Talk on Kant and Hadot – Philosophy as Spiritual Exercise

The philosopher Pierre Hadot famously advocated for an image of philosophy as a way of life. For Hadot, philosophical insight emerges in the context of the spiritual exercises he collected under the term askēsis. Examples of askēsis include contemplative prayer, meditation, fasting, examinations of conscience, dialectics, discursive reasoning, physical training, aesthetics, and visionary experience.

It was Hadot’s emphasis on spiritual exercise that led him to affirm Henri Bergson’s definition of philosophy as a transformation of perception. But in what does this transformation consist? More specifically, what is the relation between askēsis and perception? We all know practices work, but how do they work?

Using resources from phenomenology and transcendental philosophy, I will show that askēsis acts upon what phenomenologists call the intentional structure of perception, and that what is shaped through such practice is the manifold of sensibility described in transcendental philosophy. What emerges from this discussion is a view of perception as itself a type of practice, where attention is an act of shaping the arrangement of consciousness. Philosophy, then, is the art of folding the manifold.

Spiritual Exercises

Since the whole complement of human concerns are involved in philosophical practice, the phrase spiritual exercises is the only term wide enough to capture the full activity of philosophy. Hadot is worth quoting at length on this point:

The expression [spiritual exercises] is a bit disconcerting for the contemporary reader. In the first place, it is no longer quite fashionable these days to use the word “spiritual.” It is nevertheless necessary to use the term, I believe, because none of the other adjectives we could use—“psychic,” “moral,” “ethical,” “intellectual,” “of thought,” “of the soul”—covers all the aspects of the reality we want to describe. Since, in these exercises, it is thought which, as it were, takes itself as its own subject-matter, and seeks to modify itself, it would be possible for us to speak in terms of “thought exercises.” Yet the word “thought” does not indicate clearly enough that imagination and sensibility play a very important role in these exercises. For the same reason, we cannot be satisfied with “intellectual exercises,” although such intellectual factors as definition, division, ratiocination, reading, investigation, and rhetorical amplification play a large role in them. “Ethical exercises” is a rather tempting expression, since, as we shall see, the exercises in question contribute in a powerful way to the therapeutics of the passions, Yet, here again, this would be too limited a view of things . . . The word “spiritual” is quite apt to make us understand that these exercises are the result, not merely of thought, but of the individual’s entire psychism.

Hadot writes

“We can define philosophical discourse as a spiritual exercise—in other words, as a practice intended to carry out a radical change in our being,” where a spiritual exercise is defined most generally as any “voluntary, personal practices intended to cause a transformation of the self.”

Practice delivers insight.

Askēsis

Exercise or training aimed at a transformation or overcoming of the self by the self — examples include contemplative prayer, meditation, fasting, examinations of conscience, dialectics, discursive reasoning, physical training, aesthetics, and visionary experience.

Askēsis is a practice of self-discipline (from the Greek σκησις, “exercise” or “training”), and lists examples including training the body, athletic exercise, training the senses, and communing with the divine. Terms like ascetic and ascetism are also linked to notions of self-discipline but carry a greater emphasis on abstinence and austerity.

The etymology suggests connections to asketikos, defined as “rigorously self-disciplined, laborious,” which is connected to asketes, “monk, hermit,” and “skilled worker, one who practices an art or trade,” as well as askein “to exercise, train” (with specific reference to athletic competition), but also “to fashion material, embellish or refine material.”

Thomas Merton offers a helpful description of asceticism, which speaks to its broad applicably across domains. He writes, “It [ascetisim] comes from the Greek askein: to adorn, to prepare by labor, to make someone adept by exercises. . . . It was applied to physical culture, moral culture, and finally religious training. It means, in short, training—spiritual training.”

Along these lines, many ascetic practices have been concerned with the development of the inner and outer senses, in other words, with the development of perceptual ability, seen both as the introspective quality of attention to oneself and as the refinement of the body’s senses.

The sense I take from these passages is that askēsis may often involve renunciation of some kind, and in that sense it does point to a kind of rejection, but this act should be understood as a productive rejection. In other words, something new is acquired through the deployment of renunciation.

Method – A Contemplative Attitude

My approach to transcendental philosophy and phenomenology.

Transcendental philosophy as contemplative practice – “Contemplation” in three senses: As an (1) “an act of looking at attentively,” (2) “to mark out a space for observation,” (3) “a meditative practice in which a person seeks to pass beyond intellectual reasoning or reflection to a direct experience of the divine or infinite.”

A little bit textual justification. Hadot writes, “The entire edifice of critical Kantian philosophy has meaning only from the perspective of wisdom, or rather from that of the sage.”

Kant:

A hidden Idea of philosophy has long been present among men. Yet either they have not understood it, or else they have considered it a contribution to erudition. If we take the ancient Greek philosophers—such as Epicurus, Zeno, Socrates—we discover that the principle object of their science has been the destination of man, and the means to achieve it. They thus remained more faithful to the true Idea of the philosopher than has been the case in modern times, when we encounter the philosopher only as an artist of reason.

Here we see Kant passing from the limits of reason, to the beyond of something called wisdom, which we can link to a certain contemplative practice, or what we call transcendental philosophy.

This is how two of Kant’s translators, Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood, describe Kant’s method of philosophy:

“This new science, which Kant calls ‘transcendental’ (A11/B25), does not deal directly with objects of empirical cognition, but investigates the conditions of possibility of our experience of them by examining the mental capacities that are required for us to have any cognition of objects at all.” (The so-called Copernican Revolution)

In essence, Guyer and Wood are saying that Kant’s insight was to move away from studying experience as it appears to us and towards experience as it is constructed by the faculties we bring to bear on it. We’re trying to get behind experience to its structures and sources, to the way experience is made to appear as such.

In other words, Kant was highlighting that the type of experience one is capable of having is related to the structures or capacities of the person having the experience. Kant’s philosophy is a contemplative approach to the workings of the mind and its structures. As Matthew T. Segall notes, “The works of the German idealists are better read as a series of meditative exercises to be practiced than they are a series of arguments to be memorized and codified.”

