Part One, The Flaws of Aristotelian Hylomorphism
Plato was manifestly a medium (similar to Pythagoras), whose thesis of the subdivision of reality into a virtual realm (inaccessible to the senses) and a concrete realm of the senses ultimately came to elucidate his privileged experience of the superior stage of reality that is the supra-sensible field; Aristotle, on the other hand, resembled much more what can be described as a sensitive. In what follows, I would like to defend a renovated version of the Platonic perspective, against the Aristotelian negation of the existence of virtual entities that Plato called “Ideas,” and which the master of Aristotle rightly identified as the model of concrete entities.
Therefore, I will argue as follows:
1) Any concrete entity partakes of an ideational model (which may be termed, “archetype,” but which, contrary to the traditional understanding of archetypes, must be deemed as the singular model of a given entity, and the model of the unique and shared traits of a given singular entity)—which configures, or determines, the layout and the composition of the aforesaid entity, and that the “matter” constituting concrete beings takes charge of its own information, except in the case of those concrete beings that are artificial.
2) Here, the ideal, or virtual realm is hierarchized: it is constituted by elementary archetypes, as well as archetypes implied by the elementary ones. Plus, the starting rules of the cosmos (as such, the laws present at the time of the Big-Bang) and the implications of such rules, the latter being incessantly iterated and complexified over the course of cosmic history.
Besides the ideal field is imbued with a possibly conscious impulse, whose object is the incarnation of the ideal realm into matter. This impulse engenders the temporal start of the material field, and therefore of the universe. Yet the ideal realm materializes itself, all the while remaining beyond matter.
3) Time occasions a process of communication between matter at the instant (T) and the actualizable properties of matter at the instant (T-1), which yields so many implications that it is possible to extract from elementary archetypes and from starting rules. Matter, within the framework of this extraction of the implications in collaboration with time, repeats in a fractal mode the starting rules of the cosmos. These consist of a handful of pairs of opposites (namely: attraction and repulsion, integration and differentiation, fission and fusion) branching (via the iteration which causes the extraction of their implications) into the laws of the cosmos.
4) The primordial unity from which the cosmos proceeds consists in the impulse on the part of the ideational field to selectively accomplish its own content into innovative matter, and the bliss for man (especially the Faustian man) lies in the knowledge of the material unfolding of the Spirit (by which I mean the ideational field taken from the angle of its unified multiplicity), and in the extension of the creative gesture of the cosmos—via science, technique, and art.
5) The atemporal movement consisting for the Spirit of actualizing (while sorting) the implications that it carries within it projects—on the walls of the metaphorical cavern of the material and temporal field—a shadow which consists in the begetting (at the level of matter and on the part of matter) of increasing levels of order and complexity. A generation nonetheless not assigned to a predetermined final state of cosmic evolution—and not kept away from randomness and from error.
Knowing the course and the laws of the cosmos that are the incarnation of the Spirit mobilize clairvoyance (that is to say, the intuition of the supra-sensible field), just as well as conjecture (and induction) from the sensible datum.
Hylomorphism faced with the emergence process
As for Aristotle’s substitution of the archetypes, from which proceed the concrete entities, with the notion that a concrete entity owes its determination to the “form” which is inherent to it, I will naturally begin by questioning the Aristotelian perspective for the benefit of the rehabilitation of archetypes.
The Aristotelian hylomorphic theory claims that any entity is a compound of two distinct realities—namely, form, which is to be taken in the precise sense of an active reality conferring onto matter a certain arrangement, and as such, determining the concerned entity. And matter, which is to be taken in the precise sense of a passive and indeterminate reality composing the entity, and giving it a concrete and tangible character, and carrying within it the potentiality of a given change at the level of form—a change which is spontaneously actualized in the case of natural beings. Such theory does not fail to pose a certain number of problems.
To begin with, it is hardly plausible that the arrangement of a certain (concrete) entity and its composition are only associated realities within the entity, instead of the information (in other words, the arrangement, the organization) of the entity being a property of that which composes the entity. In that second scenario, which is much more likely, “form” must no longer be taken in the sense of an active reality. Rather, it must be seen as a passive emanation of the tenor of “matter,” the matter composing the concrete entities and—at least in the case of those of concrete beings which are properly natural and which are therefore opposed to those artificial—taking charge of its own shaping.
Besides, it is manifestly false that the determination (of the identity) of a concrete entity relates exclusively to the arrangement of the entity, rather than to the combination of its arrangement and of its composition. The identity of a tree—apart from its foliage and the composition of its leaves—resides jointly in the (essential or contingent) qualities of the wood which composes it and in the (constitutive or accidental) features of the arrangement of its trunk and of its branches. The archetype which Pythagoras and Plato deal with (and which we cannot do without) must be reassessed accordingly.
Our way of envisioning the relationship of form to matter, and the nature of those two realities (and thus, the adequate definition of the concepts which cover them), owes its greatest plausibility most notably to the compatibility of our approach with the emergence process. The latter can be defined as the fact for a qualitatively new concrete entity—the novelty in question relating to the composition of the entity or its arrangement—to arise from one or more pre-existing entities (to which the new entity cannot however be reduced). Yet the only changes compatible with the Aristotelian approach to form as an active and informative element, which coexists with matter envisaged as passive and informed (but which is not a driving element of formal change), are those which do not consist in introducing a component or an arrangement of a new type on the world stage.
Hence the emergence exceeds the Aristotelian hylomorphic framework. The only intelligible changes in the hylomorphic framework are those which do not contravene the Aristotelian conception of the world as eternal and equal to itself, whether the object of changes is place, quality, quantity, or generation. For its part, the conception of the matter of concrete beings as active and self-informed also takes into account this kind of change that is emergence. Here it is elucidated as a process in which self-organized matter sets up an organization of a new type, and in which the emerging organization possibly merges with a component of a new type.
Hylomorphism faced with the distinction between natural beings and artificial ones
Further, my approach allows for a greater likelihood (and greater clarity) of examining the dichotomy between those of concrete beings which are “natural” and those which are “artificial”: distinction confusedly treated in Aristotelian hylomorphism (which affirms the spontaneous character of the occurrence of the various kinds of change in the case of natural beings, but claims, otherwise, that any change is due to an exterior motor), here clarified in these terms.
Namely that natural beings are those of concrete beings whose information is spontaneously set up by the tenor of what composes them, while artificial beings are those which owe their information to the exercise of an exterior action on the tenor of what composes them, regardless of whether the other kinds of change to affect them are spontaneous or not. While water presents itself as a natural entity, whose information is spontaneously taken over (by the molecules composing it, which assemble two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom), and whose self-organization (in other words, self-information) is confused with the emergence of a certain sort of “matter” (which will enter in the composition, for example, of a floe), a snowman is an artificial being whose information is the result of the action of a human being having fun with snow.
The self-information constitutive of those of (concrete) beings which are natural will take specific modalities according to the types of the natural beings: from the particulate self-organization (of the quarks which enter in the composition) of hadrons to that of the cells which compose advanced (therefore multicellular) eukaryotes, and to that of the individual members of animal or human societies, these are genuinely incremental levels of emergence that hatch (as concerns the types of self-information, and in upstream, the types of natural being). The nutritive, generative, sensitive, motor, or cogitative functions which living beings endorse and which Aristotle classifies being only modalities of the self-information of living beings.
