202203310000 📃 manifesto for a perpetual progress

¶1. When we examine the whole of human knowledge, we are struck by two facts. First, that it has progressed to the extent that it has. Second, that it has done so largely agnostic of its implications. Looking through Wikipedia, we can find no shortage of theorems and theories, models and meanings, many of which have been formulated within the past century. We cannot help but ask in the face of such a breadth of information - “how is such knowledge possible and, if it is not already present and implemented in our own lives, is it knowledge at all?”

¶2. To ask about this problem of knowledge is to ask about the problem of communication praxis. That is, if we are asking about the possibility of ever-expanding human knowledge and whether or not its content is knowledge, we are asking about nothing other than the practices of discovery, communication, and implementation whereby all that to which we extend the term “knowledge” is referred to. We are thus concerned here with thoughts of action and behavior - what men do and how they do it.

¶3. The first issue to be dealt with: where is knowledge? I mean this severally. First, who has it, and under what conditions can it be accessed? Second, in what domain is it located, and what problems does that domain attempt to solve? Third, what is its informational content and at what point does knowledge cease to be itself and devolve into mere information? Only the last can be answered generally - at that point at which the problematic context giving rise to investigation ceases, and that which is in our hands ceases to be useful for us. Such is the razor at which point knowledge becomes information — use. For use is practice, and practice is the only test whereby knowledge is true (following Peirce, James, Dewey). Thus, without practice, there is no knowledge. The first and second questions involved in the issue of knowledge’s location are solved largely through the internet as a storehouse for knowledge. Such storage is only that, however. Without use, knowledge falls into information and, indeed, much of what passes for knowledge online is only that - information. We might contend that its being-on-a-webpage is a use, though. So what is a use?

¶4. Use can be nothing other than the objective address of a problematic situation confronting a subject. By objective, I mean “with the use of objects,” where mental concepts and material tools are both meant. By subject, I mean an agent - a human being. Now, immediately we must ask - whose situation? which confrontation? what problem? For, even with this model in place, someone must direct someone else to solve it - no individual man solves issues on his own save those which affect only him. But knowledge occurs in disciplines with many practitioners, so we are dealing with problems which affect many men. Therefore, use is never determined univocally, or according to one speaking voice (one man), but always multivocally, or according to many voices in discourse. Discourse, then, is a condition for use because it sets the terms of use.

¶5. Thus, though some man may argue that being-on-a-webpage is a use, it is not so in the sense I mean here. It is a solitary and potentially collective use, to be sure - for many men (a collective) can read a webpage. This, however, is only informational, for use has not arisen in a discursive locale whereby many men have agreed on singular terms. Instead, all men approach the information on their own terms, for their own purposes. This denudes any “knowledge” which might be present in the information - it renders it merely informational as one content among many others, in an infinite abyss of men screaming into the void. What could potentially be for any individual is thus not a use, for it has no terms.

¶6. Merely posting online is, thus, a nothing. Posting must have super-added to it a social form, which shapes the content of the posting. An account with no followers will not be read, nor will a post lacking in audience relevance. The social form is, therefore, that relation that obtains among men whereby they are inclined to read information and, thereby, transform it into knowledge. The social form is the problematic those men face, considered posterior to the problem. For, there is no social unity without a problem around which men unify - even need-of-love which produces community is a problem, broadly construed. Thus, posting online entails a knowledge of posting (for the post is that knowledge, accreted into its concrete consequence!), and any post can be looked at as an education in the social form which made possible that post - software infrastructure, the job-relations which created it, etc. Everything is, in this way, already a manifestation of a pregiven social form, and any content (information) which uses such a form can transcend it only by breaching its limits. All other information depends on that form and is denuded thereby - some knowledge precedes that information and conditions it as merely informational. But what are the problems among men which unite them in the search for knowledge?

¶7. Problems among men are determined generally among the course of events that determine their lives. It is the experience of such problems that leads men into careers, or courses of job-relations in which certain problem-solving means and ends are performed. One man who acutely feels the problems of acids becomes a chemist; another feeling those of words, a lawyer. This explains the social form of the job-relation, but not of the knowledge-relation. If a job is a knowledge-job, it may do so in course of explaining the job. Yet, it cannot do so entirely, since the content of a job and its relative problems are also confronted with the problems of capital, stability, and self-consciousness - men choose jobs for reasons other than the problems immanent to their practice. They choose them for the solution to their own problems, namely, those of staying alive as a man. This much is at the bottom of every knowledge-relation - that which helps me stay alive as a man. Thus a man ends up in this or that job qua knowledge because that job accretes all knowledge of that superior state of living he inevitably seeks after. This doctrine I equate with that of Aristotle, who believes all men by nature want the good. I localize this to them, as they face it, without the determinations of species-essence to which Aristotle appeals to justify a global good.

¶8.To recap: knowledge is conditioned by a discourse, which sets terms of information use, thereby transforming information into knowledge. Individual men partake of this discourse insofar as they solve problems facing them on discourse terms - they are “knowledgeable” in solving such problems, for they order the content of the problem according to the social form of the discourse which has sought to address it.

