thinker and not just a Postmodernist is because the word “Postmodern” has come to mean something comical, ironic, “not serious,” and the like, and if we associate A/B-thinking with Postmodernism, I’m afraid it will similarly come to be seen as “silly” and “non-disciplined.” This is not the case, but associations have power, and I’m afraid something similar might apply with the word “Metamodern.” It feels “Post-Postmodern,” which risks seeming “ultra-silly” and/or “new age,” and though I realize this is not the case, there is a real risk. It doesn’t help with this association that Žižek is quite the character, which though something I personally love, admittedly his performative nature can be used as further evidence that Postmodernism is a joke compared to “enlightened science” (A/A). If Postmodernity is then connected with opposition to A/A (and then there isn’t a distinction between “deconstructing A/A” and “negating/sublating A/A into A/B), then as a result all thinkers who critique A/A can be seen as “jokes.”
Please do not mistake me as saying that MCEs are necessarily “the best” philosophers or my favorites — that is not my point. My aim is to define differences between “Postmodernists who overlap with MCE,” and more independent MCE thinkers. Also, the thinkers I have named in this piece are not meant to be “the only” MCEs (there are easily many more), and there are also other thinkers like Berdyaev, Martin Buber, C.S. Peirce, Dostoevsky, Hayek, and Austin Farrer that might fall under the category, but I’m not sure enough yet to include them. There are also thinkers like René Guénon who I have included but who might not fit, but Guénon’s critique of quantity in favor of quality algins with Hegel’s thinking in The Science of Logic, and quality is inherently A/B versus A/A. I also see thinkers like John D. Zizioulas as being “what follows” if A/B is the case, but Zizioulas himself (to my knowledge) doesn’t contain a critique of “A = A,” only of individualism in favor of “communal ontology.”
Traditions and histories empower, and so for me linking the thinkers I have named with “a legacy or continuation of the Counter-Enlightenment” strengthens their case. Postmodernity is a reaction to Modernity more than a traditional alternative to Modernity, hence why I further want to distinguish the Modern Counter-Enlightenment. The father of all Counter-Enlightenment thinking seems to be Giambattista Vico, with thinkers like David Hume and G.W.F. Hegel inheriting his line of reasoning (and Hegel taking it to its extraordinary (non)logical end). Obviously, theologians earlier than Vico critique materialism and “autonomous rationality,” but it is in Vico that we see a critique of Newtown and Descartes, who are arguably the fathers of Modernism (it’s interesting to note how Vico critique the geometrical method of Descartes like Whitehead critiques Einstein’s use of geometry — or at least that’s how I understand it).²⁵
More can be said on the Counter-Enlightenment, such as how the thought overlaps with Burke and Tocqueville, how the later Wittgenstein might have realized how logic eventually reaches a point where “nonrationality becomes logical,” how the Heidegger who emphasizes “clearing” seems to understand the destructive power of “autonomous rationality” (and “clearing” makes me think of prehistoric man entering a forest clearing and hearing lightening to birth language in Vico), how Hans Gadamer suggests it is only in art that we might realize “the nonrational horizon” which organizes a historic moment — on and on. In this way, there are parts of notions in thinkers that align with the MCE, only for the same thinker in the next book to slip back into Modernism. For this reason, it can sometimes be problematic to suggest a thinker “is” MCE or not, because it possible for an individual to slip in and out of the tradition. On this point, I would like to emphasize how MCE is not primarily a period of time but a line of thinking, mainly the critique of A/A. We often can be lead to believe that intellectual movements correspond with periods of time, and though that is true, the time period is secondary to the line of thought itself. Yes, Modernism happens with the Industrial Revolution during a particular historic period, but the time period is second to the kind of thinking itself. Furthermore, though I have noted how Rieff and Berger might not be thinkers of the MCE, at the same time I cannot help but associate them with it, seeing how profoundly their thought points to the need for MCE thinking to help us escape the pitfalls of “autonomous rationality.”
Additionally, I also believe modern discussions about Dialogos, Circling, and Cyphering align with A/B-thinking and Counter-Enlightenment movements in general, for in all of these movements we see a critique of disembodiment, a need to see intersubjectivity as essential, and an awareness of the need to limit rationality (often in favor of creativity, emotion, experience, and the like). Though they might not use the language of “self-relating negativity,” there is certainly an awareness that we fall into this without others and a special “attuned” relationship to those others, and that we have to somehow “break out of rationality” (the shadow of the Enlightenment) if we are to regain our humanity. Here, we should note that critiquing the Enlightenment is not critique “rationality” in any and all circumstances, but “autonomous rationality” or A/A-thinking; the critique is to favor a different kind of “rationality” in “dialectical rationality” or A/B-thinking. We are not supporting foolishness, but thinking beyond self-enclosure, which indeed the practices of Circling are in the business of accomplishing as well.
We do not choose A or B (this is A/A), but instead we forever circle A into B and B into A, a structure like a wave, curve, or circle (to allude to Ebert). We have been taught to think of thinking as crossing boundaries, but this metaphor has “captured” us. We don’t think by picking the right side of a line; we think by learning how to circle, flow, and oscillate between. A metaphor of borders and lines lurks in our subconscious minds, I think, and as a result how we think follows the structure of that line(ar) metaphor. We think to, then stop; we don’t think by circling through it, through us, back through it, back through us…But this for me suggests “the true infinity” which Hegel would have us think if we are to think at all.
Anyway, the majority of Post-Hegelian philosophy has been either Heideggerian, Deleuzian, Foucauldian, or Derridean, and though validity can be found in all this thinking, I would like to stress that this thinking isn’t equivalent to the MCE. It is not primarily an expression of The Science of Logic, and though it can be “worked into” MCE, it is a different tradition. Yes, my work on Philosophical Developmentalism suggests a way to position Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Buber into Hegel, but again this must be “worked.” If we “develop into” I/Other, we have made “The Absolute Choice” and entered into A/B, thus the MCE, and so interpreting Modernity and Postmodernity into Hegel is a way we can return to the MCE.
Polanyi emphasized how thinking comes after belief and knowledge; Peirce suggested belief is primarily a matter of avoiding intellectual discomfort; Paul Feyerabend stressed that science advanced not by the scientific method but creative and even irrational risk; Rieff understood how “autonomous rationality” deconstructed the societal “givens” needed to avoid totalitarianism — all of these are examples of critiques of Modernism, and the originating thinkers should be respected as such. But to be a thinker of the Modern Counter-Enlightenment, I am searching for a clear negation/sublation of A/A, stable identity, being, and the like, for this is the foundational work that must be done for an “alternative tradition” to arise alongside and counter to Modernism. And for me there is no clearer example of this then The Science of Logic by G.W.F. Hegel.
