Reza Joins Twitter

In case you missed it — if so, how? — Reza Negarestani (“your grumpy platonist grandfather“) has joined Twitter.

Although I initially promised there would not be a blogpost about Reza’s inaugural hellthread — undoubtedly the hardest thread to follow yet in these parts that I’ve ever witnessed (despite being tagged in it) — it did (eventually) prove to be somewhat fruitful and so it certainly warrants something of a nod, at the very least, for instigating what feels like the dawning of a new era in these parts. (For better or for worse? It’s not yet clear…)

As previously tweeted, Reza’s Facebook earnestness has felt like a blinding light shone into our dank Twitter caves.

Reza’s light first woke up the anti-acc dragons who descended on his suggestion that there’s a surprising amount of Spinoza hype around these parts. (Twitter is, in many respects, quite a narrow exhaust. Much more goes on in other channels and so to judge a movement by its Twitter presence should be seen as inherently reductive.) Whilst a number of these disingenuous swoops have nonetheless gained some traction in recent weeks, Reza’s arrival meant many over-played their hands, suggesting acc twitter is under-read where it counts and setting themselves up for unprecedented derision.

The thread was particularly difficult to follow for me personally, with half the interlocutors (beautifully termed “whimsical cloutvampires” by TM) having been muted after a number of recent and pointless online inanities, and so there is very little I have so say on those discussions in themselves. 

However, the more heated exchange between TM and Reza was really something, and I’d personally very much like to see a conversation happen between the two of them.

Below is a quick overview of their exchange which grew out of more general mudslinging and blind swipes:

Reza: … dismissing the adversary is just whining not an argument. Not to mention it’s not in the interests of anything or anyone. We can launch polemics against each other but never start from the position of cynical ignorance with regard to each other’s thoughts and backgrounds. [1]

TM: This seems like false, forced magnanimity after your having immediately cheerleaded the point about Deleuze. We should not practice folk psychology in rhetoric, but equally we should not encourage people to avoid it while engaging with it: that’s deceitful. [2] I’ll remind you that you have already engaged in baseless polemics by makings useless broad-brush statements about the respective content of analytic and continental philosophy. [3]

Reza: That is not the point. Re Deleuze: He as a philosopher who had all the time to actually deal with Plato properly. He did not! So I say it again, he is a shit reader of Plato like many platonists. And yes, I have already discussed this in details in the last chapter of [Intelligence & Spirit]. [4] And again who cares about dead philosophers, I was merely talking about our living interlocutors 🙂 [5]

TM: It’s interesting not much philosophical content to any of the arguments you have posed. Quibbling about references, broad historical movements and personal influences is neurotic careerist positioning rather than the practice of philosophy. [6] And you dare to invoke caricaturisation! [5]

Reza: You have to elaborate these arguments. Do you think that Aristotle’s interpretation of Plato was not decisive re the current bipolar attitude toward Plato in the history of philosophy? [6]

TM: I don’t think that nobody understood his work until the Tübingen school arrived no, the reason that’s such a convenient crutch is that it’s merely an appeal to authority. [7]

Reza: It’s not authority, it’s working in the constrains posed by the history of philosophy. And from a historical perspective, hardly anyone read the later dialogues as you said until Marburg and Tubingen schools started the actual research. [8] All I’m saying is that this history should be both recognized and also judged properly. [9] […] Would be able to let me when Deleuze actually engage with the new doctrine of forms (in Theaetetus onwards) or the idea of Good as the craftsmanship of the mind which become the central topic? [10] It is of course fine and comendable to have a Dionysian or an anachronistic reading of Plato but then to claim that this is actually Plato and what the entire system of Plato represents is a hallmark of disingenuousness. [11]

TM: He references the Theatetus 175e in footnote 32 of the second chapter of Difference and Repetition precisely to comment on this model of thought driven by a transcendent moral. The idea he did not address the whole corpus is something you have made up out of convenience. [12]

Reza: But that’s wrong. The ideas / forms in Theatetus are introduced not as registers of the transcendent. They are introduced as categories (ta koina) very much like Aristotle’s or Kant’s transcendental categories. [13]

TM: They are shown to be transcendent by the application of critique to their principle of differentiation, which should also be done to Kant’s bureaucracy of the transcendental. The idealistic neatness of prior categories is what must be refused. [10]

Reza: I agree, the neatness must be refused. But how are you going then to avoid the ugly myth of the categorial given? A genuine question. [11]

TM: I follow Maimon’s suspicions about how readily categories of the understanding apply to sensibility and instead seek a genetic method of their means of arising. Faculties and their categories are empirically habituated, which process can be rationally described. [12]

Reza: Right, now we are actually going somewhere. I’m a broadly rationalist skeptic on this issue particularly re Kant. The whole thing sounds too fishy in [the Critique of Pure Reason]. [13] But then the question would be what empirical habituation is in fact with the understanding that empirical entrenchment does not by itself yield an epistemological right. [14]

TM: … An idea is then a differential matrix, composed of the quantum of Bateson’s information theoretical “difference that makes a difference”, and so on for the manifold of apperception and the cosmological ideas. [15]

Reza: Jesus Christ! That’s way above my nonexistent paygrade! [16] … How about this Thomas, you reread Theatetus and Philebus and I reread Deleuze, then we have a Skype on all this. This medium is not the best way to have detailed arguments. [17]

The conversation then fragmented here beyond recognition. However, Reza did pick up on a separated unthreaded tweet from TM:

TM: Neorationalism is conceptually isomorphic with the Intellectual Dark Web / LessWrong / effective altruism nonsense. In its desire to “reengineer the world” in the shape of philosophical reason it provides the perfect excuse for technocratic totalitarianism. Despotic thinking. [1] It’s proceeds by means of analogy, not a philosophical approach, in its direct application of computation to cognitive process. It’s like philosophy’s equivalent of the Silicon Valley holographic universe solipsists. [2]

Reza: Now can we have actual discussion on this? [3]

TM: I will NOT debate Platonists, especially those with poor memecraft [4] 

Reza: You never know, you might actually convert me to your cause. Teach me. If that’s not on the table then why are you doing here other than exhibiting your ego. You are better than that [5]

I, for one, would very much like to see this. Long may Reza’s hellthrealds continue as they have begun, but making them easier to follow would be very much appreciated…

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