Thinking, Order, and Finitude

Here is kind of a neat logical puzzle. We have several pieces here:

1) The idea that the world is ruined, but that we may never know it, since we can only see order
2) The idea of “contextual but not profound”, the idea of some *event* of the text. Keep a few things in mind: this is not the event of reading, it is the event after reading, when the text has become just a memory, but not the memory of ideas, but still, the memory of the text in its materiality. In a sense, this can only happen when the world has already been ruined to some extent.
3) The main question, then, is whether there is an order here, ie, the order between materialism and the content of thinking.
4) But here is where thinking, finitude, and order come in. We cannot possibly be seeking order, that is almost violating a kind of categorical imperatve. But nonetheless, in the absence of order, there is a thinking that we can understand. What’s so surprising here is that thinking involves an individual effort, there is no methodical way to arrive at this understanding of thinking. SO the fact is that we can discover an order, but only for each individual case! Or, perhaps even more, we place an order there, so that there is perhaps no difference between thinking and intervention.
5) This game, the above “game” is the consequence of our finitude.

Well… that is probably lesss clear than the numbers there seem to suggest, but I feel it very strongly in my mind. The main peices there is this “materialism of the text”, which we call “contextuality without profundity”, the “memory of a materiality (rather than of “ideas” or even “intentions”)”, the other elements are things that we are perhaps used to, if we are used to philosophical “positioning”: finitude and the order-thinking problem: order is related to science, thinking is almost an antagonistic principle, to philosophy.

I posted in Facebook today something which may illuminate this relationship further: “There is no fundamental order to thinking, not because of subjectivity, a lack of logical laws, subconscious influences, or mystical insight, but rather because of the undecidablity of reference, which turns in discrete intervals like a toothed gear.” This gets at the sense of “discreteness” of thinking, which is something we are used to — that thinking progresses, it seems, by particular shifts that appear to be insights into the reference — but that’s actually merely how it manifests itself! In actuality, the moment of understanding comes intutively and randomly, for all practical purposes, and yet, at the same time, there is a kind of fundamental motivation there, for us.

Perhaps Walter Benjamin thought it best in that notion of the “chess puppet”: “A story is told of a automaton who could play a winning game of chess. Actually, a dwarf, who was an expert chess player, guided the machine by means of a system of strings. There is a historical analog to this machine. The puppet called historical materialism can win all of time, but only if it enlists the aid of theology, which is wizened and must keep out of sight.” Here, there is the reference to thinking as a series of “discrete movements”, and this notion of the undecidability between thinking and intervening. Theology we equate with our fundamental conviction of the ruin. But the key thing to keep in mind here is contextuality without profundity and this materilistic memory of the text in the world of ruin.


TBC: Conrad in Africa



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