Sunday, February 28, 2010

Horizons and Temporality; Part 7 of Derrida's interpretation of Husserl

In the last post, we saw the seemingly inescapable nature of language in regards to phenomenology. I mention seemingly because Derrida proved for himself that sense existed independent of language when he makes the solipsistic assertion that geometrical evidence would remain imprisoned "in the inventors head" without it's liberation through language. Phenomenology though is put into 360 in the coming passages of Derrida's interpretation of the Origins, not simply because he proved for himself the ideal of pure sense, but because language has it's own implications. While history seemed imprisoned to language, there is certainly something prior to language that nonetheless will be explained through language which takes us back to the fact of sense occurring regardless of it's expression. We find more decisive explanations of this in Husserl's concepts of "Horizon" and his explanations of temporality (retention and protention relative to Presence). Out of fairness, it must be noted that these themes are elaborated on enormously not only in his published works, most descriptively in his Ideas I and his Internal Time Consciousness, but in his recently published manuscripts, most descriptively with his Analysis concerning Passive and Active Synthesis. Derrida will touch upon these themes but a real justice to the reading would require reading the above texts.

In regards to temporality, Derrida states "Husserl dwells on the receptive acceptance of signs-first in reading-than on the secondary technical or logical activity that is not only not contradictory to the first passivity but on the contrary, supposes it. The synthesis which awakens the sign to signification is first, in fact, necessarily passive and associative". The concept of sign here we will use analogously to language, but only for now, because these are two themes that are obviously different and can be elaborated on in their own rights. The matter at hand though is the idea of the receptive and passive acceptance of signs to signification, or syntax to semantics. How do we interpret passivity and receptivity? Husserl means to say that the "coming-into-being" of ideal objectivity happens by way of a passive retention. For example, while we at first may subjectively 'target' a sensuous formation outside of ourselves, this formation can either be retained or may fall into an abyss. If it's retained though, it's a process of further retentions on it's way towards the ideal. A pure sensuous formation then must be 'targeted' more than once (again and again) and gain a sense of "exactitude" every time it's targeted. Not only that but whatever this sensuous formation is, it must give itself also more than once to a subject. It's with this in mind that the constant distancing of the subject-object divide in late 20th century philosophy becomes so paramount. A good lecture on this was just posted by Mike Johnduff in his Working Notes Blog. The lecture was on Judith Butler's first encounter with the thought of Alfred Whitehead who made this distinction in a very simple yet insightful analysis. Husserl always eludes to this especially in the middle sections of the Crises but never comes to conclusions, being the good phenomenologist that he is. This characteristic of this retention for Husserl is not only the fact that it requires many subjective retentions to become perfected into an ideal, but also the fact that these retentions are always passive until they do become ideal, and an idea. A passive retention then is one where the subject has no idea (because nothing is yet idealized) of it retaining the milieu of phenomena outside of itself. In this sense, it's active, or what Husserl calls an "active passivity". These are literally ideal assumptions and/or implications, however one would like to contest or not contest their "values", or "legitimacy". When one reads Husserl's Analysis concerning Passive and Active Synthesis, one sees themselves actually doing phenomenology. By entering into an always deffered presence without coming to conclusions but still making statements about the temporality of subjectivity, one strikes at the center of the Husserlian Phenomenological pursuit, one that is understandably regarded as solipsistic based on the above description. With subjective receptivity and it's passive characteristic established, Husserl continues his reduction further to the requirements for passivity and receptivity; in other words, subjectivity in general.