So I see here some links between askēsis, contemplation, and transcendental philosophy, but I also see this as a phenomenological project in the sense that what I’m doing today is pointing to structures, practices, and faculties that you can examine for yourself. And indeed, the value of what I’m saying isn’t really even secured by argument, but by this phenomenological mode of gesturing towards a set of philosophical maneuvers you can perform in your own life.

And so this attitude of foregrounding askēsis in a practical and phenomenological mode sets up what I think can serve as a general account of the relation between askēsis and perception, an account that has as one of its features the particularity of your own concrete situation. That said, I will give you what I think is a coherent argument for the relation between askēsis and perception, and it starts with a few of the resources we get from Kant’s transcendental philosophy.

Sensibility and Understanding

The Copernican Revolution: The revolution Kant wants to undertake involves a sort of field reversal — instead of assuming that our cognition conforms to the objects around us, Kant suggests that we explore what happens if we assume that the objects around us conform to the shape of our cognition.

Now, we don’t have time to explore every element of this reversal, so I just want to focus in on a few paragraphs in The Critique of Pure Reason where he argues there are two basic sources for our cognition — sensibility and understanding.

Here’s Kant:

Our cognition arises from two fundamental sources in the mind, the first of which is the reception of representations (the receptivity of impressions), the second the faculty for cognizing an object by means of these representations (spontaneity of concepts); through the former an object is given to us, through the latter it is thought in relation to that representation (as a mere determination of the mind). Intuition and concepts therefore constitute the elements of all our cognition, so that neither concepts without intuition corresponding to them in some way nor intuition without concepts can yield a cognition. (A50/B74)

So we can see that for Kant sensibility and understanding come together in each moment of cognition, but as our two basic faculties they involve two different types of content: The understanding is conceptual, discursive, and involves thought. Sensibility involves intuitions, sense perception, and images.

Those of you familiar with this system will know that a concept is a general, universal representation expressed discursively—it’s a way of placing a thing into a category—while an intuition is immediate, object-dependent, and externally caused—It is roughly speaking a sense impression entering cognition from the outside, a way of being responsive to the particularity of your environment.

One further feature I want to highlight here is that both concepts and intuitions execute automatically; this is we could say a pre-conscious process, so that whatever it is that shows up for you in awareness has already been through this process of semantic organization. Kantians call this kind of cognition issuing a judgment, but this isn’t a judgment in the sense of making a conscious evaluation. It is instead the very act of bringing the objects of experience into your awareness as those objects, and this involves the act of synthesizing together the qualities, properties, and relations that we take to be essential to the objects we experience. The sum of these synthetic acts is what’s called the manifold.

The manifold, then, is all of the given intuitions synthesized in a specific scenario as coordinated with the understanding, or its taking of the manifold to be in a certain way. Perception, then, is a composition performed by the subject, and this performance, I’m suggesting, is precisely what’s true through ascetic practice.

So just to repeat, we’re talking about two sources of cognition—sensibility and understanding—that come together in each moment of perception and this coming together involves a judgment, which means something like taking a stance, automatically and pre-reflectively, about what is currently being rendered in your perception; it’s about fashioning mental representations of what’s being delivered to the understanding through sensibility. The key here is that at least some of this process involves spontaneity, which means that part of our perceiving is open to creative reconstruction, and this requires our active participation, and opens our perception to certain degrees of freedom.

I won’t delve too far into the details here, but some Kant scholars, like Henry Allison, argue that spontaneity occurs only on the side of the understanding, while others, like Thomas Land, believe that spontaneity exists both in the mode of sensibility and the understanding. I’m inclined to agree with Thomas Land, as it seems that even what we think of as physiological sense impressions are open to creative reconstruction, refashioning, and redirection (perceptual learning). It also makes sense of why ascetic practices, whether they or full nondiscursive, nonanalytic, nonverbal activities seem be able to deliver not just a reorientation of the senses, but also a reorientation of the understanding. And the reverse seems also to be true. So what’s going on here?

Phenomenology, Intentionality, Skilled Intentionality

This effort of investigating the structures that deliver experience to us is shared by phenomenologists like Dan Zahavi. Zahavi describes phenomenology in the following way:

Phenomenology pays attention to the givenness of the object, but it does not simply focus on the object exactly as it is given; it also focuses on the subjective side of consciousness, thereby illuminating our subjective accomplishments and the intentionality that is at play in order for the object to appear as it does . . . when we investigate appearing objects, we also disclose ourselves as datives of manifestation, as those to whom objects appear.

Zahavi’s quote is filled with technical terms that are worth unpacking. When, for instance, phenomenologists use the word “intentionality” they don’t mean it in the common way of “doing something on purpose,” but rather as a term to center on the aboutness or directedness of ordinary conscious experience.

In other words, intentionality is a word for noting that ordinary episodes of lived experience are always directed towards some object, thought, event, belief, or feeling. You can check this out in your own experience right now. Note that it’s always about flowers or books or records or love or justice or tomorrow or San Francisco. These episodes of aboutness pass by without any effort on your part; they are an automatic feature of the flow of conscious experience. Now, how these phenomena appear in the experience of the individual is described in terms of their “givenness” to consciousness. This is where TSV comes back in.

For phenomenologists like Zahavi, episodes of conscious experience are always related to the ways acts of intentionality render phenomena in perception, and thus the skills of intentionality one possesses are best read as subjective accomplishments; they are efforts of perception that give phenomena to experience in different ways. Perception on this view is a kind of active participation with events rather than a merely passive reception of them. Experiences of understanding a phenomenon to be a certain way—to mean what it does to the individual having the experience—then vary in accordance with the skills of perception the individual brings to the encounter.

The phenomenologist responds to this dynamic by investigating the gap between the intentional representations of a phenomenon as it is given to consciousness and the intrinsic properties of the phenomenon itself, reasoning that oftentimes what we take to be differences attributed to the properties of objects are better understood as differences in intentional attitudes issuing from the subject. As Zahavi says, “The same object, with the exact same worldly properties, can present itself in a variety of manners.”

