The Disappearance of Philosophy into Technicity

Philosophy as a separate academic discipline will disappear, because life itself is philosophical; that is, the actual is now virtualized. Heidegger once spoke of the “will to will” as technologization of “planetary technicity”: “… ubiquitous, continual, unconditional investigation of means, grounds, hindrances, the miscalculating of exchange and plotting of goals, deceptiveness and maneuvers, the inquisitorial, as a consequence of which the will to will is distrustful towards itself, and thinks of nothing else than the guaranteeing of itself as power itself.” (Heidegger, Nietzsche: p. 102)

We live in an age when the truth has disappeared among its own fragments, what remains is the economics of a calculating, self-guaranteeing information system that knows no boundaries. The capitalization of finance turns into pure metaphysics and vanishes: and, instead of serving the sacred as in the old metaphysical worlds, it guarantees what Heidegger termed the “correct”. As Heidegger confirms:

“What is in accordance with the will is correct and in order. In this self-guaranteeing of the will to will the primal being of truth is lost. This correctness of the will to will is absolutely untrue. The correctness of the untrue has its own irresistibility in the scope of the will to will … What is correct masters what is true and sets the true aside. The will to will unconditional guaranteeing first causes ubiquitous uncertainty to appear.” (39)

For Heidegger the creation of radical uncertainty is standard operating procedure in our techno-commercial world. In such a world everything becomes “raw resource”: consumption machines, code machines, speed machines, and virtual machines. The knowledge class is driven to excess in an accelerating economy of immaterial exchange, cut off in a no-time realm where history vanishes and is replaced by ‘presentism‘ of an eternal now. We are at the beginning of a new cycle in which Heidegger will ask: “What kind of humanity is capable of the unconditional completion of nihilism?” A humanity that is no longer human, but rather inhuman: the technical realization of the posthuman.1

Since our virtualization of reality recently commenced we will complete the task of nihilism by enclosing our world in an Infosphere of timelessness and datastreams. An obvious illusion, but then humanity has always been immersed in its illusions. This is the age Heidegger would call a ‘completed nihilism’:

This struggle is planetary and undecidable because it has nothing to decide … through its own force it is driven out into what is without destiny … into the abandonment of being. (The End of Philosphy, p. 102)

It’s probably true, a lot of people will read me straight and literally when in fact for the most part I’m an ironist and satirist, a comic nihilist exploring the hinterlands of our age’s insipidity and flagrant emptiness of ideas, politics, or prospects for the future. As Reinhold Niebur once said elegantly,

“…the tragic elements in present history are not as significant as the ironic ones. Pure tragedy elicits tears of admiration and pity for the hero who is willing to brave death or incur guilt for the sake of some great good. Irony however prompts some laughter and a nod of comprehension beyond the laughter; for irony involves comic absurdities which cease to be altogether absurd when fully understood. Our age is involved in irony because so many dreams of our world have been so cruelly refuted by history. Our dreams of a pure virtue are dissolved in a situation in which it is possible to exercise the virtue of responsibility toward a community of nations only by courting the prospective guilt of the atomic bomb. And the irony is increased by the frantic efforts of some of our idealists to escape this hard reality by dreaming up schemes of an ideal world order which have no relevance to either our present dangers or our urgent duties.”

from The Irony of American History

Even more so today in a world where financial capitalism has dispensed with productivity – and any hint of caring about people, nations, or the well-being of our planetary civilization; and, instead entered into a fantasy realm of the pure present where hedge-funds and fast-trading rule the iron waves of banking systems gone amok calibrating profit against risk in a roulette world that hopes disaster will win out. A world where the rich are bailed out and the poor excluded from even the bare necessities of life, where racism runs in the streets and the club rooms of New York City. Where prisons owned and operated by Corporate profit seek government help from Federal and State agencies to keep the cells full… a world where war has become permanent, and terror exists only in the minds of Pentagon war rooms, and the Hollywood scripts of politicians adverts and dreams of Walls or Barbwire against the migrants of helpless refugees.

Note: Philosophical presentism is the view that neither the future nor the past exist. In some versions of presentism, this view is extended to timeless objects or ideas such as numbers. According to presentism, events and entities that are wholly past or wholly future do not exist at all. Presentism contrasts with eternalism and the growing block theory of time which holds the past events, like the Battle of Waterloo, and past entities, like Alexander the Great’s warhorse Bucephalus, really do exist, although not in the present. Eternalism alone extends this to future events as well.

  1. Kroker, Arthur. The Will to Technology and the Culture of Nihilism: Heidegger, Marx, Nietzsche. University of Toronto Press (March 6, 2004)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s