Feeling the Flowing Present, Becoming the Becoming

Some people ask: why is my capacity to grow so related to the experience of becoming imprisoned in loops of enthusiasm followed by deception? It seems like a rollercoaster or a golden prison of over-confidence and collapse.

Our capacity to grow is conditioned by the very way in which we formulate and verbalise our decisions to change.

For example, if I say that I want to be a better human in a way or another, I am assuming that I want to remain a human, that I am such thing as a 21stcentury human in a given society. We might be so obsessed by our personal change that we don’t think about questioning the very idea of being a human being, a given person in a given society, an individual.

“I am a human”: we take this for granted. And inevitably we might fall, sooner or later, into the trap of de-compensation, loss of direction or faith in this given human that we took for granted, or in the world that we have partly built for us. Even the construct “human” involves many limitations: it is an object of belief, a historical construct.

The construct “better human” might negate the idea of “bad or weak human”, but it confirms the construct “human” and might be like adding decorative plants or increasing the size of the window of our prison cell.

In Process-Oriented philosophy we start with one only assumption, which is not a thing but a welcoming of the feeling of becoming. Not becoming this or that. Simply becoming. Flowing. Creating and being created by life.

The belief in a creative flow is not a belief in something immediately real in the way society recognizes things as real: houses, contracts, legal persons, citizens, bills. The ultimate given of process-oriented philosophies is a creative real, what I call a Creal, what Whitehead calls “creativity”, what Bergson calls “creative evolution” or “life”, an ever-changing infra-reality of flowing potentials, waves of infinite possibility, subatomic infra-structures in constant reconfiguration. The idea of infinite probability is impossible mathematically, but it might be an inspiring way of talking about the Creal.

This is the tabula rasa of process philosophy. This is where we start: the feeling of pure becoming without destination. The feeling that becoming is a divine common ground, a Creal with a capital C.

I am crealing. You are crealing. We are crealing.

I can forget for a while that I have a name, that I am supposed to be a human, that I have a given body, a given family and a job, or an absence of family, an absence of job. I can move closer to the creative flow and its desire without object.

How? By feeling it.

Whitehead speaks of “the ontological principle”. It is the principle that every actualised reality is interconnected in the cosmological creative field, and that things, institutions, statuses, names, ideas like being human, being a salesman or a philosopher, are perhaps perceived as more actual, but are less real that the invisible metamorphic field that underlies them. “The universe is solidarity”, writes Whitehead in Process and Reality. He adds: “Creativity is the universal of universals characterizing the ultimate matter of fact.”

My subjectivity and my living power emerge afresh via this meditative feeling. Whitehead adds: “Feelings are variously specialized operations, effecting a transition into subjectivity. They replace the ‘neutral stuff’ of certain realistic philosophers. An actual entity is a process. […] This use of the term ‘feeling’ has a close analogy to [the] use of the term ‘enjoyment’; and also some kinship with Bergson’s use of the term ‘intuition’.”

We enjoy the Creal as immanent universal enjoyment, we feel it as desire-without-object. It is exploding slowly and confidently in all possible directions. There is no right direction prior to the subjective feeling of “right direction”. There is no definite formula for being a better human. Of course, there are criteria of excellence in a given social game, such as playing classical music. But even the most skilled pianist will be a mere technical boring machine if he or she does not connect to the Creal when playing.

We are all — or we should all be — familiar with the Cartesian cogito: every time I doubt, every time I question the reality of this world, it is I who questions it, said Descartes, and therefore I am.

The process-oriented cogito is somewhat different, or more precisely considers the question from a different angle. It says: I feel the creative flow passing through me, therefore I am a participative perspective on the cosmic becoming.

Once familiar with the Creal and its modus operandi, its crealectics, we might be able to actualise such and such reality in a more fruitful way. It will take some time, some work, some discipline, some faith, many battles against the zombies of individualistic and prosaic realism, fights against the automated beliefs and codes of a given society. But no matter what my desire for excellence is, if I lose the connection to the Creal, I will become a mere social machine and I will eventually stop working properly. Out of flow, out of order.

By becoming the Creal, identifying with it, letting it grow on me, I become conscious of my active role of creator of realities. This is done by forgetting temporarily who we are as a tagged human, with all the labels that stick to us or that we believe stick to us when we meet someone or find ourselves in a new situation where we are expected to perform. Even supposedly pleasant labels, like honorific titles or money are superficial, convenient at some point, but potentially obstacles to the full development of your highest destiny, if any, and sustainable gratitude. Failure and success are not always easy to distinguish.

Being a human does not fully define me. I am only partly a human, from a certain perspective and in a given society and ideology. Being a man does not fully define me. I am only partly a man, from a certain perspective and under a given society and ideology. Your age does not define you, nor does your past, because feeling the Creal and diving into it is a constant — at least partial — rebirth, for the simple reason that ultimate creativity is constant renewal.

The process-oriented philosophy cogito is: I feel the cosmic essence of becoming, therefore I am. I think about how the Creal gives way to given realities, therefore I am.

Because I am not only the Creal, I am also the way the Creal is actualised into realities. This way is crealetics. And I am likely to be also the points of contact between the Creal connectome, its moving constellations, and reality. These fecund nodes of crealisation, these microcosmic points, crealia rather than realia. We might look closer, later, at how certain “analytic philosophy”, which historically has developed in part as a reaction against process philosophies (against Hegel and Whitehead for example, and against British idealism), how this analytic disenchantment has debated over and over about realia, things, but not, as far as I know, about crealia.

The creative flow is not just a name. The Creal is a feeling. A feeling is a fact, even if it cannot be measured.

A constellation is both a reality and a convention. We can combine stars (starts?) the way we desire and see different patterns in the sea of crealia.

This is the tabula rasa that we must start with on our journey to understand process philosophy. It is not a table, of course. And it is not empty. It is a ground of fluxing abundance that can be felt to begin with, even if somewhat confusedly, vaguely. It can be felt as curiosity, as gratitude. It can be felt as nourishment, as enjoyment. It can be felt as creative desire. Philosophy is also a feeling and an art of intuition. Crealectics can also be the reading of our futures.

Creative desire without object, prior to a goal, is not a weakness. Creative desire is our common sense of the divine.

If we focus on becoming a better or stronger human, without questioning what human means and if and how we are humans, we might eventually become a competitive commodity without soul, and eventually break or dysfunction. If we focus on being this or that, more this or more that, we will fail because we will become a function, even if it is a super-function. We are not nothing, but we are no thing.

In process-orirented philosophy, our source is a Creal, a warm flow of pure becomings. This is the divinity that we co-create together whilst welcoming it. The Creal is the energy, the field behind the actualisations humans and non-humans bring into the world.

Does the Creal have a function? We will think about it.

Manifesting, producing, proposing, elaborating realities and roles is fine. But this is secondary and can become soulless, de-spirited. What comes first is an active surrendering to the flowing immanent Spirit, to become the Creal that is our feeling soul, the universal — and multiversal — common desiring soul. Infinite moving potentialities. A grace of abundance and freedom. This is the ontological principle, the solidarity between all that is and all that is not yet and that will never be. This connects us as a common field, and to connect in Latin is religare, a term that gave, etymologically, religion. Hence the connection between process-philosophies and a form of religiosity, an immanent faith. We will explore this sense of the divine, slowly, without rushing into pre-defined conclusions. The concept of Creal is also a way of avoiding the complicated term “God”.

For the moment we can say: the Creal is our holy Grail. We are the knights of Creal. The Creal is not a giant Jacuzzi for indolent post-adolescents. The Creal is our crusade. We bring peace, freedom, joy, self-discipline and non-forceful mastery. We wish not to kill but to win our battles simply through spreading the gratitude of natural spiritual and immanent growth.

The Creal of process-oriented philosophy is a non-objectal “giveness”. Whitehead writes: “Potentiality is the correlative of giveness”.

Giveness gives itself to those who connect to the flowing present by welcoming it, by — at least partly — becoming it.

We are becoming the becoming. Crealing is healing.

 

 

The POP Workshop | Process-Oriented Philosophy with Luis de Miranda

Who’s POP? Let’s unite theory and praxis, let’s become a hive-mind and embark on a journey of slow thinking, a rewarding voyage through the major texts of process-oriented philosophy. Free entrance, freer minds @ the Library of Noden. First date 18 April 2018 at 19h40, and then regular sessions will be held. Sickla industriväg 6, 131 34 Nacka. More info here.

reality-réalité.jpg

What if creation was time and time was creation?
 
Process philosophy is based on the premise that Being is a dynamic creative Becoming, a flow of possibilities.
 
The continuously creative nature of being and how it is actualised into different human or meta-human realities should be the primary focus of any comprehensive philosophical account of reality and of our existential, political, social, or divine place within it.
 
Western metaphysics has long been obsessed with describing reality as an assembly of static analytic entities whose changing features are taken to be secondary and derivative. The usual modern realistic view considers the earth as a stock of thinks, usually “not enough”, and humans as needing to produce ever more to avoid “chaos” and corruption. From less things they want to produce ever more things. Abundance is considered to be the ever-delayed product of anthrobotic manufacture. This view buries our souls under a world of things and an intricacy of stress.
 
For process philosophers the adventure of philosophy and life begins with a creative flow of infinite potentialities. It is the source that is over-abundant even if invisible. To make a harmonious world is to do less with more, not more with less: to prune a branch of the infinite tree of life into a coherent and harmonious structure of actualities.
 
Process-philosophy proposes questions such as:
 
How is the Real produced by a continuous cosmic creation, a “miraculating immanence” (Deleuze/Guattari), a “Creal”?
 