Just as the existence of the realm of concrete entities is corroborated by sensible experience; likewise, the existence of the realm of virtual entities—the mathematical laws which govern the concrete order, as well as the archetypes which Plato calls “Ideas” and that notably include numbers—is corroborated by the supra-sensible experience.
The Idea that Plato deals with (and whose definition which I will retain as adequate is that of the Idea as the supra-sensible model of concrete entities) has this particularity, compared to the form (in the Aristotelian sense), allegedly present in concrete entities, that it can utterly be conceived of as jointly determining the arrangement and the composition of a given concrete entity. The Idea is certainly virtual (rather than concrete); it nevertheless remains likely to contain just as much the essential or accidental, necessary or contingent properties at the level of organization (“form” taken in the vague sense of the arrangement of a given concrete entity) as those at the level of the composition (“matter” taken in the vague sense of what a given concrete entity is made of). In this regard it would be worthwhile to distinguish between “matter” (understood as what enters in the composition of a given entity) and “materiality” (understood as a certain mode of existence which consists for a given entity in being concrete, tangible, firm).
Assuredly such an approach to Idea is not that of Plato. The latter does not only consider Ideas as the models only of general qualities (for example, the general qualities of blond, blue-eyed people… rather than the sum of the singular and common qualities of the blond, blue-eyed Donald Trump), which amounts to restricting the qualities configured in the Idea of a certain singular entity to the field of the general (in other words, shared, common) qualities of the entity, general qualities which are also necessary qualities (but which do not summarize the whole of necessary qualities). Besides he represents to himself Idea as the supra-sensible model of the sole organization of concrete entities (and not that jointly of their arrangement and of their composition). Yet the identity of a given concrete entity including both the qualities relating to its composition and those relating to its arrangement, the supra-sensible model of the identity must manifestly determine both what is characteristic of the arrangement and what belongs to the composition.
As archetypes deal as much with arrangement as with composition, the (singular) archetype of a given concrete entity will determine whether its arrangement is spontaneously set up by what enters in the composition of the entity—in other words, whether the entity in question is natural rather than artificial. In the case where the entity is effectively natural, the organization is jointly determined by the archetype and implemented by what enters in its composition… so that a distinction must be made between organization as predetermined in the archetype and organization as materialized. In other words, the materialized “form,” that set up by matter (understood as what composes a concrete being), must be distinguished from its supra-sensible and virtual model: the form which is determined in the archetype of a given concrete entity, but which does not summarize the archetype. Given the latter includes as much the properties relating to the composition of the concerned concrete entity as those relating to its arrangement.
A new approach to “form” and “matter”
Ultimately we can redefine in these terms the form and the matter which were the subject of Aristotle’s meditations. In the weak sense, matter is what composes a given entity (whether the entity is virtual or concrete, tangible, firm), while in the strong sense, matter is what composes a properly concretized (in other words, firm) entity, which we commonly call a “material” entity—a qualifier that we will make ours. As for form, it is the arrangement (in other words, the organization) of a given entity… arrangement that (in the case of material entities) matter (taken in the strong sense) either gives itself actively or passively receives: that distinction at the level of the arrangement founding the dichotomy between those of material entities which are natural and those which are artificial.
When we will use the term “matter” without specifying the sense in which we understand it, we will take it in the strong sense mentioned above: matter understood as what composes a properly concrete entity… with a spontaneous arrangement of matter in the case of natural entities. While we reject the Aristotelian definition of matter (as a passive and concrete reality that composes any entity), we believe that the Aristotelian approach to form remains valid as concerns the arrangement of archetypes.
Aristotelian hylomorphism not only conceives of any entity as a compound of “form” and “matter,” but defines the second as that which passively composes and concretizes a given entity, and the first as that which actively informs the composition of the entity. It is obviously intended to be an alternative to the theory of Ideas. Nevertheless the assertion that any properly material entity is a compound of form in the Aristotelian sense and of matter in the sense of what passively composes a material entity is hardly incompatible with the Platonic notion that any material (that is to say, materialized, tangible) entity aligns with a virtual archetype.
Better the virtual archetypes which Plato deals with are certainly deprived of a material existence, matter in the sense of what passively composes a given entity does not fail them: they are, so to speak, cut in the wood of virtual. While the arrangement of the archetypes (which merges with the content of the Ideas) actively informs the virtual reality of which the archetypes are made. As such, the form taken in the Aristotelian sense of an active reality which coexists with the passive composition of a given entity (and which arranges the entity) corresponds no less well to the virtual entities that are the archetypes… for want of applying to concrete entities the secrets of which Aristotelian hylomorphism yet believed to unlock.
Form as understood by Aristotle all the better lends itself to describing the arrangement of an archetype (rather than that of a material entity) as, while denying the existence of virtual entities, the Stagirite does not conceive of form as a material reality (but as a reality coexisting with matter within a given material entity). If form as defined by Aristotle does not have a properly material existence, it is difficult to see how it could not be an arrangement whose mode of existence is virtual… therefore an arrangement which relates to a virtual entity.
Towards a new version of Platonism
By the way Idea can even be conceived of in Aristotelian terms of efficient cause and final cause, the efficient cause being Idea itself (which is sufficient in itself to exist, and that exists outside of time and world) and the final cause being the material entity that Idea is intended to determine (at the level of its composition and of its arrangement). As archetype jointly includes the qualities associated with composition and those associated with arrangement, the emergence of matter from nothingness (which supposedly preceded the beginning of the cosmos) loses its mysterious character. The engendering of matter—of which vacuum, baryons, leptons, photons, dark matter, water, or bronze are all specific varieties—is the work of the Spirit, by which I hear the virtual bundle of archetypes (including numbers and figures), as well as of the laws of the cosmos.
More precisely, the renovated Platonic perspective to which I subscribe is that a swarm of atemporal and virtual axioms (namely, attraction and repulsion, integration and differentiation, fission and fusion), as well as of elementary archetypes (including the archetype of the quark or that of the void), presides over the creation of the universe. And that matter—in partnership with time which, at the instant (T), allows it to make a selection among those of properties at the level of the arrangement or of the composition of matter which, at the instant (T-1), are actualizable—accomplishes (while sorting them out) the virtual implications which flow from the axioms (by which I designate, so, the starting rules of the cosmos) and from the archetypes. Matter certainly takes charge of its own information (in other words, it gives itself its own arrangement, its own formal determination, which is a function of the tenor of matter); nevertheless it acts under the impulse of a virtual swarm of archetypes and of axioms which—over the course of time and through time and matter—sees its own implications extracted (and selected) in the cosmos. The information of a given matter leading up from time to time to an incremental mode of matter—like the mode of matter that is methane gas and which emerges from the arrangement (within its molecules) of a carbon atom and of four hydrogen atoms.
