Monday, September 15, 2008

The unforseeable, the unanticipatable, the non-masterable, non-identifiable

Re: Myth of the given theurj said Yesterday, 9:52 AM:
Regarding Habermas' intersubjective lifeworld via communicative reason as a form of foundationalism inherited from Kant, Habbie has this to say in PT:

“The concept of communicative reason is still accompanied by the shadow of a transcendental illusion. Because the idealizing presuppositions of communicative action must not be hypostatized into the ideal of a future condition in which a definitive understanding has been reached, this concept must be approached in a sufficiently skeptical manner. A theory that leads to believe in the attainability of a rational ideal would fall back behind the level of argumentation reached by Kant. It would also abandon the materialistic legacy of the critique of metaphysics. The moment of unconditionality that is preserved in the discursive concepts of a fallibilistic truth and morality is not an absolute, or it is at most an absolute that has become fluid as a critical procedure. Only with this residue of metaphysics can we do battle against the transfiguration of the world through metaphysical truths…Communicative reason is of course a rocking hull-but it does not go under in the sea of contingencies, even if shuddering in high seas is the only mode in which it copes with these contingencies” (144).
Morris is not convinced though. Habermas tries to preserve the lifeworld from being radically indeterminate with his communicative reason, which, as we have seen, still leaves traces of a Kantian rational ideal. Haberams fears that without this quasi-transcendent, “rocking boat” form of reason we'd be lost in the “high sea of contingencies.” Whereas Morris says Derrida embraces radical indeterminacy without intersubjective agreement and it doesn't have the dour consequences Habermas supposes.
Morris says: “For Derrida, by contrast, what is indeconstructible [khora] is rather the formless, structureless space in-between, the abyss or chasm ‘in' which the cleavages between the sensible and intelligible, body and soul, can have a place and take place. It is this shuddering spacing without end and without bottom which gives rise and receives-give form by receiving imprint and inscription or by containing, without being either surface or receptacle, mother or nurse. It would only be this level, the spacing of deconstruction itself, that could be beyond the operation of the latter. This is not difference or differance, nor is it God, but it might be the condition of all, the condition for the very existence of politics and God” (DHR 242).
Now by the sound of it khora might be considered some form of at least quasi-transcendental foundation, the likes of Wilber's consciousness per se, as the completely open ground from which phenomena arise. But the latter suggests a foundational ground that existed prior to phenomena. Buddhist emptiness might likewise be considered a similar foundational ground if reified. But much like the emptiness of emptiness non-doctrine that prevents such reification, where emptiness itself is dependently arisen, so too with khora because it does not exist in as a fixed thing in anterior temporality. To the contrary its metaphor is more one of the empty spacing of the interval between sounds in music, without which they'd have no meaning or context. Or the spacing between words in this sentence and in the surrounding “margins” of the page. Hence it is the metaphor of the “margins.” However, without the words and their meaning a black page is nothing in itself. And that nothing is neither Buddhist emptiness nor Derridean khora.
Another perspective on this is “the non-identical condition of all identities. Every identity is non-identical in itself because it depends on difference with and to an other; no identity exists a priori or can be constituted in a singularly original way. This is not quite an assertion of the unavoidability of intersubjectivity but rather that of the radical incompleteness of any identity or subject, for non-identity is required to complete any recognition at all” (DHR 247).
So how then do we use such radical indeterminacy and openness to practical effect? How do we keep if from being just a flaland pluralism wherein everything is equal since there is no universal ground upon which to judge? I will let Morris and Derrida speak here, as they are far more articulate than I am:
“A democratic vision consistent with these unsettling and critical conditions must promote the recognition and exploration of the non-identical ‘grounds' of identity…. The result is a ‘philosophy of the limit' whose quasi-transcendental universal call denies the possibility of any metalanguage while trying to achieve ‘the effects of metalanguage'…. [it] need not, however, produce consensus or be oriented toward agreement as the result, but rather primarily intends understanding and an opening to the other….the call for a profound understanding that arises from the irreplaceable place in which identities gather themselves is a call for an openness to the new, to the unique other: ‘it should be anticipated as the unforseeable, the unanticipatable, the non-masterable, non-identifiable, in short, as that of which one does not yet have a memory'.
“This is why all insights into radical indeterminacy should not lead to utterly relativist or merely ‘social constructionist' conclusions: identity is and is not identical (with itself). There is no having one without the other. One deconstructs down to nothing (for no referent exists, finally), but the fact that there is no true origin or reliable stability to any identity does not mean that what identity names historically is not material and that its existence is not important for the political response to questions of recognition and understanding.
“More than this, however, the stress on the dynamic relations of identity and non-identity is also key if the positive effective of a deconstructive universal are to be realized. Speaking of the idea of ‘Europe', Derrida argues against the reconstitution of Europe's ‘centralizing hegemony' but also against a mere anti-hegemony of particularist assertions. One must not simply ‘multiply the borders, i.e., the movements and margins. It is necessary not to cultivate for their own sake minority differences, untranslatable idiolects, national antagonisms, or the chauvinisms of idiom'. But, he continues, responsibility consists
‘in renouncing neither of these two contradictory imperatives. One must therefore try to invent gestures, discourses, politico-institutional practices that inscribe the alliance of these two imperatives, of these two promises or contracts: the capital and the a-capital. That is not easy. It is even impossible to conceive of a responsibility that consists in being responsible for two laws, or that consists in responding to two contradictory injunctions. No doubt. But there is no responsibility that is not the experience and experiment of the impossible…. European cultural identity, like identity or identification in general, if it must be equal to itself and to the other, up to the measure of its own and immeasruable difference with ‘itself,' belongs, therefore must belong, to this experience and experiment of the impossible' (DHR 248-9). permalink

Re: Myth of the given theurj said Yesterday, 10:31 AM:
The following excerpt reminds me of how Derrida's description of khora is again like Nagarjuna's anti-thesis via the tetralemma. From On the Name, Stanford: SUP, 1995, p. 89:
“One cannot even say that it is neither this nor that, or that it is both this and that.” permalink

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