How do we understand and co-create the emergence of novel organic actualities or “nexus” (Whitehead)?
 
How do we learn to live in a non-dualistic spiritual and sensual world in which praxis and theory are two aspects of the same process?
 
How do we keep safe from the deadly realistic view of the world as mere aggregation of finite measurable commodities?
 
This ongoing workshop of multiple sessions will be a patient and pedagogic process of thinking together across the writings of, among others, Heraclitus, Hegel, Bergson, Whitehead, Lacan, and Deleuze. You do not have to attend all the sessions. This event is in English, it is free of charge and will take place at the Library of Noden. Please bring something to write on. No specific training in philosophy is required, as we will move on slowly and clearly, together as a hive-mind. But a desire to think will help. To think is like breathing or walking: it is a fundamental aspect of being human and it balances our life. Do not let your thought muscle become atrophied.
 
The POP workshop will be orchestrated by Luis de Miranda, Doctor of Philosophy, philosophical counsellor at The Stockholm Philosophical Parlour. http://luisdemiranda.com
 
No previous reading is required, as the workshop will function as a live reading group. But the following text can serve as an introduction: “The Concept of Creal: The Politico-Ethical Concept of A Creative Absolute” (a text that can be dowloaded here: https://philarchive.org/archive/DEMOTC-3)
This event is not for profit and donation-based. All proceeds go to the Node, and we encourage you to contribute to the community’s self-sustainability by donating per session and/or become a monthly donor at http://syntheistnode.se/
or with SWISH 123 023 10 68
 
Welcome!

 

The River of Difference: Rereading Heraclitus

Famous fragment B12 of Heraclitus has been translated has follows by Professor Jonathan Barnes, an international authority in Ancient philosophy:

On those who enter the same rivers, ever different water flows.

This of course can be understood as another way of saying that one cannot bathe in the same river twice. Because the river is changing all the time. But this translation is remarkable because it suggests more than the idea of universal change.

On those who enter the same rivers, ever different water flows.

This can also mean the following: if one is persistent, visionary, and passionate enough to stick to the very same belief without changing, this courage of holding on what you believe will produce multiple fruits. The water of Difference will flow upon you if you persist in entering the same river. Repetition will produce a state of exception.

Why crealectics rather than dialectics?

The following text is not meant to be read dogmatically, but as part of a process of thought. Feel free to engage with it, comment, specify, explore, criticise. Think with me.

 

One of the possible short definitions of dialectics, etymology-based, is: to think through.

This sort of process should not imply necessarily a dualism of the positive and the negative.

If one thinks through the Creal, through the invisible multiplicities that are the subtle stuff in which we are immersed, we are not only getting through the negative, but through all sorts of crealia, most of them probably indefinable in human language, because human language cannot express A and non-A at the same time. Crealectics does not objectify the negative nor the positive. At the level of crealia, nothing is positive or negative per se, not even only posinegative or negapositive, but infinitely charged in ways we cannot clearly imagine or formulate, although we can feel it confusedly.

I proposed to call crealia (rather than realia) the multiple points of contact between the Creal and the Real. The Real is made of objective realities, bodies, consciousness, objects, institutions. The Creal would then be the pre-objective and pre-conscious reality. Perhaps a proper definition of the Creal should include the Real. Perhaps we should posit that the Creal is the Real + the flowing immanent subtle potentialities that are not actualised yet, a.k.a. crealia.

To this we should probably add the desired idea of One, or unity.

Why do we need to presuppose a Creal? One way of answering is to speak of desire. We have in us humans not only the capacity to desire such and such thing but also the capacity to desire in general a reality that would satisfy our deepest aspirations. Perhaps we also possess the capacity to feel a desire without object at all, a pure desire which is not a desire of anything in particular. Whitehead speaks of appetition, a term he takes from Leiniz and the Monadology. He also speaks of unrest, a term he attributes to Samuel Alexander: “Every ultimate actuality embodies in its own essence what Alexander terms ‘a principle of unrest’, namely its becoming.”

Becoming as pure desire.

But if this is a desire without object, should we still call it desire? Desire seems to presuppose a lack, the idea that something is not fulfilled. I have hypothesised that the fundamental lack at the core of the Creal, is the lack of one. This would be a logical consequence of the idea of pure multiplicity. I often write that the cosmos is a love story between the Creal and the One, a story that is dynamic because the Creal and the One are two sides of the same coin: they touch each other yet they constantly miss each other. This point needs to be specified. But let’s postulate for the moment that the universal principle of unrest is the lack of one. Everything desires to be one yet fails to ever be absolutely one because everything desires to be multiple at the same time. Hence the process. In other words, desire goes in opposite directions, not just two directions, since the multiple is multidirectional. Crealectics supports at this point the idea that our fundamental desire is a desire of unity and multiplicity, therefore it is a tourbillon, aspiring to all directions and to unity at the same time or alternatively.

This does not appear to be a binary or trinary process involving the positive, the negative, and the synthesis.

To feel the potentialities of life as pure potentialities might be called a desire without object or a desire with an infinite number of objects. Which means that these crealia are good, because we can only desire what is good. It does not means that the object of desire is good in itself, it becomes good intentionally, by being qualified by desire. We have a “conceptual prehension”, to use a Whiteheadian term, of possibilities that are perceived as good, but not yet as possibilities of this or that.

Perhaps this is what a crealia is, a pure vibrating string, torn between the multiple and the one. In such case, all crealia would be infinitesimal zones of energy capable of playing a role in the actualisation of the Real and the virtualisation of the Creal.

In other words crealia would be like pluripotent spiritual cells.

I would not call them monads, like Leibniz, because I don’t think crealia “have no-windows”. Crealia have an infinite number of windows.

Crealectics names the actual method of description of the unfolding of the Creal because the Creal is the source, but also because dialectics seems too simple, binary or trinary. Obviously, this is reminiscent of Deleuze’s critique of Hegel, which I propose we now read closely.

Hegel is believed to have said just before he died that no one had understood him properly. Perhaps Hegel himself was a crealectician? This means we also need to read Hegel more closely. The fruits of these tasks will be the topic of future posts.

 

 

What is Deep Thinking? A Critique of Garry Kasparov’s Book “Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins”

Deep thinking is the title of a book by former chess world-champion Garry Kasparov. The subtitle is “Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins.”

It may seem like a good idea to read such a book, in a time where the word “deep” is increasingly used to qualify algorithmic software, as in “deep learning”. We are in a curious time of human history where machines are said to be “deep”.

There is very little about “deep thinking” in Kasparov’s book, which is a superficial piece of writing. The current myth of the “deep learning machine” with its mysterious and supposedly-new form of intelligence is in fact similar to the former myth about chess as a deep game. Since Kasparov spends most pages describing his former chess competitions and how he lost against IBM’s computer, the main benefit of the book is to confirm that there is nothing necessarily deep about being a good chess player.

In the introduction, Kasparov briefly qualifies what he thinks is really and deeply human, id est the mental characteristics that elevate us, such as “creativity, curiosity, beauty, and joy.” He does not however expand on this charming list, but rather goes on, chapter after chapter, describing: 1 – his resentment for having lost — in conditions deemed unfair — against a computer, twenty years ago, as is now well-known; 2 – suggesting we must surrender and collaborate with computers in the future if we are to survive.

Kasparov writes: “It wasn’t until I retired from professional chess in 2005 that I had time to think more deeply about thinking and to see chess as a lens through which to investigate the decision-making processes that define every second of our waking lives.” This sounds interesting but we wonder why the author has not included in the book the intellectual results of this realisation. In fact Kasparov here writes very little about decision-making and even less about deep thinking. His throwaway remark (which should have been the synopsis and content of the book) suggests two ideas: first, when you are deeply involved in work and producing results, thinking about your practice is difficult. Second, once you have time to reflect upon it, the impression of thinking might not lead to any tangible formulation: we might think that we are thinking or that we have deep thoughts while in fact we have just an impression of thinking (this often happens in dreams or under the effect of drugs). Since we believe Kasparov did not write his book after taking LSD, we must conclude that he wrote it in his sleep.

To play chess is to dream about big thoughts that never happen. In the meantime, still, you can win a few games and some money. Once you retire, you can win some extra money by writing books that capitalise on your fame while exhibiting dishonest and pompous titles.

It is particularly significant that one of the best chess players in the world calls his book “deep thinking” without explaining at all what he thinks is deep thinking, what is a decision, what is a thought. This is worrying because the author also suggests that the only reason why machines, robots and supercomputers won’t replace the human race is because we are capable of deep thinking. Given the failure of the book to show what deep thinking is, the unwilling conclusion is that computers will indeed erase us from the surface of the earth if we are all as dishonest and lazy with our thinking as Kasparov is. Robots might write on humanity’s grave, as an epitaph: “To the most pretentious, intellectually lazy, and blindly dishonest spiritual species that ever existed.”

Kasparov is pretentious. For example, he suggests that Americans “have become lazy, short-sighted, and unwilling to take the risks required to stay on the cutting edge of technology.” Apart from the fact that Kasparov’s pride or own laziness prevents him from seeing that his book is itself lazy and short-sighted, the chess player implies that staying at “the cutting edge of technology” is the paradigm of an ambitious nation. He does not write “the cutting edge of thought” or “the cutting edge of philosophy”, neither does he write “the cutting edge of joy, creativity and curiosity”, failing to be coherent with his introduction. Kasparov is blindly dishonest: his book fails to understand that, if serious chess is time-limited, serious thought takes time and patience. Apparently, one can be an excellent chess player and lack the patience to think.