In that framework, the supra-sensible knowledge, the intuition of the virtual entities that are axioms (that matter iterates at each level of emergence succeeding the original emergence of the universe) and the (elementary or implied) archetypes, is utterly conceivable. It is worthwhile to distinguish between the arrangement relating to archetypes (which merges with their content) and the arrangement which resides in the archetypes… the one which they express and which they determine. We will speak of “archetypal form” to designate the latter, and of the “arrangement of archetypes” to designate the former.
What ideology is to men who work to organize society on the model of an ideology, the archetypal form (by which I mean, so, the form that the archetype determines, and that it carries within it) is to matter which informs itself on the formal model of the archetype. Just as matter (at least in the case of natural entities) gives itself its own form, and just as the tenor of form will depend on the tenor of matter, the members of a certain human biocultural group—when they spontaneously organize their society—will give themselves an organization which will be a function of the tenor of their biology. Besides the momentum of the archetypes of giving themselves a material translation—a translation jointly at the level of the tenor of matter and at the level of the organization of matter—communicates itself to matter which will strive to achieve the archetypal forms… just as the impulse of ideologies (in other words, memes) to organize matter communicates itself to humans who will endeavor to conform the organization of their societies to the formal models of ideologies.
Ultimately the process which consists for the archetype in realizing itself jointly into the tenor of matter and into the organization of matter finds itself to be incidentally mimicked by the process which consists for the meme—the equivalent of the duplicator of biological information in the field of acquired cultural behavior—in realizing itself into the organization of matter. It is not impossible that this similarity can also be observed in the relationship that the genetic program sustains with the arrangement of the individual organism.
Part Two, A Reassessment of the Ideal Field
The properties (at the level of the composition of matter or that of its arrangement) which, at the instant t-1, find themselves to be actualizable are not only subject to decryption and to triage on the part of matter at the instant t; they rank among the possible implications of the properly atemporal (since virtual) bundle of the cosmos’s elementary archetypes and its starting rules. Therefore we are allowed to call them the “implicit properties” of matter (or “implied”).
By the Spirit I mean a purely virtual being (therefore devoid of the slightest material support), which is the substantial reality (the one self-sufficient to exist), and which is infinite as well as creator and subject to a creative impulse deploying itself like a selective impulse which actualizes the own content of the Spirit. The latter has this paradoxical feature that it is both outside of time (by reason of its supra-worldly character) and engaged in a process of revelation of itself over the course of the history of the cosmos (whose existence it generated from nothing). The paradox is elucidated through taking into account the fact that the Spirit, which entirely lies in the axioms (the starting rules repeating in a fractal mode) and in the elementary archetypes of the cosmos, therefore lies in the infinite swarm of their implications.
At each level of emergence in the composition or the arrangement of matter (starting with the emergence which saw matter spring from nothingness), matter subjected to time—and engaged in a momentum which we will see is, so to speak, the shadow or the reflection of the selective and actualizing impulse on the part of the Spirit—decrypts, sorts, and concretizes those implications. It does so on the occasion of the communication process that physicist Pavel V. Kurakin describes between matter at the instant t and the actualizable properties of matter at the instant t-1.
The material impulse towards selective actualization
More precisely the Spirit (all the components of which are traits of the Spirit that are essential rather than accidental) is entirely contained in an ideational (therefore atemporal and supra-worldly) swarm of axioms, archetypes, and implications whose actualizing drive transmits itself to matter. The latter—not content with embodying the ideational field which yet remains distinct from matter and ideational—therefore takes care of the actualization of the aforesaid implications.
Yet the material accomplishment of the Spirit gradually leads to the consciousness of the Spirit (in the sense that the cosmos sees the knowledge of the existence of the Spirit germinate), as well as to the transparency of the Spirit (in the sense that the content of the Spirit lets himself to be known also). In other words, matter selects over the course of time passing in cosmic history—and as a result of an actualizing impulse that the Spirit breathes into the two partners that are time and matter—those of the implications arising from archetypes and axioms which will be actualized. Including the implication which consists of the emergence of consciousness among living beings—and, in fine, the emergence of the awareness of the Spirit’s existence, and of the knowledge of the Spirit’s content, within the thought of men (especially Faustian Westerners).
This process of a selective and material self-revelation of the Spirit has a temporal and worldly beginning. The advent of this beginning is the object of a global and undivided impulse (which nevertheless communicates itself to axioms, archetypes, and implications… namely the components of the Spirit), rather than the object of a coalition of convergent but particular impulses (on the part of the aforesaid components of the Spirit).
Throughout the process of the Spirit revealing itself, matter—as Aristotle rightly discerned—carries within it the potentiality of the change that it experiences. Nevertheless the aforesaid change 1) is operated by matter itself (in collaboration with time). 2) It inherits the actualizing and selective impulse on the part of a unified swarm of (elementary or implied) archetypes and of axioms (and their implications). And 3) it concerns as much the constitution of matter as its organization. Those are so many aspects of the change at work in the cosmos that were beyond the scope of Alexander’s mentor.
The deployment of the Spirit in the cosmos
Ultimately the history of the cosmos can be apprehended as the history of the Spirit which—via its drive to create time and the world, as well as via its (breathed) drive to sort and to update the implications—accomplishes selectively its essence (therefore its content) unfolding over the course of time which occasions the decryption (and the triage) of the implicit properties of matter (whether at the level of its arrangement or at the level of its composition).
The materialized archetypal forms—as well as the materially and fractally iterated Big-Bang rules—which recruit matter into information processes taken over by the aforesaid matter, reveal the Spirit in an exclusively objective mode (which therefore ignores the consciousness of the Spirit). Just as consciousness is unknown to the atom that partakes of the archetype of the self-recruitment of a matter composed of protons, neutrons, and electrons in rapid motion within the spherical form of a shell within another shell, it is foreign to the galaxy which partakes of the archetype of the granting of an elliptical shape to the ten billion stars or more composing the matter which gives itself such arrangement.
Nevertheless consciousness emerges with the memes—ideologies, religions, worldviews in the broad sense—which continue to reveal the Spirit in an objective mode and which open the door to its subjective revelation. In order for the Spirit—which accomplishes itself on a material and historical level, while remaining supra-material and outside of time—to become the object of a consciousness and to be rendered transparent alongside the aforesaid consciousness, its objective fulfillment which goes through memes must become the place of its subjective accomplishment (instead of distancing itself from it).
The prolongation of the objective accomplishment into an accomplishment which is properly subjective consists for the Spirit in revealing its existence—and in selectively revealing its essence—through the memes which proceed from the objective fulfillment. This subjective development accomplishes itself in the history of the Hellenic then Western civilizations, which is the history of the Spirit rendering its existence known—and rendering selectively its identity transparent—within the Faustian man.
The Hegelian fallacy
The seizure of the Spirit at stake is to be taken in the sense of the grasping of the notion of its existence—and in the sense of the knowing of what the Spirit reveals of its identity. It finds its first stage (as well as its engine) in the Promethean soul, the spirit of conquest, the flavor of the infinite that are constitutive of the Faustian mentality—and which turn the Faustian man into the heir and the continuator of the creative gesture of the cosmos. The latter fulfilling new emergent realities via the fractal iteration (and the selective extraction of the implications) of a handful of starting rules of the cosmos (those being attraction and repulsion, integration and differentiation, fusion and fission); and—within the framework of the aforesaid extraction—tending somehow towards increasing levels of order and complexity as concerns the organization of its matter and its constitution.