The Hegel of Marx is the Hegel of Modernism, but I am increasingly convinced that “the Hegel of Hegel” is of “The Modern Counter-Enlightenment.” Hegel critiques “pure philosophy” (the “autonomous rationality” of Hume and “supra-philosophy” of Florensky) in favor of a philosophy which incorporates the subject — and changes everything. ‘Adjacency is not new,’ Layman tells us. ‘The world is obvious with touching, abutting, reaching, nearing, being close — but in past & classical ages of human thinking it was felt very strongly that all such facts conceal, represent and misrepresent forms of essential unity.’²⁶ Ontology always has logical and epistemological consequences, and a (nonrational) belief in “essential unity” naturally leads into A/A-thinking. If however, we abandon “essential unity” (100%-ness) for adjacency (99%-ness), then from this ontology (or “truth)” we find ourselves with a different epistemology, mainly A/B-thinking, to which I believe The Science of Logic is a large testament.
Here, we perhaps can suggest why The Science of Logic has been “read over,” in that it suggests an ontoepistemologically that is counter to the A/A we have inherited from “The Enlightenment” and that we have erected Modernity upon. A/B is ‘poetic, evocative, stirring,’ and we have been trained to associate such feelings with subjectivity, relativity, and thus irrelevance.²⁷ We are all scientists now, and A/A aligns with science far more than A/B (or so it can feel), whereas an ontoepistemology that suggests all we can do is approach A/A-unity (however closely) opens the floodgates to a far more confusing and overwhelming universe. This is existentially difficult to accept, and so we have fought for A/A as long and hard as possible — but the cost for this has been totalitarianism, pathology, and worse.
“The Metaphysics of Adjacency” entails a ‘process of teasing apart, finding gaps, opening up alternatives […],’ and this I believe is what Hegel argues we should do in The Science of Logic.²⁸ To suggest alignment with Layman and Hegel, consider Hegel’s section “Repulsion and Attraction” in Chapter 3 of Being-For-Self (which also brings Ebert’s work to mind again):
‘[…] repulsion is an exclusion; the one repels from itself only the many ones which are neither generated nor posited by it. This mutual or all-round repelling is relative, is limited by the being of the ones / The plurality is, in the first place, non-posited otherness, the limit is only the void, only that in which the ones are not. But in the limit they also are; they are in the void, or their repulsion is their common relation.’²⁹
I would note that without Alex Ebert, I doubt I would have a grasp on any of this — again, please read his paper, for the “wave metaphor” is invaluable. By “ones” in this quote of Hegel’s, I come to think of “A/A(s),” as in separated and multiple examples of entities which “are themselves” (“self-relating”), and in stressing that ‘in the limit they also are,’ Hegel suggests a profound connection between “is-ness” and “non-is-ness.”³⁰ Things and their contexts are basically indivisible, which is to say that things are in themselves attracting and repulsing waves that can only oscillate as such thanks to their contexts. ‘[Context] has been waiting long enough,’ Pascal tells us. ‘[All things are] in quotation marks.’)³¹ To quote Layman further:
‘Both ‘quotation marks’ and ‘context’ share a common style. They present edges, they provide frames, they are the presencing of contact surfaces which operate our interpretation of every ‘thing.’ ’³²
This being the case, ‘[w]e don’t just want to know things anymore, we also want to know how they are being — held.’³³ Dr. Vervaeke also discusses the role of “grip” in thinking and epistemology, and we can associate that language with an ontology that takes seriously “context” and “the way” entities are situated. Considering Pascal and Ebert, the word “things” basically must always be in quotation marks, and if that sounds absurd given the scientific vision of say Albert Einstein, please consider here why the work of Bergson and Whitehead might be an essential part of A/B-thinking and “The Modern Counter-Enlightenment.” More must be said on this, but for now I will simply turn readers to the brilliant work of both Dr. Stephen E. Robbins and Footnotes2Plato.
To quote Layman again:
‘The ancient conversations about how ‘inside’ is related to ‘outside’ provoke, in our age, a challenge or supplementation by a discourse about systems, relationships, networks of enactment, sliding signifiers, interpretive connexions, pluralities of option. The implication in all this is consistent: adjacency.’³⁴
Aligning with thought presented in “The VORD,” Layman then writes:
‘Networks of relationships can perform only where component parts are ‘close enough’ to function together — but never so close that they lose their individual functions. All relativity, like all teamwork, becomes visible only when there is some adequate proximity among different contexts.
‘So the emerging metaphysics of our age, under all its names, deploys adjacency at every turn. This is true both of its ongoing critique of unity & fixed individuality AND its articulation of relativity, relationality, perspectivism and networking.’³⁵
‘The continuity of Being,’ Layman says, ‘operates just as well, perhaps even better, under the idea of ‘excessive optimal proximity’ as it ever did under the idea of ‘a Great One.’³⁶ A universe of “optimal proximity” is a universe where all entities are “things” in quotation marks, which furthermore means everything is ontologically structured more like a wave, as Ebert depicts in “Fre(q) Theory.” On this point, I believe we can associate “quotation marks” with “the void” famously associated with Pre-Socratic atomism and Democritus (as discussed in “Philosophy of Lack II”), which is a link I think brings us to Hegel again. Furthermore, Todd McGowan’s emphasis on “contradiction” in Hegel I think aligns well with the “adjacency” of Layman Pascal, and so here again we can find constructive overlap.
