metaphysics


metaphysics
  ---- by Matthias Benzer
  Metaphysics is commonly understood as the philosophical discipline that inquires into the fundamental truth or absolute principles (transcendence) which govern the objective reality apprehended by subjects (immanence). Exemplary metaphysical concerns include the essence of the world and the meaning of being. The statements of metaphysics are based on theoretical speculation and are not open to empirical testing. Positivist philosophy and much scientific thought dismiss metaphysics as meaningless. Baudrillard's self-description - 'Metaphysician? Perhaps' (BL, 43) - echoes the complexity of his relationship with this discipline.
  Baudrillard often uses the term 'metaphysics' pejoratively to denounce the 'metaphysics of realism' (CS, 150) buttressing all simulations of reality. For example, he castigates the 'metaphysics of the code' which allegedly underpins biology's conception of a genetically determined life. This conception, Baudrillard holds, does not simply reflect empirical facts. It hinges on speculation: on the 'phantasm' of a referable nature specifically, and on the formalisation of the world as a fixed reality more generally (SED). From this perspective, genetics inadvertently grants DNA the status of a 'molecular transcendence' and ennobles the genetic code as the absolute principle regulating existence (UD).
  In other writings, Baudrillard discloses a more delicate connection between his thinking and metaphysics. He even seems to advance metaphysical hypotheses himself, notably when he speaks of the world's 'absolute illusion' (PC, 61) and the 'principle of Evil' (FS, 220). Yet these hypotheses intend neither a fundamental truth nor an objective reality. Hypermodernity, which exposes everything to transparency, no longer knows any transcendence secretly governing reality (EC) or indeed any reality that could be represented (LP). Instead, Baudrillard experiments with metaphysical speculation to trace the logic of reality's disappearance and the emergence of extreme phenomena destabilising its system.
  According to Baudrillard, it is the hypermodern system's excess - not its lack - of reality and sophistication that conditions the end of reality and the appearance of catastrophic phenomena (VI). This is the problem of 'fatality' (FS, PW). Since the universal extension of reality already prepares its collapse, since the same 'logic that informs' the 'system's expansion' ultimately 'proceeds to devastate it' (TE, 40), the breakdown of the reality order is inevitable. Metaphysical hypotheses of the world's fundamental resistance to reality (illusion) and recalcitrance to reconciliation (evil) allow Baudrillard to think the impossibility of maintaining a perfect reality system purified from negativity. However, the disappearance of reality and the fracturing of the system are necessitated by the expansion of the reality order itself: 'it is from the inside, by overreaching themselves, that systems . . . fall into ruins' (IEx, 6). Consequently, even though 'a somewhat metaphysical . . . curiosity' (BL, 133) is conducive to capturing the unavoidability of reality's collapse and the inevitability of extreme phenomena, it is 'a question of a metaphysic come from a redoubling' (BL, 53) of hypermodernity's own immanent logic.
  In short, Baudrillard plays on metaphysics without renouncing his distance from it. 'You can only know that things . . . are not real' (AA, 49) because the extension of the reality order necessarily undermines its own universality. But this is not the same as deciding that the world obeys fundamental principles, which, irreconcilable with reality's system, inevitably divert things from reality. 'You can't know' illusion (AA, 49) any more than whether evil is 'original or not' (F, 38).
  Speculations which track the internal logic of the self-defeating reality system while simultaneously alluding to transcendental principles combine the 'empirical refutation' of the system with 'pure fiction' (IEx, 150). Yet given the dissolution of truth and reality, the theory of hypermodernity is free to radicalise its hypotheses, even render them 'a little metaphysical' (F, 74). To the vanishing of objective reality into 'integral reality' corresponds an 'Integral Metaphysics' linked to 'pataphysics', the 'science of imaginary solutions' (LP, 45). This radicalisation, Baudrillard emphasises, enables theory to move beyond conveying hypermodernity's immanent dilemma, towards accelerating the logic of the system of the real, pushing its catastrophic condition to extremes and precipitating its downfall (EC, BL, IEx).
  For Baudrillard, 'speaking evil' and 'illusion' is 'criminal' (P, 116). Hypotheses which express the impossibility of a perfect reality system, anticipate its ruin and, in the same movement, transgress its imperative to adhere to the truth and real referents expedite the 'radical disillusioning of the real' (PC, 104). Here Baudrillard's metaphysical allusions reveal their strategic impetus. They turn thought itself into an extreme phenomenon and make it a participant in his theoretical challenge to the reality order.
  Passwords
   § evil
   § excess
   § fatal
   § illusion
   § pataphysics

The Baudrillard dictionary. . 2015.

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