Kant Vs Hegel Vs the blockchain and Voldemort

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I am going to write this blog post before I forget about the subject matter.

This past week, a few of us braved the rain to discuss some responses to Reza Negarestani’s intelligence and spirit. I am going to put it out there and say that I think all critical theory, theory fiction, diagrams that obfuscate rather than elucidate, and long works that are challenging in the peculiar vein that contemporary thought is challenging is doing something like alchemy. It is using an obscure or perhaps hermetic language that the reader(s) have to struggle through in order to arrive at a personal transformation.  Someone in the reading group did also mention that Reza is a sorcerer.

Well on to it. What is the difference between Kant and Hegel? I was always hung up on the categories. For Kant there are categories of though, for Hegel there is just the dialectic. In our group this week H made the great point that no – Kant (and transcendental idealism) vs Hegel (and Absolute idealism) – noumena vs phenomena.

Yes! tell me more. So for Kant, phenomena is the world of sensation that we humans (perceivers) have access to – our experience. Noumena is the thing in itself that we do not have access to through sense perception – and constitutes REALITY.  (whatever that is). For Hegel, there is no distinction between noumena and phenomena- everything becomes encompassed by noumena (Geist/Spirit).

This led us to a discussion of Voldemort (ie Nick Land) and his idea that the blockchain is the philosophy / the end of philosophy /or something like that – via Vincent Le’s review of I&S.   How can that be possible – that the blockchain is philosophy? Well if philosophy is the activity of determining what is true or what is reality, the something like the blockchain which removes uncertainty from interaction, history, and judgement, becomes truth and reality.

Why is this? Well, the blockchain needs no judge, all transactions (ie facts), are determined by a decentralized consensus algorithm.  These facts (transactions) exist for all time in a public decentralized immutable ledger, not open to interpretation or revision.  The blockchain is truth, it is reality, it also destroys the distinction between ought and is. Might is right in this case. What ought to be done, is what is done, via the consensus algorithm (and perhaps smart contracts programmed on the blockchain).

Reza’s I & S offers an alternative to this because it is a rethinking of philosophy.  Philosophy is the activity of intelligence, it is how intelligence becomes intelligent or transcends itself.  Intelligence is that, which can among other things, can reinterpret its own history (ie its own blockchain, the blockchain is history). A blockchain in this definition, is not intelligent, since it cannot reinterpret its own story, it just exists. I would rather live in a world of reinterpreted history and change than blockchain stasis.