- Response to Justin Clemens & Joe Hughes's Review of Epistemontology
By touching upon key questions, Justin Clemens and Joe Hughes's review offers me the chance to clarify further some of the central positions of Epistemontology, including its affinity or not with G.W.F. Hegel and Louis Althusser.1 They also raise the important question regarding the meaning of "homology," which I address in my response to Warren Montag's review.
In their concluding paragraph, Clemens and Hughes state that, "in the end," epistemontology "is a word that renders indiscernible, imperceptible, the line separating being from knowing"—adding: "But indiscernibility is not necessarily identity." To be precise, I would say, indiscernibility is necessarily not identity. It is for this reason that the reviewers can from the outset raise the question, which recurs in their meditation as a loose leitmotif, about the meeting place of thought and being. In approaching this place, they clarify that Epistemontology's use of the "series" Spinoza-Marx-Freud-Lacan is "preposterous," in the structuralist sense of the word, according to which "what comes first and comes after, the pre-and post-, are collapsed in a different time—the time of structure." In this way, Epistemontology "constitutes, in a new way, the place of thought's relation to being," both because it is "a place that admits no space" and because a "preposterous sequence … seems to homologize and/or analogize what is prima facie antagonistic, irreducible"—namely being and thought. Given this, the authors can reformulate their guiding question as follows: "At what conjuncture do we stand that demands a clarification of thought's relation to being in such a 'state'?"
Yet, as the reviewers remark, this same inquiry could instead be formulated following the "question that Althusser asked of Marx in [End Page 156] Reading Capital," as the question: "what is Kordela's object?" This, in turn, allows the authors to "invert the question" and ask: "what cannot be Kordela's object?" To which they offer a series of revealing responses: "The object of an epistemontology cannot be an unconscious that is not economic; it cannot be an economy that is not unconscious; it cannot be a relation to being without detour through the subject; it cannot be a conception of knowledge abstract from being; it cannot posit a God or nature that is not already economic and unconscious." All of which indicates that the place of the relation of thought and being, which is "the object that epistemontology undertakes to construct, then, must [also] be the very place at which these different systems and subsystems intersect."
Indeed, both lines of interrogation—which, too, might be homologous and/or analogous, as the one searches for a relation/place, the other for an object—seem to augur well for grasping epistemontology. At this point, however, and as if to reinforce the last of their aforementioned negative definitions of epistemontology's "object," the reviewers add in parenthesis: "epistemontology means nothing if not 'the commodification of eternity' (E, 42)." This, however, cannot be the case, since, as Epistemontology recurrently stresses, the commodification of eternity is a phenomenon specific to capitalism. So, yes, within the context of capitalism it could be said that "epistemontology means nothing if not 'the commodification of eternity,'" but, for epistemontology, this statement derives its significance precisely from the fact that eternity was not commodified prior to capitalism. For (one of) the object(s) of epistemontology is not just the commodification of eternity (in capitalism) but the status and function of eternity in every historical (economico-social) configuration. Put in another way, since eternity is the temporality of potentiality or of the power of self-actualization (which, as Epistemontology argues, in Spinoza appears as "substance," in Marx as "labour-power," and in Lacan as "enjoyment"), epistemontology examines the status and function of the power of self-actualization in every historical configuration—and this examination indexes the meeting place of being and thought. We shall return to this point later.
In other words—returning to a point I make more extensively in my response to Hajdini's review—epistemontology observes Marx's principle of historical materialism, according to which: [End Page 157...