05 universal conclusions

💡 Core Idea Each of the conclusions below should be able to be placed at the bottom of an interpretative outline. Each, that is, should be sufficient for thematization of a given set of data, qualitative or quantitative.

Conclusions which I should always be able to demonstrate when I write (expanded on and adapted from from the 04 UNASSAILABLE PREMISES):


In Brief

adapted from the Premissive System

  1. Meaning: The unexamined life is not worth living.
  2. Relation: Neither individual nor group alone are sufficient for “right.”
  3. Reason: Internal relations can be spelled out.
  4. Organization: Structural pretentiousness can be questioned.
  5. Materiality: Objective causality causes more than does subjective causality.
  6. Actionability: Individuals and relations alone are the sole means to the end of social change.
Ur-conclusion Symptoms: the problem Diagnoses: what “we as a society” do Treatments
Meaning lack of meaning ⇔ nihilism living unexamined lives means to create meaning ⇔ hope
Relation lack of relation ⇔ atomism living in social suspicion means to create relation ⇔ community-building
Reason lack of reason ⇔ mysticism living unreasonably means to create reason ⇔ science
Organization lack of organization ⇔ incoherence living incoherently means to organize ⇔ time-freeing
Materiality lack of materiality ⇔ ideology living in ideology, and not in practice means to materialize ⇔ historicizing
Actionability lack of action ⇔ pedantry living without action means to act ⇔ pragmatizing

In Full


Ur-Conclusion: The unexamined life is not worth living. ^[phaneroscopic semiotics: phanerons, icons, symbols]

  1. Symptom: Meanings are not yet organized in some field.
    1. Anxiety is constricting wonder, reproducing itself as slavery to fear.
    2. Irresponsible action is producing unaccountable consequences.
  2. Diagnosis: Peirce’s belief-fixation, Lyotard’s postmodernism, Jamesonian postmodernism, James’s belief-creation, Bergson’s creative evolution
    1. “the age of anxiety,” Weber’s protestant work ethic; Emerson/Schiller/Platonic wonder, Keats’ negative capability, Rortyan gestalt-switching
    2. Kantian responsibility, perfect moral duties; Emersonian self-reliance
  3. Treatment: Terms can be defined under which percepts can be organized.
    1. Wonder is the beginning of wisdom, free play the beginning of freedom.
    2. Responsibility must be practiced as the sole source of subjective meaning.


Ur-Conclusion: Neither the abstract individual (classical liberalism, “one”) nor a naive majority (neoliberalism, “many”) is sufficient for “right.” Right rather emerges as a historico-dialectical process. ^[pragmatic semiotics: gestures, significant symbols, signals, intentions]

  1. Symptom: A particular discursive field is not yet “full.”
    1. Individuals are suspiciously atomized.
    2. Individuals are naively associated and manipulated.
    3. Individuals’ failure to be held accountable for their actions reproduces further errors. ^[We would place any negatively-moralizing conclusion here: “This happened because a person was greedy,” “That happened because a person was power-hungry,” etc.]
  2. Diagnosis: Platonic social suspicion, Foucault’s discourse, Buber’s I-Thou
    1. Marxist alienation; Becker’s self-interest; Hobbesian state of nature;
    2. Kafkaesque alienation; Huxleyan conspiracy; Deweyan public-occlusion/ public-discovery; Christ’s exposure of hypocrisy; speech-act theory
    3. Orwellian conspiracy; Machiavellian motive-occlusion; Foucaultian power; Goffmanite fronts; Burkean symbolic action; Wittgenstinean language games;
  3. Treatment: This discursive field can be filled through the relation of terms. This is done through a subjective entrance of experience onto the scene of the discursive field, a relation of persons to each other.
    1. Experience can cautiously relate individuals to each other (by learning lessons from the moral experts).
    2. Experience can quickly separate those who are being manipulated (by reading inappropriate virtue signals).
    3. Holding individuals accountable (assigning blame) is right and just, diminishing overall harm.


