Hope in Philosophy

I want to preface this entry by saying that we are not nearly explicit enough about the role that *hope* plays in philosophy. I wrote on facebook yesterday that ‘wouldn’t it be nice’ is one of the most underused phrases in philosophy.

Everything we write, everything that’s good I mean, has this air of ‘wouldn’t it be nice’ about it — thinking is a hope for a logical closure rather than some methodical activity. And we are not even talking about ‘subjectivism’, I mean, we are not saying that this hope arises from some deep rooted fear, prejudices, desires, and so on — or even from a perspective or school. We each hope in our own way regardless of declared allegiances… but rather, it is simply the hope for closure, an attempt to make a connection — ‘wouldn’t it be nice if these things were connected?’ — a hope for a good grade, if you want to think about it like that.

So I want to foward a few claims that would be nice — to me — if they were true, ie, it will mean that I would have verily accomplished something. I want to claim that we’ve been viewing the event in far too grandiose a way. Earlier on we formulated the ‘impossibility postulate’, which states that it is impossible to work descriptively, from the aftermath of an event, back to the source, since the eye that judges the event remains constant via this method.

This led to the assertion of the superiority of theory over analysis, which, as always, leads to the question of whether our effort, as theorists is *political* or *explanational*: whether we are drawing forth events from history, or whether we are explaining history

And let’s leave this question unanswered since the above was just a summary: that’s where we are in the conception of the historical event. I now want to propose that the *only moment of disruption* is this brief moment when the zero makes its appearance.

I hope this is true, I have several reasons:

(1) Naturalism and Reference — now we are correct in sensing the need for philosophy to attack nature, but we have not realized that nature is simply the stability of reference. Nature, is, if we think about the term, is associated with labor, with being able to work with the world, however abstract.

Now, reference is merely a kind of secondary activity, it is merely a kind of memory aid. Whatever turmoil we may be in — well, that’s sort of the point — that *memory*, tracking, is the very basic act of being in touch with the world. It is, once again, entirely secondary to the actual labor that would take place — it is merely a kind of pointing, a kind of indexicality.

I *hope* we can claim that we are always forgetting indexicality somehow. Well — I have an image in mind, a narrative in mind: that we are always confusing indexing with … reference. Indexing means to point at something, reference — or however we want to phrase this, the large set of concepts related to the idea of some more essential relationship between the mark and the world, eg, representation. For example, our basic argument regarding math the other day was that we always confuse working with the marks of things with working with the things themselves in some way, some labor of numbers.

We are fully aware, of course, of the secondary nature of the mark, that the mark is different from the thing. But our basic drive is towards the error — if we can even call it that — of conceiving of some more essential relationship than merely marking.

(Perhaps, this is basically the inevitable conclusion of our increasing bitterness towards the world, our increasing withdrawl and rejection, etc. — ie, when all our hopes have been let down, when we can no longer declare any allegiance to anything, not for a positive (ie, individualism) but rather a negative reason (bitterness)… the rejection of all proclaimed forms of disruption, freedom.)

Now, this seems to lead towards a transcendental moment but I want to suggest that this is not true — I mean, in the sense of, some transcendental moment when we suddenly have this vision of mark as mark. But rather I want to suggest a momentary vision, or maybe some path for action, some …hope, I guess, not meaning to be cute — but at the same time, sensing that this repetition of this word is not merely haphazard — which I hope is the zero.

The zero, as Rotman says, has a dual role: at once a reference to something, a number, and at the same time a reference to the mark: specifically, to the absence of the mark.

When speaking of the zero we were mostly thinking about algorithms; the zero was enormously practical for human arithmetic. But algorithms themselves are like riding on the back of a tiger (an interesting Nietzsche metaphor for danger) — the way that they work for this particular situation, painstakingly assured — does not at all guarantee a universal validity outside the tiny little region of stability — an algorithm can really be treated as a *claim* or even a *promise* of having understood something.

But nontheless, the algorithm is a brief moment, a flash, when the markness of the mark becomes visible — albeit, it immediately suggests another system. Not, once again, in some transcendental sense, but rather in the sense in which the zero refers to the mere act of marking and in doing so sets forth a kind of *hope*.

An algorithm, again, is not really a paradigm shift but a formalization of a hope, a transformation of a hope into a claim or a guarantee. The zero is the momentary disruption of some more intimate relationship between mark and world or event.

I’ve been thinking about the Gauss insight to, the gauss algorithm. I hope that the Gauss algorithm would give some reason to believe that a kind of ‘dereferencing’ is in fact an ongoing process and not merely a one-off thing, as it appears right now. There, I pointed out how the impasse was due to a kind of linear, causational, observational mental picture as opposed to a ‘detectivistic’ one, ie, one that would disjoin the linear flow of the marking or counting activity. Perhaps the zero would work here too, as the mark of some event, the mark of the origin as opposed to the mark in the midst of some procedure.

TBC, further questions:
1. Does this occur for animals?
2. Does this relate to the ‘epistemic weight’ of allegory, or the tightrope we have to walk when thinking of labor?



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