There are a few more or less voluntary hints in Kasparov’s book towards the beginning of a reflection on the question of thinking. But most of the time, they are given as anecdotes in between too descriptions of chess-competition gossip. For example, the author quotes Picasso: “Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.” And without reflecting on what Picasso might have meant, he quickly proceeds to quote Dave Ferruci, one of the creators of the IBM artificial intelligence project Watson: “Computers do know how to ask questions. They just don’t know which ones are important.”

What seems to be suggested by these remarks is the fact that human thought can be strategic, rather than only tactic. “It’s essential to first understand your long-term goals so you don’t confuse them with reactions, opportunities, or mere milestones.” This suggests that deep thinking is related to the future in general, and to future outcomes in particular. In fact, what is called “deep” or “depth of search” in the world of artificial intelligence is precisely the capacity of certain computer programs to evaluate probable outcomes and predict variations of outcomes as far as possible into the near future. Deepness in computer science is not about going down into the mysterious well of life or wisdom, like Orpheus looking for his soulmate in hell. “Deep learning” and deep software are tools that project probabilities into possible future events as far as possible, and then chose an action that has a high probability of producing the expected outcome. Strategic thinking is an attractive idea, but it is in fact contaminated by the logic of future outcomes, and the paradigm of competition or war. Not everything is about wining or losing.

“Long-term goals” is an attractive idea also, but what qualifies for long-term? Is it one year? Is it ten years? Is it a life time? Is it eternity? According to Kasparov, it is “the big picture”. But what is the big picture? “We humans, he writes, have enough trouble figuring out what we want and how best to achieve it, so it’s no wonder we have trouble getting machines to look at the big picture.” So this is the message of the book: deep thinking is about looking at “the big picture” and we have no idea what this is. Kasparov seems to suggest, very evasively, that deep thinking is a strategic thinking about our big picture goals, involving not only selfish preoccupations, but also the future of humanity. Apparently, anyway, we are not much better at it than computers. And the ideal of the big picture does not prevent one from writing fake books. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

A tactical way of thinking is concerned with the problem at hand. Somewhat in contradiction with his praise of strategic thinking, Kasparov explains that “we often do our best thinking under pressure. Our senses are heightened and our intuition is activated in a way that is unique to stress and competition. We often do not realize how powerful our intuitive abilities are until we have no choice but to rely on them.” Two different definitions of what deep thinking is start to emerge here: one that says that thinking is a strategic consideration for long-term goals. Another that says that thinking emerges from a sense of urgency when facing present problems in an intuitive way. Kasparov could have reflected upon these questions: Can we use intuition to think strategically? Are these two incompatible ways of thinking? He does refer briefly at the end of the book to Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow and the fact that his own faith in intuition has been shaken by the results of experimental psychology (Kahneman, Tversky, Ariely et al.), the field that suggests that what we call our intuitive sixth sense is often wrong in evaluating a situation. For Kasparov, the best way to overcome our limitations and combine strategy and intuition seems to be to create teams of computers and humans: “One of the many benefits human-machine collaboration is helping us overcome lazy cognitive habits.”

Deep thinking, the author suggests rather unwillingly, is thinking with the machine. Or not?

At the end of the book (p 244), Kasparov in fact confesses: “I have no universal tips or tricks for becoming a disciplined thinker, and what works for me might not work for others.” Let’s put aside the obvious question any reader might ask: “So Garry, why did you write a book called Deep Thinking?” By page 244, any serious reader has realised that Kasparov has no idea of what “disciplined thinking” might be. His book is lazy, self-absorbed, unstructured, and anecdotic.

In the brief and shallow conclusion, the chess player writes about the future of humanity in an AI environment: “The game is on the way and we are all on the board. The only way to win is to think bigger and to think deeper. […] We will need every bit of our ambition in order to stay ahead of our technology. […] If we stop dreaming big dreams, if we stop looking for a greater purpose, then we may as well be machines ourselves.” Well, Garry, do you mean market automatons that produce empty books for the sake of capitalizing on fame? 

In order to avoid becoming a machine, I suggest we now briefly paraphrase the book’s unintentional argument. It could be summed up as follows: “I, Garry Kasparov have played chess all my life. Chess is a good training in visualising situations that might happen not just one minute ahead but also a few moves ahead, say twenty minutes. This has been called strategic thinking or super-intelligence for a long time because we humans like myths about what we do (otherwise life would be boring). We cultivated for centuries a myth about chess being a game about strategic thinking and high intelligence, but the reality is that chess is a socially prestigious board game for people who have a very good memory, some capacity for logical visualisation, and like in most games, the ambition to win. Many talented people are in fact bored by chess [and contrary to what Kasparov suggests, Napoleon was a very bad chess player]. I, Garry Kasparov have been defeated by a computer twenty years ago, and today a common computer game in your phone is stronger than most humans at chess. Some people therefore conclude that computers or mobile phones are intelligent, but in fact this only demonstrates that chess playing was an over-estimated myth about intelligence. This is why I, Garry Kasparov, a former chess world-champion cannot tell you anything about what is deep thinking because chess has not more to do with deep thinking than cleaning the dishes.” Kasparov does not write this explicitly, of course. But it is what a serious reader can conclude. And now can we get our money back?

Any computer can play chess. Not anybody can think deeply. Now contrary to Kasparov I have to try and be intellectually honest and propose my answer to the question of deep thinking, although I would not dare write a book with such pretentious title.

I have written about the matter in my books in some detail. Here I will only suggest to reflect on the following sentence: “Be fruitful and multiply.”

“Be fruitful and multiply.” This is of course a quotation from Genesis 1:28, and a superficial reading usually understands it as an injunction to reproduce physically. For our purpose, it does not matter to assume that this is what god said, and I am not advocating a return to the Bible. I am a philosopher, not a priest. And here is my thought on deep thinking.

“Be fruitful and multiply”: We can assume that this is what Nature and life tells us. We can also assume that we are nihilists who fail to be fruitful, or “losers” who fail to multiply in a metaphorical sense. My suggestion is very simple, and does not take 300 pages, just a few lines: you will become a deep thinker if you spend the rest of your life reflecting on these four words: “Be fruitful and multiply.”

Are you a fruitful person?

How are you fruitful and how do you multiply yourself when you are not making children or money?

Think about it honestly and your thought will become your world.

“What Matters?”

What Matters?

 

As soon as we pause and start asking the question “What matters?”, we enter the antechamber of philosophy. We are not yet thinking per se if we are still thinking about something that would matter (a job for example) in comparison with something else that could matter (a relationship for example). Yet, as soon as we ask: “Does this matter?”, the philosophical leap is close. Such a leap happens when we pause a little longer and consider the question “what matters?” for itself. Not what matters when I compare my job and my family life, not even yet what matters when I evaluate my desires and my duties — but first and foremost what does it mean to ask the question of mattering.

“What matters?” is a question. When we have a question in front of us, we should always ask: “How is it phrased?” We could have asked: “What is important?” But in asking “What matters?”, we are partly led to think about material realities, as if we were pondering different existential weights, according to their gravity. “What matters?” not only means “What is important?” but also “What is it that I have to carry that is of heavier weight?” This is a metaphor: if such weight can be felt by the body, it can also be light as a feather, apparently imperceptible. Hence the difficulty sometimes to decide what matters existentially, for you, for me, for us, because spiritual realities, as opposed to material realities, can be forgotten, ignored, or appear to remain “out of the matter.”

We would not ask “What matters?” if what mattered was purely material, because it would be obvious as a thing. It would be more or less heavy and objective. The mere fact of asking “What matters?” shows that we are not sure, or that we forgot for a while. It suggests that our reality is not an obvious book that could be read like a recipe or a code of behaviour. Whenever we ask ourselves “what matters?”, we are re-enacting the Cartesian cogito. By asking, for yourself: “What is not an illusion?”, you receive a first indirect answer: “If I think about what matters, and if I ask myself the question rather than asking journalists, or professors, or friends, or enemies, or the social norms, then this means I am considering myself as the source of my thinking. I am therefore affirming that I do matter as a thinking being.

“I doubt for a while about what matters, therefore I am.”

At the same time, and this is the intersubjective aspect of the cogito which was so important for the existentialists (Sartre) and the phenomenologists (Merleau-Ponty), I have to admit that all beings that are capable of thinking about the question “What matters?” without immediately answering it with a pre-existing answer proposed by a given social consensus or ideology, all these beings should also matter to me in a similar manner that I matter as the source of my questioning. Philosophy, as a quest for what deeply matters, is not a solipsism, it is an intersubjective communion of minds.

Minds? Can we better determine who is this intersubjective cogito, this collective entity that asks “What really matters?” This, by definition, has to be answered collectively, in a dialogue of thinkers.

But I would like to offer you one possible answer, open for discussion.

Let’s start from the beginning anew.

And if there is a beginning, it is perhaps because there is an end. Would we ask “What matters?” if we were eternal? If our existence was infinite, we would eventually experience all there is to experience, the most profound and the most superficial. We would have a thousand lives. Everything and nothing would matter, because we would be caught in a story without end, where each event could turn out to be important or insignificant in the course of a million years. This is precisely the implicit moral of the current dominant Darwinism or Chaotism. An infinitesimal and often accidental modification can produce strong effects in several million years or in some other region of the universe. Conversely, the beauty of a poem is considered to be a negligible drop in the ocean of matter’s metamorphoses.

Today, matter matters too much.

