YouTube: Dialectical Thinking (Part 2): Principle of Dialectical Negativity and the Beyond of Religion and Science
In this second essay on dialectical thinking we are going to be covering Part 2, “Principle of Dialectical Negativity and the Beyond of Religion and Science”.
In using the principle of dialectical negativity in order to go beyond both religion and science, we hope to approach a frontier of totally new thinking.
University discourse as a general matrix operates on positive knowledge that is presented to subjects as coherent, consistent and complete, in terms of representing a type of pre-Kantian noumenal substance, often presented by a form of subjectivity that presents as if they know the truth.
Socratic knowledge, on the other hand, is a subtractive gesture. The Socratic subject pays attention to incoherence, inconsistency and incompletion of all positive knowledge, and operates as a passive reflector of pure negation to positive knowledge: I do not know, do you?
Thus we see the main difference between the matrix of university discourse and the Socratic subject, as operating between positive knowledge that is coherent, consistent and complete, presented as if the subject knows the absolute truth; and a type of negative knowledge, where incoherence, inconsistency and incompletion gain focus, from a subject who claims to not know.
The active constructive dimension of dialectics is discovered in this same historical motion, presented by this same type of Socratic subject, where the original negativity is positivized. The truth is found in divisions, failures, antagonisms and imbalances. From divisions, failures, antagonisms and imbalances, the identity does not cling to positive knowledge of what is, instead it becomes in relationship to a historical absence. The absence of perfect knowledge is the very motivating drive to produce new understanding. This reversal of absence into positivity is a good example of how dialectics mobilizes a key mechanism: negation of negation.
This mechanism negation of negation can be applied on a meta-level. Let us consider the traditional world. The traditional world operates on a positive presupposition of absolute reality, where absolute reality exists independent of human observers or rational opinions. This reality was understood to have properties of oneness, eternity, infinity, immortality; it was coherent, consistent and complete internal to itself.
Thus from this understanding of the absolute reality, we have the traditional world’s fundamental triad or formula of “Man-World-God” or “Bodies-Languages-Truth”.
In contrast to the traditional world’s formula, the postmodern world operates on a negativity, the negation of this positive presupposition. It is an explicit challenge and a totally opposite conception of the world, where there is no positive absolute reality independent of human observers or rational opinions. Reality has the property of multiplicity, heterogeneity, alterity, and contingency.
We can say that the formula for this meta-perspective on reality, is that there are only bodies and languages, or only humans and the world.
Dialectics, in relation to the traditional and post-modern world, does not cling to either conception, but attempts to mobilize the contradictions, incoherence, and opposition between the two, in order to formalize an approach to the truth that is not positive and independent of human observers, but the consequence of the introduction of human observers and their subjective becoming, in the form of a negativity of division, failure, antagonism and imbalance.
The result is that in contrast to the traditional knowledge, which has no room for subjective becoming, and postmodern knowledge, which has no room for truth, the dialectical knowledge focuses on the truth of subjective becoming as a negativity. This mechanism accepts the initial negation and mobilizes negation as positivity, or the classical mechanism: negation of negation.
Thus the starting point for absolute knowledge in dialectics is the following one: there is no positive one, as in the traditional world. The one is replaced by a series of ones, as in ‘this one’, consciousness. The problem for the series of ones is the otherness or multiplicity of multiplicities, which is complex, confusing, disorganized, and chaotic. This is the postmodern world, and the postmodern world identifies with this in a positive dimension.
Dialectics claims that because there is no one (traditional world), and only otherness (postmodern world), in relation to a series of ones, then “nothing is” (positivizing negativity). Nothing is not a passive state, but an active historical force. The same mechanism, we accept the initial negation, and mobilize negation as a positivity.
Consequently, the absolute as a series of ones is always two (one and the other). The desire to close this two with a complete-closed substance, is always reflected in a past or future mediation. The past is a retrotopia, and the future is a type of progressive future-topia. Both desires, whether past or future, the desire to close the two, is a projection to obfuscate tension instead of working tension in contradiction, opposition and incoherence, and so forth, where one of the two is always an empty one, in this case, the missing other.
This dialectical formula for the absolute can be used to approach historicity, specifically the historicity of religion and science. In this way we can understand the historicity of religion and science from the perspective of the truth of subjective becoming, as a series of ones and otherness. Typically, religion is about values and morality: what we ought to do? And how we should act? Whereas science is about facts and nature: what is objectively true? What is the nature of the universe?
Let us first consider religion in its traditional form. Religion in its traditional form is grounded in a type of traditional morality where God, goodness, what is right and who the master is, are seen as informing what we ought to do, and how we should act, over and above things like the devil, evil, what is wrong, or even the slave, or who is lower in a social category.
Of course, this form of religion can be negated for a balanced synthesis, or a new age balance, where God and the Devil, good-evil, right-wrong, master-slave are seen as equal.
However, if we use the dialectical principle, the negation of negation, then we mobilize this negativity where the forces that are called Devil, evil, wrong, and slave, are in fact the ultimate motivational power of action, and how we should act is instead to cultivate these as a positivity, instead of covering them up and pretending they are not there with a type of religious morality.
From a type of psychoanalytic perspective we should instead try to approach the dimension of Devi, evil, wrong and slave from the point of view of sublimation and transform these forces into an authentic motivating drive.
Science, in contrast, is the ground of traditional naturalism. In the classical sciences, the object, externality, outside and nature, are seen as informing understanding of what objectively is the nature of the universe, over and above the subject, internality, the inside and spirituality.
This system of classical science can of course be negated for a balanced synthesis or new age science, where object-subject, external-internal, outside-inside, nature-spirit, are seen as equal to each other.
However, dialectics again, mobilizes the mechanism of negation of negation, transforming negativity and the forces that are called subjective, internal, inside and spirit, are seen as informing understanding of what objectively is the nature of the universe. In this perspectival shift the classical science of objectivity, externality, outside and nature are always-already spirit’s process of returning back to itself, back to the subjective inside, internal, and spirit as such.
In this dialectical mediation of the opposites between religion, what we ought to do, and science, what objectively is, we have a meta-level reconciliation. A meta-level reconciliation of pure coincidence of the opposites, where our moral action, the highest good and the most authentic drive, as well as objective nature, what is the truth of reality, coincide as the same thing. This is achieved through the nihilation of both social law and natural substance. In other words, the foundation of traditional religion, social law, as well as the foundation of classical science, natural substance, become nothing at all but the mediation of subjective spirit. In the authentic mediation of subjective spirit, what is indeed at stake is nothing but historical freedom.
In other words, the foundation of religion as social law, and the foundation of science as natural substance, is nothing but the way in which the subject and collectives of subjects are mediating their own historical freedom as a process of becoming. This is the beyond of both religion and science as historical categories. The beyond of religion and science as historical categories is the spirit’s own freedom and thinking the real of this freedom in-itself.
This brings us to the end of Part 2: The Principle of Dialectical Negativity and the Beyond of Religion and Science.