A Talk on the Crisis of Philosophy

Serge Valdinoci, Gérard Comlan Kponsou, trans. Sylvia

from: Lettres philosophiques n°6, 1992, pp. 55-65.

Gérard Comlan Kponsou: The crisis of philosophy can be summarized by the impossibility of producing, until our days, science in the absolute sense of this concept, that is, a rigorous thought that escapes both aesthetism and scientism. You consider, for your part, that this crisis transduces [traduit] another fundamental crisis that is not to be cured: it is about the natural structure of human thought that, according to you, is properly affective in a non-psychological sense close to Michel Henry’s phenomenological considerations. You say in sum that resolving the crisis is not to make it disappear as such but to assume it within its profound reality by elaborating a thought-in-affect, a thought-in-life. The crisis of philosophy thenceforth focalizes the possibility of science absolutely of which only a non-visualizing method of thought, in your sense, is capable.

 

Serge Valdinoci: Scientific thought in general is a devisualized thought in fund. Let us take the example of physics. While Galileo’s physics, that was firstly constituted against the metaphysical physics of Old and Aristotle’s, proposed a visual mechanism, we know that physics was gradually devisualized to such a point that in quantum physics for example, one must in a non-visual and astonishing fashion, absurd for a vision, associate a wave packet and a corpuscle, this is absolutely invisualizable. It is schematizable but not visualizable[1]. This practical example can be interesting for us. It still does not prove that we have developed a corresponding practice in philosophy. Solely on the model of a thought that thinks—and I oppose myself to Heidegger who considers that scientific thought does not think but calculates, he thinks that Einstein only calculates—on the model of this thought, and without giving hold to the accusation of scientism, we can perhaps propose another equally devisualized model of thought that is not mad, no more than the sciences are mad.

 

GC Kponsou: What is particular in what you propose is in fund a method that is not one if one understands method in the sense of methodology: since there is no discourse of the method with you. Science in the invisible is not methodologically applied, it is method in act, a vivid method that you call “europanalysis”, analysis being evidently comprehended in an altogether non-intellectualized sense of vivid analysis. You precisely go to explain this method to us but already, why the term “europe”?

 

S Valdinoci: “europe” designates what is invisible in relation to the Greek, it is the invisible reality of the Greek. The Greek is what gives to see as Heidegger showed apropos Plato. Here we cut the field of vision and we physically enter, if I may say, within the invisible, we devisualize: whence the expression “europanalysis”. I take the concept of europe for an accidental or historical reason: “europe”, within my discourse, is not necessarily at the native level but it becomes necessary by the laws of construction. Husserl, the last philosopher naively and principially speaking of philosophy of cognizance finished by hardly talking about it at the end of his life in The Crisis of European Sciences (while he completely changed his perspective from Ideas I within a moral perspective that bears on the responsibility of the world, our contemporary perspective in fund). Husserl spoke of Europe and presently in contemporary philosophy he is spoken of in this sense. But while I express myself personally, I take up the term in transforming it. It is no longer about cultural and politico-economic Europe, the ensemble of flattenings [mises à plat], but of the invisible europe. To make myself understood, let us evoke Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty who used a phrase: “there is”, “there is” is valid outside of time and space. “There is” is the absolute given “europe”.

 

GC Kponsou: In sum the concept of europe sends us back here to a non-spatio-temporal dimensionality that therefore has nothing of the geographic, nothing of the cultural: would it be, so to speak, a state of nature of thought?

 

S Valdinoci: Yes, insofar as it effectively entails restoring thought within what it has of the natural by stripping it of its generally idealist, indeed romantic or scientist, garments.

 

GC Kponsou: Let us take a closer look at how you proceed: in what therefore does europanalysis consist, this vivid method that is properly structured in the invisible and that attempts by the same to think the essence of thought below reflexive models since such is, it seems to me, the sense of your research?

 

S Valdinoci: It is indeed about this, i.e., thinking the essence of thought that in itself does not reflect. If you will, every process of reflection necessarily fails the natural state of thought. europanalysis is, as I will try to tell you succinctly, a process in zigzag[2]. Let us say to start, in the terms of Michel Foucault, that one must speak of things without confounding them with things and at the same time one must speak of things with this pertinent distance, that is, without a distance so great that it makes it that we no longer speak of anything. What is first, what is indisputable, is the sphere of inscription[3], the human being’s sphere of habitation; what one must try to do is to find a zone of contact between inscription and its description, a contact zone that is evidently not visualizing. The succession of contact zones would permit us to descriptively draw from [puiser à] inscription. europanalysis is a scientific activity in a radical sense, not scientist, nor scientific like the scientific sciences. It does not have for its only object, as the sciences situated in relation to the human world do, to simply describe. The descriptions of sciences are redescribed, this is the crucial point: it entails redescribing the descriptions and redescribing them by an inscription of descriptions.