If the world as it is given to us is related to our acts of intentionality—in other words, to our sense-making capacities—and if the same phenomena can show up in multiple ways to multiple people, then it follows that how we get something to “show up” for us in experience is related to the skills of perception that we bring to bear on it. This was my point about the architect, the meditator, and the carpenter mentioned at the beginning of this essay: Each of these people has learned to perceive the world in a certain manner; they get it to “show up” in a meaningful way that’s related not only to the basic mode of intentionality that’s connected to the bringing to presence of objects as such, but also to modes of skilled or advanced intentionality that let the expert practitioner see the world in a unique way.

The philosopher Alva Noë offers some important insights for understanding the nature of skilled perception. Noë to my mind argues convincingly that we shouldn’t think of perception as a step-wise sequence of events that moves from basic sensation (perception), to representation (conception), to reference (words). Instead, Noë argues, when we look at our sensing we find that sensation, representation, and reference tend to emerge in perception already entangled in each moment of experience. Another way of saying this is that for Noë perception and understanding arrive together in awareness. He puts it this way, “Perceptual experience can enable us to be aware of things only given the coinvolvement of understanding.”

What, then, accounts for these differences in presentation? And how does these differences relate to practice?

Askēsis and Perception

Practice delivers insight (reprise).

1. Sensible intuitions can form spontaneous judgments on their own, without the understanding’s propositional and conceptual structure.

2. Sensible spontaneity opens the door to novel forms of empirical construction in perception.

3. Nonpropositional exercises that act in the mode of sensible intuition are still open to the faculty of the understanding and can be made available on those terms.

4. Propositional claims about a state of affairs don’t hold a monopoly on intelligence, understanding, interpretation, etc. Nonpropositional activities can yield propositional insights, and propositional activities can yield nonpropositional change.

Examples

Physical forms of askēsis — Jiu-Jitsu, yoga, trials of physical endurance.

Evagrius:

One of these ascetic practices, or rather a group of them, was concerned with defending against the logizmoi (or “afflicting thoughts”) of the demons who sought to turn people away from God. Part of Evagrian askēsis, then, is combat, rooted in demonology. Given continues,

The purpose of demonological knowledge in Evagrian monasticism is combat: to build a repertoire of gestures and maneuvers, which is just as important to the monastic art as knowledge of the hierarchy of demons. Evagrian knowledge is tactical. To that end, Evagrius gives indications not only of things, but also and primarily of ways, modes of encounter, learned maneuvers, tactics of opposition. He gives ascetic choreographic indications.

The examples one finds here include fasting, and more precisely, prayers and scriptures read to ensure that the fast is a success; these are words spoken to stave off the threat of gluttony, the desire to break the fast and fulfill the body’s urges. Given writes, “Even the very act of reciting scripture moves the monk interiorly, bringing him to a posture incompatible with gluttony.” This is how theoria comports with praktikē, or rather becomes a mode of praktikē: The discursive knowledge (activated in prayer or scripture) becomes the means by which the body re-directs itself towards its practical aim. Theoria is its own askēsis.

Martin Laird:

I paraphrase Laird’s instructions: He says to find a stable posture, breathe deeply from the abdomen, exhale longer than you inhale, recite to yourself a prayer word, place your attention on the breath, let the breath, the prayer word, and your attention grow together, and when you get distracted, relocate your attention to the breath and the prayer word. Repeat. Laird is an important contributor to this discussion both because of the specificity of his instruction, and because of his active influence on ascetic practice today. “Those who discover the wisdom of the breath,” Laird says, “find it a great refuge that grounds the mental calm that contemplative practice cultivates.” This kind of meditative practice is askēsis in one of its contemplative and religious modes.

5 Comments

  1. could hear you fine thanks for sharing adam, don’t know that we can say that modes of practice are all equal/same in the results that they might offer as I imagine that being conceptually bound as they are (as say Evan outlines in relation to Buddhist Enlightenments) they will bear different fruits and until we’ve tested them as folks are starting to do now with insight meditation and the rest, no?
    My own sense is that the nascent work in phenomenological enactivism gives us new ways of assembling such possibilities of grasping the conditions for the possibilities that folks like M-Ponty just started to flesh out.
    Given the socially constructed nature of thinking/feeling/language etc maybe at the remove (step back) of neuroKantian philosophy there isn’t a hard line between what we call imagination, memory, reasoning, etc but rather an intermingling/interdependence?
    https://syntheticzero.net/2018/02/02/being-a-beast-machine-in-world-of-controlled-hallucinations/

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    • I think this is right on both accounts, and I didn’t mean to sound like all practices are equal or the same, just that they’re equally practices that cross all kinds of disciplines and can create change equally unexpected and diverse ways.

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      • very good, yes we need to test them and to reflect on them as Evan is doing in relation to his Buddhist leanings, too many folks are adopting past practices (and their related rhetorics/justifications) on blind faith and with some deep belief in arche-ology that belies how constructive/synthetic human-being is, too many versions of the Great Fall and Recovery, ever onward…

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  2. ps for me enactivism (with it’s Gibsonian eco-psyche roots) gives us a way to make use of bits from folks like Lingis without his need for maps or other structuralist hangovers (and without his Romanticizing psychosis) :
    “The Enlightenment had contrasted real perception and memory with fantasy, and had taken myths to be but the collective fantasies of a people. But anthropologists today hold that a myth must be seen as a map of the environment. It is a diagram using general categories to link together classes of things in particular ways, a way to organize the disparate things of the environment in a meaningful pattern. A myth is a collective symbolic structure shared by the members of a community.

    But there is always a gap between the general categories used in the myth and the concrete and particular environment in which any individual lives and acts. Shamans and healers work to integrate individuals into the understanding of the community and into the community by dramatically reenacting the great mythic conflicts and victories in the bodies of their clients.

