Integral Manifesto Pt II(4): Subjects & Surrogates / Power, Tolerance and Democracy

Books Discussed in this Section

Pauli Pylkko (1998)  The Aconceptual Mind. John Benjamins Pub. Co. Philadelphia

Such musings concerning micro-scales of intersubjectivity offer a diverse range of hypotheses on the nature of power, tolerance and democracy, and their roles with respect to human action. For example, it may be true that the kinds of non-Western a-conceptual experiences that Pylkko alludes to represent important variations in the processural orders of the articulation of subject from pre-subjective centers in the genesis of a cognitive occasion. If so, the very notion of the subject-to-subject encounter as being the limiting quantum of freedom would be called into question by the quandary of just what constitutes the subject, Western variations of which would not be available to those people or communities of people whose worldviews are constituted by differing variations in the scale, nature, agency and sovereignty of any so-called “subject.” This would make the idea of exporting Western style democracy which evolved from the Greek notion of the polis — despite its noble appeal to the space of appearance of the subject as well as potential subjects in a participatory and potentially liberating manner– deeply problematic. This would make for a democracy with a latently intolerant temperament.

As another example of this tentative  “hypothesis of the subject” reconsider the quote from above wherein Pylkko notes

Therefore experiential centers which are not yet full-fledged subjects cannot be separated from one another by a crisp conceptual cut. The experience in which they float is aconceptual, and because aconceptual experience doesn’t yet recognize separate individuals, it has a peculiar collective nature [emphasis mine].

This curiosity leads to the hypothesis that pre-individuated centers might not only have transcendental qualities beneath, behind, or below the level of the subject, but also transcendent qualities above, beyond, or over the level of the subjects as a kind of supersubject– which for the most of us today remains an interesting hypothesis, but is an emerging notion gaining credence with the digital information and internet culture and in new-age consciousness-raising circles, as for example, the title of Michel Bauwens’ article on peer-to-peer spirituality, The Next Buddha will be a Collective. Were this notion of supersubject to be reified into the structures of consciousness such that its onto-theo-logics were enfolded into the cognitive occasion of individual subjects, then it might be the case that in the brave new age of tomorrow, “subjectivity” itself– the abilit or capacity to be a subject— will have become as experientially inaccessible in this hypothetical tomorrow, as the pre-subjective origins are considered to be inaccessible today. If so, we have merely chased the tail of our philosophical snake– Heidegger’s inner-Being– with its own head– Zarathustra’s outer-Being. This would make for a democracy with an overly dominating temperament.

The emergence of such a conceptually scaled Overman is neither inevitable or impossible, and might become latent and  eventually a “preconstitutional” (that is, an onto-theoretical structure) component of experience, and this can result from either of two directions– either from the hyper-reification of the microscale of Being, or the hyper-reification of the superordinate scale of Being. on the microscale end, we might as easily argue for a supersubject that is composed of  the peculiar collective of aconceptual experiential centers across boundary conditions of human individuals, and posit an experientially coherent and intentional supersubject that “lives in us just as it lives elsewhere at the same time, too”, as Pylkko has written

From this perspective, there is not much point is saying that one subject inhabits on body-brain. Rather, every subject’s being is distributed onto a social network, and therefore onto several brains and bodies, too. … A subject can inhabit more than one brain, and a brain can be inhabited by more than one subject.

Just as easily as imagining a supersubject as arising from the ontological ground of pre-individuated subjects that constitute the subject’s aconceptual primordial origins, we might imagine a supersubject as arising from the opposite end of the spectrum: from a future scenario in which pre-unified subjects belong to the ontological ground that constitutes the supersubject’s a-transconceptual primordial origins. In the meantime, in this more than opportune moment in history, we still have a choice. or so it seems.

The moral of this story, I suppose, is that we can purposely fashion democratic acts from some fundamental qualities of the subject, and a morally-saturated expectation of an authentic subect-to-subject encounter; and that may well have both liberating effects and constitute the limiting quantum of freedom in human action. However, this is only possible if we avoid adding onto the real and actual occasions of human en-act-ments of democracy– the real deal, not the ideal– according to its vibrant and living place in the vitae activae– we must avoid adding the categorical errors of an onto-theoretical democracy, wholly or partially embedded in unexamined assumptions of scale.

Perhaps the most we can make of a democracy is to fulfill the pledge of creating spaces of appearances, come what may. This is what Pylkko determines to be “the best that democracy can offer to us,” namely, “variety, perpetual change, tolerance and such struggle which enhances and allows variety to flourish.” But the reason why we seem to have come to this point of non-conclusion, is due to the fact that we have limited our notion of the “space” of appearance, to the aspect of extension, and as a result required of our “pre-subjects”, our “subjects”, and even our “supersubject” to arrange themselves along certain identifiable scales of sovereignty. If to this limited notion of space as extension, and the sovereign forms that appear to “take up space,” we allow the more crucial notion of space as “openness” or better yet, it’s corollary verb “openning,” then we might recover something of our initial premise, and the propositions which follow from it.

We have merely to substitute for purposes of discussing the microscales of subjectivity, the series “personal-local-regional-national-planetary” for the series “pre-subject-subject-supersubject” in the premise to derive the following, parallel propositions:

If among the spheres of intersubjectivity– this is also true, then the realm of human freedom is not assured by the pursuit of sovereignty of any kind– presubjective, subjective or supersubjective– rather, freedom is defeated whenever the conviction of sovereignty prevails.