Transcendental materialism? No, thanks!

203 posts / 0 new
Last post
Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
Apr 30 2010 15:30
Transcendental materialism? No, thanks!

Let me comment on what are key passages from Zizek’s introduction to his Parallax View and so on Zizek’s core project:

“Today’s crisis of Marxism is not due only to the sociopolitical defeats of Marxist movements; at an inherent theoretical level, the crisis can (and should) also be indexed through the decline (virtual disappearance, even) of dialectical materialism as the philosophical underpinning of Marxism—dialectical materialism [....]”

There is a crisis of Marxism (not yesterday; today!) which can be seen by the decline, disappearance even (luckily only virtual), of dialectical materialism. What this declining ‘philosophical underpinning’ of Marxism even means is not explained yet, only that it needs to be saved from declining!

The text continues a bit further on:

“the relationship between historical and dialectical materialism is that of parallax; they are substantially the same, the shift from the one to the other is purely a shift of perspective. It introduces topics like the death drive, the “inhuman” core of the human, which reach over the horizon of the collective praxis of humanity; the gap is thus asserted as inherent to humanity itself, as the gap between humanity and its own inhuman excess.”

So we learn that a parallax view of dialectical and historical materialism ‘introduces’ Zizek’s own favorite ‘topics’ (of the death drive and inhuman ‘core’ of the ‘human’) and this is *how* the decline of Marxism’s philosophical underpinning can (and should) be stopped. You can feel relieved and close the book at this point if you like.

If you noticed, Zizek has not defined HM or DM. But he wants to explain how they each ‘overcome’ a problem, each in a different way. What ‘problem’ is that? The problem of the “external parallelism of thought and being, of thought as a passive mirroring of objective reality”:

“Historical materialism overcomes [it] through the notion of thought (“consciousness”) as an inherent moment of the very process of (social) being, of collective praxis, as a process embedded in social reality[...], as its active moment.”

“Dialectical materialism['s] problem is [...] how, from within the flat order of positive being, the very gap between thought and being, the negativity of thought, emerges.”

For Zizek, the former’s representative is Lukacs (detail; I didn’t find any mention of Lukacs’ name at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_materialism). Dialectical materialism at this point is already Zizek’s version of dialectical materialism (gaps, negativity, etc.). How marxist DM overcomes the problem of ‘external parallelism’ is not even said, rather Zizek says what DM’s concern should be when overcoming it. It’s clear enough now why Zizek found it useful to invent this distinction between Zizek's own definitions of HM and DM:

“In other words, while Lukács et al. endeavor to demonstrate how thought is an active-constitutive moment of social being, the fundamental categories of dialectical materialism (like the negativity of the “death drive”) aim at the “practical” aspect of the very passivity of thought: how is it possible, for a living being, to break/suspend the cycle of the reproduction of life, to install a non-act, a withdrawal into reflexive distance from being, as the most radical intervention?”

So HM and DM aren’t 'substantially the same' at all as Zizek claimed earlier. And remember the ‘problem’ that Zizek was talking about? It should not concern us after all:

“To put it in Kierkegaard’s terms: the point is not to overcome the gap that separates thought from being, but to conceive it in its “becoming.”

Sorry folks, false problem! Luckily Zizek knows what the real ‘problem’ is (and the ’solution’ and hence theoretical answer to the crisis of marxism, but be patient for a little longer). Just so you remember what Zizek’s basic project is an answer to:

“how is it possible (just the possibility), for a living being (not for rock, but do dogs count? – that’s for another debate), to break/suspend the cycle of the reproduction of life (Badiouian rip-off), to install a non-act (is that what the Zizekian act is called now?), a withdrawal into reflexive distance from being, as the most radical intervention?”

Thought as such is a non-act, in Zizek's own words. Deep. But Zizek realises he hasn’t actually presented an argument against Lukacs (HM, to put it in Zizek’s idiosyncratic terms):

“Of course, the Lukácsian philosophy of praxis contains its own account of how the gap between thought and being emerges: the figure of the observing subject, exempt from the objective processes and intervening in them as an external manipulator, is itself an effect of social alienation/reification; however, this account—which moves within the field of social praxis as the insurmountable horizon—leaves out of consideration the very emergence of praxis, its repressed “transcendental genesis.”

Apparently Lukacs left the emergence of praxis out of consideration. So? There is no argument here against Lukacs (with whom you may agree or disagree) – just the appeal to our concern for the ‘emergence’ of ‘praxis’. And if you don’t see any reason why you should worry about the problems and solutions of Zizek, he warns us of the danger that we will

“either elevate society into a pseudo-Hegelian absolute Subject, or we have to leave open the space for some more encompassing general ontology.”

