February 19, 2014
Navigation in Vancouver
I will be giving a number of presentations in Vancouver surrounding the navigational paradigm (as related to the ramifying structure of commitments, the non-classical portrait of the concept and the space of knowledge). Abstracts below:
Posted by Reza Negarestani at 11:51 PM
February 3, 2014
Workshop on functionalism
Function: Decomposition, Localization, Abstraction
Speakers: Ray Brassier, Reza Negarestani
Although principally associated with a thesis in the philosophy of mind, functionalism has wide-ranging ramifications. The concept of "functional role" or "functional organization" ties together a metaphysical problem about the basis of the distinction between matter and form, an epistemic problem about how to distinguish semantic content from physical information, and an engineering problem about the relation between structural and functional properties. This workshop will try to unravel the metaphysical, epistemic, and engineering aspects of functionalism by developing themes from the work of philosophers including William Bechtel, Robert Brandom, Wilfrid Sellars, and William Wimsatt.
Date and Time: March 25, 2014, 6:30pm
Wollman Hall, The New School
66 West 12th Street
New York, NY 10011
This is a free event and open to the public.
Seating is limited: You can order tickets via Eventbrite.
Posted by Reza Negarestani at 3:57 PM
January 25, 2014
What is philosophy?
This is a revised and extended version of a short piece I wrote a while ago for Mohammad Salemy's project Encyclonospace Iranica. Salemy's project is a reconceptualization of the modern model of knowledge as an encyclospace, or a dynamic universe for the qualitative organization of information and the proliferation and navigation of its knowledge-bases. This is of course a far too reductive description of Salemy's project and its ambitions. A good place to start with Salemy's project is its documentation website, and also here.
Navigate With Extreme Prejudice
(Definitions and Ramifications)
• Traditionally, philosophy is an ascetic cognitive experimentation in abstract (general) intelligence. As an ascesis in cognition, it concerns with grasping the mind in terms of a diversifiable set of abilities or practices whose deployment counts as what the mind is and what it does: special doings that one must undertake in order to count as organizing the intellect and setting in motion the faculty of thinking. By abstracting the mind to a set of practices, philosophy experiments with possibilities occasioned by decomposing the behavior of the mind into special performances or practices. The opportunities brought about by this practical decomposability are numerous and are still largely unidentified. The schema of this functionalist abstraction has at least two immediate implications. One is that by decomposing the mind to a set of practices, philosophy is able to envision itself as a veritable environment for an augmented nous precisely in the sense of a systematic experiment in mind simulation. Therefore, the mind is conceived - less in the sense of what it is and more in the sense what it does and what it can do - beyond its immediate or hard constraints. In other words, philosophy simultaneously expands the scope of experimentation with the mind and the scope of what mind can be and what it can do. The other implication is that by decomposing the mind into a set of practices, philosophy progressively registers itself as the domain of practical wisdom rather than theoretical wisdom, where 'mind as a theoretical object' is replaced by 'mind as a system of practices'. Already pregnant of pragmatic-functionalist and social-communal gestures, the practical decomposability of mind, accordingly, transforms philosophy into a domain of practical wisdom and by so doing, it allows the understanding and manipulation of the mind as a collective enterprise of robust social practices. Once mind is mapped on the level of social practices, manipulation of the social fabric in the sense of diversifying robust social practices, design of new social conducts and administration of social organizations leads to the constructive manipulation, or more precisely, practical abstraction of the mind as a collective horizon. Indeed, philosophy establishes a link between intelligence and modes of collectivization, in a way that liberation, organization and complexification of the latter implies new odysseys for the former, which is to say, intelligence and the evolution of the nous. In this way, philosophy presents the first collective model of general intelligence according to which 'what intelligence is' and 'how it can be liberated' are no longer exclusively sought in the workings of the mind as a strongly structurally-coupled entity. In other words, its embedding in materiality (i.e. embodiment) and natural design (i.e. optimization principles associated with natural evolution) are no longer adequate criteria for its identification and liberation. Instead the reality of intelligence (what it is and what it can be) is found in the strongly functional realm of 'mind as a system of collective practices' which, by virtue of the function's autonomy with regard to conditions of its constitution, is capable of proliferating itself in new complex structures and organizations. It is the collective instantiation inherent to this model that provides intelligence with a certain plasticity that can be modified, distributed, facilitated, even expedited. To sum up, by concurrently treating the mind as a vector of extreme abstraction and abstracting the mind into a set of social practices and conducts, philosophy gesticulates toward a particular and not yet fully comprehended event in the modern epoch - as opposed to traditional forms - of intelligence: The self-realization of intelligence coincides and is implicitly linked with the self-realization of social collectivity. The single most significant historical objective is then postulated as the activation and elaboration of this link between the two aforementioned dimensions of self-realization as ultimately one unified project.
