- Response to Simon Hajdini's Review of Epistemontology
Simon Hajdini's review invites clarifications regarding epistemontology's use of Marx's theories of historical materialism and commodity fetishism, as well as the distinction between negative and positive determinations (which amounts also to the relation between Hegel and Spinoza, or structure and its beyond).1 I'll begin my dialogue with Hajdini's review of Epistemontology by addressing the immanent relation of being and actual beings. Hajdini writes:
"This is why Being or the power of self-actualization can appear at times as gods, at other times as God, and at yet other times as Capital/Value." (46 [i.e., E, 46]). Does such a reading not fall short of grasping the radical nature of the fall? With this additional claim, Kordela risks shying away from the consequences of the proposed formal relationship between epistemontology and Marxism in chronologizing the cut of modernity as but one among the myriad of historical manifestations of Being's transhistorical and univocal essence. By establishing a chronology of manifestations of Being, such an account unwittingly historicizes the modern cut. For it is modernity's cut, rather than any univocity of Being, that establishes retroactively the appearance of a transhistorical substance of Being and its self-actualizing biography. Therefore, we should adhere to a more radical reading of Kordela's Benjaminian claim about the fallenness of Being, and assert the para-ontological primacy of the fall that retroactively establishes the semblance of a reality preceding it. In this sense, Being would not be manifested through its own failures to manifest itself, but rather would be constituted by them. To paraphrase Hegel: Being as transhistorical and univocal is found only antecedently; it "comes to be only by being left behind" (Hegel 2010, 48). Consequently, if "thought and reality or things share the same structures," that is not because "they are manifestations of the same being" (Kordela 2018, 2). Here, the only solution to the logical problem is the tautological one: If [End Page 129] being and thought can be said to share the same structures, it is because they are structured.
It is almost a leitmotiv in Epistemontology that the order between being and its manifestations (or substance and modes) is that of immanent causality, and this without invoking Hegel since it was already Spinoza who conceived it. Being is univocal because univocity is the effect of the fallen manifestations of being, or, in other words, "thought and reality or things share the same structures" because "they are manifestations of the same being" that is retroactively constituted through its own failures. What might be different between Hajdini's and my position is that I argue that neither being, taken as at once the cause and the effect of its own failures, nor its manifestations (actual beings) can be reduced to the level of appearance or semblance. If Hajdini wants to invert the dominant hierarchy and claim that the manifestations of being are more real than being, I claim that a consistent epistemontology following from the Spinozian-Marxian-Freudian-Lacanian line of thought maintains that neither of the two is more real. Accordingly, the cuts in the "biography" of being are, to use Hajdini's terminology, precisely structural or discursive, and not chronological. This is also part of what I mean when I argue elsewhere that historical time must be conceived in synchronic terms (see, for instance, my 2006 article "Capital: At Least It Kills Time (Spinoza, Marx, Lacan, and Temporality" or the first part of my 2013 book, Being, Time, Bios: Capitalism and Ontology). In this context, Hajdini invokes Jean-Claude Milner's thesis that "the non-chronological doctrine of the cut implies that a succession is never more than an imaginary one" (60). This is precisely Spinoza's position, since for him "time is a product of the imagination" (EIIP44S)—a position that is central to Epistemontology, so that Hajdini's reading and objection seem rather surprising.
Moving to a further point, I appreciate Hajdini's emphatic reinforcement of Marx as a structuralist avant la lettre. Yet I do not think that from this one can infer that: "The appearance of the general...