Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Play of the Interval

Jemeinigkeit, according to Nancy, defines mineness on the basis of an "each time," and he says there is nothing between each time, because being withdraws between each time. Each time "opens itself as relation to other times, to the extent that continuous relation is withdrawn from them" (The Experience of Freedom, p. 67). He says emphatically, "freedom withdraws being and gives relation," and more lightly, "freedom is the discrete play of the interval" (p. 68).

A note on singularity: Nancy sees singularity in the relation given by freedom according to the each time. "Singularity–for this reason distinct from individuality–takes place according to this double alterity of the 'one time,' which installs relation as the withdrawal of communion" (p. 68). And emphatically again, "the ipseity of singularity has as its essence the withdrawal of the aseity of being" ( p. 70). Nancy here begins to think the singular plural in light of a disruption of a continuity of being that might be associated with a self– another ipseity plays here that isn't grounded in itself, not originating in its own continuity.

Nancy says there is no being between existents, not a tissue belonging to all and none (p. 69). Not even freedom fills the space between existents, but rather it spaces the space. He says freedom means "to measure oneself against the nothing," and adds, "Measuring oneself against the nothing does not mean heroically affronting or ecstatically confronting an abyss which is conceived as the plenitude of the nothingness and which would seal itself around the sinking of the subject of heroism or of ecstasy" (p. 71, Nancy's emphasis).

By defining freedom as the play of the interval, and by refusing to see either an ecstatic or heroic confrontation with Nothingness, Nancy leads us towards a critique of humanism.

On the archi-originary register of sharing, which is also that of singularity's "at every moment," there are no "human beings." This means that the relation is not one between human beings, as we might speak of a relation established between two subjects constituted as subjects and as "securing," secondarily, this relation. In this relation, "human beings" are not given–but it is relation alone that can give them "humanity." It is freedom that gives relation by withdrawing being. It is then freedom that gives humanity, and not the inverse.

(p. 73)

When Nancy says, "Free space is opened, freed, by the very fact that it is constituted or instituted as space by the trajectories and outward aspects of singularities that are thrown into existence" (p. 74, Nancy's emphasis), we are not free to think of these singularities as human if we are to take Nancy's meaning. They may be delivered over to humanity, and yet even this proposition may be dubious if freedom gives relations all at once– that would make us, we who are thrown, instant cosmopolites, ecopolitical singularities. I don't think Nancy would say we can't be ecopolitical singularities, but I'm not sure that he means to argue that freedom gives relations all at once. Maybe that's what he does mean. Each time freedom gives all the relations there are, in which case "humanity" is just the tip of the iceberg. All the relations there are: does it make sense to say that there are relations when being is withdrawn? Now, this business of the all or nothing seems to go against the spirit of the play of the interval. If the space between existents doesn't represent a tissue or a plenitude of nothingness, what does measuring oneself against the nothing mean?

When I think about the space instituted by the trajectories of thrown singularities it occurs to me that randomness may be an exceedingly improbable description of the movements of things that are born. The question is, Does the aleatory have something to play with (something from which we could induce grounds for a field of probabilities), or does it just push or drag around a space of nothing? It's unclear to me whether the field I am wondering about would be given by the systematic movements of lifeforms or by Karma. In either case it would be outside the ken of Nancy's inquiry. I'm risking a grave misunderstanding of what Nancy means, especially what he means by "birth." I will be giving it some more thought.

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posted by Fido the Yak at 8:53 AM.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder what Nancy would make of Crocco's distinction btwn ispeity and cadacualtez (q.v. Primacy of semiosis, p. 139-141. A 'standard uniqueness.'

I don't think I can understand Nancy - is it understandable?

October 14, 2007 11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

iAfew lines from Crocco & Avila's 'Sensing':

Cadacualtez, the presence of one's finitude to not another circumstanced existentiality, is not graspable in such a noûs poieetikós way, as individuation achieved in terms of essences or generic-specific identities, reified or not; that is, "formally": as the sum or, better, the intersection of all *properly predicable* attributes or "properties".

To avert that mistake, and to proceed on the just anticipated caveat, let us briefly spell out this culturally-widespread notion so contrasting with cadacualtez, namely the Scholastic "ipseity" or standard, "*typically* schematized" uniqueness, now spread well beyond the Scholastic circles.