Posted by Reza Negarestani at 10:11 PM
January 10, 2014
How can you make me better?
How Can You Make Me Better?
"Withdraw into yourself, as far as you can. Associate with those who will make a better man of you. Welcome those whom you yourself can improve." -Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Building on a now neglected tradition of philosophy as a discipline for forging questions whose sheer insinuative power does something irreversible to the mind, this discussion entertains the idea of posing a question so extreme it would not leave any room for a neutral attitude. Posed at the intersection of philosophy as an experiment in the ascesis of cognition and ethics as a design of conduct, the inciting and hypothetical dimensions of this question are concealed within the informal demand of an innocent query or solicitation: "How can you make me better?"
Being the central inquiry of a number of ancient programs of ethics such as Cynicism, Stoicism, Confucianism and more recently New Confucianism (Shili, Zongsan, Junyi, et al.), the solicitation for enhancement or the demand for the better is progressively unfolded as an instigation of a project of self-realization. By arguing that these ethical regimen theoretically and practically treat virtues and constructive relationships as functions and motivations as orientations, and in so doing they endow enhancing forms of conduct with a certain functional autonomy, we propose that ethics can be redefined as a functionalist program furnished with a canonical orientation. Closely associated with the philosophical foundations of artificial intelligence, this is functionalism in the sense of abstract realizability of the roles functions play in complex systems so that the multi-state function of a set of practices or abilities can be adequately abstracted for the purpose of re-adaptation in different and broader contexts. By virtue of their abstract realizability, functions enjoy a form of autonomy that enables their extraction and replication, autonomous redeployment in different contexts and autonomous remobilization toward new purposes. The neo-functionalist reimagining of ethics brings about the possibility of understanding the pursuit of the self for the better or self-realization as an autonomous project, in the sense of what functional autonomy is and what the integrating orientation of a project consists of. The project is accordingly construed as a functional organization possessing a global integrity that allows for its characterization as a canonical subjectivity, a constructible self that displays historic and social features of "essentially self-conscious creatures" (Brandom). It is this collaborative or open-source self as a project through which the better - as that which is other than the previous and the current state of the self or even human - commences its self-realization and its destiny. As rooted in a secular enterprise of improvement through engagement with a non-conservable account of the present adapted to the revisionary rather than redemptive forces of the future, ethics highlights the truth and practical dimensions of what intelligence is and how it can be liberated: Intelligence is defined as that which normatively believes what is good for it, it desires it, and committedly acts on how to maintain and enhance the good. To seal the gap between believing what is true and making it true, it devises functions capable of practically elaborating intentional states toward action and realization. Since functions are independent of conditions of constitution, constructing the functional link between intentional states and realization means that intelligence establishes itself as a project that continuously revises what it was supposed to be, it knows itself by disbelieving in its foundations, it attains freedom by reconstituting itself.
Monday, January 13, 2013 7pm
Dürerstr. 10, 60596 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
"Its [New Confucianism] primary purpose is individual and communal self-realization with a view toward Heaven" -Tu Weiming
The Labour of the Inhuman
Inhumanism is the extended practical elaboration of humanism; it is born out of a diligent commitment to the project of humanism. A universal wave that erases the self-portrait of man drawn in sand, inhumanism is a vector of revision, it relentlessly revises what it means to be human by removing its supposed evident characteristics and preserving certain invariances. At the same time, inhumanism registers itself as a demand for construction, to define what it means to be human by treating human as a manipulable and re-orientable hypothesis. Inhumanism is in concrete opposition to any theoretical paradigm that seeks to degrade humanity either in the face of its finitude or against the backdrop of the great outdoors. The force of inhumanism operates as a retroactive deterrence against anti-humanism by understanding humanity historically - in the broadest physico-biological and socio-economical sense of history - as an indispensable runway toward itself. But what is humanism, or precisely speaking, what specific commitment does 'being human' represent and how does the full practical elaboration of this commitment to humanity amount to inhumanism?