            Therefore, we part from a ground of science in the sense of hard sciences to continue their path and reinscribe the descriptions; just as a discourse of the internal universe and affect are constructed absolutely. I will give you an example: let us take an important concept that does not altogether concern my research but can aid its comprehension. Within one or another habitual world, we speak of man qua consciousness, but within a scientific conception of this man—and we are within a relatively hard practice—we no longer speak of consciousness, we speak of the unconscious, what Freud does. Now, the unconscious still springs from the strictly descriptive level and, at the limit, someone like Jacques Lacan makes an algorithmic theory of the unconscious. What must be done is change the register and all in considering that this description is valid, redescribing it by its reinsertion within an inscription. We reverse the descriptive formula within inscription. Likewise, in the evening we reverse the descriptive discourses of the day before in sleep and we are then inscribed within the most total night, this internal universe. But gradually there is a non-spatialized axis of points that make a zigzag, an axis of generalization of description, of restitution of description in relation to points of inscription that are so many non-lieus if I may say (not lieus because their belonging is not spatial). Thus, we have the internal prolongation of a non-lieu by another; for example, the suppression-prolongation of “natural man” by “consciousness” then “consciousness” by “unconscious” then “unconscious” by “mathematical unconscious” that will be reprised by an experienced [éprouvé] structure or a vivid structure in my own terminology. Here we have an axis of generalization and there is a zigzag because the axis that links the different non-lieus are not linear as if it were about a series of deductions arising from spatialization. When we reinsert description within inscription and a new non-lieu of description is born, it does not therefore come by deduction but from a certain manner at random, just like, after nocturnal inscription, we emerge, awake, in a state of mind [état d'âme] unforeseeable by us the day before. Nevertheless, the risk [hasard] is not whole since this process of reinsertion of description within inscription, then of redescription of the first phase, and then springs a demarche of cognizance, that of the europanalyst: it is not done by itself, automatically. One who practices europanalysis progresses so and in fact in an altogether rigorous manner within the invisible, i.e., realizes a trajectory, a path of cognizance in affect itself and the absolute of cognizance advenes within the continued course of this process.

 

GC Kponsou: We would comprehend in what there is science if in your remarks we do not perceive that this europanalytic method conveys a totally different conception of scientificity. Since it is finally a question of this: you show in sum that while it is about evaluating a thought of the very essence of thought, scientificity is no longer recognized under the stable mode but the tendential one.

 

S Valdinoci: Exactly.

 

GC Kponsou: You therefore understand that the europanalytic method is pursued in a continued fashion and that the science of thought tendentially takes a body, across this evolutive movement. You assign no end to this movement by the fact that it is not spatial. If it entailed a progressive process of generalization (the redescriptions) of non-lieus that are inscriptions, is it not exactly in view of avoiding spatialization that the descriptions should be permanently reversed within the inscriptions?

 

S Valdinoci: Certainly. It is a question of avoiding the blockage of thought that would come from its spatialization and visualization. We can only rigorously cognize thought insofar as we inhabit its movement and scientific language absolutely, that is, inhabiting the movement of thought can only be structured by the zigzag of description-inscription-redescription and so on. This is what I theorize qua europanalytic method. If you will, inscription or the inscriptive arrow sends us towards materiality, the most profound sensuality, towards the opaque: the descriptive arrow sends us towards the formal system, void. These two directions, each left to its corner, have nothing to say. What I operate is making these two arrows encounter each other in certain points, encounters forming a line in zigzag because there is progression. Within the philosophic tradition one functions on the static mode and produces circles. The sciences and philosophy have closed the field of thought by closing the door to the order of the inscriptive and they have imposed a certain type of invariant rapport, either quantitative with the sciences, or qualitative with the eidos in philosophy, so as to construct in the case of the sciences a hypothetico-deductive system at the limit. I think that one must not intervene by posing an invariant (an eidos notably) on the variation: the invariant itself is taken within a variation. The variation or zigzag is the ensemble of points in rapport between the amorphous or the inscriptive and the descriptive or figural. These points are taken within an evolutive lineage—and not stable as in science with the concept of scientific formula or in philosophy with that of the eidos or still in philosophy with the contemporary negation of the eidos: the concept of the “Other”. In sum, scientificity is no longer the adequation of the variable to the invariant, of matter under formulae, but it is variation’s mode of evolution. We are here within a fundamental foyer, that of vivid thought that is no longer arrested, blocked thought.