‘The one is the void as the abstract relation of the negation to itself,’ Hegel writes, which is to say that what “is-not” an entity comes to be experienced as that which “negates that entity,” versus part of it (“the void” naturally starts as a possibility versus a feature, we could say).³⁷ And yet even in this division, ‘the void [is] also affirmative being of the one,’ which is basically to say that a thing can be distinctly itself because there are things “it is not” at the same time (every “A/A” contains a “not-that-A/A”).³⁸ In this conception, ‘the nothing as the void is outside [a thing],’ as must be the case if we take A/A as fundamental. Being is thus divisible (versus only “mentally and tentatively divisible” for the sake of comprehending it).³⁹
‘Being-for-self determined in this matter as the one and the void has again acquired determined being,” Hegel writes, and please note the “and” he italicized (“and” is A/A, while “/” is A/B, suggesting “thing/void” versus “thing and void”).⁴⁰ ⁴¹ To make a bold claim, Hegel entails a movement from “and” to “/,” which means Hegel incorporates “the void” into things, versus have things in “the void.” In his “Remark on Atomism,” Hegel claims that the externalization of “the void,” necessary for A/A, gives rise to the following:
‘[…] the immediacy of being of the one, because it is the negation of all otherness, is posited as being no longer determinable and alterable; such therefore it is absolute, unyielding rigidity that all determination, variety, conjunctions remains for it an utterly external relation.’⁴²
This is what follows from A/A, but the only way to avoid such rigidity (and effacement) is by somehow incorporating “void” and/or “nothingness” into A/A itself (there’s no other option), which “A = A” actually does subtly (for a given “A” can only be defined as itself in relation to a “not A”). For Hegel, this subtle dimension must be “owned” and made explicit, and furthermore moved into the essential composition of A/A. But once we do that, A/A becomes A/B, and the entire “Modern Counter-Enlightenment” must be raised up and studied. The Science of Logic can no longer be ignored, and that means we have a lot of work to do…
Is Hegel drawing a distinction between him and Democritus? It might seem that Hegel’s “void” is internal while for Democritus it is external, but Hegel actually seems to think he can align himself with the great Presocratic. ‘[T]he void was recognized as the source of movement,’ Hegel notes, but this is not taken by Hegel to simply suggest ‘the trivial meaning that something can only move into an empty space and not into an already occupied space’; under this meaning, ‘the void would be only the presupposition or condition of movement, not its ground.’⁴³ Here, Hegel makes the critical point that Democritus entails ‘the profounder though that in the negative as such there lies the ground of becoming of the unrest of self-movement,’ which is to say “the void” is not merely spatial but ontological, a point which for me basically verifies that Ebert’s understanding of Hegel’s ontoepistemology is correct and that thus A/B is the case.⁴⁴ Hegel seems to warn that an understanding of “the void” in terms of mere Physics runs the risk of being a conception that is ‘utterly devoid of the Notion,’ which is to say it fails to take seriously the subject. And indeed, understanding “the void” as such keeps us in the realm of A/A and not A/B.⁴⁵
I have not even begun to unpack a percent of Hegel’s opus — I would encourage readers to go and see more from themselves. Still, I believe we have enough though to understand why Hegel’s Science of Logic is a text of A/B versus A/A, suggesting this book is a founding text of “The Modern Counter-Enlightenment,” even if not recognized as such. On Hegel, Alex Ebert wrote on IDW about ways to connect “the determinate being” of Hegel with his idea of “true infinity,” which I believe further suggests why Hegel is A/B (and “being” is part of “becoming” as “(be)coming”). Noting that “true infinity” is with us right now, in actuality, Ebert then unpacked what it means to think that “everything persists through self-negation”:
‘The self is itself a true infinity, arrived at via sublation. Self-negation is rather the breaking up of that true infinity — not the arrival of it. The negation of self is the return to self-contradiction, the breaking of the sublated state, and the movement toward the next negation of the negation.’⁴⁶
We do not “become” true infinities, but in fact already are such, but when we don’t see ourselves as such we tend to end up “a self-relating effacement” or “spurious infinity” (pathological, neurotic, etc.), not because we literally change our ontological composition to such, but because we misunderstand ourselves, and indeed ideas have consequences for how we carry ourselves in the world, act, and the like (if we don’t know we are “self-relating negativities,” we cannot come to terms with it, integrate ourselves with it, and live accordingly). When we realize we are “a self-relating true infinity,” then we can choose to submit that “self-relating” to negation/sublation, as we must if we are to move out of (self-relating) A/A to A/B. Thus, we “break up” A/A into A/B.⁴⁷ ‘True infinity (being) [is] on the inside, finite (determinate and discreet) on the outside [which means A/B]. So while a deep friendship can represent a true infinity, it only does so internally, while the membrane that is formed around that friendship is determinate and finite.’⁴⁸ All this is crucial to grasp, ‘because that finite aspect of the infinite unity is the very reason why the self-negation occurs again — to break up that true infinity.’⁴⁹ Why would we want to “break up” the “true infinity of A/A?” ‘The answer is simple: to grow […] The state of true infinity is non-dynamical, continuous, inert.’⁵⁰ Our natural “true infinity” is A/A, and if we want to be A/B and avoid effacement, we must negate/sublate ourselves. We must make “the void” essential to us, not something external. We must be more like a wave than a place.
Strengthening Layman’s case that fundamental reality is (justified to be and) necessarily 99% (and 100% as 99%, per se), Ebert writes:
‘As mentioned, most of the true infinities we concern ourselves with are still externally determinate…true infinity on the inside, finite determination on the outside. But of course if each one of these determinations were externally equal there would be no reason to create any movement from one sublation to the next — and no reasonable impulse to self-negate. So it is very critical that we understand that the thing that prompts us to move from one sublation to the next is actually the differences in the determinate aspect only — for there can be no difference from one true infinity to the other except in its determinate manifestation.’⁵¹
Because reality is 99%, there cannot be final equilibrium, and thus there can be and always is movement. Again, this is not merely because there is “space” in the sense of Physics, but because things are 99%, and thus contain in themselves “movement,” just as Ebert describes in his “Fre(q) Theory” (which I think also suggests the work of Bergson versus “the block universe” of Einstein). All of this is the ontological and metaphysical schema that we would expect to be the case if A/B was the foundational case versus (autonomous) A/A, which we have further reason to believe is the case based on the observations of what occurs when people ascribe to A/A, totalizing visions, and the like (as many MCE thinkers warn about). Benjamin Fondane, David Hume, Adorno — all of these provide “evidence” which give us reason to believe that “a map of A/A” doesn’t match “the territory,” that “the territory” is likely more so A/B, and thus we need a map of A/B to rightly explore “the territory” (a kind of proof that aligns with Austin Farrer and Michael Polanyi). But this is “the map” found in “The Modern Counter-Enlightenment,” and we have not collectively visited its shop to invest in its product. As a result, we have either rationalized our “A/A map” or thrown “the map” aside and gone on without one (Postmodernism) — but there are better ways, ways where “self-negation” doesn’t lead to (the hell of) effacement, but instead ‘breaks up the true infinity to begin the process of becoming again — toward a higher and larger and more reconciled form of the self.’⁵² In forsaking the Modern Counter-Enlightenment, this is a way of life we have cut-off from ourselves. But it is not too late. Time is not stone.
We are a kind of “negation” of the world (of relations) as a “self-relation” (a kind of paradox, in a way) — we naturally negate our relations to anything else (as external “void”) — and “the negation of the negation” is where we “negate self-relation” in favor of I/Other. No, none of us can fully and actually achieve “self-as-other relation,” but we can be “toward” I/Other (as A/B), and in the resulting failure forever undergo “break ups” that can elevate us to better ways of life. To know about ourselves as “self-relating negativities” automatically helps us move out of “self-relating effacement,” for the very knowing of ourselves as such makes ourselves an “other” to ourselves (as pointed out by Ebert). Awareness of “self-relating negativity” thus makes ourselves “a self-relating negativity as a negation/sublation” — the realization is an act of sublation (into “other”). Thus, to even discuss and think about “self-relating negativity” changes what it is to us, which makes it hard to think about what we were before the thought of what we were (as it is difficult to consider perception before thought) — the thought conceals what was prior and the advancement. This doesn’t make sense if the universe is a collection of “(statics) things,” but if instead the universe is a ‘flowing vision of energy, information & interpretation [and] [f]low [as] activity,’ where ‘Time and Space [are] together [and] [a]ctivity appears as location and durations[…] dynamic adjacency,’ then it is not crazy to believe that our very knowledge and understanding of entities changes their “towardness” and unfolding, that “99% can be the new 100%.”⁵³ Under this schema, ‘[w]e start to sense something wrong in the gesture of grabbing, identifying, targeting, categorizing, isolating [and instead] want to replace it with something like reaching forward, deepening contact, showing interest, honoring the Other & the elusive Real.’⁵⁴ In what Layman Pascal writes here and Alex Ebert helps visually depict, I believe we see the project of the Modern Counter-Enlightenment, perhaps finally being recovered today, if only we might cease ‘pull[ing] back into the ‘me’ supposedly identical with myself’ and instead learn to master the art of ‘touching […] being close [and embracing] the functional, meditative, satisfying, and universal aspects of sheer proximity.’⁵⁵ Is not “closeness” more romantic than “ownership?” If so, Layman Pascal helps restore a sense of romance to life, as does Ebert, Hegel, and the MCD in general.