    Some studies by Claude Lévi-Strauss had particular influence on Jacques Lacan, and thus on Zizek. It happens that two societies, and two myths, enter into contact. The Islam of the Arab invaders and the old Zoroastrianism of the Persians. The white mythology of priests and missionaries and the old African mythologies of enslaved peoples in Mississippi, in Brazil, in Haiti. Now there is a gap between two competing mythologies.

    It is in this in-between zone, where the two cultures and mythical systems imperfectly overlap, that the medicine men, faith healers, revival meeting preachers, and voodoo priestesses work. They work to bridge the gap between the universal categories of the myths and the concrete experience of the people. They interpret the enslavement and deportation from Africa to Brazil, Haiti, and Mississippi in terms of the deportation and enslavement of the Jews in Egypt. They identify the triumphant white-skinned saints set up in the altars of Catholicism, St George and St James, with Ogun and Olodum, African gods of thunder and bloodshed.

    They work piecemeal, rather like jurisprudence works. For lawyers and judges do not simply have available the universal laws to apply to particular cases. There are always new cases, new crimes, white collar crimes, Internet crimes, and cases for which there are no laws. Lawyers and judges work with cases, individual cases, and connect them with previous cases, working piecemeal. Similarly, medicine men, healers, and Voodoo priestesses do not all subscribe to a common Creed and Confession. They deal with concrete cases, with individuals who come to them because they are at their wits’ end, because the ordinary medical doctors have no cure for their sickness. The healers, and Voodoo priestesses work by “bricolage,” that is, by tinkering with the system, using parts of the Christian mythology and parts of the Aztec or Yoruba mythology to make sense of what is happening in this individual. They have to invent, to fill in the gaps, to work by inspiration. They improvise rituals and sacraments.”

    http://previous.focusing.org/apm_papers/lingis.html

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  3. this guy is trying to answer something like the question you got about what (if anything) is the overarching goal/measure of such practices with his own take on cosmopolitics:
    https://anarchai.blogspot.com/2019/10/la-cosmopolitica-de-la-metafisica-de.html
    The cosmopolitics of the metaphysics of the others
    Hilan Bensusan

    We begin with what I call the Bilawag-Binbin-Povinelli conception of attention. That is, we begin with perception. From an ontology of attention that presents it as the space of cosmopolitical disputes – and a central element of the difference between the successive moments of cosmopolitan history. If cosmopolitics is a constitution for practices – a configuration of an ecology of practices, in the sense of Isabelle Stengers – attention is one of its central elements, according to this conception. The Bilawag-Binbin-Povinelli (BBP) conception of perception includes it as acting, as protagonism and as an ability to receive effects. Perception enjoys great health: a relationship with the outside that constitutes the reverse of permanence.

    Elizabeth Povinelli, in her Geontologies, tries to contrast the carbonic imaginary that characterizes the late liberalism of the colonizer – with her assumptions that all existing must somehow be a living – with the geological, geographic and more indifferent imaginary to the death of the Aboriginal resistance in northern Australia. An element of this counter-imaginary is a metaphysics of attention span where perception is an orientation rather than a preamble of understanding. This conception of attention Povinelli learns with Bilawag and Binbin in his nomadism for northern Australia – Bilawag, Binbin and other women who form, with Povinelli, the Karrabing collective, educate her and the children at the same time, on the treatment of attention They conceive perception as the means where others try to capture the attention of those who perceive; The purpose is to attract, seduce the perceiver and redirect him. “Mud, oyster and the weight of my body,” writes Povinelli, “are interpreted dynamically in such a way that they produce a specific effect” (ch. 3, 93). Bilawag, Binbin and Povinelli describe the existing ones as springs of attention. Beauty, fear or rejection are ways of trying to attract the attention, perhaps always in excess, that each existing one has. The attention is already an orientation to the outside – its cosmopolitan is centered on the outside. Here perception and manifestation are together, one looks at what one looks because it is shown, manifest. The perceived phenomenon is not an exposure but a specific concealment – and the process of manifesting to seek attention is, for Povinelli, a materialization. Materialization is not an imposition, it is before an attempt to capture. If the attention is not obtained in one part, the manifestation is oriented in another part. She illustrates the orientation of materialization by writing about Tjipel. Tjipel was once a young woman who first became a young man and then, after an accident with an older man, in a stream. As a rock formation, it is the object of legal battle of the local population with mining. Povinelli says that, like a stream, Tjipel tries to get the attention of the population that lives nearby but if it becomes a mining area it is not that he will die, It will manifest itself in a way that will no longer attempt to attract the attention of these people. As a stream, Tjipel manifests itself in food – fish, seaweed – and water for the population. If you do not get more attention from these people and it becomes a mining area, it will be petrified for them; It will become a desert for them.

    The perception of a manifestation is a suture; Povinelli uses the expression in sutu. Suturing is the procedure of keeping tissues together after damage or injury. Calling attention is like acting on a wound, on a suture. The great health of perception is not a permanence, but a constant retraining based on an attention to manifestations. Things materialize so that they can be perceived, and materialize in a way that is visible and transparent to an existing one – to produce a specific effect. From the BBP conception of perception, receptivity is not a prelude to spontaneity, or a reporter of understanding, to produce a complete picture of the world, a total exposure but a specific revelation aimed at capturing some particular attention.

    The exteriority, in which the perception traffics; receptivity, which is the action of receiving or giving attention; and the exhibition is cosmopolitical: they produce a practice of perception and a practice with perceived things. For Povinelli, the cosmopolitical relationship that Bilawag and Binbin announce is one in which attention, and not life, is a central element. As the attention, although abundant, is not itself a file, she cannot be in a reserve like water or energy in a dam (she cannot be in Bestand, the word of Martin Heidegger). The attention comes and goes, like the focus on a conversation. Bilawag, Binbin and Povinelli believe that perception moves in the space of attention – and not the production of reports.