Sunday, January 12, 2013 7pm
MERVE Verlag, Crellestrasse 22, 10827 Berlin
Posted by Reza Negarestani at 10:41 PM
December 24, 2013
Frontiers of Manipulation
I will be traveling to Germany in January to give this talk along with presentations by Robin Mackay, Iain Hamilton Grant and others.
Frontiers of Manipulation
What are the limits and conditions of material manipulability? More importantly, is there a connection between the concept of the material and the function of manipulation in the sense that the latter decides the former? Drawing on some of the recent discussions in the field of engineering with regard to models, cross-level causal intervention, renormalization groups, morphogenetic analysis (the science of forms) and non-extendable explanatory and functional levels, this presentation aims at providing a concept of material organization beyond but reconcilable with the level of appearances. Whilst claiming that (1) material descriptions are blind to explanations and (2) only causal and functional explanations are capable of rendering the material intelligible and making material intervention possible, a robust concept of construction and manipulation cannot dispense with descriptive resources of appearances and macro-level domains. Once approached through local possibility spaces opened up by deep explanatory levels or the scientific image, the powers of abductive inference implicit in the manipulation conditionals at the level of ordinary descriptions enable a mode of construction that expands its frontiers from the top and from the bottom. This marks an encounter with the material that is neither quite speculative nor quite empirical while it is both abductive/non-monotonic and under real constraints.
Date: January 4, 2014
Time: 17.30 - 18.30
Posted by Reza Negarestani at 1:27 AM
December 13, 2013
A View of Man from the Space of Reasons
I will be joining the Accelerationism symposium in Berlin via Skype. Abstracts and other details regarding the symposium can be read here. And here is my abstract:
A View of Man from the Space of Reasons
Is humanism - understood as an elaborated commitment to humanity - about human? Once humanism is accessed via the front door of the Enlightenment, a minimal definition of human can be secured. Human is defined by its capacity to enter the space of reasons as a special domain of practices. The argument of this presentation is that the definition of humanity according to the space of reasons is a minimalist definition whose consequences are not immediately given, but it is a definition that bootstraps itself to staggering ramifications, indeed posing itself as what Rene Thom termed a 'general catastrophe'. If there were ever a real crisis, it would be our inability to cope with collateral outcomes of committing to the real content of humanity as undergirded by the neurobiolgical import of human and the ability to enter the space of reasons. The trajectory of reason is that of a global catastrophe whose pointwise instances and stepwise courses do not harbor an observable effect or noticeable discontinuity. Reason, therefore, is simultaneously a medium of local stability that reinforces procedurality and a general catastrophe, a medium of discontinuity and anti-conservation that administers the discontinuous identity of reason to the anticipated image of man. Elaborating humanity according to the self-actualizing space of reasons establishes a discontinuity between man's anticipation of himself (what he expects himself to become) and the image of man modified according to its functionally autonomous content. It is exactly this discontinuity that characterizes the view of human from the space of reasons as a general catastrophe set in motion by activating the content of humanity whose functional kernel is not just autonomous but also compulsive and transformative. The sufficient discernment of humanity which is at the core of the project of humanism is in reality the activation of the autonomous space of reasons. But since this space - qua the content of humanity - is functionally autonomous even though its genesis is historical, its activation implies the deactivation of historical anticipations of what man can be or become according to a fundamentally descriptive level. Building on Ray Brassier's identification of reflective critique as 'inherently conservative' and recently Deneb Kozikoski's examination of the deep isomorphy between the critique of modernity and the logic of capitalism, it will be argued that the view of human from the space of reasons forestalls the conservation of a definition or portrait of man as the basis of and a justification for a preservationist mode of conduct. Since both conservative humanism and conflationary anti-humanism fall back on this conserved definition or canonical portrait, in making the conservation of the content of humanity impossible the view from the space of reasons calls for a new interventionist ethics. This is ethics as a continuous labor or a project accustomed to the general catastrophe of reason, a design of conduct that does not resort to conservation in order to embark on construction.