In the most clear statements regarding Husserl's origins, Derrida goes into Husserl's establishment of his Horizon concepts as the grounds for subjectivity. It's the most clear statements because these are Husserl's most clear statements on subjectivity. Derrida states "In order to be able to establish facts as facts of history, we must always already know what history is and uner what conditions it's possible. We must already be engaged in a pre-comprehension of history". This pre-comprehension of history and for this post, that of subjective grasping, what's required is an already established way to comprehend. This transcendental theme goes as far back to the scholastics, but finds it's most concrete grounding in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason where his transcendental aesthetic first establishes the modernist project of understanding the a priori. Husserl though doesn't simply state the fact that space and time are the two conditions necessary for subjectivity. If elaborates on them to the point where they're no longer simply space and time. The vague notion of "Horizon" he uses expresses and gives it a "lived evidence, to a concrete knowledge which, Husserl says, is never "learned", which no empirical moment can then hand over, since it always presupposes the horizon". A horizon is every possibility of experience and thus ever possibility of subjectivity. Even if the experience for subjectivity is incomplete which it always is before it's ideality, it has an anticipatory thrust in the sense that it's always thrown into a situation or whether it wants to or not. Here, Heidegger's concept of "throwness" is paramount for it establishes throwness not just phenomenologically, but ontologically as a fundamental state for Dasein. Of course, Husserl's interest was not ontological for every reason stated in the beginning of the Crises. Derrida describes Horizon specifically as "the always-already-there of a future which keeps the indetermination of its infinite openness intact". You can simply equate horizon with the possibility of never getting away from the fact of experience. There's always something on the Horizon. Again, it's with this in mind that Heideggerian concepts, in this case as the Dasein "always ahead of itself" becomes paramount. To say that Heidegger simplified Husserl is easy to understand. Underscoring this is the fact that Ontology simplifies Phenomenology.

So two things are then established as implications of language, which is an implication of history (not historicity). To be able to speak, I must first be in a place (a horizon) where there is something that I subjectively "grab" for no apparent reason that still makes no sense (is not an ideal, or ideal objectivity), until it's grabbed more than once, again and again, und so weiter, to a place of exactitude where an object becomes ideal. Without again going into the problems of the subject-object division, we will give Husserl the luxury of his idealist proclivities and understand the phenomenological project in the gaze solely of the subject (where the life-world is taken by the subject, rather than the other way around). These retentions happen often and always deffer the presence, and give it the characteristic of passivity, meaning the outside milieu is always and already passing over the subjective being that is reaching out to grasp anything, for a time, without meaning. The activity in this passivity is something that Husserl elaborates on his is Analyses mentioned above. To be able to grab and have the characteristic of a passive flow, one is already in a state of historicity, or Horizon as the lived experience of anything that can be called experience and can't be called experience, a future that is always and already there for a subjective grasping. Questions emerge here. How coincidental are the concept of the "Horizon" and "Temporality"? Do they imply each other? Is Temporality the Horizon of Being (Heidegger)? Does "the notion of horizon thus make the a pirori and teleological coincide" as Derrida states? What is for sure is that Husserl created the most abstract concept possible for experience by giving it a connotation of infinity. As we will see in the next post, this above is the concern of a pre-predicative world but for which is different from the pre-scientific world. These two "worlds" will be distinguished, and the components of the pre-scientific world will be established for Husserl with much more detail because of the "bound idealitys" that envelop it, unlike like the infinite concept of the "horizon" and it's never ending operations of "temporal grasping" which firmly place Husserl's thought as the radical expansion of Descartes and Kant. Hopefully in future posts, we will get back to the phenomenological pre-predicative experience because of how fascinating it is in brining experience to it's most absolute limits.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Random Verse

Hopeless Love

Up Close to what could speak of more,
Defenses rise in spite of being bored.
We lock down our own identities,
with hopeless love, A war to please our enemies

Prides Vulnerability

With hidden eyes, I follow my pride
into places of no identity,
into places where I am infinity.

All to know I'm outside my whole,
To avoid what was given to my vulnerable soul.


The time strikes with a sear and a slice.
The mind wanders to find what it likes.
The answers will never come easily,
for questions are not given genuinely.

Truth's Eternity

Here the truth is lost in circularity.
Its fool the hopes of serenity.
What to do when thrown into difference?
But to combine things into kindly semblance.

The closer it gets, the closer it finds,
An infinite question, an impulse to rhyme.
To strike at what could never be
The strike in the face of an eternity