However we cannot identify the (global) thought of Western Faustian men with the Spirit that it gradually learns to know. The aforesaid thought, far from being confused with the Spirit (which, in that way, would become aware of its own existence and of its own identity), is the work of the receptacle of the subjective development of the Spirit. Contrary to Hegel’s claims, the European thought is not to be confused with the ideational field.
Hegel rightly said the ideational field to accomplish itself in cosmic and human history. But he failed to grasp the exact nature of its articulation with the cosmos. Indeed he wrongly conceived of the ideational field as immanent in the cosmos and as identified with the final state of European thought towards which human thought is supposed to walk inevitably.
It is just as wrong that the (either subjective or objective) unfolding of the Spirit responds to a pre-established final point, a prefixed finish line, of human and cosmic history. Man (especially the Faustian man) is to be conceived of as made in the image of the Spirit—rather than as the Spirit in person. And the selective fulfillment of the Spirit into matter—and through matter extracting and sorting the implications which arise from elementary archetypes and from axioms—must be seen as a continual and error-prone improvisation. It must be approached as a movement that is no more perfect than it is predetermined, but which persistently strives to generate an increasing complexity in the universe.
A reassessment of Platonism from the angle of incarnation
By recognizing his own creative impulse, his own boarding of matter, in the generative gesture of axioms and archetypal forms, the Faustian man will become aware of himself as made in the image of the cosmos that fulfills the Spirit. This relationship of the European man—so long as he is shaped by a bioculture secreting the Faustian mentality—to the Spirit revealing itself in the cosmos is anticipated in Judaism. For the latter represents to itself man as made in the image of God—and as mandated to crown creation under the aegis of a linear (rather than cyclical) time.
As concerns the Christian Trinity, it incidentally gives us a symbolic illustration of the relationship of the Spirit to its creation.
1) The Father symbolizes the Spirit insofar as it is located on a virtual and atemporal level, that of implications, axioms, and elementary archetypes.
2) The Son symbolizes the Spirit insofar as it gives itself an existence material and subjected to the reign of time. Matter drawing, sorting, and fulfilling—within the framework of the aforesaid incarnation—the implications arising from archetypes (and from axioms that matter repeats in a fractal mode) over the course of time, which occasions the communication between matter at the instant t+1 and the actualizable properties of matter at the instant t. And the Spirit—far from its ideational existence rendering itself properly immanent to the cosmos—nevertheless remaining atemporal and supraworldly (which brings us back to the mystery of the Incarnation).
3) The Holy Spirit symbolizes the Spirit insofar as its drive selectively actualizing its own content is breathed into matter. Matter selecting those of the implications (to arise from axioms and from archetypes) which will be actualized; and striving—at each passing moment and, a fortiori, at each incremental level of emergence—to hoist matter to an unprecedented and higher level of complexity (as concerns its composition or its arrangement).
Contrary to the Gnostic vision, my analysis does not envision matter as the prison of spiritual realities (in the sense of what is virtual as opposed to material). The Spirit—the field of axioms (and their implications) and of (elementary and implied) archetypes—does not find itself to be trapped in matter. It finds in matter the way—the place and the means—of its (objective and subjective) accomplishment, while remaining rigorously exterior to matter in its properly ideational existence.
As such, we should not more consider cosmic and human history as the story of the progressive triumph of the Spirit over matter—the story of its gradual emancipation from matter. What we find there consisting much rather of the history of the improvised and imperfect effort of matter (which embodies the Spirit) in the direction of an increased order and complexity—at the level of the composition of matter and of its arrangement.
As for the primordial unity that Plotinus investigated, he was wrong to conceive of it as a unity that stands beyond the multiple—instead of approaching it as a unity unifying a certain multiplicity. For the One merges with the impulse crossing the Spirit and unifying the field of (elementary) archetypes, axioms, and implications (the latter jointly arising from the aforesaid axioms and from the aforesaid archetypes).
To the Spirit—the unified ideational field—and to the Momentum—the actualizing and selective impulse on the part of the Spirit—is added a third and last principle: a third and last pillar of the architecture of reality. It consists of Philo of Alexandria’s Word mentioned in the prologue to the Gospel of Saint John. The Word is here envisioned as the movement through which the actualizing momentum of the Spirit renders itself material and temporal, while remaining virtual and atemporal—and while operating in parallel with matter… in ways that we are about to explore. From this incarnation proceed the communication to which matter is devoted—the communication between matter at the instant t and the implicit properties of matter at the instant t-1—and the generation on the part of matter of changes at the level of matter’s arrangement or its composition.
Beyond the Schopenhauerian “will to live”
The impulse on the part of the Spirit to realize itself into matter is an impulse jointly undivided and unifying of the ideational field. It accomplishes itself through duplicating itself into matter. While, in the ideational field, the only impulse at work is that, undivided, which engages the Spirit in its entirety, the same is not true in the material field, in which the Momentum mysteriously transposes itself into a set of distinct impulses. They are those of natural beings—the ones among concrete beings which take charge of their own information.
While the impulse on the part of those of natural beings which are not gifted with thought must be envisaged as an impulse (of self-information) that excludes deliberation (and which is not accompanied by the idea of its existence), the impulse on the part of thinking beings consists of a momentum conscious (of itself). In the case of those of thinking beings which are in possession—up to a certain point—of free will, this conscious momentum will enjoy (limited) self-determination on the part of the deliberation preceding and determining the aforesaid momentum. But we should notice that those of natural beings which are not gifted with thought may be nonetheless gifted with an ability to determine freely a part of their own behavior—as pointed out by regretted physicist Freeman Dyson in the case of atoms.
Placed end to end, the particular impulses (on the part of natural beings) that are distributed in time and space give a cosmic impulse to tend towards perpetually increasing levels of order and of complexity. This impulse is the fruit of an addition of distinct impulses, but it translates the indivisible impulse on the part of the Spirit.
Schopenhauer rightly believed to discern the presence underlying material entities (and their laws) of an undivided impulse which he called “will” or the “will to live.” He nonetheless remained wrong when he approached the aforesaid impulse as inherent in material entities—instead of associating it with the ideational field. The latter breathing its undivided impulse into concrete beings while retaining it within it—and while dividing it into a multitude of particular impulses in the material field. Schopenhauer was just as wrong when he approached the undivided “will” as spurred towards the sole preservation of the universe identical to itself—rather than towards the enrichment of the cosmos in an ever increasing complexity.
More precisely the actualizing (and undivided) impulse on the part of the ideational field is articulated with the material field in two ways.
1) On the one hand, the aforesaid impulse, which is outside of time, generates the properly temporal beginning of matter. On the occasion of this generation, the Spirit conserves its own actualizing impulse (in the properly ideational field), while transmitting it to matter—and while transmuting the aforesaid impulse into a variety of distinct impulses on the part of those of material beings which are natural.
