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New Rationalism:
The Shape of Systems to Come | Reason & Time

Instructor: Reza Negerastani Module: 1&2 Date & Time: Sunday: January 11th, 18th, 25, February 1, 15, 21, 22- March 1st 11:30 AM - 2 PM EST

DESCRIPTION
First Module – The Shape of Systems to Come:
Following the Copernican revolution, thought witnessed an unprecedented array of epistemological devices and methods of abstraction which jolted the totalized universe of myth and removed the epistemic blockage created by pre-critical philosophies constructed from the viewpoint of spontaneity and sufficiency. The unraveling of the spontaneous philosophy of the earth (Kepler and Newton), the spontaneous philosophy of the organism (Darwin) and the spontaneous philosophy of history (Hegel and Marx) each opened up a hitherto unimagined or inaccessible domain that pointed to new affordances for thought and action. The enlightenment’s anticipation of modernity coincided with the maximization and proliferation of methodic abstraction as a process whereby thought became able to make a difference in the world by making irreversible differences in itself.

The objective of this seminar is to sketch the possibility of philosophical systems “synchronized with modern sciences” (Gabriel Catren), to examine what is required to construct such systems, what they can do and what would be the shape of future philosophical systems equipped with evolved abstract protocols, sophisticated epistemological tools and the armamentarium of modern sciences.

The system of myth — particularly in the sense of an ideological fixation — as Jules Vuillemin suggests, attempts to circumvent the world of appearances through engendering abstract systems which grow without any limit by the aggregation and tinkering of immutable codes in a monotonic fashion. In doing so, the system of myth feigns openness and mobility and attempts to overcome finitude. In this manner, the system is supported by the reinforcing effect of seemingly benign assumptions. However, rather than collapsing under the weight of its precarious elements, it is progressively bolstered by their aggregation. This is how the system of myth avoids the risk of revision and ensures that the addition of new premises increases theorems and preserves truth-values. As contrasted with the structure of the myth, non-monotonicity and non-entailment (that is, not entailing old truth-values) are on the other hand the primary attributes of the modern system of knowledge. These features have the capacity to reorient thought beyond any anticipated image derived from the viewpoint of spontaneity and compel thought to take an exploratory initiative with regard to understanding and action.

The first two sessions of this seminar will focus on the epistemological toolbox of the modern system of knowledge as adopted by sciences after the enlightenment. The emphasis would be put on the architecture of concepts as non-discrete components, rules as functionally plastic entities, methods of experimentation and exploration, articulation of intelligibility through the organization of space and heuristic techniques to single out explanation and description. We shall discuss the operational definition of the concept, axiomatics, modes of analysis and synthesis, abductive inference and methods of destabilization of thought’s own rules in order to detect, understand and act on dynamic tendencies of the external world. In the remaining two sessions we will investigate how these tools can be incorporated within philosophical systems and what would be the enabling implications of such epistemological synchronization.

REQUIREMENTS
The seminar is comprised of four two and a half hour sessions. We will allocate forty five minutes to an hour each session to group discussion. Some preliminary readings will be provided in advance. Participants are required to write 500 word papers based on the topics discussed each session, these can be questions or further development of topics covered. For the final evaluation, participants are required to write 2500 word essay on one of the main general topics of the seminar which will be listed during the first session. Joint essays are especially encouraged (the length requirement for collaborated papers is 3500 words).

DESCRIPTION
Second Module – Reason & Time:

What can we do with time? This seminar attempts to highlight the question of time with regard to the perennial questions of philosophy, what to think and what to do. The aim is to understand the ultimate import of rationality in terms of its capacity to explore time through reason’s self-cultivating project and collective realization of intelligence. If time as such ensures the ceaseless coming-to-be and passing-away of all things, if the power of becoming coincides with the annihilation of all values and ends, then the prospective recognition of the future appears as unconvincing of a task as the retrospective recognition of the past. Why to commit to either a promethean investment in the future or a recollective reappropriation of the past? If time severs the link between virtue and happiness, then why not retreat to the safe house of the ordinary or seek asylum from God as the sole guarantor of a reward?

The seminar will examine why rationality’s rule-governed attitude is indispensable in a thoroughgoing cognitive inquiry into the configuration of temporality and how it essentially leads to the development of new blueprints of action and understanding informed by different conceptions of temporality than what is already intuitively available in terms of past, present and future. While on the other hand, the enrichment, integration and institution of theoretical and practical dimensions of reason according to their specific demands allow creatures endowed with history to redefine their relationship with time from mere affirmation to a vector of transformation and historical cultivation. The collective exploration of possibilities brought about by new configurations of temporality and recognitive attitudes toward history set up the groundwork for a project of collective self-cultivation. The realization of such a project is in effect tantamount to a social desanctification of time that renders its purposeless becoming intelligible and exploits this intelligibility as a transformative opportunity. By wresting time from all vestiges of the divine and turning the intelligibility of time into a conduit for collective action and reorientation, the project of self-cultivation signals the advent of social intelligence. For what is intelligence other than augmentation of recognitive attitudes toward history and the positive feedback loop between self-conception and self-transformation, to understand what it means to have a history and what it can do with time. This is what Chinese philosopher Mou Zongsan through a Confucian appropriation of Kant and Hegel calls the possibility of social sagehood which can be understood as the materialization of a self-realizing intelligence and the fulfillment of the principle of summum bonum. It is the self-realizing intelligence that reestablishes the link between social virtue and happiness independent of any theological or teleogical frame of reference. But this is a concept of happiness that lies in the recognition of something that cultivates itself through our pursuit for the better and only recognizes us as its history, neither a conservable constitution nor an impeding conception of the past. What it has been does not ordain what it will be.

Throughout four sessions, we will approach the subject matter by highlighting the relevant theses of Kant (reason and orientation), Hegel (geist and self-consciousness), Marx (history and social consciousness) and Zongsan (the highest good and the possibility of social sagehood) required to understand the significance of reason and social intelligence with regard to time. We will examine topics such as time and the notion of risk, recognition and cognition, intelligence as the organizer of time, temporal ordering, the understanding of time not as a parameter but as an operator, the role of discursive reasoning in navigating time and the collective conception of self-cultivation as the overcoming of what Hegel calls unhappy consciousness as associated with self-cultivation in its individualist and arbitrary, albeit ascetic forms and driven by a frail concept of freedom.

REQUIREMENTS
The seminar is comprised of four two and a half hour sessions. We will allocate forty five minutes to an hour each session to group discussion. Some preliminary readings will be provided in advance. Participants are required to write 500 word papers based on the topics discussed each session, these can be questions or further development of topics covered. For the final evaluation, participants are required to write 2500 word essay on one of the main general topics of the seminar which will be listed during the first session. Joint essays are especially encouraged (the length requirement for collaborated papers is 3500 words).


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