Sunday, February 21, 2010

History's Implication: Language; Part 6 of Derrida's interpretation of Husserl

In the last post we saw the insistence by Husserl of claiming history as an "undefinable" proposition that was still regardlessly "grounded". While not being able to yet describe history independent of using concepts (by Kant's recognition) that are already established a posteriori, we can to an obvious limit. That limit is nothing other than the possibility of language. While according to Derrida "History itself establishes the possibility of its own appearing", the way it establishes itself is by an impulse, that impulse being language...what we call "language". Husserl though addresses this regardless of his eternal supposition of pure logic almost as if he was thinking solipsistically, which is really not a stretch when approaching the methodology of Husserlian phenomenology.
Husserl though addresses language the same way that he doesn't want to address everything he doesn't want to address; by speaking about it as abstractly as possible. Husserl states "ideal formations are rooted only in language in general, not in the factuality of languages and their particular linguistic incarnations". Husserl wonders "How is any object in general possible"? Here he runs up against language in general. Derrida writes after this "For if the phenomenological reduction is taken in its fullest sense, it must also entail the reduction of constituted eidetics and then of its own language". What does this mean? It simply means that phenomenology must address how it's able to speak about what it wants to think it's independent of. Not only must it address language but it must reduce it's own linguistic significations. How an ideal is constituted must be reduced for phenomenology to be able to fulfill what it "wants" to fulfill. Language then as the constitutor of pure sense and ideal objectivity must be understood and then reduced to a possible point where it's no longer used but used only as a means (Husserl in Experience and Judgment uses 'merely' always and often to signify this) to constitute ideal objectivity.

Husserl begins his reduction of language by first realizing that for now language is our way for expressing the sense of the world. Here, "expression" and "language" are synonymous. His reduction is intuitive and starts with the fact "the same content can be intended starting from several languages, and its ideal identity assures its translatability. This ideal identity of sense expressed by lion, leo, Lowe, and so forth, is then freed from all factual linguistic subjectivity". Regardless of what language we use to express the idea of "Lion", we always mean the same thing. It has an ideal identity that makes it translatable through all languages. For Husserl then, language escapes a pyschologistic relativity/subjectivity by the fact that its signified content stays consistent, although Derrida later on goes into lengths about the problems of translatability, which any "reader" of Derrida would have to think first stems from his confrontations with Husserl. Husserl further establishes the fact that "lion" is conditioned by a "receptive intution" which he will call an "object of receptivity". Staying consistent with his theme in the Origins of Geometry, Husserl states "The Pythagorean theorem, indeed all of geometry, exists only once, no matter how often or even in what language it may be expressed". Geometry then finds its consistency in the fact that it's first constituted in an ideal language. Husserl expands his reduction to the fact that something can be stated that is empirically and inter-subjectively false but yet it's still true in the sense that it was asserted at one time and still remains a truth for that time. He uses the example of the proposition that "The automobile is the fastest means of travel" to establish this fact. Regardless of it's empirical validity, it remains an intentionality of truth. Here we must distinguish between two different truths; Empirically and scientifically verifiable truth, and Intentionality truth. Even an "absurd" intention has a truth because its pointing to the fact of it's wanting to be "counter-sensical". The fact of it's pointing takes away the posibility of it desired absurdity. In other words, lingustic absurdity can't escape the ideality of language as the constitutor for pure sense. The ever-popular 20th century distinction made by Ferdinand de Saussure between the Signifier and Signified is the concrete solidification of this idea. There is the sense of a statement and the "stuff" that makes up the statement that signifies it's sense.

Derrida thinks the reader to be surprised by the fact that Husserl "re-descends" towards language as the medium and condition of ideal objectivity, as any reader of Husserl would be by his insistence of pure sense not being dependent on any empirical conditions, language being an absolute empirical condition. But Husserl came up against it with all of his honesty which Derrida and the reader recognize and was stated in the beginning of this post. But did Husserl not just prove with the example of 'Lion', that language is first dependent on sense and not the other way around? Does this example not establish the fact that geometrical truth is "beyond every particular and factual linguistic hold"? Derrida makes an absolutely insightful remark here when he states "But the Objectivity of this truth could not be constituted without the pure possibility of an inquiry into a pure language in general. Without this pure and essential possibility, the geometrical formation would remain ineffable and solitary. Then it would be absolutely bound to the psychological life of a factual individual". Slightly later he makes the point that always needed to be made about Husserl but never was until Derrida when he states "The paradox is that without the apparent fall back into language thereby into history, a fall which would alienate the ideal purity of sense, sense would remain an empirical formation imprisoned as a fact in a psychological subjectivity-in the inventor's head." Here, finally, it must be stressed how much the project of Phenomenology and solipsism are tied together, and not just solipsism as an idea, but the actual method of Phenomenology. This is where the reader of phenomenology has to take the biggest leap they have taken, really the biggest leap any philosopher has taken since Descartes cogito and at least give freedom to solipsism as a gateway to pure sense. Later on Derrida may get to this, but for now he doesn't. When Derrida makes the absolutely necessary assertion that without language, pure sense always lies "in the inventor's head" and nowhere else, is this not exactly the point for Husserl? Did he not just prove for Derrida that there is sense in everyone's head regardless of the fact of language? Even as language is the sole constitutive act for the possibility of ideal objectivity? Here a distinction must be made. The fact that Husserl knows that language opens up speculation into a pure solipsistic sense, and the fact that this sense 'is the case' independent of the prior phenomenological 'work' to affirm it. Basically, 'work' never needed to be done to affirm transcendental sense; but Husserl tried to do it anyways from an impulse to ground science which was nothing other than what was stated in his Crises, although this was always the project of phenomenology. One wonders that this was simply a reaction to no one understanding phenomenology because of "scholars" having been under the spell of dogmatic science, history, and sociology which Husserl certainly goes into in the beginning of the Crises. The fact of the matter is that when language is reduced to Derrida's recognition that sense independent of language would be "tied to the inventors head", pure sense gains its infinite freedom by slipping past the language that was just used to constitute it. Certainly, every concept has it's sense, but not all sense has it's concept, and not everything that is making sense to me right now is conceptual. Later on in Derrida's interpretation of Husserl, the idea of passivity and reactivation become paramount regarding non-conceptual sense.