    Povinelli observes the similarity of the way of thinking this way with the philosophy of Alfred Whitehead’s organism. Materializations in search of attention are like Whitehead’s proposals – lure for feelings, decoys for feeling. That is, they are attempts to attract attention, to provoke, intensify or attenuate sensations. The sensitivity of the current entities around it shows, for Whitehead, that they have a sense of enjoyment, a challenge and a creative capacity. In his eighth Modes of Thought conference, called Nature Alive, Alfred Whitehead wonders what the organism character of the current entities corresponds to in the observation. His answer is a notion of observation beyond sensory dice – everything can offer and withdraw attention; everything can be redirected, attend and receive, as well as becoming a desert. The notion is that each current entity suffers the effects of the others – the body is a society of drops of experience. Thus, the experience of a body is in getting sick and in maintaining its great health, in falling in love or distancing itself, in getting used to something. All parts of the body receive effects by perception; that is, everything can be affected, or even, everything is a source of attention (and a manifestation to get attention).

    Whitehead agrees with the BBP conception that concrete is sensitive. Each materialization has its sensitivity – its sensorium – and its chances of being affected, governed perhaps by its ability to affect, to attract attention. Concrete is all that is at the mercy of attention baits. Bilawag and Binbin emphasize, meanwhile, that a demonstration genuinely interrupts materializations. While the current Whitehead entities have a challenge and a sense of enjoyment that orient their sensitivity that can be intensified, attenuated and to some extent guided by decoys, BBP materializations can change the orientations from an exterior absolute. The entire life project of Bilawag and Binbin can change if they find a manifestation that captures their attention. Perception guides life – sensibility is not docile, it is an opening. With BBP we can think about perception in a general economy, in the terms of Georges Bataille: perceiving is a constant trade with the excess that is always present. Sensitivity, like the rest of the body, is in the hands of excess – in the sense that it can always be supplemented, its past can be reconfigured and always requires a more or less urgent decision. It is interesting to compare this consequence of BBP with the Australian conception of dreams that, as emphasized by the anthropology of totemism – or, as Povinelli prefers, the anthropological mythology of totemism -, redirect the wakefulness of those who wake up. The dream, if we think so, resembles perception: both are openings to interruption – and openings to excess. With BBP we can think about perception in a general economy, in the terms of Georges Bataille: perceiving is a constant trade with the excess that is always present. Sensitivity, like the rest of the body, is in the hands of excess – in the sense that it can always be supplemented, its past can be reconfigured and always requires a more or less urgent decision. It is interesting to compare this consequence of BBP with the Australian conception of dreams that, as emphasized by the anthropology of totemism – or, as Povinelli prefers, the anthropological mythology of totemism -, redirect the wakefulness of those who wake up. The dream, if we think so, resembles perception: both are openings to interruption – and openings to excess. With BBP we can think about perception in a general economy, in the terms of Georges Bataille: perceiving is a constant trade with the excess that is always present. Sensitivity, like the rest of the body, is in the hands of excess – in the sense that it can always be supplemented, its past can be reconfigured and always requires a more or less urgent decision. It is interesting to compare this consequence of BBP with the Australian conception of dreams that, as emphasized by the anthropology of totemism – or, as Povinelli prefers, the anthropological mythology of totemism -, redirect the wakefulness of those who wake up. The dream, if we think so, resembles perception: both are openings to interruption – and openings to excess. perceiving is a constant trade with the excess that is always present. Sensitivity, like the rest of the body, is in the hands of excess – in the sense that it can always be supplemented, its past can be reconfigured and always requires a more or less urgent decision. It is interesting to compare this consequence of BBP with the Australian conception of dreams that, as emphasized by the anthropology of totemism – or, as Povinelli prefers, the anthropological mythology of totemism -, redirect the wakefulness of those who wake up. The dream, if we think so, resembles perception: both are openings to interruption – and openings to excess. perceiving is a constant trade with the excess that is always present. Sensitivity, like the rest of the body, is in the hands of excess – in the sense that it can always be supplemented, its past can be reconfigured and always requires a more or less urgent decision. It is interesting to compare this consequence of BBP with the Australian conception of dreams that, as emphasized by the anthropology of totemism – or, as Povinelli prefers, the anthropological mythology of totemism -, redirect the wakefulness of those who wake up. The dream, if we think so, resembles perception: both are openings to interruption – and openings to excess. Your past can be reconfigured and always requires a more or less urgent decision. It is interesting to compare this consequence of BBP with the Australian conception of dreams that, as emphasized by the anthropology of totemism – or, as Povinelli prefers, the anthropological mythology of totemism -, redirect the wakefulness of those who wake up. The dream, if we think so, resembles perception: both are openings to interruption – and openings to excess. Your past can be reconfigured and always requires a more or less urgent decision. It is interesting to compare this consequence of BBP with the Australian conception of dreams that, as emphasized by the anthropology of totemism – or, as Povinelli prefers, the anthropological mythology of totemism -, redirect the wakefulness of those who wake up. The dream, if we think so, resembles perception: both are openings to interruption – and openings to excess.

    The possibility of a change of orientation from abroad has many consequences. The current entities are hardly oriented for their enjoyment and are not even similar to each other. The very idea of ​​speculative projection of the known outward has to be reconsidered. If Whitehead offers a way to discard the idea of ​​a realitas that can be fully exposed – a product perhaps of the translation of energy today and not by act or work, in-ergo – its current entities are still always transparent to some other. Transparency makes the exterior in principle exposed: although if everything is exposed to something, it is not that everything is already exposed, transparency is anathema of exteriority.

