Note

In order to free our thought from Kant's antimonies, we might offer to extend the characteristics usually reserved for consciousness to any material system. This includes extending our finite phenomenal perception of our conditioned intuition, such that the unconditional effectively is insofar as it is unconditional for the series it conditions. That is to say, maybe misrecognition is a physical process and not merely a private, subjective experience. Therefore, although causation is theoretically infinite (an infinite regression of causes without a first cause), empirically, causation is limited by the power of the faculties of the very things that are caused. Causation is not only thinkable because of the necessary limitations on the intuition of what it conditions (our limited perception saves us from the infinite regression of caused causes), but it is also possible and in fact realized because of these limits: The caused can never grasp its cause as something in turn conditioned, (our ignorance is of the cause of our cause) and this "failure" is materially constitutive of causation.

For me, this is the only possible non-anthropocentric conclusion to be drawn from the double-slit experiment, that is, while perception is a factor in the collapse of the wave function, that perception is not that of the human (which itself would be determined by the paradoxical causal chain the experiment demonstrates) but of the experimental setup itself taken to be a complex system not qualitatively unlike the system of human consciousness: The experiment is under continuous surveillance long before we've dreamed it up.

Causation, like any elementary law, is provisional and is in a sense agreed to by all the parties involved. If the unconditional, from one perspective, is conditioned from another, then from a universal perspective, all causation being equal, the caused is eventually, to some degree, the cause of its own cause. But since a universal perspective is impossible and each unconditional is always an unconditional for, then we can avoid the short circuit that would threaten to lead us into anarchy and assert instead that this limitation is constitutive of causation. That is, causation is a property of the caused and not of the cause. So while Badiou's mathematical ontology would seem to hover nearest the void of being qua being, sich that set theory gives us the closest formal representation of the formless, we might actually affirm that even being failes to attain the purity of "mere multiples of multiples" and that the name of the void ("∅") precedes the void itself, which never arrives.

If the unconditional were as such in itself, then the world would be impossible; the world would never come into being, since the unconditional becomes such only by virtue of the finitude of the conditioned. That the world is not impossible (and is, rather, contingent) proves that the unconditional is not as such in itself. That the unconditional effectively appears as such leads us to assert that one is not subjected to causation, rather one submits to causation and thus that the constitutive figure of reality is not the subject but the submissive, the sub, and this figure is not tied to a specifically anthropomorphic form of perception. And in this is perhaps a key to the mystery of freedom: Submission is the only free choice; domination is never a choice at all (being the delusion of pure, self-sustaining will), and the choice of death over life does not seem as purely free as the choice to persist in unfreedom. The question then, which I will not venture to answer, is what this means fira Lockean definition of freedom.

The relationship of dom and sub depends on an extralegal relation (logically, if not temporally, prior) that constitutes and protects the fiction of their positions. Can this extralegal relation be the object of thought, and if so, by submitting it to thought, do we thereby forfeit the force of our fiction? Is the desire to transgress from one register to the other caused by the desirability of what lies on the other side? Or is that desire a function of the gap that separates the dom-sub fiction from the extralegal consensus that serves as its alibi, transcendental and thus unassailable? Why does the register of significance, here the extralegal unconditional that structures the uneven erotic relation that obtains (see Dec. 2 Note), always appear as both constitutive origin and utopian goal? Why the double displacement, especially if to arrive at that register would mean to come in turn under the transcendental of that register's metalanguage, meaning that it is not we who cycle through registers, "we" are only possible at the level of meaning and not of significance?

But let us return for a moment to the subject. In the dialectic of dom and sub, the subject is the limit case, the object of a violence that is directed at it only through that which is its unconditional. Violence occurs when what is unconditional discloses its cold contingency in the very same gesture in which it seeks to declare its incontestable autonomy. That is simply what "violence" means: theoretical illegitimacy suppressed by actual potency. The subject is what appears when the unevenness of the dom-sub fiction in the register of meaning is transposed to the register of significance; or better, when a symbolic difference, structured by a real mutuality, is taken for the unconditional, so that the real is taken to be fully presented in the symbolic. This is the symptom that we call neoliberalism in governance and postmodernism in culture. The valorization of difference requires a suppression of the register of significance (of depth and the real) in order to assume the mantle of universality under the total dissemination of difference. The antinomy of postmodern identity politics - that identity is both oppressive and liberating or that freedom is having one's identity recognized by the state - is an effect of the suppression of the register of significance, that is, of politics as an assumed mutuality in the real. The subject is what is absolutely submitted to the register of meaning, and this is effected by foreclosing the domain of significance (of the real and of politics), naturalizing the market and private property. The subject is a sub without safe word, a sub unable to mark the limits of the fantasy, which has now been absolutized by the postmodern relativization of the unconditional. No longer seen as unconditional, the relations of capital cannot be named as such, they immediately forward any critical interrogation to their own conditions, so that one is thrown back to questions of jurisprudence (Agamben) or technology (Deleuze), which however vital, are still perhaps themselves epiphenomena of capital's amassing the political control of global information technology. Dialectics means that we make space in our thinking for basal determination, the essential and the unconditional, however conditioned or constructed such categories may be.

Regardless, the postmodern gesture of decentering, while theoretically valid, is much less efficacious politically since this is the very gesture of globalized capital. The point obviously is not to return to a so-called metaphysics of presence, though perhaps a return to metaphysics in general ought to be considered. Of course, this is happening generally, though I'm in no way plugged into those networks (I'm thinking particularly of what's come out of speculative realism, but also of Latour and Agamben). The point is that there is no purity, no subject position that is not party to the violent self-valorization of power, and in general, there is the moral imperative to read paranoiacally rather than symptomatically, which would require us to construct our positions as we go instead of seeking solace in the ready-made identities so eagerly proferred by neoliberalism and its associated technologies.

Perhaps, then, I am not offering a way out of antinomies but rather seeking to absolutize them. They tell us rather that our assumptions are mistaken, that we are taken with a view of nature that is inconsistent with nature's inconsistency. Kant's antinomies disappear when we deny the universe as such any existence (this is the gist of Badiou's refutation of Nature), when we deny it perfection, necessity, consistency, autonomy, or unity. In a sense, we affirm the war of all against all only because such a war would reasonably end in something quite similar to our current conditions. We don't find anarchy inspiring because anarchy is what we live in, both physically and materially. There is nothing inconsistent about the coincidence of anarchy and despotism. And we affirm this war simply as that which is, while simultaneously demoting that which simply is to meaningless rot. This version of being is the only impartial version because it views being as unjust horror. Being has no hierarchy because it easily includes errancy, yet no errancy errs since being is indifferent horror. Thankfully, thought does not equal being (sorry, Parmenides), so that thought can perhaps limit being's pretence of unlimited anarchy.