Husserl has seemingly accomplished what he wanted to accomplish. By being honest with himself and Phenomenology enough to be able to confront language and reduce it to where one recognizes that they were just making sense regardless of language, albeit constituted by language, pure sense is certainly in the inventors head...and we can say this, without it ever having to be said. It's not ironic that Phenomenology is everything that goes without saying.
Derrida comments that "To constitute an ideal object is to put it at the permanent disposition of a pure gaze. Now, before being the constituted and exceeded auxiliary of an act which proceeds toward the truth of sense, linguistic ideality is the milieu in which the ideal object settles as what is sedimented or deposited". Sense finds a place to settle; it finds it's place for depositing in language in general. Derrida in a rare rhetorical flourish states "language preserves truth, so that truth can be regarded in the henceforth nonephemeral illumination of its sojourn". Regardless of the rhetoric, it's a striking statement of the geist of language, it's movement, and possibly, its teleology. That this seems like an elaboration of Hegel should come as no surprise. While for Hegel, the movement of geist was the idea in general, it's found in Derrida via Husserl as language. The similarities and differences between the idea and language is something to be fleshed out on another day (a text rigorously comparing Hegel and Derrida would be paramount), but it is the case that some sort of depositing happens that is wholly other that what was not "at once" wholly other. For us so far then, language is the mode and place of depositing sense, a sense that can always happen regardless of the fact that it's always on it's way towards being deposited in something else.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

History as an undefinable implication; Part 5 of Derrida's interpretation of Husserl

Revisiting the problem of History that Husserl addresses in The Crises, we will move away from his specific example of hallucination as a signifier for omni-temporal objectivity. Back to this new version of history that that is one and the same time non-Platonic and not empirically sedimented. As always, the question is, what can be said of this history, this hidden history? What Husserl wants to say is that there is something prior to history and this had to have been the case for history to have started. That being said, this "priorness" before History is a history unto itself that Derrida noted was a "hidden history" for Husserl. Explaining this hidden history though is something absolutely different from explaining traditional history, traditional history being the idea of a building up into things where an origins inevitably becomes forgotten, and never in need of being revisited. This hidden history is not something that can be explained by traditional subjective modes, in other words, without regard to history's temporality, the fact that it has a past, present, and future which guide it's idea. With this a-temporality in mind, we can go into the hidden history that is somehow not flowing or static (static in the sense that it's understood by everyone at all times as moving ahead). This hidden history without time them is explained in other ways, by the way implications.

"Husserl affirms that a sense-production must have first presented itself as evidence in the personal consciousness of the inventor, and when he asks the questions of its subsequent objectification, he elicits a kind of fiction destined to make the characteristics of ideal Objectivity problematic and to show that they are not a matter of course" - Derrida