Yes, please! This is what Zizek's argument for transcendental materialism amounts to. Mere assertion. In the Parallax View there is no elaboration on all the polemics against Lukacs in the introduction.

CRUD's picture
CRUD
Offline
Joined: 11-04-10
Apr 30 2010 23:24

Ralph Waldo Emerson was petty bourgeois. I liked Henry David Thoreau's "Walden " though. I'll take Thoreau over Emerson any day.

30bananasaday
Offline
Joined: 19-12-09
May 1 2010 13:02
Quote:
Dialectical materialism at this point is already Zizek’s version of dialectical materialism (gaps, negativity, etc.).

In the opening pages of Negative Dialectics, Adorno argues that "dialectics is the consistent sense of nonidentity. It does not begin by taking a standpoint." Zizek has claimed that Adorno's reading of Hegel is a misreading (http://zizekstudies.org/index.php/ijzs/article/view/211/310 p. 8), but Zizek's own reading of Hegel comes close to Adorno's negative dialectics. I think that it is in the introduction of the same book that Adorno also claims that "dialectics is the ontology of the wrong state of things." I don't think I am wrong to say that progress is implied by dialectics. This introduces negativity, since progress implies something in need of being improved (and, in the case of dialectics, negated). I am personally quite taken with Zizek's reading of Hegel and also with Adorno's negative dialectics. Whether Zizek's reading of Hegel is an accurate portrayal of what Hegel intended is a very difficult problem to resolve, but it is nonetheless interesting as a point of view in its own right. And it seems to me to be dangerous to, as you seem to, dismiss Zizek's conception of dialectics as his own, crazy version.

Quote:
“The plant is – ”, sets out to say something, to bring forward a further determination. But since only the same thing is repeated, the opposite has happened, nothing has emerged. Such identical talk therefore contradicts itself. Identity, instead of being in its own self truth and absolute truth, is consequently the very opposite; instead of being the unmoved simple, it is the passage beyond itself into the dissolution of itself.
Hegel, Science of Logic, trans. Miller, p. 415
Quote:
The highest maturity, the highest stage, which anything can attain is that in which its downfall begins. The fixity of the determinateness into which the understanding seems to run, the form of the imperishability, is that of self-relating universality. But this belongs properly to the Notion; and consequently in this universality is to be found expressed, and infinitely close at hand, the dissolution of the finite. This universality directly refutes the determinateness of the finite and expresses its incongruity with the universality.
ibid., p. 611

I know that I'm focusing on Hegel where some might say that I should be focusing on Marx and Engels. I don't think that it can be taken for granted that Marx had a proper understanding of Hegel. I don't say this for the sake of criticising Marx, but because I think that if one wants to formulate theory which involves dialectics, one should start with Hegel, and Hegel is very difficult. I was at a symposium fairly recently where a PhD student, who I thought was otherwise extremely intelligent, claimed that Lukacs is a more negative philosopher than Adorno, which I consider preposterous. Lukacs' introduction of the proleteriat as the negation of our current, reified situation is the one of the strongest affirmations of identity that we find in dialectical materialism. I find it strange that Zizek sees Lukacs as the representative of historical materialism, since Lukacs' work seems to me to be fundamentally underpinned by what Zizek sees as the prevalent misreading of Hegel. Whatever one thinks of Marx's own understanding of Hegel and of his dialectic in general, it seems to me that Lukacs typifies the form of dialectical materialism opposed by Zizek. What I'm trying to say, I think, is that Zizek's own position provides solid grounds to counter Lukacs, although I agree that in the material you quote he doesn't counter Lukacs very effectively. I believe that if identity - in this case, proleteriat - could be validly asserted in the which in Lukacs did assert it, and if we accept that class struggle is going on from which a revolutionary shift in the relations of production is possible outcome, socialism would have been much more successful at the beginning of and throughout the twentieth century. The fact that it failed so dismally indicates to me that the category of proleteriat cannot be relied upon. So from where do we begin? From a consistent sense of nonidentity. Negative Dialectics, in my opinion, is a very good book.

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
May 1 2010 14:15

First, to CRUD. Transcendental materialism is how some describe Zizek's ontology. American transcendentalism is not the same thing.

30bananas,

First, the way Zizek uses negativity here has nothing to do with Adorno's ND, its just the ordinary way we use negativity - Zizek uses the term exchangeably with 'passivity' (although some would think it okay to argue that Adorno's philosophy can be called 'Passive Dialectics'). You say its dangerous to dismiss Zizek's conception of dialectics because its close to the Adornian one, but even if this were true, this is just an opinion, and one that you try to frighten people in to believing, exactly the way Zizek does in the final passage I quoted; "accept my theory or else.. (shaking his fist angrily)".