But when we ask “What matters?”, we are positioning ourselves out of the evolutionary process where every thing is interrelated in a materialistic chain of causes and effects, and where death does not really exist, being a mere transformation of structures and matter. When we ask “What matters?”, we are aware that as an individual thinking being, we might very well be mortal and have one life only, as opposed to one billion chances. The question: ”What matters?” is a question for someone who needs to make choices (or not), to fulfil a destiny (or not), in any case to renounce a great deal of experiences for the sake of other experiences, beliefs, or values. This person may like to find an ultimate answer, the answer that allows her or him to say that “nothing else matters.” This desire can turn the question “what matters?” into a deadly weapon. History shows us that much blood is sacrificed over the idea that only one thing and nothing else matters, be it a God, a Nation, Money, Sex or Family. Because we believe we are mortal and that life is short, we tend to adopt universalist views of what matters, views that we can share with others without contradiction or doubt. We become afraid of stopping and asking if this absolutism itself really matters, because we believe we will be left behind in the race for social conformism. Fanatics of this-that-matters are often not satisfied with following the illusion for themselves, be it a religion or a social consensus: they want the contagion to expand, because they do not want anybody to ask them: “Does it really matter?” Therefore, they reproduce the illusion every day, they maintain it as a strong social reality simply by acting as if it mattered the most. “Get a real job!”, “Join our Church!”, “Join Our Party!”, “Put your family first!”, “Buy our new mindfullness programme!”

Beware those who tell you what matters! They share a common ideology: the idea that their reality matters, a reality that they call The Reality.

But when the intersubjective thinker has the courage to carefully ask: “What matters?”, she, he, we realise that reality is over-rated. Reality seems to matter because it seems to stand there in front of us, in the form of credit cards, buildings, institutions, television, bodies, rituals, loss, etc. But the being that asks what really matters is nothing of the kind, nothing material: it is a spiritual aspiration, and therefore can never be satisfied or troubled for too long with matter.

“What matters?” This that can never be matter: spirit.

A Myth of Love and Creation Compatible With Techno-Science and Cosmology

 

It begins with the idea of scale. In English, the word scale designates a succession of levels of various sizes, often related within a set of homothetic transformations. A scale can also be a hard membrane, a form of fishy skin.

In my research, I have been interested in scales, from the individual to the cosmic. I agree with Nancy Abrams and Joel Primack, who argue in their book The New Universe and the Human Future that we have forgotten our relationship with the over-terrestrial cosmos, and that we lack a shared cosmology. We lack a global scale of belief or communion, one that would be non-anthropocentric.

The origin of my philosophical journey, which is not necessarily to be found at the chronological beginning of my efforts, is the concept of Creal. Creal, or Créel in French, or Kreell for my Swedish friends, is the name I have given to the Real with a capital R, except that I write it by adding a capital C, the initial of Creation, not primarily to indicate that there is an individual creator, but rather that the absolute Real is not a thing (res in Latin), but rather a creative flow of — perhaps infinite — virtual possibilities, some of them being actualised into a form of reality, some of them remaining un-actualised, or actualised in parallel universes, if any. The word Creal is new but not the idea, which can be found in several traditions, the Chinese Daoism, the Greek Chaos or Becoming, as in Heraclitus, and more recently in the philosophies of Whitehead, Bergson, or Deleuze, which have been called ‘process philosophies’. I proposed to call Creal the creative metamorphic multiplicity that is the ground of being — as Whitehead put it in his Process and Reality, ‘creativity is the universal of universals characterizing the ultimate matter of fact.’

I have proposed elsewhere, for example in my book L’Être et le néon (to be published in English translation in 2019), a slightly more detailed cosmology, and will not develop it again here. I simply wanted to present you with my primum mobile. I believe that even the apparently most sceptical and empirical researcher relies on an implicit absolute axiom, if not several. I try to keep the Creal intuition in mind (in body) — creation is an emotion, as Bergson put it — at the centre of my semantics or system-to-be, which I call crealectics.

Let’s now return to the idea of homothetic scales of being. We have at least two extreme limits, the infinitesimally small and the infinitely large: both, I would propose, are the same Creal. If the universe is coherent, the smallest microcosm and the largest macrocosm are of the same nature. This idea is not uncommon for us at least since the rediscovery of the tablets of Hermes Trismegistus which were so important for European Renaissance. The Emerald tablet was translated as follows by Isaac Newton in his alchemical papers: ‘That which is below is like that which is above, and that which is above is like that which is below, to do the miracles of one only thing.’ In short, ‘as above, so below’. This idea was familiar to alchemists, but is to be found since Newton and Leibniz in modern science, all the way to quantum physics and quantum cosmology. Newton’s translation continues thus: ‘And as all things have been and arose from one by the mediation of one: so all things have their birth from this one thing by adaptation. […] So was the world created.’

Micro-Creal and Macro-Creal: in between these two noumenal extremes, we observe different scales of actualization or materialisation — worlds. And this is where we meet the idea of cosmos with its Greek meaning: not only a world, but an order, a structure, a collective skin or, if we wish to use the terminology of Jakob von Uexküll: an umwelt. At the two asymptotic limits of the infinitesimally small and the infinitely large, we posit a pure becoming, a pure multiplicity, virtuality, possibility — and the logically connected idea of One, because we cannot speak of the multiple without suggesting the idea of its opposite, as already intuited by Plotinus in his henology (the science of cosmic unity). In between the two homothetic limit-scales, we observe the emergence of more or less ephemeral spaces of order, structure, and relative integrity. It is my purpose here to describe how these structures can emerge: I have written about it in L’être et le néon, albeit insufficiently, of course, as this is probably the hardest question of all.

My PhD is about one of these spaces of order, at the level of organised human groups, societies, institutions, social bodies. More precisely, it is about the kind of attraction that maintains these social and human structures in synchronised cohesion, a quality which in French and English is called esprit de corps. Between 2014 and 2017, I conducted a thorough examination of discourses relating to the phenomenon of esprit de corps since the birth of the expression in the eighteenth century until today. My monograph on esprit de corps will be published around 2019.

Esprit de corps designates the capacity of a human ensemble to remain strongly united, focused towards a common goal, and to keep its spiritual integrity or ethos over time. Its individual members, often working collaborators, are strongly dedicated to the maintenance of the group’s coherence, power, and existence. We find in French, English and American intellectual history, since Montesquieu, Diderot and d’Alembert, both laudative and depreciative evaluations of the phenomenon of esprit de corps. It has been compared to groupthink, a cognitive corset which undermines the capacity of the individual to think autonomously. But thinkers like Durkheim or Tocqueville thought that esprit de corps was — paradoxically perhaps for us postmodern individualists — how the individual could individuate herself, by belonging to a group that was constantly stimulating her need for intersubjective growth and maturation. A healthy esprit de corps is an ethos in which the more experienced members help the newcomers, and the stronger help the weaker against the corruption and attacks of the outer world. Academia, for example, is a structure where esprit de corps could be a virtuous one. Universities can be a space of epistemic solidarity. Yet, the individual members of a corps are not always brave enough to remain united in the face of the kind of atomised competition imposed by capitalism. My study of the history of esprit de corps shows how capitalism tends, since the seventeenth and eighteenth century, either to destroy esprit de corps solidarities, or to transform them into a standard bellicose form of group control. Because esprit de corps can also degenerate into groupthink, ideology, a form of cognitive sectarianism, or bureaucracy, it was the ruse of neo-liberal history to destroy certain spaces of solidarity in the name of freedom and equality. Tocqueville’s visionary descriptions of democracy in America are still very useful to understand the paradoxes of equality and liberty, and how these values can be the Trojan horses of capitalism. The ideology of humanism has developed an abstract version of fraternity in which the difference between human rights and client rights tends to be blurred. It is worth remembering that the Latin etymology of the word client means to serve and obey. A client was bound, attached, tied to a protector.

Speaking of obedience, if not slavery, the study of esprit de corps has led me to consider another neologism: anthrobot. I proposed to extend the meaning of this term, which was coined by a roboticist, Mark Rosheim, to describe cybernetic technologies such as robotic arms or exoskeletons. In the paper I wrote with Ramamoorthy and Rovatos in 2016 (‘We Anthrobot: Learning From Human Forms of Interaction and Esprit de Corps to Develop More Plural Social Robotics’), anthrobot is the recognition, in the spirit of Lewis Mumford and his Myth of The Machine, that humans, when they create organised spaces, do develop mechanical procedures and algorithmic protocols that partly automatize the spirit or the body of each member, and the social bodies of which they are a part. We are an anthrobotic species because of our capacity to and need for orders, protocols, algorithms, social machines, esprit de corps, but also because our minds and bodies, at the individual or social scale, tend to perform operations that are not conscious and yet are effective. Social and individual life is partly robotic.

Now, we are also daughters of the Creal, of poietic lines of flight, as I have described in my short monograph on Deleuze, Is a New Life Possible? We are constantly attracted by lines of play, novelty, rule-breaking, improvising, contemplating, creation in all its forms, including its explosive and apparently destructive aspects.

Let’s now look at an example of anthrobot in more detail. This is what I call the Shizuoka Case. In the 1980s, the first collaborative robots were introduced in Japanese factories. In his book Inside the Robot Kingdom: Japan, Mechatronics and the Coming Robotopia, Frederik Schodt mentioned in 1988 a story on ‘technostress’ published by the Nikkei Sangyo newspaper, entitled ‘The Isolation Syndrome of Automation’:

‘A state-of-the-art factory run by Star Micronics in Shizuoka Prefecture used […] robotized machining centres that ran unmanned during the night — a source of great pride to the older workers. But several of the younger, new employees began to complain that they “felt like robots” as they operated and programmed the automated machinery during the day; one local parent complained that all his son did all day long was push a button. As it turned out, there was a major perception gap between the old and new employees. The former, who had worked with the engineers to design the system, had a vested interest in it and a basic knowledge of its operation; they knew that pressing a specific button would operate the system in a specific way. But to the new employees, a button was merely a button to be pushed, and the total system was a technological black box that merely worked in unfathomable ways.’