Husserl then first allows the hidden history of the a priori to be defined by a "sense-production". It "must" have presented itself to someone. Interestingly, Derrida calls it a "kind of fiction" that makes ideal Objectivity a problem. This is the first time in Derrida's interpretation that he slips in the idea of fiction as being characteristic of explaining a priori history, and for good reason. What can't be explained because of being prior to language has to be explained by fiction. But it's not a fiction as if what Husserl was defining by an a priori sense production is "non-real". Rather, it's a fiction in the sense that what's trying to be explained doesn't have the rights to language for being explained, except by rights of the implication, the reference to the fact that something had to happen before, in this case "sense-production". Primitive formations of sense "were before" the project of geometry. It appeared for the first time in the evidence in successful actualization. Primitive formations and sense-production here are analogous.
Derrida affirms the fact that "Husserl did not invent such a possibility; it was simply disclosed as what implicitly has always conditioned the existence of the ideal objects of pure science and thus of a pure tradition, and consequently of a pure historicity, the model of history in general". An apriori and eidetic reading and discourse should be possible. It was never invented by anyone because it's always happening. Again, as was said in the previous post, this is simply in line with Hegel's explanation of History realizing itself (disclosing). This recognition is an implication that there was something happening before the realization of itself, whether this be called language, history, or successful ideal objectivity. But, as we will see in the next post, this recognition is nothing other than language. Before getting into the post of when this hidden history becomes established as a problem of language, it's crucial to read Derrida's interpretation further here.

"'Before' and 'After' must be neutralized in their factuality and used in quotation marks. But can we simply replace them with the timeless 'if' and 'provided that' of the condition of possibility"?

When this hidden history is operating in an a-temporal "zone", the words "before" and "after" can't be used because of this a-temporal history. If we talk about a Before or After in this hidden history, it will be in a way for us to understand, but it's not the case that the way we understand is the way it actually "was". With this in mind, it's important to note how tied man is to thinking historically, as in a mindfulness of historicity. Derrida insightfully brings up the fact that we can continually use "if" and "provided that" to explain a history that is a-temporal and always an implication. This makes sense because an implication is always guided by a "provided that". For example, History is possible 'if' it's 'provided with' X, where X signifies an indefinable proposition. So this hidden a priori history then is explained by undefinable implications. In this sense, it's certainly a fiction, but a fiction that is not "novel" meaning it didn't happen for a first time as if some creator created the novel, but was always happening regardless of any writing or reading. History implies this fiction, but at the same time doesn't allow for it's explanation because of it's in-extractable ties with language. History gives and takes at the same time as an implication.
Derrida though asks a decisive question of this "Historical undefinable implication". He asks "Does this not return us to a classic transcendental regression?And is not the interconnecting of transcendental necessities, even if narrated according to how it develops, at bottom the static, structural, and normative scheme for the condition of a history rather than history itself?"
Even where Husserl gives himself the liberties of explaining an a-temporal history by way of Kantian transcendental implications, does this not act like traditional history where something is being told (narrated) according to a development, meaning a teleology? The hidden history of the a priori then is not able to escape eschatological and teleological suppositions that are implicit in traditional history. Certainly, Husserl wants to find the implicit possibilities that could make anything possible, in this case history, but this wanting to find takes away his rights to the hidden history that wanted to operate under non-teleological and in turn, infinite grounds. Husserl is looking to see what the implications of how history developed and not history itself. Originally Husserl was interested the sense of history which is analogous to "history itself", not it's development, because development implies teleology, and not pure sense that is a-temporal and literally, factually, and metaphorically, going nowhere.
Derrida though in his absolutely precise analysis of Husserl states the fact that this was never Husserl's intention. In one of the most insightful parts of Derrida's interpretation of the Origins, he states, "And the annoyed letdown of those who would expect Husserl to tell them what really happened, to tell them a story, can be sharp and easily imaginable: however, this disappointment is illegitimate. Husserl only wished to decipher in advance the text hidden under every empirical story about which we could be curious".
The crucial point Derrida makes here is that Husserl's a-temporal and implicative history was never a story that was to be told as if something started and ended, in other words a novel, but random "zig-zag" fragments of things that could possibly be the case based on pure intentionality, meaning independent of conscious subjectivity. In this sense, Husserl project is incredibly fictive, albeit one that is a-temporal, which is obviously strange. One suspects that Husserl's project would work incredibly well in the aphoristic style of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, rather than by way of a traditional philosophical text. Reductive implications grounds history, and not a system of development. There is what is always and already there, that was never "developed" as if it could be told as a historical story (The way in which Carl Sagan and Daniel Dennett for example explain how the cosmos and mental phenomena "happened" respectively). Here is where Husserl finds his history, as randomized and undefinable, yet with implied references to an original history...not some originality itself (again, Derrida's concept of the trace becomes enormously helpful here), just to the finite history within the infinite.