What is at stake in the thinking of MCD is I think captured well by Cadell Last in his description of Layman Pascal’s work:
‘For Pascal, the mediation of this ‘closeness’ is to give ‘ontological dignity’ to a society that can more maturely cultivate empathy in a post-metaphysical age. For Pascal, the interesting dimensions of our life are not found when our ‘hands’ are tightly clasped together, nor when they are totally separated, but rather when they are held at a certain ‘closeness’ that generates an ‘amplified sensitivity.’ In this metaphor, we are asked to think not an Absolute One, nor a Separated Two, but rather a One in Two, or a Two as One. Here we recognize that everything we hold dear in life, everything meaningful, is actually lost when we are unable to navigate these close or highly sensitive spaces […]’⁵⁶
I couldn’t agree more. We cannot live on A/A alone, only as negated/sublated into A/B. Modernism and Postmodernism are testaments to the shortcomings of A/A, as Hegel seems to have foreseen and tried to help us avoid. To allude to Cadell Last again:
‘Hegel introduces his basic claim that in the death of metaphysics, we have forgotten that metaphysics is logic. Funny enough, Hegel recognizes that logic had not faired much better than metaphysics in the age of scientific materialism and social pragmatism. Logic was still taught in schools, but its inner content, the spiritual life of its content, our psyches, had died. Moreover, its basic form, had remained unchanged for 2,000 years (Aristotle’s pre-modern, pre-scientific logic). Hegel thought that such a situation called for a Science of Logic, so that our forms of knowing in the sciences, could be complemented, with a logic that gave new spiritual life, where the form of logic was capable of helping us process the content of our time.’⁵⁷ ⁵⁸
Logic is metaphysics for Hegel, which sounds strange until we understand that Hegel’s logic is A/B versus A/A, and that means the subject is essentially involved and cannot be “bracketed out” (as necessary for A/A), and furthermore must be so involved if we are to avoid self-effacement. Metaphysics is “the referencing of physics by physics” (as I have discussed in (Re)constructing “A Is A”), which automatically requires something outside of physics to be possible; hence, the irreducible subject. What is “outside of Physics” is not mere (Physical) space (which brings to mind what Hegel said on “void”), but something ontological and “grounding” which cannot be reduced to Physics; if it could be, then Physics could not “move in it” to reference itself (similar to how paper needs space outside itself so that it can fold in on itself, though I understand this is a Physical metaphor). If things were “Absolute Ones” or A/A, then they could not “move,” because they could not extend “outside themselves” to so move and develop. For things to so move is for things to be A/B, and in this way A/B is more true than A/A: what Hegel suggests isn’t what he “makes the case” but what has always been thus.
‘What is this science of logic?’ In its most basic formulation,’ Dr. Last writes, ‘it is a form of logic that does not simply present being as a self-identical Absolute One, but conceives of the One as possessing a paradoxical identity.’⁵⁹ To borrow from Cadell again and further strengthen the case for why Hegel is a father of MCE:
‘Hegel claims that Being and Nothing are a unity. If one thinks about this for a moment, it is easy to recognize that this unity is a strange unity, or a weird one. Moreover, to understand this strange unity or weird one, one (as a being) has to be close to the other (nothing, since in reality: being-nothing are unified). If your being represses or forecloses nothing, it is only a matter of time before nothing, comes up in you, as a being (and vice versa). Ultimately, when we are capable of thinking the closeness or the weird one of being-nothing, we find the key to real becoming, or the dimension that, for Hegel, opens up the truth of essence (our most intimate nature) and concept (our capacity to reflexive ethical action).’⁶⁰
“Ordinary consciousness” (as Hegel discusses it), and its corresponding logic, is A/A, while “speculative thinking” is A/B, and A/B-thinking is indeed thinking which requires “speculation,” for thinking must ascent to something “beyond itself” that cannot be fully translated into rational terms (it must always be 99% and the missing 1% requires speculation fundamentally). Again, the serious involvement of “nonrationality” is a key feature of “The Modern Counter-Enlightenment,” which the phrase “the true isn’t the rational,” a central notion of O.G. Rose, is meant to invoke and suggest (and please note again how I think both Game Theory and Literature are testaments to the need for “The Modern Counter-Enlightenment,” given how rationality leads to Nash Equilibria). To take seriously “nonrationality” automatically places logic in “(meta)physics,” and furthermore means all rationality is “(non)rationality,” which ultimately I believe is the point Hegel understood and defended. Logic is (meta)physical, a dialectical “ever-approach” of the subject and the object, a combination of truth and rationality — (non)rationality. Logic must be A/B or it will be logic only to dreaming rocks.
To believe in 100%-ness is to believe that our “self-relating infinity” is all there is (which is to accept a “self-relating effacement” akin to hell, as Trey Lunot notes), while believing in 99%-ness is to engage in “openness’ and “being-other.’ What Hegel calls ‘the one’ is the ‘most fixed, abstract form’ of a being, which is ironic seeing as we have been trained to associate “The One” with “ultimate and truest reality,” but what we see here is a Hegel who is aware that quantity is less real than quality (a point thinkers like René Guénon also stressed).⁶¹ Yes, we must experience ourselves as “a self-relating,” and must realize that we relate to others that we do not fully incorporate into ourselves, and thus “relations” are understood to exist which negate our infinity in precisely encountering “the boundary” of others. Facing that boundary, our sense of infinity threatened, we have two choices: Do we identify with that boundary (A/B) or deny its relevance to our identity (A/A)? Hegel would have us incorporate Kant’s noumena into our thinking as a key feature of its functionality, and so likewise he would have us encounter “the boundary of the other” as precisely what makes us ourselves. This is a move of Absolute Knowing. This is a move in which we are never the same.