The article you linked to is interesting because it allows you to see how Zizek knows nothing of Marx and he only calls himself a Marxist in a totally ironical sense, i.e. some Kierkegaardian sense of repeating the original impulse of Marx blah blah.

Quote:
I find it strange that Zizek sees Lukacs as the representative of historical materialism, since Lukacs' work seems to me to be fundamentally underpinned by what Zizek sees as the prevalent misreading of Hegel. What I'm trying to say, I think, is that Zizek's own position provides solid grounds to counter Lukacs, although I agree that in the material you quote he doesn't counter Lukacs very effectively.

Your interpretation of Zizek's interpretation of Lukacs interpretation of Hegel has no textual evidence. Seriously though, Zizek only mentions Lukacs here to put himself up in the same league as Lukacs, big name-wise (a parallax view where Lukacs and Zizek are basically doing the same, but if you shift perspective a little blah blah).

30bananasaday
Offline
Joined: 19-12-09
May 1 2010 15:05
Quote:
the way Zizek uses negativity here has nothing to do with Adorno's ND, its just the ordinary way we use negativity - Zizek uses the term exchangeably with 'passivity' (although some would think it okay to argue that Adorno's philosophy can be called 'Passive Dialectics').

As is clear from the quote that I provided earlier, Adornos negative dialectics is concerned with nonidentity. In The Parallax View, Zizek argues that the subject is the gap between different perspectives. In The Ticklish Subject, he sees the subject as the absent centre. I'm not trying to say that Adorno and Zizek entirely agree here, not at all, but I think that there is significant similiarity between the two when contrasted with Lukacs. I don't think that Zizek's dialectics can be dismissed out of hand because they are similar to Adorno's, but because he has made a reasonably thorough engagement with Hegel which deserves attention. Of course this is just an opinion, but I thought the point of this forum was to have discussions, and discussions invariably involve the exchange of opinions. I don't understand why you think that I am trying to frighten people into believing this opinion.

If you honestly think that Zizek doesn't understand Marx, that's fine, but that isn't really the issue under discussion and neither I am concerned with defending Zizek.

I did not in my post suggest what Zizek's reading of Lukacs is. I have never read Zizek on Lukacs besides what you quoted above, and in my previous post I agreed that Zizek's engagement with Lukacs here is poor. I took as my starting point Zizek's reading of Hegel, and argued that from this perspective Lukacs represents the worst kind of dialectical materialism, therefore finding strange Zizek's assignation of Lukacs with the label of historical materialism. I can provide you with textual evidence for Zizek's reading of Hegel:

Quote:
Hegelian ‘reconciliation’ is not a ‘panlogicist’ sublation of all reality in the Concept but a final consent that the Concept itself is ‘not-all’ (to use this Lacanian term). In this sense we can repeat the thesis of Hegel as the first post-Marxist: he opened up the field of a certain fissure subsequently sutured by Marxism.
Zizek, The Sublime Object of Ideology, p. 6

Zizek argues similar things to this frequently. The best places to look are really his book Tarrying with the Negative and the chapter on the Hegelian subject in The Ticklish Subject, but I don't own either book so I can't provide quotes at present. My claim that Lukacs affirms identity by positing the proleteriat as the negation of the present situation comes from my reading of 'Reification and the Consciousness of the Proleteriat' in History and Class Consciousness, but I don't own this text either so I cannot provide quotes. I find it interesting that you point out the absence of textual evidence in what I wrote regarding Lukacs and Zizek, but don't actually dispute anything.

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
May 1 2010 16:07

I'm gonna be brute; do you, as a self-identified Adornian, accept transcendental materialism, yes or no?

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
May 2 2010 12:51

Just to avoid misunderstanding, Zizek does not get Lukacs;

"Of course, the Lukácsian philosophy of praxis contains its own account of how the gap between thought and being emerges: the figure of the observing subject, exempt from the objective processes and intervening in them as an external manipulator, is itself an effect of social alienation/reification; however, this account—which moves within the field of social praxis as the insurmountable horizon—leaves out of consideration the very emergence of praxis, its repressed “transcendental genesis.”

For Lukacs social practice is not the same as revolutionary practice. Lukacs makes that very clear in his Defense of HCC (to which incidentally Zizek wrote the post-face!).

30bananasaday
Offline
Joined: 19-12-09
May 2 2010 14:45

"I'm gonna be brute; do you, as a self-identified Adornian, accept transcendental materialism, yes or no?"

I have absolutely no idea what transcendental materialism is.