These undefinable implications for us will require the supplement of Language; Language that history revealed in order to reveal the idea of the non-historical. In the next post, we will have to always be aware of the fact these implications require language, but yet are "nothing but the possibilities of the appearance of history as such, outside which there is nothing". We will have to give ourselves the liberties and rights of language, before finding history as undefinable implications using this Language.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

'Apparitions' small hiatus

'Apparitions' will be on hiatus until next week. I've been commissioned to write articles for this week which include "The Top 10 Overrated Guitarists" and "The Top 10 Worst Things a Person can Say". So if your the type of person who says dumbass things like "I want world peace!" or "My favorite movie is Donnie Darko", then visit OW later in the week to get a metaphorical whip lashing.

The posts on Derrida's confrontations with Husserl will resume in a few days for the none of you who read them. Until then, enjoy this scene from the amazing UK comedy "Nathan Barley".
Chin Chin! (If OW was going to make a "Top 10 Worst Things a Brit can say", this would surely be on it)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Hallucinatory Thinker; PT 4. of Derrida's Interpretation of Husserl

While running up against the problems that Husserl confronted in eventually having to make a problem out of history, we find him spiraling further down the rabbit hole of "pure logic". The pure logic of the "Protogeometer". The pure sense of the ProtoGeometer. Elaborating on history's pure essence while not elaborating on it at the same time; this qualifies as the sense of Husserl new Historical Account elaborated in the past post.

While we ran up against the ostensible wall of not being able to describe something that already took place before description, nonetheless, we still left open the possibility of having something to be said about it. We are then extending the limits of Phenomenology to it's utmost by extending it to the limits of conceptuality on the border of hallucinations. We are using language to extend Phenomenology to where it wants to go bearing in mind that it can never really get there (Here, Heidegger's concept of Sous rature becomes paramount, which Derrida further developed into the greatest expansion of Husserl's bracketing method; into the crossing out of a word that can't be said, yet was written with a concept in mind. Refer to Spivak's introduction to Derrida's De la grammatologie). While we will get into the language later in regards to Phenomenology, we are now taking for granted the fact that we are using our own concepts for apparent Phenomena, which in the last post Kant helped us out with. What is are these outermost extensions of Phenomenology then?

Derrida states "Since no existential thesis was necessary or permitted, these sciences were immediately freed from all factuality. No sensible figuration in the real world, no psychological experience, no factual content have, as such any instituting sense. The geometrical eidos is recognized in that it withstood the test of hallucination".
Derrida refers to Husserl's Ideas I to establish the a priori structure that Husserl wanted to establish. In reference to any geometer in Ideas I, Husserl states, "Where experience functions in them, it is not as experience. The geometer who draws his figures on the blackboard produces in so doing strokes that are actually there on a board that is actually there. But his experience of what he thus produces, as experience, affords just as little ground for his seeing and thinking of geometrical essence as does the physical act of production itself. Whether or not he thereby hallucinates, and whether instead of actually drawing lines he draws his lines and figures in a world of fantasy, does not really matter"
So Husserl uses Hallucination as a litmus test for pure sense which is incredibly bold. When anyone is drawing something on the board that is geometrical, they can be doing it half asleep while still drawing a shape. If someone whispered to you while you were falling asleep at a board "draw a square", you would be in the process of drawing the square whether or not the request was accomplished. While in the process you might fall down to the ground with the chalk line following you down the path to the ground, but the fact of the matter is that one need not to be conscious to know what a certain geometrical shape is. Derrida refers to Descartes meditations when Descartes states "Whether I am awake or asleep, two and three add up to five, and a square has only four sides". Trying to distinguish this from Platonism to me seems like the hardest task which Husserl makes as an absolute necessity. Derrida elaborates on this for us when he states "if the eidos and the ideal object do not preexist every subjective act, as in conventional Platonism; if then they have a history, they must be primordially grounded in the protoidealizations based on the substrate of an actually perceived real world. But they must do this through the element of an original history".