We can distinguish here at least two groups, a group of belonging and well-being, let’s call it the well-belonging group, and a group of isolation and existential distress. The group of well-belonging is the anthrobotic system made of older workers and the collaborating robots. These can be called cobots, or collaborative robots, not only because they are part of the work process but also because the work or labour relationship with them is perceived in terms of a gratifying ‘vested interest’. The group of isolation or ill-belonging is the anthrobotic system made of younger workers and machines. The robots, whilst being the same machines we previously called cobots, are this time not perceived as collaborators, but as antagonists.

In this case, perhaps the machines could be qualified as the ‘dominant species’, since they are described as body snatchers: the young workers ‘felt like robots’. This is an example of mental and physical colonisation or alienation. For Sandra Silverman, a psychotherapist who works on the socio-politics of clinical work, ‘the colonized are not just invaded but occupied. […] Colonization is about destroying space, about crowding an other’s mind with the unprocessed contents of one’s own mind, about restricting the freedom to think. To colonize is to invade, inhabit, and alter.’

How can there be, on the one hand, anthrobotic systems of wellbeing and well-belonging, and on the other hand anthrobotic systems of isolation and de-humanisation? According to Schodt’s description of the Shizuoka case, an anthrobotic system of well-belonging would be a system that has been co-designed by its users, who have a ‘vested interest’ in its functioning, possess a ‘basic knowledge’ of how it works and how each part has a specific role. And they feel proud about it. Wellbeing and well-belonging in an anthrobotic system seems to be dependent on at least these four factors:

A) The workers did co-design the system: this is the praxical factor.

B) They are engaged in its success: we can call it the reciprocative factor.

C) They believe they understand more or less how it works: this is the epistemic factor.

D) They are attached to it, with good rather than bad feelings: this is the emotional factor.

The sum of these four characteristics constitutes a good esprit de corps, the workers’ cohesive and pro-active attachment to a system of production or community of labour that expands their agency, common sense, and self-respect.

I have distinguished four dimensions of systemic well-belonging: praxical (co-design, co-creation), reciprocative (vested interest), epistemic (knowledge of the system), and emotional (pride). The young worker’s feeling of ´being like robots’ is nothing like that. It is rather reminiscent of the phenomenology of automated labour that originated with Marx and his analysis of the ‘objectification’, ‘alienation’, or ‘estrangement’, in the Manuscripts of 1844. Let’s recall this techno-social equation, proposed by Marx in the following terms: ‘The devaluation of the world of men is in direct proportion to the increasing value of the world of things.’ The world of things is, literally, the synonym of reality. Work is a means of self-actualization by which a human being actualises his or her essence, which is the virtuality of the Creal. The capitalist mode of production tends to transform everything into reality. This is why effective anti-capitalist politics needs a concept of creality or Creal, as I have advocated in a published chapter entitled ‘On the Concept of Creal: The Politico-Ethical Horizon of a Creative Absolute.’

So a good anthrobot, a virtuous techno-social system, is one where each member has a sense of authorship and co-creation. Equally, a good anthrocosmic system is an anthrobot in which members and colloborators don’t forget that we are a part of the cosmic Creal. One of the questions behind my crealectics programme of investigation is: how are our actualisations and social articulations more or less alienated from our cosmological belonging? Such a question might seem esoteric, because science and capitalist individualism at least since Kant and the French Revolution have developed a narrative of analytic separation rather than synthetic belonging. I would like now to propose a thought experiment that will show, rather practically, how the anthrobotic question is entangled with the cosmological question.

Let’s assume that our species will colonize extra-terrestrial land, such as the planet Mars or a more distant planet, such as Kepler 186f. Science-fiction often describes this colonisation as a physical journey, in the model of the former colonisation of the United-States for example: we would build (space)ships that would allow us to travel physically out of the earth into space. This is not the scenario I find more likely to happen.

The scenario I find more likely is one that is already happening: we will probably explore interplanetary space not so much physically but more often than not through robotic avatars. Our human bodies will remain on Earth, perhaps, like in the movie Matrix, confined in technological bathtubs. A combination of virtual reality and robotics will take us out there in the cosmos. This anthrobotic scenario is already happening on Mars, on the surface of which the rovers Spirit and Opportunity for example were (in the case of Spirit) or still are (in the case of Opportunity) moving and acting, piloted by human drivers that remain physically on Earth (for example Julie Townsend, Scott Maxwell, Vandi Verma, or Paolo Bellutta). These drivers are the first cosmic anthrobots, developing more or less consciously a phenomenology of the robonautic future of our species.

We already are cosmic anthrobots or creal robonauts. And this is where the idea of a shared cosmology comes into play. Abrams and Primack wrote in The New Universe and the Human Future: ‘Astronomy appears to have little relevance. People think of astronomical discoveries as inspiration for kids or a great topic for five minutes of clever dinner party banter, but there’s no widely understood connection between what’s happening in distant space and us, right here. The truth is, however, that there is a profound connection between our lack of a shared cosmology and our increasing global problems. Without a coherent, meaningful context, humans around the world cannot begin to solve global problems together. If we had a transnationally shared, believable picture of the cosmos, including a mythic-quality story of its origins and our origins — a picture recognized as equally true for everyone on this planet — we humans would see our problems in an entirely new light.’

In fact we need a global social contract, as I have argued with Lacan, Deleuze and Guattari in ‘On the Concept of Creal: The Politico-Ethical Horizon of a Creative Absolute’. Lacan has shown how any discourse, any web of belief, revolves around a more or less invisible absolute signifier. To be sustainable, a structure, an order, a discourse, a tribe, need to rely on a totemic value or set of values sometimes virtualised by the chain of signifiers, sometimes expressed in god-like — or ghost-like — concepts. The universal or set of universals around which such-and-such social reality is constructed maintains the cohesion of the ensemble by playing the role of a slippery axis mundi, a master signifier. To avoid the ongoing modern naturalisation of war and conflict, and other forms of totalitarianism, I propose that communities and nations agree — through a Earth-scale social contract — on a positive absolute, one that cannot logically become the fetish of a form of totalitarianism: the Creal as an affirmative and generous politico-ethical value that constantly self-destroys and constantly re-emerges again, as is logically implied by the idea of ongoing creation. The Creal hypothesis suggests that reality never expresses all there is, and that it never will. Reality is over-rated, and this overrating is always dangerous. Reality is a bad master. And only the Creal can destroy its imperialism.

Our collaboration with reality-machines should always be viewed alongside our co-participation in the cosmic creative flow. Machines and protocols are unifying processes of objectification. The Creal is the Other of the machine. It is the Anti-Robot.

Yet, between the Creal and the One, between the multiple and the structured, I do not think there is a war, but a love story, a complex story of desire and admiration, a narrative of asymptotic union. Ancient cosmologies were in part mythical discourses of love; I do think we need today a new global myth of love and faith, one compatible with technology and science yet not reductionist, neither anthropocentric. How such a myth can create hospitable and plural worlds is the perspective of crealectics, which is the study of the actualisations of the Creal, an interdisciplinary perspective that I invite you to help me develop.

Luis de Miranda (link to my official site)

 

Cosmological Conjecture as Thought Experiment

Cosmophilosophical conjectures can function as thought experiments intended — not to scientifically demonstrate this of that — but to allow us to consider and feel our reality differently, at least for a few seconds, at least intuitively.

Consider the following example:

What if the very small (smaller than particles) and the very big (bigger than our observable universe) were domains of pure thought, while anything in between would be (a least partly) material? Then, matter would the tension or the difference between the infinitesimally small and the cosmologically immense, a fold between the two infinites already described by Pascal and Leibniz.

But if the two infinites are pure thought, they are in fact one and the same entity: the infinitesimally small = the cosmologically enormous = pure thought.

How can there be a tension or a difference in identity? Perhaps if there is a polarity in Thought or Spirit, which is what Hegel proposed with his dialectics.

 

 

The Adventure, by Georg Simmel

The Adventure
Georg Simmel{1}Each segment of our conduct and experience bears a twofold meaning: it revolves about its own center, contains as much breadth and depth, joy and suffering, as the immediate experiencing gives it, and at the same time is a segment of a course of life – not only a circumscribed entity, but also a component of an organism. Both aspects, in various configurations, characterize everything that occurs in a life. Events which may be widely divergent in their bearing on life as a whole may nonetheless be quite similar to one another; or they may be incommensurate in their intrinsic meanings but so similar in respect to the roles they play in our total existence as to be interchangeable.

{2}One of two experiences which are not particularly different in substance, as far as we can indicate it, may nevertheless be perceived as an “adventure” and the other not. The one receives the designation denied the other because of this difference in the relation to the whole of our life. More precisely, the most general form of adventure is its dropping out of the continuity of life. “Wholeness of life,” after all, refers to the fact that a consistent process runs through the individual components of life, however crassly and irreconcilably distinct they may be. What we call an adventure stands in contrast to that interlocking of life-links, to that feeling that those countercurrents, turnings, and knots still, after all, spin forth a continuous thread. An adventure is certainly a part of our existence, directly contiguous with other parts which precede and follow it; at the same time, however, in its deeper meaning, it occurs outside the usual continuity of this life. Nevertheless, it is distinct from all that is accidental and alien, merely touching life’s outer shell. While it falls outside the context of life, it falls, with this same movement, as it were, back into that context again, as will become clear later; it is a foreign body in our existence which is yet somehow connected with the center; the outside, if only by a long and unfamiliar detour, is formally an aspect of the inside.