“Being-for-self as being-for-other” is not when a subject literally “becomes the other” and exists as two entities simultaneously, but rather that we are always extending ourselves out to others, “collapsing” back into ourselves (to use Mr. Ebert’s language), reaching out again (on and on). “A = B,” “A as B,” “A/B” — all of this is terminology meant to suggest a dynamic and adjacent movement versus some “interchangeability” (which would end us up in another “A = A” by another name), a movement which Mr. Ebert describes beautifully in his example describing the universe compressed into the size of a baseball (see his paper for more). The problem is though that we ourselves as subjects do not fully engage in “(be)coming” unless we somehow deeply think of ourselves as “being-other,” which is to say we must think of ourselves as (practically) “A = B” (to assure we don’t “hold anything back”). It almost seems that we only “reach out and collapse back into ourselves fully” if we genuinely don’t think we will collapse back into ourselves, which is what makes this all so hard. This doesn’t seem possible though without engaging in self-deception, so that means we must reach a place where we “genuinely want to fail best we can” — a level of Spiritual development which I think we can associate with “Absolute Knowing.”
What has been written in this paper suggests that the difference between Absolute Knowing and “ordinary consciousness” isn’t a change in state but a realization of what it “is,” which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but once we realize how incredibly difficult it is to realize A/B over A/A and really believe it, then achieving this is a great accomplishment (even greater is sustaining this belief). Everything in us seems “toward” A/A, and even “the idea of A/B” can be subtly used to support A/A — avoiding irony, self-deception, and the like requires everything we have. Which begs a question: in what domain or “way of life” are we most likely to maintain A/B deeply versus A/A? How can we live so that what we believe stays alive?
“The Modern Counter-Enlightenment” is an extension of a tradition that reaches back to the Scottish Enlightenment, and I cannot help but see thinkers like Heidegger and Hegel as continuing the thought which can be found there thriving. This is not to say the MCE is reducible to the Scots, but it is to say that there was a deep understanding that something “nonrational” ultimately had to ground our philosophical thinking, worldview, and the like. Whether emotions, self-interest, tradition, or something similar, we see in them resources to avoid the mistakes of “autonomous rationality,” even if ultimately we must conclude something incomplete about their work — hence why I personally found myself pulled into thinking Hegel.
As readers of O.G. Rose know, David Hume plays a prominent role, and inspired by Dr. Donald Livingston, I strongly emphasize “common life” as a necessary “nonrational foundation” for our thinking. But this is a “common life” which must be (re)turned to, not one we can start off in: to stay in our “given” circumstance can be to fall into A/A just as much as can be leaving and staying in an Ivy Tower. The trick is leaving “common life” to “(re)turn” to it, for it is that act of humility, commitment, and “grounding” which can have us enter into a way of life where “the true infinity of A/B” might be meaningfully lived out versus only abstractly agreed to and supported.
Hegel would not have stay in our world nor try to escape it, but like Hume he would have us commit to something always greater than ourselves (which ever-(be)comes). We are tempted by Notions to treat them as everything (A/A), as we are tempted to treat experience as all-important (A/A), but in Hegel we see the Life of both in dialectical relation, ever-forcing us to deeper ways of life (A/B). Nothing finishes that isn’t A/B, and A/B never finishes. In the resulting vigilance and activeness, we must resist both the “totalization” of a State or our very biology, which seems drawn to “stable states” (which are effacing A/As).
“Deconstructing Common Life” at the end of The Conflict of Mind is my full treatment of David Hume, and I will note that “common life” can be associated with phenomenology, commitment, and “a real choice,” and in it we basically force ourselves not to live a life of moving from one experience to the next, one set of friends to another set of friends — on and on. This is the temptation of a “spurious infinity” which I think defines our world today, and it is a mistake of “autonomous becoming,” which is arguably preferable to “autonomous being,” but it still isn’t “(be)coming.” We can align “being” with “the common life” David Hume suggests we all start off in, while “the philosophical journey to the Ivy Tower” is “becoming.” But the final and critical step is “(re)turning to common life,” which is the context in which “the true infinity of (be)coming” is possible. This is A/B.
To commit to “being” is merely to submit to one’s “givenness,” which makes us vulnerable to “the banality of evil” which Hannah Arendt discusses. But to ever-flow with “becoming” is to avoid commitment, which makes us a potential force of destruction and uprooting. The key is to “commit in becoming to (a) being” (Nietzsche’s “love of fate”), and that is “(be)coming.” This is a very difficult choice versus when we started in “being,” for we must give up something now, which is to “negate becoming.” But this is a “negation/sublation,” for the “being” we commit ourselves to is now one we experience in terms of “becoming,” and so it can go down, per se. Being can now be vertical and infinite in that verticalness, which is to say we can engage in “(be)coming.” And so “the true infinity of A/B” opens itself up to us.
“Becoming” is not really “other” to “being,” for it is simply to “move into a new being” (which I believe is the mistake of Deleuze, right or wrong). To really “become-other” as Hegel discusses, we must “choose being in becoming,” which brings them together into a new way of approaching what is the case (a new “toward-ness”). This mode is new and thus “other,” and so it is only in “(be)coming” that “being-other” is possible. To commit to a “common life” is to submit ourselves to radical repetition, which is needed for us to experience “a true infinity” and hence “negation/sublation.” This is discussed in “True Infinity Overcomes” by O.G. Rose, and here we see that avoiding “spurious infinity” and effacement has much to do with living “a vertical life” versus “a horizontal life.” Well, that means we seek depth versus distance, and depth goes down, in the same, “repeating” spot. “True infinity” is vertical, while “spurious infinity” is horizontal, and though we all already are a “true infinity,” this is “practically irrelevant” if our “toward-ness” is horizontal.
We must watch the same river to see “a being become” (“(be)come”); if we move between rivers, we will only “move between beings” (be-coming-to-something-else, be-moving) — all of which suggests why Hegel is interested in tautologies. But watching the same river “in our head” will not suffice, for this river will be a product of our minds and expresses nothing external (as required for “otherness”); we must go to a river and commit to it. So the same logic applies to life itself, which suggests that perhaps David Hume is a kind of praxis of Hegel? Hard to say, but the point is that it is by committing to the same river that we can also experience how our ideas of things never quite equal what they are “of,” suggesting Layman Pascal’s work. Just as soon as we think we fully comprehend something, it changes, and/or it turns out we didn’t take some part of it into account. But if we are always moving “on to the next thing,” we easily never “practically experience” this adjacency to really “get it” in our bones, emotionally. Intellectually knowing things entail essential change and oscillation is not the same as really experiencing it, but that experience requires a radical commitment. Otherwise, even if we believe we are “practical people,” we will still predominately operate in the realm of the abstract and “technical,” which is to say we will be “practically A/A” versus A/B, despite what we might believe.
“The practical is more real than the technical” is a phrase I’ve used, and by it I mean to say that how things “phenomenologically unfold” is more so the case than “technical.” This suggests that indeed reality is fundamentally 99%, for it would need to be 100% for technicality to be actuality; if it is 99%, then “the practical unfolding” of life is essential to reality, for “non-essential unfolding” is built into the ontological structure of reality itself in missing that last 1%. Where there is uncertainty, technicality cannot define the entire system, even if “technicality” as A/A might be extremely useful in thinking. A/A is technical and technological thinking (Heidegger), whereas A/B forces space for “practical unfolding” (“the unpredictable”).