    In a recent book, on deictic absolutes, I try to find a way to add to Whitehead’s perception philosophy the genuine interruption from the outside. I seek to inform the conception of Whitehead’s perception through the idea of ​​exteriority and demand of the other as they appear in Emmanuel Levinas. The purpose is to supplement Whietehad’s pan-perceptualism with the idea of ​​an absolute other, but also the conception of another with a human face that almost always appears in Levinas with the opening of Whitehead to current entities that are all drops of experience . Levinas contrasts precisely exteriority, and its transcendence, and totality. In the latter, there is a symmetry between the self and the other – the other of the other is me. The exteriority already presupposes an asymmetry; the other is a wound, one suture and I am his hostage in a sense that makes it impossible for the other to be (also) my hostage. The book seeks to understand as precisely the outside, the Great Outside (the Great Outdoors). Placing exteriority at the center of metaphysics is eliminating the entire scene. Not only is our access to it limited by what is intrinsically opaque, but reality is never complete and, therefore, cannot eliminate the outer edges. These edges are indispensable, there is no way to accommodate them all at once because the outward opening is an incurable suture – it does not recover from the outside, only great health can be achieved, which is like a way to constantly deal with excess in a general economy The exterior can thus be thought through two figures of cosmopolitan intensity: the notion of excess of Bataille’s general economy and the notion of supplement (or pharmakon) that Jacques Derrida uses in his efforts to think about writing, the transfiguration of the past, différance and trace – which is the very form of the other that It is never present and is none other than being, according to Levinas. But before considering the two figures, I would like to introduce two ideas that are in the book: the idea of ​​inevitability of the edges and the metaphysics of the others.
    By always having an exteriority, each thing is formed by an address; that is, it is like an interiority in the sense that it is formed by operators as itself, another, inside, outside, inside, outside. These operators – deictic – form the edges of what exists. The Great Outside positions each thing in a relative direction, which is like a situation in relation to other things and also a location that determines it; I could use Whitehead’s expersion here: a standi locus. The Great Outside is like a beach that determines the position of everything there is; It is perhaps like a location on the edge of being, to use an image of Fernando Pessoa. Being is the beach that ends with the sea, but the Great Outside locates something in the being – on the coast. It seems to me that even before an individuation, there is an outer edge. The interiority is in a process because of its deictic location. Its identity – which is a non-identity – is in its exteriority that is neither itself nor its own and is not even transparent. In contrast to the idea that things are substantial, the edges ensure an indexicalist conception according to which are the edges – and the names, the demonstrative pronouns, the locus standi – that determine a topicality. Indexicalism is formed by the inevitability of the Great Outside; so, if exteriority is a cosmopolitan, indexicalism is its ontology – but an ontology that, of course, is itself cosmopolitical. More precisely, it is both metaphysical and rejection of metaphysics. It is a paradoxical metaphysics, in the sense of Jon Cogburn: It is a metaphysics that offers an approach to the impossibility of metaphysics. That is, indexicalism is not an approach of the totality that decides cosmopolitical issues – a final cosmopolitan – but rather the study of the cosmopolitical limits of all ontology (or, at least, of all totality). The idea of ​​taking the Great Outside seriously, that is, there is something like a horizon that limits discourse (and ontological discourse). The metaphysics project itself is limited from the outside. And this allows us to think about the (cosmopolitical) relationships between metaphysics and its criticism. of all totality). The idea of ​​taking the Great Outside seriously, that is, there is something like a horizon that limits discourse (and ontological discourse). The metaphysics project itself is limited from the outside. And this allows us to think about the (cosmopolitical) relationships between metaphysics and its criticism. of all totality). The idea of ​​taking the Great Outside seriously, that is, there is something like a horizon that limits discourse (and ontological discourse). The metaphysics project itself is limited from the outside. And this allows us to think about the (cosmopolitical) relationships between metaphysics and its criticism.

    The idea of ​​metaphysics of others can be presented from a comment by Anna Tsing. At a conference in Brussels in 2016, Tsing says something like this: the task is twofold; first, to tell the world with our best capacities (of understanding, of sensations, of narrative capacity) but, second, to leave space in what is told for other versions, other narratives, other conceptions. We have seen each part of the task, excluding the other, and maybe we do it daily. The two meetings are like the company of metaphysics and the company of limiting it. And to limit it is to take into account the limits in the effort to tell the world with our best capabilities. The metaphysics of others is an attempt to do the double task. So, she wants to offer a general explanation of reality in such a way that genuine others are possible. The others are part of an image of reality in general, the physis of others – their exteriority, their ability to interrupt, their alternative – is part of a metaphysics where others are a central component. The metaphysics of others is thus paradoxical as indexicalism, which is a consequence: it is at the same time a metaphysics and its criticism or rejection. Thus, she herself is in a crosstalk, as in a conversation with the outside where a complete narration is possible only in vertigo. It is a metaphysics of incompleteness, exteriority, diaphony – and also of the supplement and the insufficiency that requires more, excessively more. the physis of others – their exteriority, their capacity for interruption, their alternative – is part of a metaphysics where others are a central component. The metaphysics of others is thus paradoxical as indexicalism, which is a consequence: it is at the same time a metaphysics and its criticism or rejection. Thus, she herself is in a diaphony, as in a conversation with the outside where a complete narration is possible only in vertigo. It is a metaphysics of incompleteness, exteriority, diaphony – and also of the supplement and the insufficiency that requires more, excessively more. the physis of others – their exteriority, their capacity for interruption, their alternative – is part of a metaphysics where others are a central component. The metaphysics of others is thus paradoxical as indexicalism, which is a consequence: it is at the same time a metaphysics and its criticism or rejection. Thus, she herself is in a diaphony, as in a conversation with the outside where a complete narration is possible only in vertigo. It is a metaphysics of incompleteness, exteriority, diaphony – and also of the supplement and the insufficiency that requires more, excessively more. which is a consequence: it is at the same time a metaphysics and its criticism or rejection. Thus, she herself is in a diaphony, as in a conversation with the outside where a complete narration is possible only in vertigo. It is a metaphysics of incompleteness, exteriority, diaphony – and also of the supplement and the insufficiency that requires more, excessively more. which is a consequence: it is at the same time a metaphysics and its criticism or rejection. Thus, she herself is in a crosstalk, as in a conversation with the outside where a complete narration is possible only in vertigo. It is a metaphysics of incompleteness, exteriority, diaphony – and also of the supplement and the insufficiency that requires more, excessively more.