¶9. The progress of knowledge is, therefore, the progress of discourse. The progress of discourse is the progress of the relations among men which assist in their mutual communication and solving of mutual problems. The idea of a perpetual progress of knowledge, then, is not one of infinite discoveries made among localized discourse communities. Nor, I add, is a unified meta-community sufficient for perpetual progress - for the community is nothing but an aggregation of subject-members under certain problematic-objective conditions. We thus require an objective problem before us as all mankind before we can unify; moreover, we, each of us, need feel this problem absolutely.

¶10. Language has already given us one such object, for no man speaks without language, and no man knows without language (exceptional cases of feral humans notwithstanding). Picture-thinking or any merely sensate stuff is incoherent - there is no private knowledge. This follows from (1) knowing as interpreting (2) interpretation requiring form for its conception and concretion (3) language alone giving this form. That is, no cognitive stuff is “knowledge,” since knowledge is a term-of-information-in-use, and this has discourse in language as its condition.

¶11. Now, is language the object sufficient for universal progress? No - for language is the object conditioning discourse; it cannot be consciously modified thereby. Language as object is an Other which, no matter how consciously we attempt to adjust it, will escape us due to its closeness to us. Thus, we require a post-linguistic universal object which appears in discourse for consciousness. What is that object? I answer - the self. Via the cogito, we obtain a universal object and, therefore, the grounds for a universal problem. No man can avoid himself - all selves are a problem for themselves. Now, if we want a meta-discourse, we could establish it analytically on the self by supposing this reasoning. Yet we could not do this except by being one more discourse - we cannot “be above” the rest in any sense, for we are doing exactly as they are, even if we see ourselves as conditioning them.

¶12. So, practically, meta-discourse is insufficient. Our only other option is to localize meta-discourse in Ones, individual men, rather than in a Many, a discourse community. We thus must clarify private consciousness - and with this manifesto, we intend to do just that. For this manifesto supposes itself as a meta-condition which asserts the grounds on which men can overcome their objective conditions. Can other conditions be asserted? Perhaps. Must all men then agree with these terms? No. Men can and will differ, and we anticipate this. Our key move, and what separates us from all other attempts at grounds of discourse and discussion, is this anticipation - for we know that you, disputant, will dispute, reject, and disagree. Doing so, you will, necessarily, discourse on terms and, thereby, assert new knowledge. Ours are anti-scientific stipulations in this way; they are not, however, articles of faith. They are universal principles for the organization of language as such. They are, to cite Aristotle, “basic primary premises” which cannot be justified beyond themselves. Like Hegel’s work, they point beyond themselves and demand further justification outside themselves. All following work is that justification.

¶13. This manifesto, and others like it, are, therefore, the condition for perpetual progress. They do 3 things:

  1. Assert an epistemology as basic premises
  2. Allow men to use this epistemology freely
  3. Assert a universal ground whereby all men can commune on the same terms (in this case, “self”)

We thus assert a framework for communication which closes nothing and opens everything. Some may wish to close less and open even more - perhaps I have closed things I have not realized. Others may want to close more and open less - perhaps I am too liberal. Yet, because we have this in hand, we have the conditions for perpetual progress according to private consciousness.

¶14. But what does this mean? In my view, this manifesto performs the actions cited in ¶13. By this, I mean it sets itself up in a public theater for sight. By being in the theater, it assumes an exterior-interior, sign-referent relation. It, therefore, assumes equivocity in that many men will inevitably differ from me in my reasoning. Thus, as a performance, this manifesto gives us 3 further things - the three above considered in their semiotic functions:

  1. Provides a locus whereby epistemology can be cited and discussed.
  2. Seats free discourse in that locus by being that locus.
  3. Is the origin-point for the universal term, for the term is inseparable from this manifesto and its concrete-historical conditions for existence.

This manifesto is the object which gives subjects (agents) freedom to make use of its subjects (content). Free discourse is for agents no longer an isolated term, but a relation situated inside an epistemological scheme. Epistemological schematism is not for us an abstraction, but a concrete-local “this” which men can search, have in hand, cite, and critique.

¶15. But have we done anything? Yes! We have given men a public razor to cut off all ideas fattened on junk beyond the lean and simple self. For any article of alleged knowledge, let us ask - does it allow us insight into the objective conditions of the self? Does it allow us insight in its subjective conditions? No? Turn it to the flames, for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion. It is, in short, nothing but information! (Hume)

¶16. All that is left is the universal organization of knowledge towards the liberation of the self. And this will be that liberation, for that knowledge will not occur without practical tests, and those tests will do nothing but liberate men, for this is their end goal. Even the most abstruse of treatises, if considered under my razor, will become liberatory - either by being thrown in the flames and, thereby, freeing men from the yoke of their burdensome information or by being oriented towards their liberatory latencies. In either case, men become free, and freedom progresses in consciousness (Hegel).

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