2) On the other hand, matter deciphers, sorts, and updates—over the course of communication that time occasions—the implications that the virtual field carries within it. The (selective) extraction of those implications is the object—in parallel—of the undivided impulse on the part of the ideational field and of the cosmic impulse which results from the sum of the distinct impulses in the cosmos. The given object of the cosmic impulse at a given moment in the universe coinciding with the object of the impulse of the Spirit at the same moment. And past, present, future succeeding one another in the cosmos subjected to time while they are simultaneous in the ideational field which exists outside of time and space.
The atemporality of the momentum of the Spirit is therefore not to be taken in the sense that it would ignore the past, the present, and the future. The aforesaid impulse only ignoring their successive (rather than simultaneous) character. As for the insufflation of the ideational impulse to matter, it is not more accompanied by the cessation of the exercise of the aforesaid momentum of the Spirit. As the cosmic impulse operates, the impulse of the Spirit jointly operates. But their respective objects coincide at each instant, and the former is only the double of the latter.
The bees of hidden time
By virtue of the jointly atemporal and improvised character of the impulse of the Spirit, the future of the aforesaid impulse (which coincides with the future of the universe) has the remarkable feature that it is not (totally) predetermined, but that it nonetheless remains simultaneous with the present and with the past.
The paradox at the heart of the precognition of clairvoyants is their ability to know in advance a future which, however, is (in part) free and random. It can be resolved in these terms. Namely that at the present instant, their intuition of the impulse of the Spirit equates to an intuition of the future of the aforesaid impulse, the latter being simultaneous with its present and with its past. Which does not exclude the fallibility of supra-sensible intuition.
I must emphasize the debt of my conception of time as occasioning communication between matter (including the particles which are constitutive of atoms) at the instant t and the implicit properties of matter at the instant t-1, and my conception of the starting rules of the cosmos as pairs of opposites which the cosmos fractally repeats at each level of emergence, to philosopher Howard Bloom. Bloom develops them both in his 2012’s work The God Problem. His communicational approach to time is also discussed in his 2005’s article, “Dialogue model of quantum dynamics,” co-written with Pavel V. Kurakin and George G. Malinetskii—and taken up in 2008’s Constructive Physics, by Yuri I. Ozhigov, as well as in the 2004’s article by Kurakin entitled “Hidden variables and hidden time in quantum theory.”
Bloom proposes an analogy between the spring behavior of the hive and that of a subatomic particle which—in the exact interval separating two stages of time—chooses among the possible detectors the one towards which it will move. During the interval of 10-35 seconds (namely one Planck unit) which separates the instant t from the instant t+1, and that Kurakin calls “hidden time,” a subatomic particle hesitating between possible detectors sends waves which are (metaphorically) so many exploratory bees. Once back from their wanderings, they consult with each other to take a collective decision as to which detector they will select. This decision is not taken during a certain period of time, but actually in the intermediate space (between the instant t and the instant t+1) where the succession of instants is suspended. Here the behavior of an elementary particle (at the instant t+1 which is about to be) can at its leisure interpret and sort the implicit properties of the aforesaid particle (at the instant t which has ended).
Any investigation of the cosmos which reveals the Spirit must bear in mind that our knowledge of the Spirit does not deal with the whole of its essence, the latter being infinite (since it harbors the infinite field of the possible implications which arise from elementary archetypes and from axioms). Our knowledge of the cosmos deals with the finite unfolding for which the Spirit opts in the material field—the particular unfolding that the Spirit chooses (among the infinite list of the finite unfoldings that are possible for it). The recapitulation of the history of the cosmos (as we suspect it) lets us glimpse that the effective unfolding of the Spirit—the accomplishment for which the Spirit effectively opts—is an unfolding which consists in extracting (and in sorting) the implications in a way that spurs (not without hazards) the cosmos towards the generation of an ever increasing order and complexity.
The knowledge of the (selective) fulfillment of the Spirit, which amounts to the knowledge of the course of the cosmos and the laws which govern it, mobilizes conjecture (and induction) from the sensible given, just as it passes through clairvoyance. By clairvoyance I mean the supra-sensible grasping of ideational entities—be it elementary archetypes, those implied (and actually selected), axioms, or the (selected) implications of the aforesaid axioms. In both cases, the investigation, which is liable to error, requires theorizing and conceptualization—therefore the use of definitions which it is good to specify are properly informative statements.
In the weak sense, the definition of a given notion collects (and exposes) a certain number of qualities of the concrete entity to which the aforesaid notion corresponds. Defining the notion thus amounts to describing the aforesaid entity. In the strong sense, the definition of a given notion identifies (and formulates) those of the qualities of a given entity which are necessary and constitutive qualities of the aforesaid entity.
Here is the paradox. Any strong definition—at least, any strong definition which is correct from the point of view of language—can be reduced (via the play of synonyms) to a proposition true for any distribution of truth values, therefore a tautological proposition within the framework of first order logic. Nonetheless the tenor of (material or ideational) reality serves as the court of the validity of strong definitions from the point of view of the aforesaid reality. Therefore the accepted strong definition of a given concept will be both tautological in the eyes of language and informative—endowed with content, descriptive—in the eyes of (the confrontation of language with) reality.
The synonymy relationship between a given notion and the strong definition attached to it (within a given language), while it does not have to be justified in the eyes of the concerned language, cannot escape the judgment of reality. If the aforesaid synonymy amounts to a synonymy, it is genuinely because language believes that the tenor of reality allows it to see synonyms in the terms concerned—for example, single and not engaged. Since the criterion of the validity of synonymies (and of strong definitions) with respect to reality resides in reality itself, our knowledge of which is however perfectible, it may turn out that a given strong definition is jointly true from the point of view of our language and false from the point of view of reality. Because those of the qualities of the defined entity which are retained as constitutive and necessary are really contingent (at least in part)—and seem to us to be constitutive and necessary only by reason of our imperfect knowledge of the defined entity.
Let us suppose that in a given language, the strong definition of the species of swans is that of swans as large palmiped birds whose plumage is white—and whose neck is long and flexible. The discovery of a bird who shares all those qualities except that its plumage is black (rather than white) will force the strong definition of the swan—the strong definition of the singular swans considered from the angle of their species—to cease to include the white plumage among the commons qualities of the swan. And therefore to cease to include the aforesaid white plumage among the necessary qualities of swans—and among the elements of the strong definition of swans.
In this example the involved mode of knowledge of a given singular entity is the one by means of induction—that which strives for identifying the essential and contingent qualities of a given entity (here a given swan) on the basis of the observation of the regular and irregular features of a certain number of observed swans. It opposes the mode of knowledge consisting in directly grasping the ideational archetype of the species of swans. This supra-sensible seizure is potentially imperfect—and likely to make the same mistake of identifying the white plumage as a common and necessary quality of swans.
A brief recapitulation
To sum up, the two distinct levels of reality I investigated are inversely symmetrical.
1) The arrangements of archetypes play an active role of informing the virtuality which they are made of. While the arrangements of material entities—at least in the case of those of material beings which are natural—are the fruit of an information taken over by the own matter of concrete entities.