    The metaphysics of others, in response to Tsing’s mandate, is a provision for interruption. As such, it is driven by external forces that, being endless, ensure that recalcitrant elements will not disappear – as the horizon does not disappear on a longer journey. As it is a paradoxical metaphysics, diaphony rather propagates dialetheas than those eradicated and replaced by a representation of reality that is coherent, neutral and complete. It is true that interruption is a methodological core within the metaphysics of others, but interruption is not simply an eagerness to evade. It is rather what causes the need to respond. The moment where the constructed nexus is insufficient – the moment where the recalcitrant appears or may appear – is the moment where one can emphasize a metaphysical assertion and abandon the metaphysics of others or follow it with its incompleteness and risks. (It is the moment where a docile sensibility can be made at all costs or, before, giving priority to the perception it interrupts.) The metaphysics of others is a consequence of the inevitability of the outside – the possible metaphysics and its criticism start Great Outside Tsing knows the dynamic and unstable nature of any attempt to execute the task he proposes. It is about living together – as in a conversation – with the outside, not integrating it. And, as in a conversation, the authorship of what is said is sympathetic and, To pass from Donna Haraway to her colleague Karen Barad, meets the universe halfway. Although the encounter is never more than a conversation.

    The metaphysics of others is perhaps thus a self-destructive metaphysics: it is destructive if we take the search for totality as an inextricable guide for all metaphysical things. Indexicalism is a metaphysics without totality and, in this sense, it is a departure from metaphysics: its relation to totalities can only be paradoxical. It follows that a general characteristic of reality is that there is no general characteristic of reality. The metaphysics of others implies that exteriority is a general characteristic of reality that dismantles any other. Insufficiency as a general character prevents completion: metaphysical insufficiency implies that it is not possible to complete it, either in the form of an original totality that has degenerated or as a goal to be achieved. Metaphysical insufficiency is what introduces the paradoxical character of metaphysical effort. Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui tells the story of the colonial Andes as a failure of the colonial purity project to establish a subordinate series of republics that represent themselves as countries like those in Europe, as institutions. Failure is impurity, or rather what she calls ch’ixi, an Aymara word for spotting or mottling. The idea of ​​ch’ixi is opposed to that of the hybrid: the first is an active friction between the poles that results in permanent recombination. The acceptance of the impure allows a new way of expressing what is proper in a stained and contaminated way. Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui tells the story of the colonial Andes as a failure of the colonial purity project to establish a subordinate series of republics that represent themselves as countries like those in Europe, as institutions. Failure is impurity, or rather what she calls ch’ixi, an Aymara word for spotting or mottling. The idea of ​​ch’ixi is opposed to that of the hybrid: the first is an active friction between the poles that results in permanent recombination. The acceptance of the impure allows a new way of expressing what is proper in a stained and contaminated way. Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui tells the story of the colonial Andes as a failure of the colonial purity project to establish a subordinate series of republics that represent themselves as countries like those in Europe, as institutions. Failure is impurity, or rather what she calls ch’ixi, an Aymara word for spotting or mottling. The idea of ​​ch’ixi is opposed to that of the hybrid: the first is an active friction between the poles that results in permanent recombination. The acceptance of the impure allows a new way of expressing what is proper in a stained and contaminated way. or rather what she calls ch’ixi, an Aymara word for spotting or mottling. The idea of ​​ch’ixi is opposed to that of the hybrid: the first is an active friction between the poles that results in permanent recombination. The acceptance of the impure allows a new way of expressing what is proper in a stained and contaminated way. or rather what she calls ch’ixi, an Aymara word for spotting or mottling. The idea of ​​ch’ixi is opposed to that of the hybrid: the first is an active friction between the poles that results in permanent recombination. The acceptance of the impure allows a new way of expressing what is proper in a stained and contaminated way.

    Rivera insists that ch’ixi opposes the ideas of syncretism, hybridization and the dialectic of synthesis, in search of one, overcoming contradictions through a third element, harmonious and complete in itself. The creative power lies in a persistent friction that should not be resolved through the integration or prevalence of a pole. There is no convergence. To be contaminated or stained is to have been complemented: traces of something external that amounts to incomplete. Rivera’s ch’ixi is a response to violent miscegenation and forced integration, something that is ch’ixi is contaminated by others, but it is not becoming one with others or others. It is not converting. Perhaps it is best described as something that reappears in itself after being interrupted by the outside. Rivera argues that there is a permanent struggle between the Indians (she prefers this word for political reasons) and the Europeans in Andean subjectivity. This struggle is an internal tension that contrasts with a single total vision and allows continuous and endless conversations. One thing does not eliminate or integrate into another. Like contaminated Andean submission to colonized standards, the local, the indexed and the underlying underlie the efforts to search for nouns while becoming invisible by them. Satisfying Tsing’s mandate requires space for something that is outside one’s narrative: friction from the outside. The metaphysics of others represents perception as a permanent source of stains in existing intelligibility. Thus,

    The metaphysics of others then appears as architecture of an image of perception as opening to the Great Outside. I end now with the two figures of cosmopolitan intensity associated with the priority of the outside – and the metaphysics of the others. First the second one I mentioned above: the supplement. The exterior that is not integrated is like an opening that makes it impossible for a whole to consolidate. I think that perhaps the metaphysics of others as a figure of what Derrida calls the logic of the supplement. But more specifically she is in the ubiquitous process – and here inherits Whitehead’s pan-perceptualism – of perception. Receptivity is understood as an exercise in hospitality – its capabilities are responsive, attentive, and committed to what comes from outside. As in a conversation, kindness can be transformed into hostility – the outside can cause a conflagration. But this – or the inclusion of the outside, of the perceived in an understanding – is not the end of receptivity – or hospitality – since the outside, the supplement, never stops coming. The possible hostility comes from the insurgent or subversive nature of the outside – but as in the circles of Marcel Mauss it is not possible to always be in the hostility with those who bring some gift. The supplement is the image of the différance that is not yet presence but makes presence possible – everything that comes, comes from outside, or from the horizon, or from what is not yet (comes to the edge of being). The receptivity is thus an image of the supplement between what is concrete:

