Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nishida Kitaro as speculative realist (of the OOP branch)

So, I was rereading "The Standpoint of Active Intuition" by Nishida (trans. William Haver). And I was amazed by how obviously his arguments would enter strongly into the current speculative realism/OOPs dialogues. A lot of it is particularly strong, but I post two paragraphs to give a sense of what I mean.

What sort of thing is space? The space that I here take to be a problem does not mean geometrical space; it is actually existing space. What is called “space” is thought to be diametrically opposed to time. Things exist simultaneously in space. Space is the relation of interchangeability of thing and thing. To say that things exist simultaneously, to say that the relation of thing and thing is one of interchangeability, is to negate time. But it is not actually existing space that has negated time; necessarily, actually existing space must subsume the temporal. Actually existing space must be thought as the place [basho]* of the mutual working of thing and thing. Thus, what works mutually must together be independent; what works must be something of the singular thing. Actually existing space must be the mediation that mutually relates singular thing and singular thing together; it must be the mediation of the continuity of discontinuity. What works must be temporal; it must be thought to be within time. If not, then it is no different than a geometrical form. But time, as I said before, must be utterly spatial. What is thought, as the unity of time, to be circular must be something “spatial.” There is no space that subsumes the instant of time. The instant of time must be that which cannot even be thought as the spatial extreme limit-point of the division of a curved line. There is no universal that subsumes the singular thing. The singular thing cannot even be thought as the extreme limit of individuation; the truly singular thing is something that has gone beyond the universal. The synthetic is not what is independent in itself. The further one carries an analysis, the more do thing and force [chikara] alike become infinitesimal; force must be thought as instantaneous. But time and space are never unified, the vertical never becomes the horizontal. Yet actually existing space must be temporal; physical space must be four-dimensional. Something like a collection of points is not actually existing space. Actually existing space must possess the characteristic of the circular unity that links the before and after of time. Time truly becomes time because it negates time itself; it is because space negates space itself that it becomes true space. Where there is interior qua exterior, exterior qua interior, subject* qua the objective*, the objective qua subject [shukan soku kyakkan, kyakkan, soku shukan], there is the self-identity of time and space; there is established actually existing time and space, as the mutually opposed aspects of dialectical self-identity. The affirmation of the self-negation of time must be space; the affirmation of the self-negation of space must be time.

What we call the actually existing world must be a world of the interacting of thing and thing. What interacts must be things that are both utterly independent; they must partake of the nature of the singular thing. Thing and thing can be thought to be mutually interacting as the mutual relation of what are both independent things. In order to say that thing and thing relate mutually, there must be something called a mediation. Yet if that mediation is thought as continuity, there is no mutual interaction. To the extent that what is mediated is mediated to the extent that it possesses the characteristics of what mediates. It is usually thought that it is on the basis of the fact that thing and thing are mediated spatially, they mutually interact, but we can say that thing and thing mutually interact, that thing and thing are spatially mediated to the extent that the thing possesses the characteristics of space. If one pushes such a notion to its logical conclusion, one might conclude that the thing is something like an aspect of the mediation. And the notion that thing and thing interact disappears. Is that then to think that the mediation is merely nothing [mu]* and that thing and thing are merely discontinuous? What is merely without relation cannot even be said to interact. Therefore, what is called the mediation of acting thing and thing must be the continuity of discontinuity; it must be in the fact that being is nothing and nothing being [yu ni shite mu, mu ni shite yu]. And so what we call the mediation of the mutual relation of independent things must be circular; it must be a parallelism. To say that A is independent with respect to B, and that moreover they relate to each other, is necessarily to say that A stands in a similar relation to C, and similarly with B and C. What is called the actually existing world can be thought in the above manner as the world of the mediation of discontinuity, as the world of the dialectical universal. It is neither to think the thing before the mediation, nor to think mediation before the thing. There is neither mediation without the acting thing, nor can one speak of the acting without the mediation. To say that the mediation of the continuity of discontinuity itself determines itself is to say that thing and thing interact; to say that thing and thing interact is to say that the mediation of the continuity of discontinuity itself determines itself. This is to say that place [basho]* determines place itself; it is to speak of the self-determination of the dialectical universal.