{3}Because of its place in our psychic life, a remembered adventure tends to take on the quality of a dream. Everyone knows how quickly we forget dreams because they, too, are placed outside the meaningful context of life-as-a-whole. What we designate as “dreamlike” is nothing but a memory which is bound to the unified, consistent life-process by fewer threads than are ordinary experiences. We might say that we localize our inability to assimilate to this process something experienced by imagining a dream in which it took place. The more “adventurous” an adventure, that is, the more fully it realizes its idea, the more “dreamlike” it becomes in our memory. It often moves so far away from the center of the ego and the course of life which the ego guides and organizes that we may think of it as something experienced by another person. How far outside that course it lies, how alien it has become to that course, is expressed precisely by the fact that we might well feel that we could appropriately assign to the adventure a subject other than the ego.

{4}We ascribe to an adventure a beginning and an end much sharper than those to be discovered in the other forms of our experiences. The adventure is freed of the entanglements and concatenations which are characteristic of those forms and is given a meaning in and of itself. Of our ordinary experiences, we declare that one of them is over when, or because, another starts; they reciprocally determine each other’s limits, and so become a means whereby the contextual unity of life is structured or expressed. The adventure, however, according to its intrinsic meaning, is independent of the “before” and “after”; its boundaries are defined regardless of them. We speak of adventure precisely when continuity with life is thus disregarded on principle – or rather when there is not even any need to disregard it, because we know from the beginning that we have to do with something alien, untouchable, out of the ordinary. The adventure lacks that reciprocal interpenetration with adjacent parts of life which constitutes life-as-a-whole. It is like an island in life which determines its beginning and end according to its own formative powers and not – like the part of a continent – also according to those of adjacent territories. This factor of decisive boundedness which lifts an adventure out of the regular course of a human destiny, is not mechanical but organic: just as the organism determines its spatial shape not simply by adjusting to obstacles confining it from inside out, so does an adventure not end because something else begins; instead, its temporal form, its radical being-ended, is the precise expression of its inner sense.

{5}Here, above all, is the basis of the profound affinity between the adventurer and the artist, and also, perhaps, of the artist’s attraction by adventure. For the essence of a work of art is, after all, that it cuts out a piece of the endlessly continuous sequences of perceived experience, detaching it from all connections with one side or the other, giving it a self-sufficient form as though defined and held together by an inner core. A part of existence, interwoven with uninterruptedness of that existence, yet nevertheless felt as a whole, as an integrated unit – this is the form common to both the work of art and the adventure. Indeed, it is an attribute of this form to make us feel that in both the work of art and the adventure the whole of life is somehow comprehended and consummated – and this irrespective of the particular theme either of them may have. Moreover we feel this, not although, but because, the work of art exists entirely beyond life as a reality; the adventure, entirely beyond life as an uninterrupted course which intelligibly connects every element with its neighbors. It is because the work of art and the adventure stand over against life (even though in very different senses of the phrase) that both are analogous to the totality of life itself, even as this totality presents itself in the brief summary and crowdedness of a dream experience.

{6}For this reason, the adventurer is also the extreme example of the ahistorical individual, of the man who lives in the present. On the one hand, he is not determined by any past (and this marks the contrast between him and the aged, of which more later); nor, on the other hand, does the future exist for him. An extraordinary characteristic proof of this is that Casanova (as may be seen from his memoirs), in the course of his erotic-adventurous life, every so often seriously intended to marry a woman with whom he was in love at the time. In the light of his temperament and conduct of life, we can imagine nothing more obviously impossible, internally and externally. Casanova not only had excellent knowledge of men but also rare knowledge of himself. Although he must have said to himself that he could not stand marriage even two weeks and that the most miserable consequences of such a step would be quite unavoidable, his perspective on the future was wholly obliterated in the rapture of the moment. (Saying this, I mean to put the emphasis on the moment rather than on the rapture.) Because he was entirely dominated by the feeling of the present, he wanted to enter into a future relationship which was impossible precisely because his temperament was oriented to the present.

{7}In contrast to those aspects of life which are related only peripherally – by mere fate – the adventure is defined by its capacity, in spite of its being isolated and accidental, to have necessity and meaning. Something becomes an adventure only by virtue of two conditions: that it itself is a specific organization of some significant meaning with a beginning and an end; and that, despite its accidental nature, its extraterritoriality with respect to the continuity of life, it nevertheless connects with the character and identity of the bearer of that life – that it does so in the widest sense, transcending, by a mysterious necessity, life’s more narrowly rational aspects.

{8}At this point there emerges the relation between the adventurer and the gambler. The gambler, clearly, has abandoned himself to the meaninglessness of chance. In so far, however, as he counts on its favor and believes possible and realizes a life dependent on it, chance for him has become part of a context of meaning. The typical superstition of the gambler is nothing other than the tangible and isolated, and thus, of course, childish form of this profound and all-encompassing scheme of his life, according to which chance makes sense and contains some necessary meaning (even though not by the criterion of rational logic). In his superstition, he wants to draw chance into his teleological system by omens and magical aids, thus removing it from its inaccessible isolation and searching in it for a lawful order, no matter how fantastic the laws of such an order may be.

{9}The adventurer similarly lets the accident somehow be encompassed by the meaning which controls the consistent continuity of life, even though the accident lies outside that continuity. He achieves a central feeling of life which runs through the eccentricity of the adventure and produces a new, significant necessity of his life in the very width of the distance between its accidental, externally given content and the unifying core of existence from which meaning flows. There is in us an eternal process playing back and forth between chance and necessity, between the fragmentary materials given us from the outside and the consistent meaning of the life developed from within.

{10}The great forms in which we shape the substance of life are the syntheses, antagonisms, or compromises between chance and necessity. Adventure is such a form. When the professional adventurer makes a system of life out of his life’s lack of system, when out of his inner necessity, he only, so to speak, makes macroscopically visible that which is the essential form of every “adventure,” even that of the non-adventurous person. For by adventure we always mean a third something, neither the sheer, abrupt event whose meaning – a mere given – simply remains outside us nor the consistent sequence of life in which every element supplements every other toward an inclusively integrated meaning. The adventure is no mere hodgepodge of these two, but rather that incomparable experience which can be interpreted only as a particular encompassing of the accidentally external by the internally necessary.

{11}Occasionally, however, this whole relationship is comprehended in a still more profound inner configuration. No matter how much the adventure seems to rest on a differentiation within life, life as a whole may be perceived as an adventure. For this, one need neither be an adventurer nor undergo many adventures. To have such a remarkable attitude toward life, one must sense above its totality a higher unity, a super-life, as it were, whose relation to life parallels the relation of the immediate life totality itself to those particular experiences which we call adventures.

{12}Perhaps we belong to a metaphysical order, perhaps our soul lives a transcendent existence, such that our earthly, conscious life is only an isolated fragment as compared to the unnamable context of an existence running its course in it. The myth of the transmigration of souls may be a halting attempt to express such a segmental character of every individual life. Whoever senses through all actual life a secret, timeless existence of the soul, which is connected with the realities of life only as from a distance, will perceive life in its given and limited wholeness as an adventure when compared to that transcendent and self-consistent fate. Certain religious moods seem to bring about such a perception. When our earthly career strikes us as a mere preliminary phase in the fulfillment of eternal destinies, when we have no home but merely a temporary asylum on earth, this obviously is only a particular variant of the general feeling that life as a whole is an adventure. It merely expresses the running together, in life, of the symptoms of adventure. It stands outside that proper meaning and steady course of existence to which it is yet tied by a fate and a secret symbolism. A fragmentary incident, it is yet like a work of art, enclosed by a beginning and an end. Like a dream, it gathers all passions into itself and yet, like a dream, is destined to be forgotten; like gaming, it contrasts with seriousness, yet, like the va banque of the gambler, it involves the alternative between the highest gain and destruction.

{13}Thus the adventure is a particular form in which fundamental categories of life are synthesized. Another such synthesis it achieves is that between the categories of activity and passivity, between what we conquer and what is given to us. To be sure, their synthesis in the form of adventure makes their contrast perceptible to an extreme degree. In the adventure, on the one hand, we forcibly pull the world into ourselves. This becomes clear when we compare the adventure with the manner in which we wrest the gifts of the world through work. Work, so to speak, has an organic relation to the world. In a conscious fashion, it develops the world’s forces and materials toward their culmination in the human purpose, whereas in adventure we have a non-organic relation to the world. Adventure has the gesture of the conqueror, the quick seizure of opportunity, regardless of whether the portion we carve out is harmonious or disharmonious with us, with the world, or with the relation between us and the world. On the other hand, however, in the adventure we abandon ourselves to the world with fewer defenses and reserves than in any other relation, for other relations are connected with the general run of our worldly life by more bridges, and thus defend us better against shocks and dangers through previously prepared avoidances and adjustments. In the adventure, the interweaving of activity and passivity which characterizes our life tightens these elements into a coexistence of conquest, which owes everything only to its own strength and presence of mind, and complete self-abandonment to the powers and accidents of the world, which can delight us, but in the same breath can also destroy us. Surely, it is among adventure’s most wonderful and enticing charms that the unity toward which at every moment, by the very process of living, we bring together our activity and our passivity – the unity which even in a certain sense is life itself – accentuates its disparate elements most sharply, and precisely in this way makes itself the more deeply felt, as if they were only the two aspects of one and the same, mysteriously seamless life.