    The logic of the supplement is a logic of non-permanence in the face of additions – that is, a logic that is not monotonous: any added premise can cause the loss of conclusions. The supplement changes what is established, stains it and, with the stain, rewrites – deconstruction is nothing more than an investigation of writing done by supplements, a consideration of the traces (traces) that shows that the presence is never full , is always hostage of the différance, that is, of the supplements that can transfigure it. In contrast, the full presence makes the outside indifferent. It is the supplement that produces exteriority if something absent can be neither a redundancy nor a complement that produces the whole. In the supplement, the reports are neither independent nor interdependent; a supplemented item is not completely present as a determination or completely absent. The logic of the supplement is anathema for a complete and comprehensive view of reality; There is always something to come. The notion of supplement also clarifies how to assume a totality is a way of making any existing element completely present in that totality. The supplement makes sense of the other as infinite; Neither I nor the Other are fully present: being fully present would make the other absent, and the other being fully present would mean completeness. The other, like this, can only be a trace. Reality emerges as never completely present; it is always at stake in the sense that the additions to it will not eventually complete it, but will continually transfigure it. The components of reality can only be a supplement to reality – and this is the reason why the external, the beyond or the other are often paradoxical. Transcending what seems to be a totality is what makes a supplement.

    The supplement also helps to understand the substitution in Levinas – a subjectivity is not identity because what it is can be substituted by the other. Substitution is the reverse of a fixed or permanent identity; One replaces another. In terms of supplement, being replaced by the other must complement each other and, finally, return to the state of insufficient presence. Precisely, this insufficient presence brings with it the obsession with the other: the obsession to evade one’s own being. That is, the wound, the suture. Due to this insufficiency, a subjectivity is always hostage to others. Subjectivity is separate and yet not indifferent to what is outside of it. The notion of supplement includes the substitution within the framework of the metaphysics of others. An interiority, determined by its borders, It is not a full presence and can be supplemented with what comes into contact with it. The Great Outside – which is not fully present but has traces everywhere – can replace each of the interiors. The Great Outside is the supplement, and so it appears in acts of receptivity.

    In addition, the supplement is also the future, the future that is like the Maurice Blanchot disaster: it is not in the future if the future is what we can foresee – for example, the repetitions of the calendar. Forecasts over time – like speculative projections – are a trade with the physis of others. They can only be a conversation starter – perhaps as a lure for feelings, decoys for feelings: attempts to provoke responses abroad; As in an experiment, try to have a question answered. Forecasts – and speculation – are perhaps so lures for supplements.

    Finally, the cosmopolitan figure of excess. The excess is of course outside and supplement. On the other hand, perception is in an economy of excess: there is something else that appears and something needs to be done with this. From this point of view, perception is a constant demand for answers, a transfiguration agent. To do something with the product of receptivity is to be in a restricted economy: forecasts and speculations are thus within a framework of this restriction. But the excess itself is endless, it is the engine of a sensitivity; the senses do not stop obtaining states of feelings with which they have to do something. The solution – the answer – is always incomplete because the excess does not stop, the supplement always arrives. Also some of the solutions of the restricted economy that Bataille finds can be considered here: the expense – which is to discard feelings – and growth – which is perhaps the real will. If the future is itself a figure of the outside and, therefore, of the excess, the accumulation of capital is also here a restricted economy. It is a gesture with respect to forecasts – a gesture that translates into the promise of security and future that the Calvinist agent makes: whatever or whatever the future may be, stability can be guaranteed, a capacity not to be affected. But the restricted economy is never the ultimate solution; Excess as a matter always transcends the answers we can offer. (As production transcends capital registration.) And the excess continues to arrive at the outer edge, The arrival of feelings is the passage of time for a present. To consider the general economy here is to consider the outside as outside – and the perception as outside independent of what is done with it. The metaphysics of others, rather than a restricted economy, is an affirmation of the cursed part: the excess that is outside will not cease. That is, it is a restricted economy and its impossibility – or rejection.

    In a close sense of what Deleuze and Guattari do in The Anti-Oedipus with Bataille and the general economy of excess, perception, involved with excess, is a continuous production. Sensitivity, like that, is like schizo: the relentless production that is itself indifferent to the urgencies of registration and distribution – that is, to the urgencies of understanding and reporting. Perception, Whitehead defends, is always a creation. We can think of creation as a production. An incessant production that results from the coupling of sensitivity to the outside – a coupling that only produces. Perhaps we can then think that concepts are not doing more than records – and empirical judgments are nothing more than distribution. Jean-François Lyotard, in his Libidinal Economy, it compares the work of the concept to the work appearance of capital as both “determine the conditions of work, delimit the outside and the inside, the authorized and the forbidden, […] select and value” (21). The concept is commerce, says Lyotard, but the work is elsewhere. If production is perception, exposure to the outside promotes the effects that appear, for example, in thought and action. The concepts leave their marks in the perception by articulating and coordinating the perceived – the articulation is part of the perception because without it we would be under a myth denounced by Whitehead in his Modes of Thought: the myth that there is an isolated fact that can be perceived – To perceive is to articulate or coordinate. But coordination is not necessarily conceptual; in general it is the orientation of the perception that, according to the BBP conception, can be changed by the perception itself. Perception, on the other hand, makes use of records and reports for production – like schizo. The production of perception is a coupling with the outside, unstable but permanently productive. The sense of excess is precisely that of an endless: supplement, exterior, transcendent.

    A transcendent exterior as he postulates and explores the metaphysics of others is himself a cosmopolitan gesture. A cosmopolitics appears where a habitat is built according to Tsing’s mandate: always incomplete and which postulates incompleteness as part of his narration. The cosmopolitics of the metaphysics of others is perhaps also a cosmopolitics of inadequacy – and, therefore, of the pluralism of an incurable diaphony. It would then be the cosmopolitics of an endless suture, of an unattainable exteriority. And also the cosmopolitics of the great health of perception.

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