If You’re Reading This It’s (Not) Too Late To Disagree With Dead Old White Dudes

“… it is through its determinateness that the thing excludes others. Things are therefore in and for themselves determinate; they have properties by which they distinguish themselves from others. Since the property [Eigenschaft] is the Thing’s own [eigene] property or a determinateness in the Thing itself, the Thing has a number of properties. For, in the first place, the Thing is what is true, i.e. it possesses instrinsic being; and what is in it, is there as the Thing’s essence, and not on account of other things.”

Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, 73

This is a central quote for understanding Da Silva’s critique of Hegel. Crucially, the principle of exclusion found here in Hegelian thought is connected to the principle of determinacy. Da Silva, however, is critical of the principle of determinacy at an onto-epistemological level. For Silva, the object and the object’s essence – having been made determined – by Western onto-epistemology has resulted in exclusions that are generative of the forms of violence constitutive of modernity writ large. One of the clearest passages of Da Silva’s thinking in this regard can be found in her 1 (life) (blackness) =  On Matter Beyond the Equation of Value. She writes:

In sum, determinacy as deployed in Kant’s knowledge (scientific) program remains the core of modern thought: it is presupposed in accounts of the juridical and ethical field of statements (such as the human-rights framework) which (a) presume a universal that operates as an a priori (formal) determining forced (effectivity), and which (b) produce objects for which ‘Truth’ refers to how they relate to something else – relationships mediated by abstract determinants (laws and rules) that can only be captured by the rational things’ (including the human mind/soul) “principles of disposition.”

Insofar as Kant’s understanding of determinacy is found in Hegel’s earliest stages of theorizing, Hegel too remains within the core of modern thought. Da Silva thus indicts this presupposed determinacy by suggesting that the way in which this presupposition has functioned has been to operate as an uninterrogated assumption and universalism that then becomes the basis through which abstract Truths may be built upon. This determinacy can be the basis for these abstract Truths because they function, in Hegel’s terms, as “sound common sense” (77) and thus, “relationships mediated by abstract determinants” can be captured.

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Kant wants to provide the conditions of possibility of knowledge:

A) Sense-Data

B) Forms of Intuition – Space/Time

C) Imagination Unites into a Representation of an Object

D) Faculty of Understanding Unites Representations into Judgements via “Categories”

We only know knowledge of things as appearances. Thus, according to Kant, things always appear as Sense-Data in Space/Time united into representations into the Understanding.

After breaking through the glassy, formal fixed walls of the Understanding, released from the grip of certainty, the imagination may wonder about reassembling the fundamental components of everything to refigure the World as a complex whole without order. 

– Denise Ferriera Da Silva, Difference without Separation

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