Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Nick Land on Bataille's problem with reason.
A dialectical illusion is the error—exposed by transcendental critique—through which reason pretends to the transcendence of itself. It is associated, on the one hand, with an objectivistic interpretation of the intellectual forms of a representation as independently existing structures of things in themselves, and, on the other hand, with an attempt to grasp the subject as if it were an entity separable from its own operations, the latter being a mistake that Kant entitles paralogism. Descartes’ ontology of extended and thinking substance exemplifies both of these errors. Such dialectic is the object of critique, and is always a confusion between conditions of possibility and their products. Kant describes this confusion as one between conditions of objectivity and objects, which in Marx’s case are producers (labour power) and commodities, in Heidegger’s being and beings, in Derrida’s writing and the sign, etc. Such confusions misconceive the transcendental as the transcendent, performing a gesture that can be described as ‘metaphysics’ (fetishism, ontotheology, logocentrism). For Bataille it is the effaced difference between utilization (expenditure) and utility which bears the brunt of critical aggression, engaging an error to which he gives the uncompromising label ‘reason’. Profane thought (reason) interprets making use of in terms of usefulness. It thus loses all sense of absolute end (the transcendental condition of value).
Pp. 3-4
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