 

GC Kponsou: What appears interesting to me in you research and to which I adhere for my part is the maintenance of the exigency of science although the concept is reviewed. In effect, the philosophical activity, I feel, lives in a lag in relation to its profound telos: it is proclaimed the love of wisdom all while in fund dreaming of science. A thought that reaffirms the reality and legitimacy of this profound telos appears judicious to me. What is more, when one does this following a non-Hegelian model—the Hegelian system not having succeeded—that is, not systematic as you attempt to do across the europanalytic method by not reducing the real to the concept but by trying to construct the concept of the very body of the real, this presents, it seems to me a certain interest for the perspectives to come. I nevertheless have an objection to submit to you.

 

S Valdinoci: Please do.

 

GC Kponsou: You globally implicate [mettez en cause] the innocent practice of the History of philosophy. I observe that you thought in within its native structure is in effect in retreat in relation to the History of philosophy by the simple fact that you think the necessity of rigor within thought following a model that certainly borrows, by the importance accorded to variability, from Nietzschean or Heraclitan thought but attempts to detach it from the awaited axes of the tradition, therefore transforming it and elevating it to the stage of a method in the absolute sense, i.e., without initial methodology. Nevertheless, it seems irrecusable to me that de facto your thought like every other is inscribed within the History of philosophy even if its native structure breaks with this History: this is all the truer that we can translate the content of your thought into a logic of History without altering its essence.

            This is because europanalysis, like every thought however derogatory, does not escape its possible translation as a function of or at least from the past that the History of philosophy detains a fundamental status in my eyes. I even dare to affirm that the fully deployed europanalytic problematic arose from it.

 

S Valdinoci: Could you elucidate your remarks?

 

GC Kponsou: As we are held to concision you will pardon the abrupt and terse character of the explanations I will bring. If I am not mistaken europanalysis understands a kind of beyond to the History of philosophy. Certainly, you do not deny the facticity of this History as corpus of a form of thought and practice. I say that you use it only analytically insofar as it is so to speak a species of symptoms through which true thought negatively shows. In sum europanalysis reposes on the thesis of a below of the History of philosophy that precisely consists in the invisible. It seems to me, for my part, that the properly invisible dimensionality is exactly the History of philosophy: there is no below or beyond of this History, a different elsewhere of this History whence some discourse could proceed. Every discourse, unconsciously or not, is rich of its past, i.e., feeds on oppositions of anterior discourses: there is no absolute science that be instantaneous or that is without rapport to temporality: cognizance within its very in-stance, that is, beyond the Kantian separation between the phenomenon and the thing in itself requires temporality: like Hegel, I believe that temporality arises from the very absolute, although in my sense it should be theorized otherwise than following the model of the Hegelian system. Thus, History appears to me as the very principle of the absolute material possibility of science and is from this point of view radical Immanence qua invisibility. I conceive unlike Hegelian thought that the discourse that makes the History of philosophy thus belonging to space and time (i.e., the visible) are also just as illusory as space and time themselves. Nevertheless, it is a real illusion: the world seems a real illusion to me, we cannot reduce it although it is an illusion. If one enters within this illusion it vanishes as such and what results is in your terminology what you designate by “europe”: europe is therefore the very heart of the real illusion that is the world, that is the visible, that is the History of philosophy.

