Brassier on Intelligence & Reason / Hegel on Love – Reading Group Readings


These are some notes I made on the reading for my reading group a while ago. The first reading was a short blog post by Ray Brassier on Intelligence Vs Reason.   The closest I can get to making any meaning out of this blog post is that it posits that the way out of reason (or critical philosophy) is a negative philosophy (like negative theology). We must talk about all those things Parmenides writes we cannot talk about.  (IE those things that are NOT). Also we must move away from anthroposophy/correlationism/etc – perhaps practice some sort of object oriented ontology.

Reason is biological/organic/mammalian, intelligence is something else (ie we can have artificial intelligence).  The way beyond reason towards intelligence is through negating the human (the rational). “To be in the real does not imply that you are aware of this rather than that, a man rather than a thing. We know ourselves to be nothing… And it is this fundamentally arbitrary identification of the real with the human individual and transcendental individualism which must be abolished in order to definitively separate the real from being.”  

The idea is that the real cannot be apprehended through reason (which is tied to humanness), but only through intelligence (I am not sure what that is).

“The real is not effectuated ‘once for all time’ according to a multiplicity which is conclusively nothing other than those empirical beings (supposedly) human, but occurs never and for nothing; this is precisely why liberating the intelligence-(of)-the-real from its bio-phenomenological base liquidates man once and for all.”

This makes me sad, because I am all about the multiplicity! The one is fascist. Is it really correct to oppose the real to the nothing and the intelligence to biology? This also seems sexist and regressive.  It is the age old esoteric ascetic dream of liberating the spirit from the base body. That would be the original hylomorphism.

Next up Hegel’s Fragment on love. 

First I am compelled to reveal that while looking for a picture to post at the top of this blog post I found a band called – Kegels for Hegel! I love the internet.

I really enjoyed Fragment on Love. Google it, read it, it’s only 7 pages long. The gist is that love dissolve the subject/object distinction, with poetic language full of feeling(s). There is an analysis of what love means from a dialectic perspective, the types of things/people that can fall in love, and what is love.  I have not read a philosophical treatise on love in a while, it was a treat.

Some choice fragments:

“Nothing is unconditioned; nothing carries the root of its own being in itself.” The ultimate argument for turtles all the way down.  “True union, or love proper, exists only  between living beings who are  alike in power and thus  in one another’s eyes living beings.”   This is interesting because it posits that love can only exist when we recognize the other as a living being, not as an inanimate object, and that recognition is reciprocated.

Millennials refer to this as being ‘seen’.

There is a discussion of love and private property and the relationship to shame – which I do not entirely understand: “love is indignant if part of the individual is severed and held back as a private property.”  There is then some poorly argued generalizations about sex workers and tyrants feeling shame. I do not agree with these statements, but lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater. 

I do find it interesting that Hegel talks about shame in relation to love, since I never really thought about shame as related to love (or the opposite of love). I would argue that shame is a tool of social control, not a fundamental part of human nature or an ethical category. But I find the relation of shame to love, very insightful.

“A pure heart is not ashamed of love; but it is ashamed if its love is incomplete; it upbraids itself if there is some hostile power which hinders love’s culmination. Shame enters only through the recollection of the body, through the presence of an [exclusive] personality.” 

Hegel’s argument appears to identify identify shame with somatics, shame is something the body feels – which I would agree with.  It is not part of the Aristotelean outline of virtues  (where there is an appropriate place to feel on the shame/shameless-ness continuum. If shame is in the body, then it is not an ethical category. I would put ethical categories as subject to reason, but I digress.

I agree that shame is a product of the ego, and not only related to what people might do in love (ego eradication in the joining with another). Sometimes I feel shame about working on a personal creative project, or shame about being excited working on a collaborative project. There is perhaps something erotic about the excitement I feel and the physiological responses are what cause me to feel shame. Maybe there is something about the interaction between the mind and body which gives rise to shame. This is a concept worth exploring (note to self).

Shame dissolves, when overcome by love, since love dissolves the ego, or personality or feeling of separateness. This is probably equally true for love of another person, or love of a particular practice.

The final paragraph is a bizarre meditation on private property. It posits that private property it is opposed to love/ the union of love. Private property is referred to as a dead object (as opposed to a live object that can love back or capable of being an object of love).  Dead objects are the knot in love’s journey. So as long as an individual is in relation to dead objects/private property, she cannot be in union with love.  That is pretty brutal- maybe the problem with modern times.