2) The impulse of the ideational field is jointly undivided and atemporal. The cosmic impulse (whose object coincides, at all times, with that of the impulse of the Spirit) is not only the sum of distinct impulses (on the part of natural beings) within the cosmos; it is an aggregate whose objects follow one another (over the course of time)… while the past, the present, and the future of the Spirit’s impetus remain simultaneous for their part.
I elucidated the fulfillment of the Spirit into matter—and through matter taking charge of its own information (and occasionally generating additional levels of matter via the aforesaid information)—as a dual process. Indeed the actualization of the implications is both on the part of the Spirit actualizing them outside of time and on the part of matter progressively actualizing them. This joint process continuously improvises; it is a concert march whose final point is not pre-established.
I elucidated the horizon towards which are tending matter and the Spirit which incarnates itself into matter as the generation of perpetually increased levels of order and complexity at the level of the cosmos—more precisely, at the level of the composition and the arrangement of the matter which the cosmos is composed of.
And I elucidated the means used for this purpose as the selection on the part of matter (and on the part of the Spirit)—and over the course of time occasioning a communication between matter at the instant t and the implicit properties of matter at the instant t-1—of those of the implications contained in the ideational field which contribute to the realization of an increasing order. This selection is not immune to error.
Conciliating Plato and Heraclitus
All in all, notable mistakes by Plato in his appreciation of the ideational field (and the way the latter is articulated with the material field) were the following ones.
– On the one hand, Plato considered the ideational field as a flattened (rather than hierarchized) assortment of general archetypes.
1) Within the ideational field, the archetypes are really coexisting with the fractal starting rules of the cosmos. 2) Besides this, we find—among the aforesaid archetypes—a class of elementary archetypes and a class of implied archetypes: which means the Ideas are hierarchized. 3) And we find a class of general archetypes (such as the general archetype of the dachshund) and a class of particular archetypes (such as the singular archetype of a singular dachshund).
– On the other hand, Plato conceived of the material and mobile field only as a passive exemplification of the ideational field—and he considered the latter as immobile.
1) Matter veritably incarnates the Spirit, which however remains exterior to it. 2) And, in the context of the aforesaid incarnation, matter plays the active role of deciphering, sorting, and actualizing the implications that arise from elementary archetypes, as well as those which follow from the starting rules of the universe that matter iterates in a fractal mode at each incremental level of emergence. 3) This extracting process is a result of the impulse on the part of the ideational field to sort and to actualize its own content; the ideational field retains its impulse while paradoxically communicating it to matter. 4) The process takes place over the course of time occasioning the communication between the actualizable properties of matter at the instant t-1 and matter at the instant t.
Far from the movement being unknown in the ideational field, the Spirit is therefore impelled towards the selective actualization of the implications which it carries within it. The stages of this improvised actualization are nevertheless simultaneous—and cosmic evolution is ultimately the shadow of it cast on the walls of the cavern of the material field. I should add that my conception of the primordial unity as the impulse unifying the ideational field—and continuously generating the cosmos from elementary and implied archetypes, and from axioms and their implications—solves the problem of the One posed in the Parmenides.
I approached time as working—in partnership with matter laden with harmonious and fractal contradictions—to endow with material fulfillment the ideational field incarnating itself into matter. An achievement whose pursuit is confused with the execution (somehow) of a perpetually increasing order in the cosmos. Yet my approach revives three insights by Heraclitus.
As already pointed out by Heraclitus, 1) Time—far from being only the stage on which change is played out—constitutes “a child playing with pawns,” therefore a full-fledged player in engendering the aforesaid change.
2) The opposites mate and collaborate to the advent of change. I restituted those pairs of opposites as being those of differentiation and integration, fission and fusion, and attraction and repulsion.
3) The permanence of change in the universe is nevertheless accompanied by the presence of a “logos” which orders (and renders intelligible) the universe.
A logos which I believed I could identify as the process through which the ideational field renders itself material and temporal (while remaining ideational and rigorously exterior to the world in which it incarnates itself); sorts and actualizes the implications present within it (while seeing its actualizing and selecting momentum iterate itself at the level of matter subjected to time); and directs cosmic evolution in the direction of an order and complexity perseveringly and imperfectly increased.
Part Three, A few considerations on Marxian theory—economics and ontology
The Marxian thought has at least an economic component and one ontological. In these few lines, I intend to address the exploitation topic in Marxian economics. As well as the following topics of Marxian ontology: the driving role of contradiction in human cultural evolution; the emerging forms of matter; and the reification within commodities.
The Marxian theory of exploitation: an assessment of the Austrian response
The Marxian conception of exploitation in capitalism conceives of the latter as the appropriation—within entrepreneurial profit—of a non-remunerated portion of the wage earner’s daily working time. The Austrian response to the Marxian conception notably consisted of highlighting the complementarity of the respective temporal preferences on the part of workers (preferring a smaller but quicker remuneration over a more tardy but greater one) and entrepreneurial capitalists (preferring the latter over the former). It also consisted of underlining the adjustment role which freely determined equilibrium prices operate (via the occasioned losses and profits), Friedrich A. von Hayek thus speaking of Karl Marx’s alleged inability to apprehend “the signal-function of prices through which people [including entrepreneurs] are informed what they ought to do” by reason of “his labor theory of value.” Namely his theory that selling prices, at least in the long run, are fixed by production costs—and the alleged objective value of goods by the incorporated quantity of abstract labor. It turns out that neither the complementarity of temporal preferences nor the adjustment role of equilibrium prices (in the direction of the long-run equilibrium, in which each factor finds itself to be optimally allocated) are actually inconsistent with the Marxian conception of exploitation.
The Marxian argument can be put as follows. Like any commodity, labor power is sold (at least in the context of the long-term equilibrium, i.e., the equilibrium in the presence of a completed, henceforth optimal allocation of capital) at its cost of production, therefore the employee’s living cost. In the long-run equilibrium, the entrepreneurial profit strictly appropriates the remuneration of the margin between the employee’s total working time and the working time strictly required to cover the employee’s living costs; that said, when economy does not find itself in the long-run equilibrium, salary and entrepreneurial profit will both oscillate around a level strictly equal to the production cost. Hans Hermann Hoppe’s answer (inspired by Eugen Böhm Ritter von Bawerk) can be put as follows. According to Hoppe, Marx’s analysis observes the selling price of any produced good is (at least when demand is properly anticipated) greater than the wages paid to the workers involved in the production of that good; therefore the paid wages only cover the purchase of goods requiring fewer hours of work than those goods the wage earners help to manufacture. Yet there is a complementarity of time preferences between the employee (who prefers a lower and faster remuneration to one more delayed and higher) and the entrepreneur (who prefers the latter to the former); it follows the selling price’s superiority, besides allowing for entrepreneurial remuneration higher than wage bill, supposes convergent interests in the wage earner and the entrepreneur.