            The problem is that you do not understand the visible as the History of philosophy understood as englobing your own discourse. It is from this point of view that your discourse appears to me to transcendentally constitute the visible. Briefly, I want to say that there is a History of philosophy properly invisible at the heart of the visible History of philosophy. I identify the visible History to a real illusion, that conceals the real (invisible) History, that is in its very heart. By starting from this fundamental consideration, the zigzag method appears to me to be doubly articulated in the image of the rapport of Hegelian Phenomenology and Logic. europanalysis would be equivalent to Hegelian logic with the lone and radical difference that it is the logic-in-life without spatialization. But in the image of what took place with Hegel, there is likewise a phenomenology that coincides with this logic-in-life. Otherwise said, the method of the zig-zag that is logic-in-life does only takes birth insofar as europanalysis is the manifestation (but other possible formulae, different from europanalysis, could manifest it just as well) of the tendential culmination of a phenomenological-in-life process of the Logos. It is this invisible process, in life, that is the veritable History of philosophy. I conclude: there is no logic-in-life (or method of zigzag) without phenomenology-in-life (without the real History of philosophy) just as with Hegel there is no logic without phenomenology and inversely. I therefore believe that europanalysis is only the science in itself that still lacks its proper articulation for itself: it does not yet think its proper movement as unity (without unification) of a logic-in-life and a phenomenology-in-life.

 

S Valdinoci: Your objection would merit that I consecrate a little more time than is possible for us to do in the frame of this interview. If you allow, I will limit myself to two remarks: 1. You know how much I admire and study our philosophers, those of the past like those of the present. Each of them is in their fashion a Great Beginner—despite the indisputable filiations rich in meaning.

            That is why it seems difficult to me to admit that there is a logos of the History of philosophy as such, that is, a logos susceptible to being autonomized in view of the oeuvre of each philosopher. Since each of them is indeed rather their own parent than the child of the logos. 2. You try moreover to produce the equivalent of the absolute Hegelian knowledge in the invisible. It appears to me neatly that Hegelian philosophy that accomplishes the logic of visualization in its maximum, could not be invisibly transcribed from side to side. It remains that we can make an intelligent usage of Hegelian concepts: the essential being to avoid confusion and above all to be careful not to unconsciously reintroduce visualizing principles within the invisible. This is to say that the problem of fund is for each one to really evolve within the invisible and to be in this itself immunized against visualization at the level of its discourse.

 

GC Kponsou: When you wrote the Introduction Within (not to) europanalysis, I presume that you understood precisely to produce a theory across (not by means of) which one is introduced within the invisible or europe. europanalysis properly said is only possible after the individual has really consummated this introduction.

 

S Valdinoci: Exactly.

 

GC Kponsou: In some respects, this very incisive work can turn out to be a little difficult to access. All while maintaining the exigency of rigor, one can think that one must always produce a consequent pedagogical work in the wake of theoretical discourse. This leads me to my last question: is pedagogy important for you?

 

S Valdinoci: It is, no doubt, and if this were not the case, it should be. Does the principle of this interview not begin to participate in this exigency? I say, to respond to you on the fund, that faced with the crisis of thought, one must measure oneself in the long term, find a strong enough and not really too provisory solution. I attempted this in the problematic of europanalysis. It is interesting that on your side you evolve in a very personal fashion within this frame of prospection: I remain, in this regard, attentive and above all receptive to eventual developments to your considerations but also various other reflections that could be engaged in this way. The Introduction dans l’europanalyse is in sum a prospective work just like europanalysis (the method of the zigzag) that I have only evoked here and that is still under construction. But the problematic being engaged, I may now in a second time actively work to a complementary exigency. In effect, prospection well understood necessarily resounds on historical retrospection. Not long ago, I spent a long time working on foundation and commencement in Husserl’s texts. It was an attempt at absolute phenomenology, with its internal laws of identity.

            In a certain fashion, the identity of phenomenology is in front of us—to be completed—just as strongly as historical phenomenology is behind us. I henceforth desire to show how this identity—recognized across Husserl—is developed across the internal exigencies of Merleau-Ponty’s texts, the theoretical exigencies of whom are so finely implied within the last of Husserl’s writings. This labor of rearticulation in the name of the Identity of absolute phenomenology—that is not confounded with europanalysis’ prospective exigency­—is in fact the beginning of a demarche. I would thus like to help the reader, within my means at least, to restitute themselves within the difficulties of contemporary thought.

***

 

[1] Visualizing signifies projecting concepts within a thought-space that serves as a visual support. In Heideggerian terms, it is to intervene on the plane of beings, by omitting Being. Devisualization is the preliminary to rigorous thought.

[2] Cf. Husserl, Krisis, § 9, 1, p. 68.

[3] The inscription of thought signifies that the latter escapes the intentional regime according to which every consciousness is consciousness of something. An inscribed thought finds its originary place in the thing itself. It is desubjectivized.