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
May 2 2010 18:53

"A metapsychologically based transcendental materialist theory of subjectivity, characterized essentially by a Schellingian theme, advances two axiomatic theses: One, the underlying ontogenetic base of the subject consists of the materiality of a certain Real, more specifically, of an internally conflicted libidinal economy at odds with itself from the very beginning (i.e., the Schellingian "vortex of drive" (Trieb) as the volatility of, so to speak, substance against itself); Two, the subject is genetically produced as a consequence of the fact that the disturbing discontent of this initial state prompts efforts at taming and domesticating this "corpo-Real," efforts that come to constitute and define the fundamental contours of subjectivity itself (as a subject-position characterized by a (pseudo-)transcendence of embodied materiality)."

This.

communistingoodfaith
Offline
Joined: 5-05-10
May 6 2010 16:21

TRANSCENDENTAL MATERIALISM? YES, PLEASE!

First of all, I don't understand your sarcastic tone when you're introducing Zizek's texts, as what you quote makes perfect sense to me. I don't think he's advocating that you read a few passages and then "close the book at this point if you like". I don't think there's an argument there against what he's saying, so much as a form of placating.

You say Zizek hasn't defined HM or DM "if you noticed". Well, that's understandable when you quote 2 or 3 short passages from the introduction to what is in fact a long and dense text.

The difference between historical materialism and dialectical materialism is that for historical materialism, thought is merely a corollary of material being, whereas dialectical materialism is able to think thought as thought, as a break from simple being-in-itself. It requires the material but is not reducible to it. In his book on Deleuze he says explicitly "in opposition to mechanical (i.e. historical) materialism which simply reduces the flow of sense to its material causes, dialectical materialism is able to think this flow in its relative autonomy". There is a gap that forever separates the subject from his material origins. Indeed, the subject IS the gap between inner nature (genetics, brain structure) and external nature, e.g.., the environment. This sits quite well with me, I'm not sure exactly what your argument is. Relative to pure material nature, the concept of "sense" or "meaning" is something which, in the course of history, exploded into existence, as a way of resolving the dead-lock of the fact that genetic or external nature isn't completely determined, since it is not complete. And here Catherine Malabou's Que faire de notre cerveau? can be extremely helpful. I think instead of citing passages where questions might be posed, you should continue reading as you're likely to find the answer if you do so. Historical materialism and dialectical materialism ARE substantially the same as they are both concerned with the relationship to the MATERIAL. They are both materialisms. And as for their becoming, it would seem that Hegel here would suffice. The movement of spirit for Hegel or the bridging of the gap for Zizek are infinite problems which are resolved in different ways at different times. All this seems to make sense so I'm curious about where your misunderstanding it.

I think you're throwing around insults at people, and throwing around cheap criticisms that are already answered in their philosophy. As for breaking/suspending the cycle of reproduction of life, this isn't a Badiouian rip-off. If anything IT'S HEGEL YET AGAIN. The subject for Hegel is pure negativity, the dissolving of stable substance. Heidegger says something very similar.

Zizek may very well not have presented an argument against Lukacs, I'm sure he'd agree that such is the case. But he's not aiming for Lukacs, is he? Indeed, what he says is the same thing I've just said. Negativity. He demonstrates further in the section on neuroscience how another name for the subject might be the pure negative moment, the "non-act" of precisely NOT giving in or NOT doing something. This makes perfect sense when you conceive the human as opposed to the animal on the ground that the human is fully capable at every moment of precisely NEGATING his instincts. I don't see anything wrong with that. In his debates with Johnston, the threshold of what's acceptable in terms of this negative moment is of great importance. Naturally there is a day after, something so far Badiou, Zizek, et al. seem to concern themselves with, albeit in different ways.

So true, there is no argument against Lukacs, simply that he didn't quite push it hard enough, as is often the case in the relationship between Kant and Hegel. So far, Zizek's ontology, which is probably a slightly different topic, presents no problem as I can see it, and indeed leaves open the space for a "more encompassing general ontology". If you're calling it all an ASSERTION, then I suggest you READ BEYOND THE INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK.

Additionally, the fact that you say

The article you linked to is interesting because it allows you to see how Zizek knows nothing of Marx and he only calls himself a Marxist in a totally ironical sense, i.e. some Kierkegaardian sense of repeating the original impulse of Marx blah blah.

I think is interesting, because it's clear you simply just don't get it, allowing you to pass it off as "blah blah". I would say that he absolutely has a point. You, apparently, want to stick to some Trotskyist line of Marxism which is thoroughly out of date and incongruent with the present time. I think it's impossible to be communist without being a marxist, but I don't think simply rehashing trotsky or anyone else is the solution, but by all means, it's failed so much this far, what could possibly happen if you keep applying it? I would say Zizek has a better understanding of Marx than you, you're simply unable to play the historical materialist game of Marxism itself.

Other than that, your messages seem like nothing but empty rhetoric and shitty insults about things you haven't bothered to read in the first place.

