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Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Optimism in philosophy

Pace Cabrera.

Been thinking about strategies for mad dog optimism in philosophy - around Severino´s rehabilitation of Parmenides, Leibniz´s best of possible worlds and a bit on the interruption of being in Levinas. The combination of the first two reads like this: the past was best and lasts. In other words, the past was the best result of the action of all agents in the world and it became eternal. It is the contingent past, determined or not, that is perpetual - and not the intelligible, the perfect, the rationally conceived. The Leibnizian element is, I believe, monadological in the sense that it ought to be present in other monadologies (thinking of Latour or Whitehead). The agents in the past did their best because they acted according to their best reasons and did the best alliances with other agents they could do. They could not have done worse than the best because they are guided by reasons and never act at random. They never abstain from any alliance, the alliances are part of what they produce all the time - independent of what is registered and what is not, independent of what is preserved. So, the monadological optimism recommends: work on your reasons, work on your alliances, the past is the point of departure and the future will reveal precisely the alliances you manage to do now (and the reasons that you allow to guide you). The past is intangible - it is something ready, somewhat beyond the reach of any agent.

Now, if you add Severino´s claim that the past is eternal and no thing that ever exists collapses into nothingness but just is moved out of sight, the intangible past is precisely what was build to be and what is forever. There is no falling into nothingness - no death, no end, no break, no corruption and no passing of time beyond the movement of the horizon. Whatever you do will last forever, even out of sight. The monadological would even insist that it is available for sensibilia to come as they affect other present things somehow - like feathers scattered in the landscape. The past is perpetual, in monadological terms, because it is not without consequences; it is not written somewhere, it is dormant, and it could be woken up precisely like the intelligible (the actual ideas of Plato or the potential eternal objects of Whitehead) is dormant and can be brought back by an operation within the sensible. There is no such thing as the intelligible with its archetypes that are protected from nothingness, the past because it is past is what is protected in this manner because there is no nothingness. This monadological, parmenidean optimism makes religion unnecessary, as Severino points out. It also exorcises resentment and, in a sense, alleviates the need for memory as it points towards the atenuation of the urge for archive.

If we add to the mix a rejection of ontologism as Levinas recommends, we can think of the other-than-being not as nothingness, but as a pure drift outwards.

To be continued...

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