Ur-Conclusion: A given item has an internal demand of assent (rhetoric), mereological ordering (grammar), and/or set of rules (logic). ^[critical semiotics: indexes, symbols]

  1. Symptom: Individuals are unwittingly being coerced into a system
    1. A map is confused for a territory (a system for reality).
    2. An incoherent system depends on its demands of individual assent.
  2. Diagnosis: Hegelian-Marxist-Kracauerian unreasonability of society; Durkheimian anomie; Woolfian androgyny
    1. Korzybskyan clarification; Hegelian philosophy of science; Peircean philosophy of science; Baudrillardian simulacra; Rousseauian departure from nature
    2. Orwellian group-think; Le Bon’s crowd; Freud’s crowd; Reich’s crowd; Benjamin/Debord’s intensification of spectacle
  3. Treatment: This system can be spelled out either in its demands, ordering, or rule-following.
    1. The map can be further clarified to prevent territorial confusions (the system can be written as man-made).
    2. This incoherence can be spelled out by (1) denying assent (2) following the conclusions.


Ur-Conclusion: A malicious item pretends universality. This pretentiousness is the source of its maliciousness. ^[critical semiotics: indexes]

  1. Symptom: A power which ought to have been checked has not yet been.
    1. Elite entrenchment is the inevitable culmination of labor division.
    2. All things can be perverted towards elite ends.
    3. Power is being marshalled to compel its sustenance.
  2. Diagnosis: Adorno’s critique of bourgeois reason
    1. Millian power-elitism; Durkheimian labor divisions
    2. Foucaultian panopticism/biopolitics; Mbembe’s necropolitics; Harcourt’s politics of exposure
    3. Foucaultian power flows/resistance; Spencerian state-as-coercion; Eliot’s “not with a bang, but a whimper”;
  3. Treatment: This power can be checked, first of all, by denying its claims to universality. Second, it can be checked through action (either direct or indirect) against the power.
    1. Rendering the elites’ power impotent by exposing their schemes as schemes.
    2. Alternate items can be created outside elite perversions.
    3. Means of micro-resistance, meso-resistance, and macro-resistance are conceivable. Speaking about them is the first act of resistance.


Ur-Conclusion: What men do and have in hand has greater causal power than what they merely think and have in mind. There is always something material waiting to be revealed behind the veil of ideology. ^[critical semiotics: indexes, icons, symbols]

  1. Symptom: An error of social action results from privileging objects over subjects.
    1. As a perpetuation of practices which have gone unquestioned.
    2. As an organization of ideology, imaginatively distorting material relations.
    3. A history appears progressive, but experience disproves it.
  2. Diagnosis: Christian charity; Nietzschean slave-morality; Nietzschean power;
    1. Foucaultian care of self, genealogy; Nordau-Spenglerian decline
    2. Marxist-Althusserian Ideologiekritk; Lotman’s semio-criticism
    3. Foucaultian genealogy
  3. Treatment: Social action is corrected when subjects are consciously positioned as the end of doing and having rather than objects as that doing and having. Subjects’ materiality must be privileged over objects’ materiality. ^[(E.g. When we realize society is for each other, we can begin to relax a ceaseless struggle for recognition, hoarding capital, etc.)]
    1. When these practices are questioned, they change.
    2. When this ideology is exposed through sensate experiences, its imagination falls apart.
    3. When experience challenges this history, what appears the same has somehow changed. Yet, what appears to have changed has somehow changed the same.


Ur-Conclusion: Individuals and their relations are the sole causal loci of social change. ^[pragmatic semiotics: symbols, indexes, phanerons]

  1. Symptom: Errors of individual action result from the ignorance of individual power as spectatorial and relational power as competitive.
    1. Mistake of genius: Hubristic ignorance of the indefinite limits of human knowledge causes false confidence, thereby creating unaccountable action. This especially includes a priori finitude. Qua cultural, this is ignorance of collective taboos. Qua scientific, this is ignorance of professionality.
    2. Mistake of misery: Deliberative ignorance of the need to act “in-time” causes missed opportunities. (= pedantry)
  2. Diagnosis: Nietzschean slave morality; failure to embrace pragmatism;
    1. Aristotelian virtuosity; Emersonian genius;
    2. Horatian timeliness; Erasmus’s folly
  3. Treatment: Individual action is corrected when it realizes its individual power as experiential and its relational power as cooperative.
    1. Corrected genius: Humble recognition of a priori finitude, which would have forestalled rash action.
    2. Corrected misery: Hopeful faith in acting in-time to “seize the day.”

With Burke, we can consider each of these in ratio to each other. The most pressing of these is the Meaning-Actionability ratio, since it is a source of “alienation.” The Materiality-Actionability ratio is similarly pressing, since it is the source of “class consciousness.” The Reason-Organization ratio is a source of Durkheim’s anomie, as is the Reason-Relation ratio. Each, of course, can be conjoined to another for a new conclusive permutation.

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