So by all means.

TRANSCENDENTAL MATERIALISM? YES, PLEASE!

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
May 6 2010 20:49

I think we agree Lukacs is not the issue here. Let me go back to the core of Zizek's introduction, and we'll get something like this:

Without "asserting the gap [..] as inherent to humanity itself, as the gap between humanity and its own inhuman excess" you cannot properly account for "how the gap between thought and being (this refers to social being I think) emerges".

Or am I just distorting Zizek to make him seem tautological? I don't think I am. This is an inherent feature with Lacanian thought. The subject emerges from a split and the subject is split.

EDIT

I add that the possible counter-argument here that would draw attention to the supposed fact that the emergence and functioning of capitalism is also tautological, that is it is a real tautology, actually goes even more against transcendental materialism. Adrian Johnston (the coiner of TM) has said how transcendental materialism relies heavily on the way capitalist dynamics work. This statement probably reveals more than intended.

zizek wrote:
how is it possible, for a living being, to break/suspend the cycle of the reproduction of life, to install a non-act, a withdrawal into reflexive distance from being, as the most radical intervention?

Again, is Zizek here not equating an explanation of the operation of ordinary individual thought (cf. Malabou on brain structure) with accounting for revolutionary consciousness?

communistingoodfaith
Offline
Joined: 5-05-10
May 7 2010 11:09

I don't see how the functioning of capitalism goes against transcendental materialism. You may as well ask how handjobs go against the functioning of garage doors, there's little relation. I'm also not sure, if it's true, how transcendental materialism RELIES on capitalist dynamics. If you say that's the case, then you're missing what transcendental materialism IS. So far your arguments, up to this point, have crumbled, so you're shifting. To say the subject emerges in the gap, and then sublates the gap makes perfect sense to me.

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
May 7 2010 15:47
Adrian Johnston wrote:
In addition to serving as the spur for a rethinking of ontology, the dynamics of capital present the opportunity for apprehending and appreciating intrinsic facets of the skeletal structure of subjectivity itself [...]. Within the framework of capitalism and its marketplaces, an aggregate of multiple individuals generates, in a bottom-up fashion (i.e., through the horizontal, lateral interactions between these individuals), a set of economic patterns that eventually take on a life of their own, patterns that, as it were, come to transcend the individuals constituting the aggregate and achieve a relative self-relating autonomy-hence the "alienating" effects of capital identified by Marx, the fact that its movements and migrations cease to be regulated by the interests of those responsible for generating it (in Schellingian terms, one could describe this facet of Marxian alienation as the virtual existence of capital arising from and breaking with the material ground of labor). Here surfaces the motif of the immanent genesis of the transcendent.

For the sake of argument, if TM relies on capitalist dynamics (I'm not saying this is the case) doesn't this mean that in Zizek's philosophy 'human nature' can be conceived as nothing else but capitalist? Johnston's basic message here is 'look at capitalist reality, that's how subjectivity works as well'. TM would then be apologizing for capitalism by building an ontology of the subject on it. In itself that does not go against TM, it's just an appeal to the good (and true) cause of communism.

communistingoodfaith wrote:
To say the subject emerges in the gap, and then sublates the gap makes perfect sense to me.

Saying that the subject emerges in the gap and then sublates the gap makes "perfect sense" only after you have accepted both these axioms (of TM) without proof, that's the nature of axioms. These are non-negotiable truths for Lacan-worshipers.

It seems the question is one of explaining individual ordinary thought, like when a baby learns to negate its instincts or to speak - and then we need to be clear that this is not the same thing as understanding revolutionary interventions (Zizek conflates the two).

oisleep's picture
oisleep
Offline
Joined: 20-04-05
May 7 2010 23:47

confused

communistingoodfaith
Offline
Joined: 5-05-10
May 7 2010 23:59

This is simply a problem of definitions. He isn't saying that transcendental materialism relies on capitalist dynamics, at all. "For the sake of argument", you have created an argument. IF that were true, then maybe what you were arguing would be true as well, but that's not what's being put forward. In your response you're attacking a straw man. Johnston's message is NOT "look at capitalist reality, that's how subjectivity ors as well", nor is it an apologetic in regards to capitalism. I have to ask, WHERE ARE YOU READING THIS? Because it's not in anything you cite. What is being discussed is the destructive and deterritorializing power of capital on the one hand, something both Badiou and Marx himself praise, and the idea of the virtual picked up elsewhere by Zizek and Badiou working on Deleuze. These two axioms I accept, but they aren't really axioms since they can be demonstrated. But you seem to have different axioms in mind, apparently, and I'm not sure what those are. If they ARE axioms, and non-negotiable truths, then why are you bothering talking about it in the first place, since it's apparently axiomatic?

