#16: Equilibrium and equality

“Whatever needs to be maintained through force is doomed.” – Henry Miller

The political implications at this point in our exposition are an almost absurd combination of obvious and radical. The most important implication of the present framework is that it unites the aim of social science (demonstrable causal explanations of empirical phenomena) with the aim of political philosophy (demonstrable explanations of what is good or just). This is because everything indicates that the concept of equilibrium in scientific modeling has more than an etymological commonality with the concept of equality in political philosophy. The philosophical value of equality has little to do with any historical state of nature, any original situation, or any traditionally positive, “true” philosophy of human nature whatsoever. As we have demonstrated, humanity and its history could not have emerged from anything but some flux of random inorganic inequality in a cosmic version of what social scientists would call “short-run” disequilibrium. Rather, equality is an absolute ontological tendency of all things—the nature of things in the long run. When a theorist as honest as Rousseau finds a justificatory key for the philosophical defense of human equality in a “state of nature,” it is not that he’s wrong; he only fails to specify the exact character of this theoretical finding. The state of nature is not where humans or anything else came from but where humanity and all things return after all the false, contingent, institutional props are removed. Given our methodological reliance on circularity as the structure of existence, it’s easy to see there is hardly any difference between where everything comes from and where all things return. The very point is that the definition of existence over time is going back to where it came, _the “it” being nothing more than the negative space between going and returning. Rousseau’s path is very much our own, so long as we insist on the caveat that the original state of nature only _becomes the true human origin as the destination of all honest human thought and action.

The path we have taken establishes human equality not first and foremost as a moral or ethical value to be debated indefinitely—as traditional, institutionalized philosophy has always done—but as a necessary condition for philosophy and science itself. Because even the bourgeois conception of truth is unconditionally inconsistent with bias, and we have shown that any intellectual movement other than pure Socratic negativity is biased in any institutionalized status quo, nothing that wants to be truly true, philosophically or scientifically, can even proceed in the absence of absolute equality between all things, human or otherwise.

For now, it suffices to say that honesty is a project of mapping all things as fully as possible. However, no cute Borgesian tales on the aporias of infinity are required to see that even the fullest possible map of how things function will be unable to include itself on the map. This would only function as an objection to our project if we were asking for permission to play on the plane of truth. Rather, we are on the plane of immanence, the plane of honesty, at the truth of truth, where we neither ask nor give permission. So long as we hold fast to honesty rather than truth, all these bad infinities can be shaken off like a bad dream. Honesty, as we will continue to elaborate it and as we must begin to practice it, is a project that takes the perverse circularity of mere truth as the springboard for honestly unraveling all things everywhere, all texts, obviously, but also all institutions, all milieus, all status quo stabilities at all junctures. This is how the philosopher of today must learn to see all of life as so many layered and interconnected facades that a simple but radical honesty cannot help but performatively bring into relief as absolutely and essentially false.

 Barely lifting the lid on things, it is already possible to see how much idiocy we are capable of explaining with one critical method. For instance, how the refrain of “I’m just being honest” is often so dishonest given that society itself is only a systematic funhouse of smoke and mirrors. This popular apology often serves to justify dishonest speech or action by referring to objective reference points as if they were reference points of the true or “real,” whereas it is perfectly clear that “objective” reference points are perfectly arbitrary rest-stops on what is nothing more than a path of routinized contingency. As Henry Miller puts it, “One can be absolutely truthful and sincere even though admittedly the most outrageous liar. Fiction and invention are of the very fabric of life.” The chief characteristic and undeniable value of a corpus such as Miller’s, this mad dreaming of an auto-didacticic Brooklyn boy, is only his refusal to be “true” within the falsity of an American twentieth-century.

On the other hand, if most people don’t become great artists or philosophers, is it not because they possess too much fidelity to the truth? We fail to achieve our glory for being too good, too decent, too truthful. Decent folks see intellectual aporia at the very outset of thought more clearly than intellectuals; they correctly determine that their painting or story or treatise will be unjustifiably partial, somehow, vaguely untrue, inauthentic somehow. So they don’t bother. For the most part, today’s artists and intellectuals are those who, at a sufficiently young age in life, decided they didn’t give a damn about the truth; but that they would seek it nonetheless, if only to spite it.

Cite this post: RIS Citation BibTeX Entry

Murphy, Justin. 2012. "#16: Equilibrium and equality," http://jmrphy.net/blog/2012/09/15/31591672062/ (April 24, 2017).