The Toy Philosopher

Wittgenstein’s idea that philosophy is something like a disease and the job of the philosopher is to study philosophy as the physician studies malaria, not to pass it on but rather to cure people of it. —Susan Sontag

The connoisseur of horror realizes that there is nothing to say, nothing to do, nothing to be; knowing that everything that could possibly be thought has already entered that stage of utter obsolescence in which thinking has become a desperate attempt to think about thinking. What happens when there is no longer anything to think, when thought and concept have begun circling in the bowels of philosophical presumption rather than abstraction? Philosophers today bewail the end of philosophy as if it were some grand tradition they must by every means necessary be upheld as the last bastion of sanity. But what if this in itself is already to be outside the very limits of philosophical thinking and thought; a gesture within a gesture demarcating the lines between philosophy proper and its non-philosophical gestures of flight and fear. Has philosophy become a toy in the hands of machinic algorithms; a sort of endless game of accelerating complexity whose only goal is to produce superintelligence devoid of the human factor of irrational monstrousness.

Pondering the new rationalists I’ve come to recognize this limit moment; their castigation of the sciences as childish thinking whose very pretensions as the arbiter of reality and mind have left us open to some ill-defined matrix of impossible thought. And, yet, the very complexity of the neo-rationalist figuration of analytic and continental thought with its nod to a form of Hegelianism seems to want to double back and retake philosophy at the point in which it admitted its own defeat and ruination.

What is this Toy Philosophy of transcendental computationalism but an admission of defeat; the sense that humans as singular entities of thought will be replaced by some collective “deprivatized” assemblage of intelligence: a machinic world of AGIs crunching the endless gestures of thought and concept in the quantum vacuum of impossible superminds. Devoid of that pesky experientialisms of the actual individual human, these machinic denizens of a super-collective of intelligence will marshal all the resources of two-thousand years of human thought and learning without the inner-experience and gestures of the irrational humans themselves. The abstraction and subtraction of the rational from its dirty human emotionalism these abstract entities will so these toy philosophers suggest purify thought of its dark heritage of irrational ruins.

But, one must ask, what will this subtraction of the human into post-human agency become? No longer bound to the foibles of empirical inner-experience of us irrational humans, what will these abstract systems of absolute transcendental computationalism do; what work perform. Toy philosophy without human need or irrational emotions will if seen from the Outside become what our psychopaths already are: absolute killers, manipulators, and agents of an inhuman order of collective instrumentalism.

In the end I will stay with my perplexity and complexity; my irrational human gestures and scorns. The futile gestures of inner experience may seem quaint in an age of hyperintelligent toy makers, philosophers and tinkerers of inhuman thought; and, yet, in the end if these machinic agents of a hyperrational civilization devoid of emotion become our future, what will remain of our failures and errors. Who will remind us that to fail is human; and to fail better is the last gesture of human action in the face of monstrous collective agents of an inhuman future.

Futility must be seen not as a frustration of one’s hopes and aspirations, but as a prized and defended vantage point for the athletic leap of consciousness into its own complexity. It’s of this desirable state that Cioran is speaking when he says: “Futility is the most difficult thing in the world.” It requires that we “must sever our roots, must become metaphysical aliens.” – Susan Sontag On Cioran

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