Hegel is most famous for his dialectic, but it is very important that Hegel did not ultimately consider himself a Dialectical Thinker but a Speculative Philosopher. No, this doesn’t mean it’s wrong to think of Hegel as dialectical, but that it is wrong to think of him as “only” such, as we must not forget “The Philosophical Journey” which is an essential dimension of David Hume. “Speculative Reason” is where the technical is sublated into the practical, whereas (mere) “Dialectical Reason” is a (necessary) technicality that isn’t sublated. Dialectics cannot be our final destination, for we know by fighting how we know. Rationality is at best dialectical (A/A-thinking and “coherence” is best dialectical), while truth is speculative (the B which A is “without,” the speculative step of “correspondence”). Reality is ultimately more like a poem than a premise (though we shouldn’t forget that poems entail logics).
We have noted how we must ultimately make “a real choice” and commit to some “common life” for us to engage in A/B, and we can consider dialectics as perhaps the best method of A/A for us to determine what life we commit to (which is to say dialectics is optimal for helping us arrive at a “truth” or “B”). But if dialectics doesn’t ultimate negate/sublate itself into “a speculative choice” (of what constitutes “the best way to live,” which indeed must be a risky guess), then it is only in service of the technical and ultimately proves “less real.” Hegel understood this, and if we associate “the dialectic” with The Phenomenology of Spirit, then we can see why Hegel ultimately saw his early text as a stepping stone to his Logic. The dialectic cannot be our end point: it advantageously destabilizes “being” into “becoming,” but ultimately, to be “more real,” we must “Speculatively Reason” into “(be)coming.” The practical is more real than the technical, after all — dancing can only be practiced.
Poetic and speculative thinking embraces the adjacency of Layman Pascal, for if subjects of speculation become subjects of thinking and/or “dialectical reasoning,” then they cease to be matters of B and “truth.” We cannot fully or directly “realize” what we speculate, for that means it has become reducible to thought and hence lost its status as “nonrational.” This is akin to music becoming sheet music, which can be an advancement but also a devolution, based on how we use that sheet music. Freedom is not found in technical sheet music but in practiced music, which the sheet music can make possible but isn’t that realized possibility itself. We must think and dialecticize to practice and speculate, but we must not make the mistake of believing that “Dialectical Thinking” is “Speculative Reasoning” (the early Hegel is only an early step) — or else we will miss the application of our work; we will labor but never harvest. To be free of A/A and “self-relating effacement,” we need B, but B requires great work (seeing as everything in us is “toward” A/A). As discussed in “The Absolute Choice” by O.G. Roe, A/B is an ontology of transubstantiation, like the Eucharist — a 99% that is hard to understand and ultimately requires a kind of faith. And this faith is not easy. This faith is hard.
We are not “technically one” with a person we dance with, but we can be “practically one,” and if “the practical is more real than the technical,” this is what counts. But this possibility can only be found in the realm of “Speculative Reason” (A/B), and everything in us is “toward” A/A. And realizing A/A is a problem is not enough, for that is only “freedom from” A/A, whereas real freedom is found thanks to “freedom in” A/B. Life is something we are “in” or we are not alive: for “ordinary consciousness” to enter “philosophical consciousness” is to be “in” the life we “always already” find ourselves in but hardly see. Sight begins where the right conditions are met.
If the practical is more real than the technical, than reality is ultimately found in a lived life, and for that “lived life” to be vertical, it must be “common” to us, for that means it is “repetitive” and thus potentially “negated/sublated” as a “true infinity of A/B.” Technically, “being” and “nothing” contradict out of existence, but practically the two can ever-approach without completely merging, bouncing back and forth off one another in “(be)coming” like a wave. Funny enough, the technical is simpler than the practical, even though we associate technicality with complexity, for it is in the realm of practicality that we can see all dimensions of life overlap (physical, emotional, mental, etc.). Where there is overlap and adjacency, there is enough closeness so that “dancing” might be possible, and dancing might save the world (as Nietzsche understood). A/B is an ontology of dancing, and thanks to Alex Ebert, Layman Pascal, and Hegel we might feel freer, for we find thinking that unveils how “The Absolute” might move versus prove rigid and still. Admittedly, a “moving way of life” can terrorize us, but it can also move us to tears. And with those tears, committed to a repetitive “common life” that can unveil us to depths, we might Will to move like a dancing star
¹From Point 1 of “Principles of Adjacency (draft)” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
²From Point 1 of “Principles of Adjacency (draft)” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
³From Point 1 of “Principles of Adjacency (draft)” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
⁴Ebert, Alex. “The Sublation of Mathematics,” as found in Enter the Alien (Small Print Version). Garner, D. & Last, C. (Eds.). Philosophy Portal Books, 2022: 213.
⁵Ebert, Alex. “The Sublation of Mathematics,” as found in Enter the Alien (Small Print Version). Garner, D. & Last, C. (Eds.). Philosophy Portal Books, 2022: 212.
⁶From Point 2 of “Principles of Adjacency (draft)” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
⁷Ebert, Alex. “The Sublation of Mathematics,” as found in Enter the Alien. (Small Print Version). Garner, D. & Last, C. (Eds.). Philosophy Portal Books, 2022: 209.
⁸This is Point 3 of “Principles of Adjacency (draft)” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
⁹Hegel. G.W.F. The Science of Logic. Translated by A.V. Miller. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1990: 185.
¹⁰Ebert, Alex. “The Sublation of Mathematics,” as found in Enter the Alien. (Small Print Version). Garner, D. & Last, C. (Eds.). Philosophy Portal Books, 2022: 211.
¹¹Ebert, Alex. “The Sublation of Mathematics,” as found in Enter the Alien. (Small Print Version). Garner, D. & Last, C. (Eds.). Philosophy Portal Books, 2022: 211.
¹²One of the great innovations of Hegel is the revival of Heraclites, the philosopher who taught us that we can never step into the same river twice. Philosophy was dominated by concerns with “being,” a move Hegel disagreed with and negated. In Phenomenology of Spirit, we are given a philosophy of “becoming,” which to this day is a great and marvelous innovation. “Becoming” also describes Elements of Philosophy of Right, and indeed “becoming” is a word I use very often compared to “being.” Hegel has freed us from “stable being” and “completeness” into the anxiety and creativity of “(in)completeness.”
I often talk of “becoming,” for my work is often in the business of phenomenology. However, I think it is very important to realize that after Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel seems to have been dissatisfied with the logic behind his work (or at least knew it was incomplete). No, Hegel’s early work was not wrong, and indeed what he said about “becoming” was correct, but “becoming” alone did not describe the logical underpinning that made “phenomenological becoming” possible (which we could associate with Layman’s “adjacency”). This led to Hegel negating his own notions of “becoming” into something more complex and robust, something we could call “logical (be)coming” (the “underpinnings” which make “adjacency” possible).