So then if proto-ideas are neither empirical nor platonic (before the subjective act), then they are somewhere in-between or never at the limits of a beginning or an end. There is some hidden history of "the gap", the gap which Hegel pronounced as the greatest problem of all philosophy (the gaps between things in general). Derrida insightfully writes in the footnotes to this interpretation "This hidden history will take its sense from an infinite Telos that Husserl will not hesitate to call God in his last unpublished writings. It is true that this infinite, which is always already at work in The Orgins, is not a positive and actual infinite. It is given as an Idea in the Kantian sense, as a regulative "indefinite" whose negativity gives up its rights to history". This last sentence speaks volumes from a place that is subjectively of pure silence. What Husserl conceived Teleologically is not an affirmation. It's something that can't be said and is therefore a-historical (It's with this in mind that we understand why Derrida would become fascinated with Nicholas De Cusa and Apophatic Theology.)

Being in complete negation, being in a complete hallucinatory state, things are always the same subjectively speaking. This is very easily conceived with the simple maxim that "the world goes on without us". Whether or not I'm asleep or in a hallucinatory state, an object is still an object, but only for a subject. Here is where Husserl can distinguish his Idea of proto-geometrical history from empiricism and Platonism, by affirming that Ideal Objectivities are only for subjects. So while the subjective mind is always and already making sense of something before it becomes object-idealized, this making sense of something before is not something that is always and already there from some origin. As we saw in the last post, this origin was Indefinite for Husserl, as it was for Kant. Ideas are not always there from some beginning point (Platonism) nor are they there solely because of "Life-World" material conditions (empiricism). The idea then of an "Indefinite Origin" becomes more clarified when the traditional definition of "Origin" becomes disposed of, and is thrown into the connotation of "Indefinite".

Derrida speaks of Husserl's litmus test of Hallucination in finality when he states "Hallucination, then, is truth's accomplice only in a static world of constituted significations. To proceed to the ground and primordial constitution of truth, we must return, starting from the real world, to a creative experience. Even were it unique and buried, this experience remains, by law as well as by fact, first. We recognize, then that for the sphere of sense, the true contrary of hallucinations (and imagination in general) is not directly perception, but history. Or, if you prefer, it is the consciousness of historicity and the reawakening of origins."
Hallucination then is very much part of the being-world. It is part of a static world. It is part of a world that is always and already prescribed. Hallucination while serving as a radical limit to phenomenology and experience, nonetheless, does not cross the threshold into the a priori. This is almost the same as saying the "unconscious mind" is not the same as the purely logical and non-pyschologistic mind which would ground Husserl's argument against pyschologism in his Logical Investigations. Hallucinating, is signifying, certainly a truth, but not it's sense. No sense is gained in the radical limit of pure imagination or in a state of hallucination. Being in a hallucinatory state, one is already in sedimentations; albeit a modified sedimentation.
Yet, if we were to define a hallucination as a purely creative experience starting from nowhere (which would then be in a sense, original), it's opposite state wouldn't be Phenomenological perception, but history. The milieu of perception then can be understood as the hallucinatory state where things are being seen for the first time without any recognition that they will be seen again or have ever been seen before (a-temporal/omni-temporal). History, essentially as Historicity, which is the possibility of moving horizontally within an infinite amount of references (sedimentation's), opposes itself to the a-temporality of a creative experience that is hallucinatory, in the sense that it's never been done before.

Hallucinatory Thinking in this sense then is not within the history of someone whose being asked to do something who is at the same time hallucinating, but tacitly in a creative experience that will always give up it's rights to being signified, and will always give up it's rights to being explained by phenomenology.....except for the fact that it does give one little right to Phenomenology, that of explaining how it's never signified.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Re-establishing "History"; Part 3 of Derrida's interpretation of Husserl

In Husserl's last published work, The Crises of the European Sciences, we find Husserl taking his first leap into the idea of history itself. That this would become a theme for Husserl isn't something that could have been predicted as something that would happen or wouldn't happen in his thought. Certainly, with the honesty of Husserl's work, you could think of him "letting the life-world" into his thought. That being said, no one before or after in western philosophy had so rigorously distanced himself from any sort of existentialiality, even one that would be considered abstract (except for Wittgenstein writing at the same time of Husserl. Refer to Wittgenstein's 'problem' with Karl Popper on Ethics and Philosophy). Husserl though who had thoroughly elaborated Phenomenology from everything that could be studied (Time, Activity, Passivity, Logic, ect.) entered into the problem of history, and in doing so entered into the problem of language (which will be discussed in a post after this).