Secondly, the withdrawal or contraction of being in the development of the subject AND in the development of a truly radical act appear to me fairly congruent. And he's not conflating the two at all. You might be when you read his work, but that isn't the sense given in the work itself. I would suggest you read closer.

lamb's picture
lamb
Offline
Joined: 6-03-10
May 8 2010 00:14

Haha, god you've got a shit attitude Noa. I'm reading The Parallax View at the moment, and from what you've cited I'm not seeing in what ways you're supporting your argument. Like was suggested, reading further than the introduction would be helpful. I mean what does this come down to? You just think Zizek is a sleazy academic or something? You don't think he has proper intentions or something? His argument seems convoluted? Perhaps you're getting hung up on language and whatnot but the larger point is always readily clear.

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
May 8 2010 01:45

The 2 axioms of Transcendental Materialism, following Johnston, are that 1) the subject emerges from a split and 2) the subject is split.
(I quoted Johnston where he states these 2 axioms, the short form I give them doesn't do them full justice)

In the introduction of the Parallax View Zizek says that his philosophy sets out to address the problem of "how, from within the flat order of positive being, the very gap between thought and being, the negativity of thought, emerges." At the end of the Parallax View we do not have an answer to this question, because it's not a real question to begin with. It's a 'problematic' around which Zizek can circle for 600 pages, like an embodiment of the death drive, without ever arriving at his goal. The goal is the circling (allowing for endless variations on a few Lacanian points).

The axiom that there is a "gap [..] inherent to humanity itself" (when Zizek states this in a lecture he pauses a few seconds to pretend he stated something profound while the audience goes blank), is not an answer (probably Zizek is modest enough to acknowledge that his axiom merely will help us to think about the said 'problem').

So Zizek does not make a judgment on a a certain topic or issue, which we could explain ourselves (i.e. without having to accept transcendental materialism). Therefor transcendental materialism is not worth to be bothered talking about, except for filling sleazy academic journals with material (that one's for lamb).

communistingoodfaith
Offline
Joined: 5-05-10
May 8 2010 02:05

Again, you're not presenting an argument, you're just spouting rhetoric. All of this "pauses a few seconds to pretend he stated something profound" is just bullshit. Argue the point or don't. Stop trying to spice it up with your personal indignations.

If after reading the Parallax View you TRULY don't have an answer to that question, then I would say you wasted your time reading it and your money purchasing it, because for me its seems rather obvious AFTER HAVING READ THE BOOK. He refers numerous times to the ontological explosion of thought and pure sense. It's obvious you simply chose to gloss over it. The "gap inherent to humanity itself" ISN'T an axiom, again, since it's demonstrable. If you don't think Zizek made a judgment on a certain topic or issue in the Parallax View, then seriously, what the fuck were you reading?

You say transcendental materialism isn't worth being talked about, without adequately defending why. Not to mention the fact YOU ARE BOTHERING TO TALK ABOUT IT. Your arguments don't hold water, they aren't arguments, they are rhetorical devices that serve only to point out your reading deficiency. If you don't want to talk about it, shut up about it. But if you DO, then back up any of the bullshit you're saying, because so far, all you're doing is whining WITH NO COHERENT ARGUMENT WHATSOEVER. Try reading the fucking book.

Boris Badenov
Offline
Joined: 25-08-08
May 8 2010 02:40
oisleep wrote:
confused

"philosophy"

oisleep's picture
oisleep
Offline
Joined: 20-04-05
May 8 2010 10:56

actualised

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
May 8 2010 11:28
communistingoodfaith wrote:
Again, you're not presenting an argument, you're just spouting rhetoric. [..]

The "gap inherent to humanity itself" ISN'T an axiom, again, since it's demonstrable. [..]

Try reading the fucking book.

And if I did read it and still show TM does not make a reasoned judgment on anything, then I should try to read another book of Zizek, etc., until I become a believer?

I'm not only taking issue with Zizek's rhetorical devices in the introduction to the Parallax View; the entire thought (i.e., transcendental materialism) of Zizek should be rejected, as it does not advance beyond asserting said 2 axioms (as Johnston calls them, so if you disagree about the 2 theses being indemonstrable axioms take it up with him, he does it in this text http://www.lacan.com/symptom8_articles/johnston8.html ).

communistingoodfaith
Offline
Joined: 5-05-10
May 8 2010 13:47

Transcendental materialism isn't a religion as much as dialectical materialism. Indeed, the two, diamat and transmat aren't even mutually exclusive as has been pointed out. The problem and the point that I enunciate in each response is that you DIDN'T show how transcendental materialism is neither reasonable nor rational. And it CERTAINLY isn't a matter of belief. If you read Parallax View and didn't understand it, then the point isn't to read something else, the point is that you simply don't get it, even when the information is in front of your face.