Posted by Reza Negarestani at 1:52 PM
November 7, 2013
Will you be a part of it?
The outline of my talk at the Escape Velocities symposium on November 13:
The Human Centipede, A View From the Art World
Is it possible to understand the function of art within any consequential prescriptive or interventionist mode synchronous with the descriptive resources of the modern system of knowledge? In other words, does art have any import for a project of construction aimed at liberation of intelligence, illiberalization of freedom and collective enhancement? The positive answer to this question it will be argued hinges on a systematic extrication of the definition of art from the contemporary art world. Aimed at debunking the more ambitious claims of the art world with regard to speculative vistas and political vocations, this presentation involves an etiological scrutiny into premises of two international group art exhibitions, 'Speculation On Anonymous Materials' and 'and Materials and Money and Crisis'. Underlining major tendencies of the art world in its search for contemporaneity and pertinence, these exhibitions accentuate the two faces of the same art world currency: longing for the outside and critical self-reflection. One through producing impersonal experience and diversification of the bijective space of affect into a myriad of relations and complicities, and the other through a politically sober introspection into the conditions under which its horizon has been integrated.
However both accelerative projection and decelerative reflection are retrofitted into a world of cognitive templates whose nebulizing function creates a cultural fog of conceptual conflation and practical impotency. It is through this operative fog that some of the more insidious mechanisms of neoliberal capitalism are directly plugged into the cognitive infrastructure under the guise of a world that appears determined to extend the plasticity of imagination and expand frontiers of action. But this is a world in which the financial closure of capitalism is cloned and grafted onto a cognitively maimed economy for accumulating false alternatives in the name of liberation of imagination and action. A suture of different overambitious vocations and driven by the wealth of waste it generates, the resulting beast is a prophetic vision of a tightly connected and controlled society with a single closed alimentary circuit, the human centipede. Those who scheme to infiltrate this world in order to militantly or cunningly liberate it from the inside are locked into the compactly segmented structure of the metameric organism. At once necessary for the growth yet expendable, every insider is a new addition to the iterated sequence of mouths and rectums through which the art world bootstraps itself - a miracle made possible by a simple but efficacious financial and cognitive algorithm. Dreams of acceleration or deceleration, speculative enthusiasm for the outside or critical self-reflection are revealed to be simply changes of frequency in the rate of the said iteration.
Time and Location:
November 13, 7pm
311 East Broadway
New York, NY 10002
T212 619 3356
Posted by Reza Negarestani at 12:05 PM
September 30, 2013
Performance @ Guggenheim
The third installment of my collaboration with Florian Hecker:
C.D.: A Script for Synthesis
C.D. - A Script for Synthesis is a sound piece, an experimental drama, and a model of abstraction, which recalls Artaud's Theater of Cruelty as much as Beckett's minimalist narratives and neo-imagist poetry. It is the climactic third chapter in the trilogy of text-sound pieces Hecker has created in collaboration with the philosopher and writer Reza Negarestani (following Chimerization, dOCUMENTA (13) and Hinge, Lumiar Cité, Lisbon; both 2012), who has written a libretto/script for the performance. The conceptual point of departure is a perceptual encounter with a pink ice cube, which is dramatized as a scene in which the linguistic chimeras of scent and sound descriptions are materialized through synthetic trophies, the scale and shape of auditory objects, a Greek chorus and theatrical props. C.D. - A Script for Synthesis is an experiment in putting synthetic emptiness back into synthetic thought.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Peter B. Lewis Theater, 1071 5th Ave
Saturday, November 9, 7:30 pm
For more information on how to obtain tickets see HERE.