{14}If the adventure, furthermore, strikes us as combining the elements of certainty and uncertainty in life, this is more than the view of the same fundamental relationship from a different angle. The certainty with which – justifiably or in error – we know the outcome, gives our activity one of its distinct qualities. If, on the contrary, we are uncertain whether we shall arrive at the point for which we have set out, if we know our ignorance of the outcome, then this means not only a quantitatively reduced certainty but an inwardly and outwardly unique practical conduct. The adventurer, in a word, treats the incalculable element in life in the way we ordinarily treat only what we think is by definition calculable. (For this reason, the philosopher is the adventurer of the spirit. He makes the hopeless, but not therefore meaningless, attempt to form into conceptual knowledge an attitude of the soul, its mood toward itself, the world, God. He treats this insoluble problem as if it were soluble.) When the outcome of our activity is made doubtful by the intermingling of unrecognizable elements of fate, we usually limit our commitment of force, hold open lines of retreat, and take each step only as if testing the ground.

{15}In the adventure, we proceed in the directly opposite fashion: it is just on the hovering chance, on fate, on the more-or-less that we risk all, burn our bridges, and step into the mist, as if the road will lead us on, no matter what. This is the typical fatalism of the adventurer. The obscurities of fate are certainly no more transparent to him than to others; but he proceeds as if they were. The characteristic daring with which he continually leaves the solidities of life underpins itself, as it were, for its own justification with a feeling of security and “it-must-succeed,” which normally only belongs to the transparency of calculable events. This is only a subjective aspect of the fatalistic conviction that we certainly cannot escape a fate which we do not know: the adventurer nevertheless believes that, as far as he himself is concerned, he is certain of this unknown and unknowable element in his life. For this reason, to the sober person adventurous conduct often seems insanity; for, in order to make sense, it appears to presuppose that the unknowable is known. The prince of Ligne said of Casanova, “He believes in nothing, except in what is least believable.” Evidently, such belief is based on that perverse or at least “adventurous” relation between the certain and the uncertain, whose correlate, obviously, is the skepticism of the adventurer – that he “believes in nothing”: for him to whom the unlikely is likely, the likely easily becomes unlikely. The adventurer relies to some extent on his own strength, but above all on his own luck; more properly, on a peculiarly undifferentiated unity of the two. Strength, of which he is certain, and luck, of which he is uncertain, subjectively combine into a sense of certainty.

{16}If it is the nature of genius to possess an immediate relation to these secret unities which in experience and rational analysis fall apart into completely separate phenomena, the adventurer of genius lives, as if by mystic instinct, at the point where the course of the world and the individual fate have, so to speak, not yet been differentiated from one another. For this reason, he is said to have a “touch of genius.” The “sleepwalking certainty” with which the adventurer leads his life becomes comprehensible in terms of that peculiar constellation whereby he considers that which is uncertain and incalculable to be the premises of his conduct, while others consider only the calculable. Unshakable even when it is shown to be denied by the facts of the case, this certainty proves how deeply that constellation is rooted in the life conditions of adventurous natures.

{17}The adventure is a form of life which can be taken on by an undetermined number of experiences. Nevertheless, our definitions make it understandable that one of them, more than all others, tends to appear in this form: the erotic – so that our linguistic custom hardly lets us understand by “adventure” anything but an erotic one. The love affair, even if short-lived, is by no means always an adventure. The peculiar psychic qualities at whose meeting point the adventure is found must be added to this quantitative matter. The tendency of these qualities to enter such a conjuncture will become apparent step by step.

{18}A love affair contains in clear association the two elements which the form of the adventure characteristically conjoins: conquering force and unextortable concession, winning by one’s own abilities and dependence on the luck which something incalculable outside of ourselves bestows on us. A degree of balance between these forces, gained by virtue of his sense of their sharp differentiation, can, perhaps, be found only in the man. Perhaps for this reason, it is of compelling significance that, as a rule, a love affair is an “adventure” only for men; for women it usually falls into other categories. In novels of love, the activity of woman is typically permeated by the passivity which either nature of history has imparted to her character; on the other hand, her acceptance of happiness is at the same time a concession and a gift.

{19}The two poles of conquest and grace (which manifest themselves in many variations) stand closer together in woman than in man. In man, they are, as a matter of fact, much more decisively separated. For this reason, in man their coincidence in the erotic experience stamps this experience quite ambiguously as an adventure. Man plays the courting, attacking, often violently grasping role: this fact makes one easily overlook the element of fate, the dependence on something which cannot be predetermined or compelled, that is contained in every erotic experience. This refers not only to dependence on the concession on the part of the other, but to something deeper. To be sure, every “love returned,” too, is a gift which cannot be “earned,” not even by any measure of love – because to love, demand and compensation are irrelevant; it belongs, in principle, in a category altogether different from a squaring of accounts – a point which suggest one of its analogies to the more profound religious relation. But over and above that which we receive from another as a free gift, there still lies in every happiness of love – like a profound, impersonal bearer of those personal elements – a favor of fate. We receive happiness not only from the other: the fact that we do receive it from him is a blessing of destiny, which is incalculable. In the proudest, most self-assured event in this sphere lies something which we must accept with humility. When the force which owes its success to itself and gives all conquest of love some note of victory and triumph is then combined with the other note of favor by fate, the constellation of the adventure is, as it were, preformed.

{20}The relation which connects the erotic content with the more general from of life as adventure is rooted in deeper ground. The adventure is the exclave of life, the “torn-off” whose beginning and end have no connection with the somehow unified stream of existence. And yet, as if hurdling this stream, it connects with the most recondite instincts and some ultimate intention of life as a whole – and this distinguishes it from the merely accidental episode, from that which only externally “happens” to us. Now, when a love affair is of short duration, it lives in precisely such a mixture of a merely tangential and yet central character. It may give our life only a momentary splendor, like the ray shed in an inside room by a light flitting by outside. Still, it satisfies a need, or is, in fact, only possible by virtue of a need which – whether it be considered as physical, psychic, or metaphysical – exists, as it were, timelessly in the foundation or center of our being. This need is related to the fleeting experience as our general longing for light is to that accidental and immediately disappearing brightness.

{21}The fact that love harbors the possibility of this double relation is reflected by the twofold temporal aspect of the erotic. It displays two standards of time: the momentarily climactic, abruptly subsiding passion; and the idea of something which cannot pass, an idea in which the mystical destination of two souls for one another and for a higher unity finds a temporal expression. This duality might be compared with the double existence of intellectual contents: while they emerge only in the fleetingness of the psychic process, in the forever moving focus of consciousness, their logical meaning possesses timeless validity, an ideal significance which is completely independent of the instant of consciousness in which it becomes real for us. The phenomenon of adventure is such that its abrupt climax places its end into the perspective of its beginning. However, its connection with the center of life is such that it is to be distinguished from all merely accidental happenings. Thus “mortal danger,” so to speak, lies in its very style. This phenomenon, therefore, is a form which by its time symbolism seems to be predetermined to receive the erotic content.

{22}These analogies between love and adventure alone suggest that the adventure does not belong to the life-style of old age. The decisive point about this fact is that the adventure, in its specific nature and charm, is a form of experiencing. The content of the experience does not make an adventure. That one faced mortal danger or conquered a woman for a short span of happiness; that unknown factors with which one has waged a gamble have brought surprising gain or loss; that physically or psychological disguised, one has ventured into spheres of life from which one returns home as if from a strange world – none of these are necessarily adventure. They become adventure only by virtue of a certain experiential tension whereby their substance is realized. Only when a stream flowing between the minutest externalities of life and the central source of strength drags them into itself; when the peculiar color, ardor, and rhythm of the life-process become decisive and, as it were, transform its substance – only then does an event change from mere experience to adventure. Such a principle of accentuation, however, is alien to old age. In general, only youth knows this predominance of the process of life over its substance; whereas in old age, when the process begins to slow up and coagulate, substance becomes crucial; it then proceeds or perseveres in a certain timeless manner, indifferent to the tempo and passion of its being experienced. The old person, usually lives either in a wholly centralizedfashion, peripheral interests having fallen off and being unconnected with his essential life and its inner necessity; or his center atrophies, and existence runs its course only in isolated petty details, accenting mere externals and accidentals. Neither case makes possible the relation between the outer fate and the inner springs of life in which the adventure consists; clearly, neither permits the perception of contrast characteristic of adventure, viz., that an action is completely torn out of the inclusive context of life and that simultaneously the whole strength and intensity of life stream into it.

{23}In youth, the accent falls on the process of life, on its rhythm and its antinomies; in old age, it falls on life’s substance, compared to which experience more and more appears relatively incidental. This contrast between youth and age, which makes adventure the prerogative of youth, may be expressed as the contrast between the romantic and the historical spirit of life. Life in its immediacy – hence also in the individuality of its from at any moment, here and now – counts for the romantic attitude. Life in its immediacy feels the full strength of the current of life most of all in the pointedness of an experience that is torn out of the normal run of things but which is yet connected with the heart of life. All such life which thrusts itself out of life, such breadth of contrast among elements which are penetrated by life, can feed only on that overflow and exuberance of life which exists in adventure, in romanticism, and in youth. Age, on the other hand – if, as such, it has a characteristic, valuable, and coherent attitude – carries with it a historical mood. This mood may be broadened into a world view or limited to the immediately personal past; at any rate, in its objectivity and retrospective reflectiveness, it is devoted to contemplating a substance of life out of which immediacy has disappeared. All history as depiction in the narrower, scientific sense originates in such a survival of substance beyond the inexpressible process of its presence that can only be experienced. The connection this process has established among them is gone, and must now, in retrospect, and with a view to constructing an ideal image, be re-established by completely different ties.

