Thought's Materiality: Three Logics of the Unthought
I'd like here to consider three methods or logics for allowing thought's determination by materiality. What I mean is thinking or allowing the materiality of thought (and so what in thought is not thought). The question is thus different from that of materialism, in so far as it would perhaps be possible for the latter to think reality as material, but not necessarily account for the materiality of this very thought. I will consider three logics: the dialectical, the paradoxical-mystical, and the non-philosophical.
The dialectical logic is most cogently realized by Hegel. It consists in asserting a contradictory relationship between thought and reality. However, in actually asserting this claim, such a contradiction is reproduced in the thought itself (it is posited). A "third axis" arises, in which the very thinking of contradiction, contradicts itself. Thus, thought finds its unity and determination in and by reality, connected to it by its own (doubly contradictory) self-reference. The dialectical method has the resources to think thought's material determination through the contradictoriness of self-reference, in a form of sublation, mediation, and self-constitution.
The second logic, what we call the paradoxical-mystical one, is well represented by Wittgenstein. The "propositions" of Wittgenstein's Tractatus are meant to show us that the propositions of philosophy are senseless and its problems pseudo-problems. Of course, this means that thought as philosophy can and must self-efface itself in order to determine the sphere of the meaningful. Wittgenstein writes: "My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.)" This self-negativity, however, involves no dialectical sublation. In overcoming the problems of philosophy, they are not raised to a new level of determination. Rather these problems are "answered" in so far as they simply vanish. Thought disappears. It disappears "into" the material and the unthought, in a passage of paradoxical self-effacement.
The last method is the non-philosophical one, put forth by François Laruelle. It differs from the previous two in being neither a passage nor contradictory. It is no passage, for the unthought, the material, is simply given as an axiom - what Laruelle calls "the One." It is no contradiction, because the One has no reflexivity, and thought's duty is to carry it forth with perfect consistency (a consistency which the unity of the One demands, or allows). Thought is determined by materiality in so far as the One is always already given, the initial, though subtracted, cause.
Each of these logics has its advantages. The first has always seemed congenital to radical politics. In thinking contradiction, we understand - and can act within - the conflictuality of social forces. And in the positive contradictoriness of self-reference, we make sense of how to think a society in which we ourselves are a part.
The second has the advantage of preserving the singularity of ourselves as subjects. As Wittgenstein says, in it the "problems of life" can be solved. Its form of self-reference has the means to preserve the existential paradox we are, against dialectics' residual will for the Whole.
The third form seems to bind itself most faithfully to science. Intolerant of contradiction, it strives for consistency, with a related intolerance for the self-inclusion of a Russell's or a liar's paradox, or a conflation of object-language and meta-language.
How to orient oneself within these three logics? How to coordinate them? Such a problem seems to situate itself already in the dialogic complex which these thinkings subtend, and subvert.