You DIDN'T take issue with Zizek's rhetorical devices, at all. You only put out your own. You showed a deep and probably intentional misunderstanding of the material. You also haven't shown how transcendental materialism should be rejected. You instead only give reasons, superfluous and full of holes, of why you PERSONALLY reject transcendental materialism, as if anyone's trying to convert you (which they aren't). If you don't think it's worth talking about, then I ask again, why are you talking about it? If you think transcendental materialism doesn't go beyond asserting two axioms, then you really don't know shit about it, and I would suggest reading the material if I thought you were capable of comprehending it.

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
May 8 2010 16:45

Again, it is not me who first claimed that TM has 2 axioms, it was world-leading Zizek-scholar Johnston:

Johnston wrote:
A metapsychologically based transcendental materialist theory of subjectivity advances two axiomatic theses: One, the underlying ontogenetic base of the subject consists of the materiality of a certain Real, more specifically, of an internally conflicted libidinal economy at odds with itself from the very beginning (i.e., the Schellingian "vortex of drive" (Trieb) as the volatility of, so to speak, substance against itself); Two, the subject is genetically produced as a consequence of the fact that the disturbing discontent of this initial state prompts efforts at taming and domesticating this "corpo-Real," efforts that come to constitute and define the fundamental contours of subjectivity itself (as a subject-position characterized by a (pseudo-)transcendence of embodied materiality).

Or as I put it in plain language; the subject emerges from a split and the subject is split. And as you put it even better:

communistingoodfaith wrote:
Relative to pure material nature, the concept of "sense" or "meaning" is something which, in the course of history, exploded into existence, as a way of resolving the dead-lock of the fact that genetic or external nature isn't completely determined, since it is not complete.

You beg the question; how does this not explain the possibility of the negativity of thought (free will) to us?

Because it does not say what the deadlock is or consists of. It does not say where this deadlock itself came from, and why did it explode when it did, and why did the concept of 'meaning' emerge from it. You can only say that external nature is 'incomplete' after you already presuppose that a subject (human civilization in this case) will appear.

lamb's picture
lamb
Offline
Joined: 6-03-10
May 8 2010 16:50

It seems readily obvious that you must have some personal problem with Zizek, looking for the best "gotcha" or something. I mean ffs, you've got a picture of him in your av? Starboj? Christ man, I don't understand the things people put their energy towards. It'd be a bit more becoming in your case to just flat out say you think he's full of shit or something, out to pay the bills with pointless books, etc.

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
May 8 2010 16:59
lamb wrote:
Starboj? Christ man

cos he hates Starbucks tongue

communistingoodfaith
Offline
Joined: 5-05-10
May 8 2010 18:09

Next time you want to remark about two axioms, you might want to cite the material you're referring to instead of leaving everyone else to guess what you're talking about. As to your question, it DOES explain the negativity of thought - it's precisely in the voids and the wholes in the given (genetic) nature of the subject. What's the problem? It DOES say what the deadlock consists of. NUMEROUS TIMES. We've already both mentioned them. It says where the deadlock comes from. All of this is contained in the book you're citing, indeed, THIS IS PRECISELY WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT IN THE FIRST PLACE. No one's saying external nature is necessarily incomplete, but INTERNAL NATURE IS. If you're talking external nature, then yes, REALITY is incomplete.

I agree completely with lamb. This is a personal and not a philosophical or other problem. You're trying to outwit what you put there in the first place. You ARE looking for the best "gotcha". No one is forcing you to accept transcendental materialism. If you don't want to, then don't. No one's shoving it down your throat. But until you learn how to argue your point you will have no argument for doing so. And if it's not worth talking about, then shut the fuck up about it, seriously.

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
May 8 2010 20:45

The possibility of the 'negativity of thought' (aka free will) lies within the internal genetic nature as it is incomplete because it's in a deadlock with itself (which is manifested in voids) - or vice versa; the voids manifest in a deadlock, or still more, there is a deadlock because genetic nature is incomplete. This is the first axiom of transcendental materialism.

On the philosophical level, the problem is that it does not state in what the deadlock consists or how the onto-genetic base ended up in one. It's not just an unproven claim, it's one devoid of knowledge. It's not possible to say more about the substance/onto-genetic base other than that it's conflicted/deadlocked and that it was like that "from the very beginning". But how can we know that the onto-genetic base is deadlocked when we don't even know (and will never be able to know) in what way and how come? And again, what property is there then to distinguish an onto-genetic base with voids from an onto-genetic base without voids?