“Becoming” in Phenomenology of Spirit is not as robust as “(be)coming” in Science of Logic: there is a shift in the depth of the term as Hegel moves from Phenomenology into Logic. This does not invalidate “phenomenological becoming” (PB), for indeed “logical (be)coming” (L(B)) is what makes the PB possible, and we as subjects experience PB not L(B), hence why talking of “becoming” versus “(be)coming” works in most conversation and papers (and is certainly what I do). Similarly, I don’t find myself needing to talk about the whole formula of “ ‘A/(A-isn’t-A)’ is ‘A/(A-isn’t-A)’ (without B)” in every conversation; mostly, “A/B” serves the purpose well enough. But the technical difference could also be kept in mind: when I discuss “A/B” or “A = B,” that is only possible because of “ ‘A/(A-isn’t-A)’ is ‘A/(A-isn’t-A)’ (without B).” Similarly, Hegel’s L(B) is what makes PB possible, and we cannot say that “becoming” in early Hegel means exactly the same thing, even if “becoming” fits into “(be)coming.” I see no contradiction in Hegel, on an idea of PB that is completed in L(B), though PB is all we as subjects “practically experience.” Again, since I mostly work in phenomenology, talk of “becoming” works well enough for me (and is the majority of what I discuss involving Hegel), but this map is certainly not the territory, and we must never forget that PB and L(B) are not identical, even if PB fits in L(B).
Whenever I discuss “becoming,” though I may not always succeed, my hope is to always use PB in a manner that aligns with L(B) — L(B) is indeed the fuller treatment, the logic undergirding the phenomenology. I envision Hegel as a movement from being to becoming to (be)coming, and what I mean by “(be)coming” is what will have to be elaborated on here. However, I have been convinced by Alex Ebert that really getting at in Science of Logic requires mathematics, a resource I am not an expert in, and thus will turn to Mr. Ebert’s work for help. I am in his debt and believe his work on Hegelian mathematics is magnificent.
¹³Hegel. G.W.F. The Science of Logic. Translated by A.V. Miller. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1990: 164.
¹⁴From Point 4 of “Principles of Adjacency (draft)” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
¹⁵Ebert, Alex. “The Sublation of Mathematics,” as found in Enter the Alien. (Small Print Version). Garner, D. & Last, C. (Eds.). Philosophy Portal Books, 2022: 214.
¹⁶Ebert, Alex. “The Sublation of Mathematics,” as found in Enter the Alien. (Small Print Version). Garner, D. & Last, C. (Eds.). Philosophy Portal Books, 2022: 214.
¹⁷Ebert, Alex. “The Sublation of Mathematics,” as found in Enter the Alien. (Small Print Version). Garner, D. & Last, C. (Eds.). Philosophy Portal Books, 2022: 213–214.
¹⁸Ebert, Alex. “The Sublation of Mathematics,” as found in Enter the Alien. (Small Print Version). Garner, D. & Last, C. (Eds.). Philosophy Portal Books, 2022: 216.
¹⁹From Point 5 of “Principles of Adjacency (draft)” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
²⁰From Point 6 of “Principles of Adjacency (draft)” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
²¹From Point 8 of “Principles of Adjacency (draft)” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
²²Alex Ebert has written a seminal paper describing the thinking of Hegel through mathematics, and I have been convinced that really “getting” Hegel’s ontoepistemology and metaphysics is best accomplished in the mathematical field that Hegel did not speak highly of (and mathematicians felt similarly). As mentioned in “The Absolute Choice” essay, you will find my interests mainly revolving around “phenomenology,” and I do believe we can generally view Phenomenology of Spirit as a movement from an emphasis on “being” to an emphasis on “becoming,” with The Science of Logic constituting from “becoming” to “(be)coming” (as I like to put it). The deep ontoepistemology of “(be)coming” is what makes phenomenological “becoming” possible (as A/B makes “adjacency” possible), and what we must be “toward” if we are to avoid effacement, but we cannot as human beings ever phenomenologically experience “(be)coming,” only perhaps some degree of “becoming,” and frankly we most naturally experience “being.” This is a big problem, because that suggests we are “twice removed” from “(be)coming,” all the way back in “being.” To get to “(be)coming,” we first have to go through Phenomenology of Spirit to get from “being” to “becoming,” but then we can enter The Science of Logic into “(be)coming” and leave the earlier Hegel behind (as Hegel himself suggested) — in however way it is that “sublation” leaves something behind while at the same time not. In this way, Phenomenology of Spirit is a kind of “preparing and tilling the soil,” whereas The Science of Logic is the seed and plant. Without moving into “becoming,” we cannot be ready to move into “(be)coming,” but once “(be)coming” blossoms, do we focus on the dirt or the ground? The planet becomes primary, though at the same time we should ignore the plant unless we are to accidentally kill the plant by not keeping the ground rightly fertilized or watered. In this way, we can never forsake the need to, in our phenomenological experience, regularly “choose becoming,” because it is only in that state (which requires action and active choosing) that we have any hope of being “toward” “(be)coming.” “Becoming” runs the risk of practically becoming a concept as stable and “unsurprising” as “being,” and yet moving from “being” to “becoming” is a precondition if we are to have any chance of moving from “becoming” to “(be)coming.”
²³Allusion to “Almost Is Good Enough” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
²⁴For more on Bergson and Whitehead, please see the incredible YouTube channel, “Footnotes2Plato,” from whom I have learned much:
²⁵For more on the incredible Vico, please see my discussion with Davood Gozli and John David, “Giambattista Vico & the New Science,” as can be found here:
²⁶Allusion to “Almost Is Good Enough” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
²⁷Allusion to “Almost Is Good Enough” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
²⁸Allusion to “Almost Is Good Enough” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
²⁹Hegel. G.W.F. The Science of Logic. Translated by A.V. Miller. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1990: 170.
³⁰Hegel. G.W.F. The Science of Logic. Translated by A.V. Miller. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1990: 170.
³¹Allusion to “Almost Is Good Enough” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
³²Allusion to “Almost Is Good Enough” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
³³Allusion to “Almost Is Good Enough” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
³⁴Allusion to “Almost Is Good Enough” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
³⁵Allusion to “Almost Is Good Enough” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
³⁶Allusion to “Almost Is Good Enough” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
³⁷Hegel. G.W.F. The Science of Logic. Translated by A.V. Miller. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1990: 165.
³⁸Hegel. G.W.F. The Science of Logic. Translated by A.V. Miller. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1990: 165.
³⁹Hegel. G.W.F. The Science of Logic. Translated by A.V. Miller. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1990: 165.
⁴⁰Hegel. G.W.F. The Science of Logic. Translated by A.V. Miller. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1990: 165.
⁴¹There seems to be a “determinate being” which defines itself apart from void (A/A), then a “determinate being” which identifies with it (A/B), suggesting a movement like what is found in Hume regarding philosophy. I almost wonder if we can make a distinction between “determinate being” (A/A) and “determining being” (A/B), but I’m not sure (the “ing” is meant to suggest perpetual openness).
⁴²Hegel. G.W.F. The Science of Logic. Translated by A.V. Miller. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1990: 166.