Actually Marx’s argument turns out to be misunderstood by Hoppe—and rigorously unaffected by the complementary of time preferences. The exploitation phenomenon Marx describes does not lie in the difference between immediate salaries and postponed entrepreneurial remunerations, what is only a symptom of the aforesaid exploitation. Instead it lies in the furnishing of a salary which, instead of covering the whole daily working time (as it formally seems to do), strictly remunerates the working hours needed to cover the workforce’s subsistence costs. Marx believes that incomplete remuneration to be at the origin of the subsistence—in the long-run equilibrium—of the margin between the selling price of goods and the remuneration of production factors, that margin allowing entrepreneurs to grant themselves a remuneration greater than the distributed wages.
As for the coordination of production factors, Marx utterly recognizes the adjustment to be spurred by short-run fluctuations in the rate of entrepreneurial profit (above and below its long-run level strictly corresponding to unpaid, surplus labor time); and by the concomitant gradual equalization between production costs and the selling price of commodities—including the labor power, whose remuneration is thus rendered equal to its subsistence costs in the long run. Not only does the labor theory of value (such as understood by Marx and before him David Ricardo) claim the fixation of selling prices by production costs to occur only in the long-run equilibrium’s context; but the labor theory of value itself does not occupy the center of Marx’s political economy. The latter is really articulated around the notion of commodity fetishism: as pointed out by Soviet Marxian economist Isaak Illich Rubin.
The flaws of the Marxian theory of exploitation
Despite the flaws of the Austrian criticism, Marx’s approach to exploitation remains wrong. Let us start with recalling the sense of the notion of “abstract working time” in Marxian economics: abstract working time boils down to working time conceived independently of the physical or mental effort associated with the considered task. Even assuming the alleged correspondence between abstract working time and (the long-term level of) exchange value, i.e., selling price, the Marxian elucidation of entrepreneurial profit as the margin (between the exchange value of a given good and the remuneration of the involved production factors) allowed by the payment to the workforce of a wage limited to strictly covering the aforesaid workforce’s subsistence costs is quite unsatisfactory.
The invoked argument is the exchange value of all goods (including labor power) revolves around a long-term level strictly equivalent to the exchange value of the incorporated abstract working time—and therefore strictly equivalent to the production costs of the aforesaid goods, what means the workforce’s subsistence costs in the case of labor power. Hence—according to Marx—the granted wages in the long-run equilibrium actually leave unpaid a whole part of the daily working time by wage earners. The equalization (in the long-run equilibrium) between the workforce’s subsistence costs and the workforce’s remuneration does not imply that the actual working time on the part of a wage earner is partially remunerated. Instead it implies that in the long-term equilibrium, the one established once the allocation of capital in the various branches of industry—given a certain state of economic conditions, from preferences on the part of consumers and investors to technology and demography—has reached its completion, the correct, total remuneration for a wage earner’s complete performance is then fixed at a subsistence level.
It also implies entrepreneurial income is nullified at the long-term equilibrium, in which there is nothing left for the entrepreneur once the factors of production have been wholly remunerated. Therefore entrepreneurial profit can only exist within the framework of the process of capital allocation—with the aforesaid profit remunerating the speed (and the accuracy) of the allocation of production factors in anticipation of jointly mobile and uncertain demand. Austrian economics, especially Mises and Kirzner, extensively deals with the process through which the entrepreneur—when earning its profit—adjusts the daily-generated equilibrium prices in the direction of the long-run equilibrium: in which the allocation of production factors is henceforth achieved and optimized; and in which each selling price is henceforth equal to the production costs.
The Austrian approach to equilibrium prices (and therefore the law of supply and demand) and their gradual entrepreneurial adjustment is sometimes praised for its purported realism. Yet the law of supply and demand such as understood in Austrian economics (but also in neoclassicism) is hardly realist. It claims, indeed, that any subjectively homogeneous good is sold at a unique price which happens to coincide with the intersection of supply and demand curves; but such claims makes sense only in the framework of an auction market in which, indeed, an auctioneer may gather the different supply and demand propositions and determine the equilibrium price. Besides, the Austrian conception of entrepreneurship applies only in the case of those of profit opportunities which are preexisting (and more or less manifested), while a number of entrepreneurs in the real world do not earn a profit through adjusting (towards the long-run equilibrium) the allocation of capital on the basis of preexistent profit opportunities, but through inventing new profit opportunities. What results into the apparition of a new long-run direction for the economy, i.e., the breaking of the previously scheduled long-run equilibrium for the benefit of the economy’s re-direction towards a new long-run equilibrium.
A word about the partnership of opposites in cosmic evolution
The Marxian thought is also one ontological (besides its economic, political considerations). Marxian ontology stresses the driving role of contradiction in human cultural evolution—more precisely, the evolution of the emergent forms of matter in the successive human cultures. Before looking more closely at the Marxian approach to contradiction in human evolution, let us turn to an example of the partnership between opposites in the cosmos. In addition to his unfortunate exclusively determinist view of human history, Marx precisely failed to notice the harmonic, collaborative character of opposites in the course of human cultural evolution—a harmonic character that, indeed, a tearing, conflictual character can accompany sometimes.
The concept of communication, generally defined in terms of consciousness, is an eminent example of a notion whose definition must be updated in view of a sharper distinction between those qualities of its object—the particular genre of things it subsumes—which are necessary and those which are contingent. Conscious communication only comes as a modality of communication, so that the conscious character of a given conscious communication in the cosmos comes as a contingent (rather than necessary, constitutive) character of the genre of things called communication. Communication should be redefined, consequently, as the interaction between two signals: the first acting as a stimulus; and the second providing a response which depends on its interpretation of the aforesaid stimulus. It is really the prerogative neither of humans nor even of animals endowed with conscience; like war, love, hierarchy, and sociability, communication preceded consciousness and a fortiori homo sapiens in the order of the universe. It was even prior to the point where the behavior of the big bang’s daughters, the elementary particles, was already (and has remained to this day) the behavior of communication.
Throughout the cosmos, individual and collective entities are communicating with each other by means of words, chemical signals, or gravitational force—and communicating according to patterns of opposition (integration and differentiation, fusion and fission, or attraction and repulsion) whose iteration pursues itself at each level of emergence. Let us take the very first entrepreneurs of the cosmos—namely the quarks (of which there happens to be six varieties): the communication—via the phenomenon known as “strong force” or “strong interaction”—between two quarks-entrepreneurs which are of the same variety will be a communication of their mutual repulsion. Nevertheless the one between two quarks which are exactly different in the right way will be a communication of their mutual attraction—and one of their attraction towards an additional quark which is of the type suitable for mounting the proton start-up (composed of two quarks “up” and one quark “down”), or the neutron start-up (composed of two quarks “down” and one quark “up”).
The flaws of Marxian ontology—the approach to contradiction and matter
Heraclitus understood the collaborative character of opposites. He nonetheless failed to grasp the perpetually iterated (as well as complexified) character of their partnership—and the evolving character of the cosmos (including human societies). Marxian ontology certainly has the merit of stressing the role of contradiction in the becoming of the forms which matter acquires in the world of humans: especially the industrial organization of the mineral or human material, as well as the ideology and the law structuring a human society. Nevertheless it erroneously deals with the evolutionary process in question—and with the driving role of contradiction in the latter.