Now, what do I mean when I earlier said the tautological feature of TM is inherent? The first axiom (internal nature is incomplete) is presupposed by the second axiom (subject emerges in response to the split, or is the split). Now, this is normal with a series of axioms. The problem is that the first axiom already presupposes knowledge of the second (that is the tautology, or circular reasoning is the better term). It is made with the presupposition that a subject will emerge from the 'incomplete' internal nature. In fact that is the only reason why the first axiom is made, as it does not contain any knowledge, as I showed above.

communistingoodfaith
Offline
Joined: 5-05-10
May 8 2010 22:56

False. Johnston doesn't use the term "deadlock" at all. Nature is incomplete for very physical and biological reasons, AGAIN, as has been pointed out by Catherine Malabou in her book "Que faire de notre cerveau?". The deadlock isn't manifested by voids, LACK is manifested by voids and holes. The void doesn't manifest in a deadlock. Clear up your terms and then come back. You're talking nonsense, and you're unwilling or unable to think through the material that's in front of you. And you're boring me. So either pick up on something or just stop talking about something that's not worth talking about. The deadlock IS that internal nature is incomplete, and that is supplemented by the subject, which is the operator between internal and external nature. I'm repeating myself. How many times am I going to have to do so before you get it through your fucking head? Are you illiterate or just dumb? Try reading the fucking book you keep wanting to criticize. AND it explains how and why. What is your problem? Why can't you read? You're asking questions that have been answered NUMEROUS times on this very page. The first axiom isn't presupposed by the second. Seriously, kid, learn to read. It's not circular or tautological, you just aren't smart enough to put letters together to form words and therefore create sentences. Try again. Every thing you claim to argue against is already answered for in a previous entry. Pull yourself together and think up a coherent argument, otherwise shut the fuck up because you clearly don't have a handle on what you're talking about.

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
May 9 2010 00:36
Quote:
Nature is incomplete for very physical and biological reasons

That seems tautological to me.

Quote:
as has been pointed out by Catherine Malabou in her book "Que faire de notre cerveau?"

Zizek's TM goes back to before Malabou was born, to Schelling and Lacan.

Quote:
I'm repeating myself. How many times am I going to have to do so before you get it

I would ask you then to stop repeating the axioms of TM as in post no. 8 I gave them already and I find them quite easy to understand.

Quote:
The first axiom isn't presupposed by the second. Seriously, kid, learn to read.

You should learn to read;

Johnston wrote:
Two, the subject is genetically produced as a consequence of the fact that the disturbing discontent of this initial state prompts efforts at taming and domesticating this "corpo-Real,"

I wrote that the real problem however is that the first axiom already presupposes the second.

communistingoodfaith
Offline
Joined: 5-05-10
May 9 2010 12:03

Wow, you're ridiculous. "Nature is incomplete for physical and biological reasons" SEEMS TAUTOLOGICAL to you? It doesn't matter how it SEEMS to you. If you understood what tautological means, then you would realize it's NOT tautological. I'm not sure how active Lacan was before Malabou's birth, but Schelling wasn't a biologist, he was a philosopher. So…not a refutation of any argument. If you found them easy to understand, there wouldn't be a problem. Just reverse the rhetorical order in which the axioms were stated and problem resolved. You still have no ACTUAL argument against TransMat. If you don't like Zizek, then don't read him. For the umpteenth time, if it's not worth bothering to talk about, then don't talk about it.

Noa Rodman's picture
Noa Rodman
Offline
Joined: 4-11-09
May 9 2010 14:03

I mentioned Schelling and Lacan to return to the topic, as the first axiom is:

Johnston wrote:
One, the underlying ontogenetic base of the subject consists of the materiality of a certain Real, more specifically, of an internally conflicted libidinal economy at odds with itself from the very beginning (i.e., the Schellingian "vortex of drive" (Trieb) as the volatility of, so to speak, substance against itself)
communistingoodfaith wrote:
Just reverse the rhetorical order in which the axioms were stated and problem resolved

You can't reverse them because the second axiom is presented as a consequence of the first. The first axiom is thus what the entire TM philosophy rests on.

My refutation of it is that it does not state in what the deadlock consists or how the onto-genetic base ended up in one. It's not just a by definition unprovable assertion, it's one devoid of knowledge. It is like bringing a car in for a check up, and the mechanic says that your car is defunct, but doesn't say what part of the car is malfunctioning and how it is malfunctioning.

If after this one still is desperate enough for the sake of receiving the concluding axiom to swallow the first one, one is disappointed because the second axiom was already presupposed in the first. This is also somewhat reflected in Lacan's itinerary; he started with the Symbolic and later in his life, the Real got the central importance. He would not arrive at the Real, without first presupposing there exists such a thing as the Symbolic.