{24}With this shift of accent, all the dynamic premise of the adventure disappears. Its atmosphere, as suggested before, is absolute presentness – the sudden rearing of the life-process to a point where both past and future are irrelevant; it therefore gathers life within itself with an intensity compared with which the factuality of the event often becomes of relatively indifferent import. Just as the game itself – not the winning of money – is the decisive motive for the true gambler; just as for him, what is important is the violence of feeling as it alternates between joy and despair, the almost touchable nearness of the daemonic powers which decide between both – so, the fascination of the adventure is again and again not the substance which it offers us and which, if it were offered in another form of experiencing it, the intensity and excitement with which it lets us feel life in just this instance. This is what connects youth and adventure. What is called the subjectivity of youth is just this: The material of life in its substantive significance is not as important to youth as is the process which carries it, life itself. Old age is “objective”; it shapes a new structure out of the substance left behind in a peculiar sort of timelessness by the life which has slipped by. The new structure is that of contemplativeness, impartial judgment, freedom from that unrest which marks life as being present. It is all this that makes adventure alien to old age and an old adventurer an obnoxious or tasteless phenomenon. It would not be difficult to develop the whole essence of adventure from the fact that it is the form of life which in principle is inappropriate to old age.

{25}Notwithstanding the fact that so much of life is hostile to adventure, from the most general point of view adventure appears admixed with all practical human existence. It seems to be an ubiquitous element, but it frequently occurs in the finest distribution, invisible to the naked eye, as it were, and concealed by other elements. This is true quite aside from that notion which, reaching down into the metaphysics of life, considers our existence on earth as a whole, unified adventure. Viewed purely from a concrete and psychological standpoint, every single experience contains a modicum of the characteristics which, if they grow beyond a certain point, bring it to the “threshold” of adventure. Here the most essential and profound of these characteristics is the singling out of the experience from the total context of life. In point of fact, the meaning of no single part of life is exhausted by its belonging in that context. On the contrary, even when a part is most closely interwoven with the whole, when it really appears to be completely absorbed by onflowing life, like an unaccented word in the course of a sentence – even then, when we listen more closely, we can recognize the intrinsic value of that segment of existence. With a significance which is centered in itself, it sets itself over against that total development to which, nevertheless, if looked at from another angle, it inextricably belongs.

{26}Both the wealth and the perplexity of life flow countless times from this value-dichotomy of its contents. Seen from the center of the personality, every single experience is at once something necessary which comes from the unity of the history of the ego, and something accidental, foreign to that unity, insurmountably walled off, and colored by a very deep-lying incomprehensibility, as if it stood somewhere in the void and gravitated toward nothing. Thus a shadow of what in its intensification and distinctness constitutes the adventure really hovers over every experience. Every experience, even as it is incorporated into the chain of life, is accompanied by a certain feeling of being enclosed between a beginning and an end – by a feeling of an almost unbearable pointedness of the single experience as such. This feeling may sink to imperceptibility, but it lies latent in every experience and rises from it – often to our own astonishment. It is impossible to identify any minimal distance from the continuity of life short of which the feeling of adventurousness could not emerge – as impossible, to be sure, as to identify the maximal distance where it must emerge for everyone. But everything could not become an adventure if the elements of adventure did not in some measure reside in everything, if they did not belong among the vital factors by virtue of which a happening is designated a human experience.

{27}Similar observations apply to the relation between the accidental and the meaningful. In our every encounter this so much of the merely given, external, and occasional that we can, so to speak, decide only on a quantitative basis whether the whole may be considered as something rational and in some sense understandable, or whether its insolubility as regards its reference to the past, or its incalculability as regards its reference to the future, is to stamp its whole complexion. From the most secure civic undertaking to the most irrational adventure there runs a continuous line of vital phenomena in which the comprehensible and the incomprehensible, that which can be coerced and that which is given by grace, the calculable and the accidental, mix in infinitely varied degrees. Since the adventure marks one extreme of this continuum, the other extreme must also partake of its character. The sliding of our existence over a scale on which every point is simultaneously determined by the effect of our strength and our abandonment to impenetrable things and powers – this problematic nature of our position in the world, which in its religious version results in the insoluble question of human freedom and divine predetermination, lets all of us become adventurers. Within the dimensions into which our station in life with its tasks, our aims, and our means place us, none of us could live one day if we did not treat that which is really incalculable as if it were calculable, if we did not entrust our own strength with what it still cannot achieve by itself but only by its enigmatic co-operation with the powers of fate.

{28}The substance of our life is constantly seized by interweaving forms which thus bring about its unified whole. Everywhere there is artistic forming, religious comprehending, the shade of moral valuing, the interplay of subject and object. There is, perhaps, no point in this whole stream where every one of these and of many other modes of organization does not contribute at least a drop to its waves. But they become the pure structures which language names only when they rise out of that fragmentary and confused condition where the average life lets them emerge and submerge and so attain mastery over life’s substance. Once the religious mood has created its structure, the god, wholly out of itself, it is “religion”; once the aesthetic form has made its content something secondary, by which it lives a life of its own that listens only to itself, it becomes “art”; once moral duty is fulfilled simply because it is duty, no matter how changing the contents by means of which it is fulfilled and which previously in turn determined the will, it becomes “morality.”

{29}It is no different with adventure. We are the adventurers of the earth; our life is crossed everywhere by the tensions which mark adventure. But only when these tensions have become so violent that they gain mastery over the material through which they realize themselves – only then does the “adventure” arise. For the adventure does not consist in a substance which is won or lost, enjoyed or endured: to all this we have access in other forms of life as well. Rather, it is the radicalness through which it becomes perceptible as a life tension, as the rubato of the life process, independent of its materials and their differences – the quantity of these tensions becoming great enough to tear life, beyond those materials, completely out of itself: this is what transforms mere experience into adventure. Certainly, it is only one segment of existence among others, but it belongs to those forms which, beyond the mere share they have in life and beyond all the accidental nature of their individual contents, have the mysterious power to make us feel for a moment the whole sum of life as their fulfillment and their vehicle, existing only for their realization.
Das Abenteuer,” Phiosophische Kultur. Gesammelte Essays ([1911] 2nd ed.; Leipzig: Alfred Kroner, 1919)

Translated by David Kettler {dW:April 2002}

Source: The Adventure

Why Heidegger never gets to the point

I have always considered Heidegger as a master of intellectual suspense. In this, his book What is Called Thinking? is no different from Being and Time: they belong to the genre of the philosophical whodunit. The reader can’t help thinking at every page: “So, when is he getting to the point? Come on, lay your egg, Heidi! Tell us what you think!”

In figurative English, when someone “lays an egg”, it means to perform poorly. Heidegger was a good performer as a lecturer. He was performing the truth, in the performative sense of truthing. As he writes or speaks, he does not know where he is going, but he does know from where he is speaking, because he is being taken, he is being conducted by his care to remain in the act of being-thinking.

The form of Heidegger’s book answers the question What is Thinking? Thinking is a calling that takes much courage to keep following. You need to listen to the voice of your care for thinking, not apply logistical grids, not make experiments and run statistics, not interview one hundred people and then analyse an average profile.

Heidegger does refer to Parmenides’ saying that to think and to be is the same. This week I decided to re-read Heidi’s book because I realised my imperative to “Think Creal” was indeed a performative act, a being in the Heideggerian sense of a transitive verb. When you think in a certain manner, you be the world, so to speak. If you think in a logistical manner, under the tyranny of capitalism and realism, you will end up transforming the world into a binary memory of disposable/available objects. If you Think Creal, you make yourself available to hearing-practicing the immanent music of creation, the pulse of the earth. This will also affect reality, but with more fecundity than capitalistic technoscience.

Heidegger’s absolute is this poetic be-ing. I prefer to call it Creal, or perhaps should I call it crealing. To be fair, I did not fully appreciate what I heard in the second part of the book: there is too much emphasis, I felt, on the idea of presence and “what lies before us, there.” I believe Creal is a feeling, an emotion first and foremost, not something in front of me. Of course Heidegger, when he thinks that something lies before us, thinks that at the same time “we make it appear”. This is, he writes, the essence of logos or legein.

How does this relate to what I have called crealectics, the logos of the Creal? One answer is to consider what Heidegger calls, with Parmenides, “the taking-to-heart”. Thinking is, as I already mentioned, about caring.

Think of it as a secretion.

The care of Creal is a secretion. It is a secretion of the real that is not realistic. What lies before me is not reality as we know it, it is the unknown, the non-real, the real as non-really real even if real-able.

Hence the idea with which I started this note: suspense. For the sake of security, material profit, and their will to (ideologic and epistemic) power, the crazy positivists, naturalists, scientists, and financialists, are all trying to predict-produce the world to a level of near certitude, in a sort of Laplacian nightmare. They might get closer to an illusion of success with the help of artificial intelligence. But this would be a nightmare in which, to answer the question What is Thinking?, we would simply run an algorithm more or less based on crowdsourcing (or altogether eliminating all human input), which would produce a one line answer (or the number 42 as in Douglas Adams’ ironical Guide), thus saving us the time to read a book like Heidegger’s, which never seems to get to the point.

Thus we would miss the meaning of life and Creal, which is to never get to the point.