Derrida is more than aware of this shift in Husserl's thinking and elaborates on the appropriate and not so paradoxically vacuous conception of history in his thinking. We learn immediately from Derrida that, "The historicity of ideal objects obeys different rules, which are neither the factual interconnections of empirical history, nor an ideal and a historic adding on". Where does that leave us then for history if it's neither an archiving of "facts", nor conciliatory gestures of Platonism? Something that is neither real nor unreal. As Zizek continually elaborates on the "reality of the virtual", Derrida and Husserl elaborate on neither being the case for history. This of course opens up a new conception of history that Husserl tried to explain that very few could grasp until they were rigorously interpreted (Ricoeur, Merleau-Ponty, Farber). This attempt at an infinite trace "extended down to a precultural and prehistoric stratum of lived experience". So then, history without culture or history? While not being able to elaborate at all on something that never "was", nonetheless, Husserl can say with certainty that this infinite possibility alone "assures the possibility of historicity". You can't have something without nothing (Heidegger would find Phenomenology more appropriately grounded in Ontology because of this 'axiom/maxim'). "Materially determined ontologies are subordinates to formal ontology, which treats pure rules of Objectivity in general". What does this mean? It means to throw out the fact that any of the geological sciences can teach you anything about the this new version of history. Material conditions and teleological thoughts are not the history that broached into Husserl's Phenomenology. Knowledge and history were dependent on a "naivete of a priori self-evidence that keeps every normal geometrical project in motion". So far, this is nothing new except a reestablishing of Kant's transcendentalism within the context of Husserl's mind.

To further establish the privileging of the "naivete of a priori self-evidence", Husserl gives due time to the fact that Galileo never found it relevant to understand the "how" of origins which Husserl would nominate as "Universal Knowledge". Seeing how knowledge developed was not the problem for Husserl (epistemology) but how knowledge can originally appear. Derrida makes an important footnote in the text describing the fact that Husserl uses the word "origin" with the sense of "first" that is an undetermined primacy and at the same time an original sense; an undetermined origin which surely influenced Derrida's infinite conception of 'the trace"; an undetermined origin which paradoxically Husserl felt could be elaborated on like elaborating on anything.

Not to ever be confused, Husserl goes great lengths to distinguish this "history" from a sociological one, one that would consider what the first theoretical act was of man who found geometry or anything in general for that matter that could be considered ideal. At this point, you're really dealing with nothing when dealing with this new version of history. Here, the line between nothing and purity (a word that Husserl used through all his texts) is extremely thin. While this sociological adventure would "flatter our historical curiosity", "it would still leave us blind about the first sense of such a founding: a sense that is necessary and compared to which these facts have at best only an exemplary signification". Without sense, nothing can be elaborated on. So how is it possible to approach sense without expressible objectivity?

Asking about the sense of history can't be possible without first asking about anything in general. The possibility of the question itself comes second to the sense that Husserl wants to grasp and is there (abstract space) irreducible. He can only derive an answer from a non-answer; he can't "find" an "undetermined answer". Derrida's insightful contributions to this comes by way of stating that "I must already have a naive knowledge of geometry (facts in general) and must not begin at its origins" and this transcendental motif is "concealed each time by the very gesture that uncovers it". In other words, every time Husserl tries to elaborate on the sense of a historical origin, he's concealing that sense by linguistically stating it (more on language in a later post). To understand Husserl's conception of history would require allowing him the luxury of being able to say things without really meaning them, and accomplishing this methodology that attempts to grasp the sense of an origins. By right of the spectre of Kant; "to know something a priori, you have to attribute to things nothing but what necessarily followed from what you had put there yourself in accordance with your concept". For Kant, the space is always open for reducing geometry to an ideal history. It's not as if there is a no-space and no-time where a being is able to operate out of non-conceptuality. Spontaneous reduction is always and already done without giving sense it's due, and without even respecting it, or even being able to respect it because you have no chance at it. You have no way of elaborating on something that happened before elaboration, or the de facto. You can elaborate on it as an operation, but not a founding, because the moment that geometry, or any science, or any thinking is established, the possibility of going back to a non-explicative sense that constituted it is impossible. It's already revealed, and in this sense, already ideal. It's not a matter for subjectivity of what a priori "prescribed" for objectivity. It's beyond the fact that it's not a matter. You can't even say that it doesn't matter because nothing can be said of a sense independent of expression.

How will Husserl answer for establishing sense independent of expression in order to establish a pure logic of history? How will Derrida further approach Husserl's attempts? come, always on the way to a place that will there be on it's way, come.