LOSURDO ON NIETZSCHE (2): the death of the concept and its rebirth out of the spirit of Hegel

TROJAN HORSE AS COMRAD: the enemy of my enemy is still my enemy

Having discussed the general cultural conjuncture of the the publication of Losurdo’s book in English I procede to analyse the philosophical conjuncture in the small sector of Anglophone Continental Philosophy. This is necessary because if it is understandable that leftist cultural historians welcome Losurdo’s book it is quite incomprehensible that leftist philosophers have begun to give it a favourable reception. They may be happy that Losurdo seems to provide a definitive rebuttal of the Nietzschean left, but they do not see that his book has a much wider repercussion, it is a veritable Trojan Horse aiming well beyond its immediate intervention at the liquidation of the philosophical concept and of French-based « Theory ».


In my last post I spoke of a generalised movement of conceptual decay that has been going on over the last 40 years. I have discussed this intellectual decline and the associated re-writing of intellectual history, of which the current vogue of de-Nietzchisation is another symptom, in many posts on my blog.


I first analysed this tendency in the movement of object-oriented ontology and in its ridiculous caricatures of preceding philosophies. I diagnosed a malady of « de-conceptualisation », the use of abstract words as mere counters in a power-game, as nearly empty of conceptual content as possible.


I next noticed this decline in the Zizekian school, which was parasitic on this movement of de-conceptualisation (or « de-noetisation » in Stiegler’s terms). Having the conceptual floor wiped clean of concepts by OOO, the Zizekians could re-conceptualise the resulting void at will with Hegel. The movement is from all logo but no concept (nothing) to concept in denial of its origins (less than nothing).


This accounts for the ambivalent relation between OOOxians and Zizekians. They are allies in the process of re-writing (i.e. dumbing down) the past, but OOO represents the continued use of de-conceptualisation whereas the Zizekians take up the re-conceptualisation prong. OOO can then function as a useful foil (hypo-concept) for the Zizekian abstraction (hyper-concept), and OOO profits from this new found intellectual respectability conferred by being taken as honoured enemies. I have called this process the « gentrification  » of object-oriented ontology.

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2 commentaires pour LOSURDO ON NIETZSCHE (2): the death of the concept and its rebirth out of the spirit of Hegel

  1. ailiosjorge dit :

    Hello Terence, I am reading your posts on this matter of « de-conceptualisation » in the theoretical scene with much joy (what some theorists are capable of making Deleuze say is laughable at best) and for the same reason anger. I notice (and I wonder if you do as well) a connection between this de-conceptualisation and the increasing use of digital media to conduct pseudo-philosophical discussions. I am particularly struck by the way so many of these anti-Nietzschean and anti-Spinoza scholars operate in Twitter: they produce a constant (daily even) flow of sheer dogmatic assertions reflecting their opinion on these issues and lambasting against their perceived enemies in the space afforded by a tweet (!). No wonder you can see the de-noetisation of concepts that Stiegler analyses a propos the digital trace. It pretty much amounts to establishing philosophical relationships via the same channels of tribalistic communities that social media replicates on every domain. And I also wonder if this malady extends to the blogosphere and the digital publishing of papers, not just Twitter. But alas, here you are operating on the same grounds. How do you do to prevent this de-neotic deficit from affecting your own thought process? Have you reflected on this? Because I must say I highly value your online activity —I might say you (alongside other bloggers and users of the media landscape) are evidence of Stiegler’s point about pharmacology.


    • terenceblake dit :

      Hello Jorge, I don’t really know if the social media are accelerating the decline or merely making it more visible, although I incline towards the first solution. I remember discussions with Marxists and Lacanians in my philosophy department when ANTI-OEDIPUS first came out in the late 70s. There were the same misreadings and the same hostility to new concepts requiring new efforts of thought. Twitter has been disappointing in that it’s more about circles of friends and allies, lobbies and coteries, and the « thoughts » expressed are often mere tokens of membership, fealty and allegiance and exhibit a deep noophobia. I have no rule for dealing with this state of things. Usually I engage with people sincerely as if they want to participate in a free exchange where each speaks in their own name and not as part of a groupthink. That way I am not just spouting my opinions in the void or against a brick wall, I am rethinking them anew. If the other does the same, so much the better – if not, the interaction is still fruitful for my own thought process.


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