on universality

one thing i was musing over today is in what regards the question of universalism. Land’s two pieces explicitly on the subject have proviso-like sections that make for loopholes where one could insert some kind of universality even in such radical anti-universalist position.

here, he does so basically by negation:

“There’s a philosophical objection to any refusal of universalism that will be familiar from other uses (the denunciation of relativism, most typically). It requires only one step: Isn’t the denial of the universal itself a universalist claim? It’s a piece of malignant dialectics because it demands that we agree. We don’t, and won’t ever, agree. Agreement is the worst thing that could happen. Merely assent to its necessity, and global communism, or some close analog, is the implicit conclusion.

If there is a universal truth, it belongs only to Gnon, and Gnon is a dark (occulted) God. Traditional theists will be at least strongly inclined to disagree — and that is excellent. We disagree already, and we have scarcely begun.”

it seems there is a certain universality is disagreeing (and maybe in its close allies: exit, individuality, atomization, schism, etc).

in part 2, he’s more positive about it, relating universality to (in that order) mathematics, mechanization and transcendental philosophy:

“Preliminary throat-clearing (as in part one): In its most rigorous construction, ‘universalism’ is robust under conditions of rational argument (i.e. evidence-based logico-mathematical criticism). Mathematical theorems, in particular [sic], are universal truths. Any assertions that can be constructed to a comparable level of formal rigor (and ultimately mechanization) can lay claim to the same status. However, with the slightest departure from this — rigidly algorithmic — criterion, controversy rapidly begins. This is not the place and time to argue the case for transcendental philosophy (within which praxeology in included), but such a case could be made. Ditto strictly proceduralized empirical science. All of this is a digression.”

(that [sic] right there is suspicious, but nevermind for now).

so, apparently a mechanized conflict could be said to be universal? wouldn’t this contradict Land’s anti-universalism?

one way in which this apparent paradox could be resolved it that such universal conflict wouldn’t at all need be imposed globally, since it’s the precise opposite of global imposition.

in a conversation, Vincent Garton add that “universalism is a species of political project which privileges the seeking of consensus over universal truths, so accepting the universality of disagreement is ostensibly not contradictory with rejecting universalism”.

this seems to be a point which Land has been hinting at for a long time. one of the most powerful quote from Fanged Noumena, which i personally love, is a sentence from Art as Insurrection (p. 150): “If reason is so secure, legitimate, supersensibly guaranteed, why all the guns?

Vincent completes “I sort of see what Nick is getting at – the rationalists want to remove all ideological schism to the discursive sphere, so you have a conversation and then decide, abstractly, what to do, rather than experimenting in practice”. which, of course, has no chance of working sinceNothing that cannot go wrong is capable of teaching anything“. information is only produced through the brutal culling of inefficiency.

and that’s universal, or absolute.


21 thoughts on “on universality

  1. information isn’t in and of itself always a matter of efficiency or even efficacy, just the relative tuning down of noise, and there is no general need for “brutal culling” in many of these processes. can we make room for owning the black boxes most of our doings depend on?

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    1. “relative turning down of noise”, isn’t that precisely efficiency? and noise reduction can be described otherwise, but noise is culled nonetheless.

      on owning, I’d say the age of property subordination is beginning to end.


      1. no efficiency is a term about use
        that’s an awfully wide/loose reading of culled and again not all/necessarily brutal
        that’s intriguing all the news i see is about extraction/occupation, increasing, monopolization, hoarding, etc, where are the big breakdowns?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. and a “relative turning down of noise” is not about the use of a certain communications channel to convey information? is it not about the efficiency of information transfer?

        yeah, you can choose a more contained language and talk about “removal” ou “reduction”. what changes substantively, though?

        who whom? i bet capital owns more humans now than the contrary.


      3. not necessarily about the efficiency of info transfer no.
        this isn’t social darwinism.
        “capitol” doesn’t exist let alone do, just us critters and our machines.


      4. “this isn’t social darwinism.” what isn’t?

        ““capitol” doesn’t exist let alone do, just us critters and our machines.” – well, we disagree on this.


      5. the fashioning of information isn’t social darwinism, just the making/use of tools.
        where/what is capital than, all I see at work are people and our tools.


      6. you seems to imply things can be made outside a Darwinian paradigm (variation+selection).

        anyway, capital isn’t (yet) autonomous, but at the very least, humans are symbiotic with their tools – they couldn’t live without tools – which already gives tools some autonomy.


      7. Darwinism applies to species not individuals or even collections of individuals. Again all I see people and our tools but no-thing that is or could be Capital, it’s just a shorthand for a general trend in behaviors not to be reified, cheers

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Darwinism operates on populations through individuals (it’s individuals who have more or less offspring).

        anyway, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on capital.


      9. or you could point me to some examples.
        more or less offspring doesn’t translate to the particulars of actions and doesn’t mean they are going in a general direction let alone progress just that they haven’t yet led to mass extinction, says little to nothing about what we do or not day to day.

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      10. I guess any specific exemple can be construed as “people and their tools”. but I’d primarily point to how even capitalists don’t have the choice to not follow the rules of market competition, or to crises of overproduction, as examples of an autonomous character in capital.

        the particulars of actions translate into more or less offspring, and it’s thus that individuals are under selective pressure. certain patterns of behavior are selected for and inherited by the next generation. of course, even patterns don’t explain the specifics of day to day actions, which are subjected to some random variation.


      11. yeah, but capital may as well exceed the rules that bind capitalists, and thus change these rules – in ways unpredictable for any humans inside the system


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