Starting with its denying the informing action (and the existence) of the archetypal, supra-sensible forms to only retain the passive ideological and legal “superstructures” of the sort of matter which happens to reside in the “relations of production,” themselves serving as the passive organization happening to emerge from the other sort of matter that are the technological resources available at a given time. What is more, Marxian ontology, thus delivering an incomplete understanding of the material foundations for law and ideology, reduces the aforesaid foundations to technology and to the “relations of production.” What renders it, for instance, wholly ignorant of the properly biological compartment of the material backing of ideologies and law systems—the set of genetic dispositions shaped and selected over the course of human biological evolution in groups and individuals.
As for contradiction in the process of human evolution, Marxian ontology exclusively conceives of it as a tearing whose each particular version (characteristic of a particular time of human history) calls for its resolution through the “leap” (to quote Lenin) to a superior bearing of human history, the course of which is, besides, seen as rigorously determined. And seen as spurred—through the successive resolution of the different encountered cases of contradiction—towards a prefixed final stage of human history. Instead contradiction should be envisioned as a harmonious (though sometimes it can be simultaneously tearing) partnership between opposites which perpetually iterates itself in various modes over the course of the wholly improvised process of human (and even cosmic) evolution. Such misunderstanding in Marxian ontology is all the more devastating as the aforesaid ontology envisages the interindividual or intergroup conflict as rooted in economic life alone—and as doomed to disappear through a purportedly inevitable return to primitive communism nonetheless conserving the advanced technology.
No more than interclass struggle can be reduced to a struggle engaging properly economic classes, technology and the relations of production cannot be envisioned as the sole and necessary origin of ideologies. Thus a given ideology does not necessarily accompany a given economic system—so that, for instance, capitalism of the globalized and digitized type is not necessarily accompanied by a cosmopolitan ideology (in the sense of moral relativism and universal leveling). What is more, their perceived economic interests—instead of idealistic considerations or their perceived ethnic interests—do not serve as the only and necessary motives on the part of the dominant economic classes for promoting the particular ideologies whose standard bearers they make themselves.
The fact the class struggle does not necessarily occur between economic classes and for economic motives—instead coming as a derived form of the “struggle for life” likely to engage all kinds of classes and motives—was remarkably raised in Vilfredo Pareto’s The Socialist Systems. “The class struggle is only one form of the struggle for life, and what is called “the conflict between labor and capital” is only one form of the class struggle. In the Middle Ages, one could have thought that if religious conflicts disappeared, society would have been pacified. Those religious conflicts were only one form of the class struggle; they have disappeared, at least in part, and have been replaced by socialist conflicts. Suppose that collectivism is established, suppose that “capitalism” no longer exists, it is clear that then it will no longer be in conflict with labor; but it will be only one form of the class struggle which will have disappeared, others will replace them. Conflicts will arise between the different kinds of workers in the socialist state, between “intellectuals” and “non-intellectuals,” between different kinds of politicians, between them and their citizens, between innovators and conservatives.”
The flaws of Marxian ontology—the approach to commodity
In addition to excessive Marxian emphasis on economy when it comes to the backing of superstructures and the background of conflict, a word deserves to be said on the Marxian definition of merchandise. The latter retains (as necessary, constitutive characteristics of the merchandise genre) the use value and the exchange value, as well as the above-mentioned “fetish” character. What amounts to retaining the outlet for the purpose of which the goods are put up for sale; the matter within the aforesaid merchandise—which, in the Marxian approach, sees itself notably assimilated to the “concrete” and “abstract” work incorporated in the fabrication of the aforesaid merchandise—; and finally its form, which is exclusively perceived as the reification of the relations of production.
Such conception notably commits the error of omitting the commodity’s efficient, external cause: namely the entrepreneurial expectations on the course of the demand for consumption or investment. Those expectations turning to be the only effective, rational visage of economic calculation, which means economic calculation is simply impracticable in the absence of the private ownership of capital—and the central planning Marx praises and prophesizes is necessary dysfunctional, irrational. It also commits the error of developing a simplistic approach to the form of merchandises, which really consists of a reification above all of the immaterial capital of fantasy—the stock of dreams and legends which inspires the economic not less than cognitive development in humans.
Conclusion—and a word on Herbert Spencer
The Marxian approach to exploitation in capitalism is flawed in that it misunderstands the alleged equalization (in the long-term equilibrium) between subsistence cost and earned wage as leaving unpaid a whole portion of the working time; instead such equalization implies the working time’s properly correct, total remuneration strictly equates a subsistence level in the long-run equilibrium. Thus entrepreneurial profit does not exist outside the allocation of capital goods; it is not rooted into exploitation, but into the speed (and the accuracy) of anticipations before an uncertain, mobile demand.
As for the Marxian approach to the emerging forms of matter in human evolution, it neglects, for instance, the biological compartment of the involved matter—and restricts the material foundations for ideology and law to the economic, technological compartment. Thus it believes ideologies to come only and necessarily as the “superstructure” of the “relations of production,” themselves the superstructure only and necessarily of technology. The truth is that a certain ideology or law system is not necessarily indissociable of a certain economic system (just like a certain economic system is not necessarily indissociable of a certain ideology or law system). By the way, Marxian ontology fails to notice—among the merchandise’s reified components—the presence of the infrastructure of fantasy, thus neglecting the reification of human dreams and restricting itself to the one of the relations of production.
As for the Marxian approach to contradiction in human evolution, it commits the double mistake of restricting intergroup conflict to the struggle between economic classes for economic motives—and restricting contradiction to disharmony and tearing. It also commits the mistake of believing human evolution to be rigorously predetermined—and scheduled to gradually reach its predefined finish line through gradually solving, dissipating the different successive encountered cases of contradiction. The Spencerian vision of cosmic and human history is materialist (in the sense of denying the ideational, archetypal field) like the Marxian vision of human history. It also has this characteristic in common with its great rival that it underlines the driving role of contradiction—although it conceives of the aforesaid contradiction as a harmonious tension transposing itself perpetually. Nonetheless the Spencerian approach remains flawed.
Herbert Spencer rightly believed the partnership between differentiation and integration discerned by Karl Ernst von Baer in the growth of the embryo to be transposable to the evolution of the cosmos and the one of humanity; nevertheless he made the mistake of considering that collaboration exclusively in the mode of the increase in the division of labor. As if, as the division of labor progressed on the scale of the world, individuals became more and more differentiated in their professions; but also more and more integrated in a humanitarian embryo leveling the nations and dissipating the borders. That faith in the advent of a division of labor supplanting the nations (and the war between the nations) to let subsist the sole individuals producing and exchanging on the scale of the world fits very well with Spencer’s anarcho-capitalism; it fits less with anthropological and historical reality. Namely that, as the economic, military interaction between nations increases, those, far from disappearing (for the benefit of a humanity integrating increasingly uprooted, denationalized individuals), only further differentiate—and only further oppose each other. So that the executed integration comes down to an intensification of the intergroup “struggle for life;” and applies as much to the individuals engaged in the global division of labor as to the nations engaged in the increasingly integrated military and economic competition.
The article’s first part initially appeared in The Postil Magazine, in their April 2020’s issue. The second and third parts initially appeared respectively in The Postil Magazine‘ May 2020 issue and January 2021 issue.