Posted by Reza Negarestani at 8:18 PM
August 11, 2013
The Labour of the Inhuman
'What does it mean to cognitively adapt to a reason whose interests lie elsewhere?' I will be talking on Inhumanism as a program for appropriating and radicalizing the revisionary tendency of modernity. Details below:
The Labour of the Inhuman
(augmented rationality and its cognitive technologies)
Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
ICI Curatorial Hub
401 Broadway, Suite 1620
New York, NY 10013
RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org with DARK TRAJECTORIES in the subject line.
Posted by Reza Negarestani at 3:45 PM
July 13, 2013
Conversation with Ray Brassier and Suhail Malik, etc.
After an eonic hiatus, I am back on this blog and will resume posting soon. A new age of productivity is finally in sight.
In the meantime: I will be in conversation with Ray Brassier and Suhail Malik around the themes of reason and enlightenment on July 20th. I am hopeful we will have the opportunity to focus on subjects such as freedom and alienation in relation to the project of new rationalism.
Blow Your Mind: On Freedom and Enlightenment
A conversation between Ray Brassier, Suhail Malik, and Reza Negarestani
Saturday, July 20, 2013
88 Eldridge Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10002
Posted by Reza Negarestani at 6:43 AM
May 23, 2013
Via Finitude @ Centre for the Study of Theory & Criticism
A reconstruction of Nicole Oresme's diagrams
Frequently characterized by historians as an early anticipation of Galilean epistemology and rationality's total deracination of man and gods alike in the cosmos, Nicole Oresme's diagrams of 'extensivity of forms' are simple epistemic devices developed in order to understand three classical problems: (1) The problem of variation (motion), (2) The problem of articulation of intelligibility (measurement), and (3) The problem of global integration of the variable and the intelligible (universality).
The aim of this lecture is to extract and formalize the constructive kernel of Oresme's original diagrams, latitudo formarum, as a gesture toward a conception of knowledge capable of conditioning a sharp and irreversible noetic propulsion for the subject. We shall examine the constructive phases of this gesture in forming the schematic landscape of knowledge in terms of a number of consecutive operations: Initiating epistemic ratios of separation from nature, localizing different rational orientations born by the epistemic separation, organization of local orientations according to a global transport, determining the limit projected by the global transport, mobilizing local orientations toward the hypothetical limit, recalibrating the scope of navigation by way of reorganization of local orientations, renormalization of the global transport and reprojecting the limit.
As a conclusion, we shall argue that, following Oresme, the understanding of knowledge as a system of navigation destroys one of the enduring philosophical dogmas responsible for engendering both pseudo-rationalist myopia and quasi-mystical irrationalism, the thought of an essential bound in classical rationalism and the thought of after finitude as manifested in speculative materialism/realism: that is, the alleged incommensurability between finitude and unboundedness.
Date: May 28, 2013
Location: the Dean's Boardroom, SSC 9420, on the 9th Floor of the Social Science Centre, London, Ontario.
Posted by Reza Negarestani at 11:51 PM
April 14, 2013
Sonic Practice, Discourse and Auditory Experimentation @ MIT
Guerino Mazzola & Reza Negarestani \ Sonic Practice, Discourse and Auditory Experimentation
Location: act cube, Wiener Building (E15-001), 20 Ames Street, Cambridge, MA
Date: Thursday, May 9 (10am-12:30pm), free and open to the public
Index terms: Philosophy of Synthesis, Philosophy of Gesture, Category Theory, Mathematical Music, Performance Theory and Improvisation, Computer Musicology
Funded in part by the Council for the Arts at MIT.
Posted by Reza Negarestani at 7:16 PM
April 9, 2013
An extensive documentation of Chimerizations series (Chimerization and Hinge), including the two texts I have written for the project.
Primary Information: http://primaryinformation.org/index.php?/upcoming/florian-hecker/
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Florian-Hecker-Chimerizations/dp/0985136421
Posted by Reza Negarestani at 2:17 AM
March 18, 2013
Theory-fiction as Philosophy's Minecraft @ UPenn / Kelly Writers House
Structural symmetries and perspective variations of Raphael's The School of Athens in Mazzola, et al. Rasterbild - Bildraster
I will be reading excerpts from The Mortiloquist (A Barbaric Interpretation of the Life and Problems of Western Philosophy) followed by a discussion on theory-fiction as philosophy's simulation engine.
Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 6:00pm
UPenn, Kelly Writers House, 3805 Locust Walk Philadelphia, PA 19104
Posted by Reza Negarestani at 8:30 PM
January 25, 2013
The Topos of the Earth @ CUNY, The Center for the Humanities
I will be talking at CUNY, the center for humanities on February 21, 6:30pm:
The Topos of the Earth:
Telescopic and stereoscopic visions of the abyss-in-one
Yoneda construction of Pinocchio
'What are the implications of locating the topos of the earth within a cosmological continuum', 'what does the local have in store for thought', 'what does it mean to be local or regional', 'where am I, where do I come from, in what direction do I proceed', 'how do systematic decisions and rational orientations with regard to local methods and exigencies shape the navigational dynamism of knowledge', these questions constitute one of the most central aspects of the modern system of knowledge, namely, the problem of localization. It is by way of inferring the topoi of knowledge or locating sites through which the world can be thought and the space of the universal can be navigated that the germinal edifice of knowledge expands its frontiers. Whether as the space of the concept or the particular cosmological horizon that brings about the possibility of thought, the local outlines the navigational task of the philosopher with regard to analysis and synthesis, committing to worldly problems and speculating out of this world. Only through a systematic approach to the question of localization is it possible to embark upon a non-trivial philosophy of analysis and synthesis. Furthermore, a modern understanding of the local allows a more thorough examination of the valence of various epistemological tools and modes of inference as normative methodologies for the navigation of the space of the concept qua a local site.
Since the modern system of knowledge is understood as a multi-modal system of navigation endowed with universal orientation, the question of the topos or the site of the local is linked to the question of epistemology and knowledge both in its analytical and synthetic dimensions. It will be argued that the local - like the global - is not an a-priori given datum. Instead the determination of the local is a procedural task always threatened by the impotency of the generic perspective and the localist myopia of the particular. We shall argue that the task of localization needs to be understood as an oblique procedure that operates by means of certain 'perspective operators' and 'epistemic mediators'. These perspective operators or navigational tools are able to interweave depth and surface, the generic and the vague (particular) and diagonally connect the diachronic to the synchronic (telescopic view), or cohere various depths such as the scientific and manifest images of the local (stereoscopic vision) so as to bring into focus the local and determine its relation to the open, the space of the Universal or the real. The dual task of 'focalization' and 'depth-tracking' of the local constitutes the panorama of what should be called a vertiginous enlightenment - i.e. inferring the horizon of the local from both generic-to-particular and vague-to-generic, universal-to-regional and regional-to-universal perspectives. The vertiginous enlightenment is but the reading of the local according to and within the abyss.
The aim of this lecture is to examine the problem of localization and its imports for a speculative cosmology and an ultramodern understanding of the system of knowledge through the theoretical appropriation of two pivotal concepts: (a) Homothetic variations of the local and (b) Yoneda addressing (built on the concept of Yoneda lemma in topos theory and category theory). These concepts assist us in studying the problem of localization in the wake of the vertiginous enlightenment and a new definition of the local: The local is now defined by its continuously unfolding ramified path structures and alternative addresses. That is to say, the local cannot be approached via any conception of given fixed coordinates. Since the local is not invariant under topos-inference, every act of localization finds the local site within a new set of coordinates because each telescopic and stereoscopic inspection into the topos of the local unlocks new addresses and brings to light contingent path structures, further distancing the local from its spurious roots that try to strictly demarcate it. Therefore, we can say that the local is defined not by its roots but by its ramified path structures into the open and its ever-changing alternative addresses which unravel as it is telescopically and stereoscopically determined and brought into focus. An understanding of the local via its alternative addresses and contingent sidetracks should be interpreted as a concept of non-ineffable depth through which the open, the universal or the real freely expresses itself in the local and the local ramifies into the open or gains traction upon the universal. It is this depthwise definition of the local that simultaneously diverges from Nietzschean-Heideggerian and Deleuze-Guattarian variants of a true-to-the-earth philosophy toward a geophilosophy as a local thought procedure whose topos is a true-to-the-universe earth.
Details: February 21, 2013, 6:30pm | The James Gallery
Posted by Reza Negarestani at 11:40 PM