It greatly contributed to cast a classical-physics refractory to notice psychisms in nature; more, even, it bid to notice them in any other wise than as "parcels" of some psychical stuff. James Clerk Maxwell's definition (Matter & Motion I, 19 – "Statement of the General Maxim of Physical Science"), for example, was evidently not minded to distinguish the self-findings of persons at their respective circumstances: *"The difference between one event and another does not depend on the mere difference of the times or the places at which they occur, but only on the differences in the nature, configuration, or motion of the bodies concerned."*

The Scholastic "ipseity", or standard, "*typically* schematized" uniqueness, is just another attempt, favoured by the neurobiological mechanisms of empathy and the resulting natural supposition of imaginary mobility "putting oneself in the others' places", at getting *individuation systematically* without detecting any incongruity in such purpose, whether the *systematic* tool put to use is some *principium individuationis* or some *principium particularitatis*.

Its outline is pertinent here.
The Western Scholastics, surely, is anything but monolithic.

On many topics it shelters very contrasted venues, even deep heterologies.
But, in applying said conceptual tools to its sapiential horizon, it generally agrees in assimilating what makes the difference amongst non-personal and amongst personal pairs of co-specific individuals.

The difference between two chairs or two metagalaxies (= two impersonal conglomerates), is assimilated to the difference between Diotima and Hypatia or between one of them and her dog Fido, or between dog Fido and this cat Felix or that bird Fenix (= hominid and non-hominid persons, each self-found in a unjustifiable circumstance).
All them, from this cat Felix to that metagalaxy Fenax, are mere *examples*; *specimens* by themselves worthless insofar as particular single items (being personal or not is thereby irrelevant), that illustrate typically or "instance" the specific assortment of features brought about by certain transcendent Forms or "Ideas".

These, in turn, are timeless patterns of ontic possibility in this universe (to wit: the patterns of possibility for cats and for metagalaxies of this universe, in the last mentioned cases).
Thus the outline of the Western Scholastics' individuation, *always* a systematical one across its varieties, here is relevant because the situation is by principle just the same if, while essaying to distinguish persons, *"The inhabitants of the universe were conceived to be a set of fields —an electron field, a proton field, an electromagnetic field" (Footnote 228).* [228: S. Weinberg, "The search for unity: Notes for a history of quantum field theory", Dædalus 106 # 4 (1977), 17-35.]

This culturally-transmitted Scholastic "ipseity" or standard uniqueness is, of course, useful to describe scientifically a nature where the *only* multiple identicals do not enjoy experience from each particular circumstance — e. g., those of the many species of baryons or (page 503) leptons; or, those conglomerates wrongly called "individuals" which compose the insect societies, as single ants or single bees of certain "caste", which belong with categories each specialized on some repertoire of thresholds to react by performing special tasks.

Or, the Greek and other statues portraying models, not individuals. Or, Apuleius's immortal character, carrying to a donkey *his* Piagetian operatory equilibrations......

Too, this culturally-transmitted "ipseity" or standard uniqueness is useful to describe such a nature plus some monopsychism.
But its utility shatters immediately when many experiencing persons, non-hominid and hominid, are recognized *in such a nature* and found hylozoistically scattered therein.

October 15, 2007 12:20 AM  
Blogger Fido the Yak said...

Can Nancy's Experience of Freedom be understood? I am understanding some of the ideas Nancy is playing with, but he is playing, and may be aiming at unsettling thought more than at creating understandings. For example, when he says "the ipseity of singularity has as its essence the withdrawal of the aseity of being," he has already criticized "ipseity" (and "essence") so it is unsettling when he says that singularity has an ipseity even as the meaning he gives it is consistent with a theme (the withdrawal of being, of its aseity--existence is thrown, and being is decided in freedom, kind of). I think his criticism of ipseity is something along the lines of a critique of a continuity of being. For him it is singularity that matters, and singularity is conceptualized with respect to a freedom which is coextensive with an interlacing of relations, and a withdrawal of being. (The being of the relation is not an avenue he explores.) I don't see anything in his text like Crocco and Avila's critique of a standard uniqueness, though I think Nancy would object to regarding singularity as standard uniqueness.

Nancy's riff on Jemeinigkeit, the each time (je-), makes me wonder about how he is conceptualizing birth, a major theme of his. Strictly speaking, I don't see him yet exploring a possibility of rebirth--it's almost ruled out by the each time and its withdrawal of being. Does he mean birth in a metaphorical sense, a literal sense, or both? To put the question directly to his thinking, How many times can an existent be in freedom?

Am I mistaken in thinking that cadacualtez happens only once in a lifetime?

October 15, 2007 8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, you are not mistaken.

My current understanding (smile) is that cadacualtez only happens once - but continues after the disintegration of the physical body.
The brain is an interface for a cadacualtic being that can exist without it....

In this the AGNT mirrors classic christian 'dogma'.
The soul does not pre-exist its coming into being - but is immortal. And there would be no 'reincarnation'...

October 15, 2007 2:18 PM  

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