March 2, 2014

The Glass Bead Game

As part of an event organized by Glass Bead (Fabien Giraud, Jeremy Lecomte, Vincent Normand, Ida Soulard, Inigo Wilkins) and Composing Differences (curated by Virginie Bobin), Guerino Mazzola and I will be presenting talks on philosophy, mathematics, games and the paradigm of navigation. Here is my abstract (I will post Mazzola's abstract later):

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What Philosophy Does to the Mind

By entering the game of truths - that is, making sense of what is true and making it true - and approaching it as a rule-based game of navigation, philosophy opens up a new evolutionary vista for the transformation of the mind. Within this evolutionary landscape, the mind is grasped as a set of activities or practices required to navigate and adapt to a terrain which lacks a given map and a given compass, a desert bereft of natural landmarks, with a perpetually shifting scenery and furnished with transitory mirages. The mind is forced to adapt to an environment where generic trajectories replace specific trajectories and where the consequences of making one move unfold as future ramifying paths that not only uproot the current position in the landscape but also fundamentally change the travel history and the address of the past itinerary. It is within this environment that philosophy instigates an epochal development of yet unexplored and obscure possibilities: By simulating the truth of the mind as a navigational horizon, philosophy sets out the conditions for the emancipation of the mind from its contingently posited settings and limits of constructability. Philosophy's ancient program for exploring the mind becomes inseparable from the exploration of possibilities for reconstructing and realizing the mind by different realizers and for different purposes.

In liberating itself from its illusions of ineffability and irreproducible uniqueness, and by apprehending itself as an upgradable armamentarium of practices or abilities, the mind realizes itself as an expanding constructible edifice that effectuates a mind-only system. But this is a system that is no longer comprehensible within the traditional ambit of idealism, for it involves 'mind' not as a theoretical object but as a practical project of socio-historical wisdom or augmented general intelligence.

Throughout this presentation we shall lay out the minimal characteristics and procedures of the game of navigation by drawing on the works of Gilles Châtelet (the construction of a horizon), Guerino Mazzola (a dynamic theory of addresses) and Robert Brandom (the procedural system of commitments). We shall subsequently unpack the consequences of playing this game in terms of the transition from self-conception to self-transformation of the mind as outlined by the New Confucian philosophers Xiong Shili and Mou Zongsan.



Date: April 22nd, 7-9pm.
Location:
311 East Broadway
New York, NY 10002, USA
Sponsored by ART² and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

Posted by Reza Negarestani at 7:46 PM

February 19, 2014

Navigation in Vancouver

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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:

Continue reading "Navigation in Vancouver"

Posted by Reza Negarestani at 11:51 PM

February 3, 2014

Workshop on functionalism

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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
Location:
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.


***

The text in PDF.


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.

Continue reading "What is philosophy?"

Posted by Reza Negarestani at 10:11 PM

January 10, 2014

How can you make me better?

Seneca

Two upcoming talks at Merve (Berlin) and Staedelschule (Frankfurt), abstracts and details below:


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
-Städelschule-
Dürerstr. 10, 60596 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Zongsan-Junyi
"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
Location:
Fridericianum
Friedrichsplatz 18
D-34117 Kassel

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

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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
6PM
ICI Curatorial Hub
401 Broadway, Suite 1620
New York, NY 10013
RSVP at rsvp@curatorsintl.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
7 p.m.
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

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Via Finitude
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

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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

Chimerizations Released

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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

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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