⁴³Hegel. G.W.F. The Science of Logic. Translated by A.V. Miller. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1990: 166.
⁴⁴Hegel. G.W.F. The Science of Logic. Translated by A.V. Miller. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1990: 166.
⁴⁵Hegel. G.W.F. The Science of Logic. Translated by A.V. Miller. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1990: 167.
⁴⁶This is by Mr. Alex Ebert on Hegel, as exchanged on the Intellectual Dark Web, hosted by Alexander Bard.
⁴⁷As discussed throughout O.G. Rose, I personally think is only possible if we make a “real choice” and totally commit ourselves to this (painful) process. Nothing will “feel real” until we make this radical commitment, but “feeling real” requires us to “encounter the Real” — and that is hard.
⁴⁸This is by Mr. Alex Ebert on Hegel, as exchanged on the Intellectual Dark Web, hosted by Alexander Bard.
⁴⁹This is by Mr. Alex Ebert on Hegel, as exchanged on the Intellectual Dark Web, hosted by Alexander Bard.
⁵⁰This is by Mr. Alex Ebert on Hegel, as exchanged on the Intellectual Dark Web, hosted by Alexander Bard.
⁵¹This is by Mr. Alex Ebert on Hegel, as exchanged on the Intellectual Dark Web, hosted by Alexander Bard.
⁵²This is by Mr. Alex Ebert on Hegel, as exchanged on the Intellectual Dark Web, hosted by Alexander Bard.
⁵³Allusion to “Almost Is Good Enough” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
⁵⁴Allusion to “Almost Is Good Enough” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
⁵⁵Allusion to “Almost Is Good Enough” by Layman Pascal, as can be found here:
⁵⁶Allusion to “Pascal’s Metaphysics of Adjacency” by Cadell Last, as can be found here:
⁵⁷Allusion to “Pascal’s Metaphysics of Adjacency” by Cadell Last, as can be found here:
⁵⁸This point further aligns Hegel with Nietzsche, I believe.
⁵⁹Allusion to “Pascal’s Metaphysics of Adjacency” by Cadell Last, as can be found here:
⁶⁰Allusion to “Pascal’s Metaphysics of Adjacency” by Cadell Last, as can be found here:
⁶¹Hegel. G.W.F. The Science of Logic. Translated by A.V. Miller. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1990: 164.
1. The goal of A/A is “the true self” (an effacement), while the goal of A/B is “the intrinsically motivated self.”
2. Javier Rivera brilliantly reflected on how our interpretation of space becomes the foundation organizing our rationality, and indeed it is possible that our understanding of space and time tends to be “the first” nonrationality we ascribe to that consequently organizes rationality. This is easily why it’s the case that we will not take seriously A/B-thinking of the MCE until we understand Whitehead and Bergson. Furthermore, I believe that if “the phenomenology of the artist” helps constitute our “nonrational foundation,” and that the “aesthetic act” is an emotional experience of time.
3. In thinking, A/A and space place a role; in perception, we experience A/B and time/change.
4. Raymond K. Hessel made an excellent point: if 100% is possible to us, pain becomes unbearable. 100% is insanely fragile, while 99% is antifragile.
5. Generally, I would say theology is naturally more MCE than philosophy, though at the same time it is also more vulnerable to Gnosticism, Platonism, and the like.
6. We might associate Modernism with “unknowability” and overlooking The Science of Logic, while the Modern Counter-Enlightenment movement focuses on “the unknown” and manifesting The Science of Logic.
7. The work of Quinn Whelehan is invaluable, as can be found in “Hegel, Mahayana Buddhism, & The Becoming of Spirit.”
8. I do wonder if the only way to live with A/B is to be a Lot who resists the temptation to look back at his wife. Is this what it means to maintain “the clearing” in Heidegger? Was our freedom found “in” the Garden because of the fruit which had this “enabling function” so long as it was not eaten?
9. Without “givens,” we don’t know where to direct our ambiguities and abstractions, and yet problematically “givens” direct our ambiguities and abstractions…
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Modern counter-enlightenment is an interesting term. This paper is just a massive exposition of thought, very thorough work here! Reaching to organize many different thinkers across a broad landscape of ideas, into a coherent and concise framework. I very much appreciate this headway into sense making.
I take it that A / A here refers to analysis, while A / B refers to synthesis. This is an old division of schools in geometry, that goes back to Apollonius of Perga and Euclid. Cartesian geometry is analytic geometry that uses an algebraic method (using the coordinate plane). And thus the invention of the differential calculus by Leibniz and Newtown is also analytic (A / A), and is the basis of neo-classical economics and introductory classical physics. Euclid actually wrote another book called *Data* that had the same proofs as the first five books of the *Elements* but in analytic form, rather than the synthetic geometry method of the Elements.
I think a question for the presumptions of material science is whether Cartesian analytic geometry needs to be algebraic/quantitative, or whether there can be a *purely analytic geometry* that is qualitative primarily and also quantitative, that describes the common sense view of the world, and uses similarity (analogy) and congruence relations instead of equality relations. This is what Leibniz attempts to prove in his work On Analysis Situs, and succeeds in my view.
Immanuel Kant made famous the prominent the priority of the *synthetic* approach over the analytic, asking the question, how are the synthetic a priori statements possible? Meaning how is it that we *derive* that 5 + 7 is equivalent to 12, when it is not obvious beforehand through normal experience (analytically) that 7 + 5 is equivalent to 12. He thought that the 12 appears as an insight or an intuition in the mind or intellect, almost like a revelation, when we work out 5 + 7. Note that the modern analytic school (logical positivism), rejects that mathematical statements such as 5 + 7 = 12 are synthetic. And the anti-modern take on the priority of the synthetic would be that it curtails the importance of eternal truths and Aristotle's embodied hylomorphism, wherein experience and intellect are completely integrated, holistically. The Aristotelian notion of the forms is as perfectly embodied, not disconnected rational constructs. And I very much appreciate your approach in this paper, as to try to form a bridge between that ancient view and the modern Hegelian view. I take this to be the vision of the perennial philosophy.
Kant's insights into the synthetic regard gave rise to the entire movement of German idealism -- many consider it to have been the most fertile movement in philosophy since Ancient Greece -- many immense thinkers like Goethe, Fichte, Schelling, Schiller, von Humboldt, and of course Hegel, and many others. The foundations of the modern research university.
I have written a paper recently, regarding the difference/relation between A / A and A / B. https://dionysiosareopagite.substack.com/p/being-and-analogy , FWIW I consider A / A as necessity or eternity while A / B is contingency or temporality, and try to show how the latter is derived from the former. I think it makes sense to emphasize that we cannot reach eternity within time, and the attempt to do so through modern material science methods is futile, thus the emphasis in your paper on A / B as 99% over A / A as 100%. Eternity ought to be approached and approximated without ever presuming to have been attained, which is the conceit and the pride of materialistic science models like the standard model or the periodic table or the theory of evolution.