Bühlmann, V. (2022, September 16). Meridian Proprioception and the Common in the Outwith of “World” – A Canonical Question for Quantum Literacy [Keynote Presentation]. From Common Sense to Common Practices : The Timeliness of an Old Concept, St Gallen, Switzerland.
E259-04 - Forschungsbereich Architekturtheorie und Technikphilosophie
From Common Sense to Common Practices : The Timeliness of an Old Concept
15-Sep- 22 - 16-Sep- 22
St Gallen, Switzerland
Common sense, philology, Werner Hamacher, Paul Celan, Architectonics, Stanzae Contrappostae
How to speak of the common? I will attend to this question as a philological question whereby the object of the quest does and does not coincide with the subject of the endeavour. Speaking of the common cannot do with attending to particular voices, utterances, formalisms to be classified and sorted out, it needs to actively invent an Outwith to such orders, a categorical and cornucopian kind of exteriority. This paper will raise the question of the common through the optics proposed by Michel Serres’ quest for a General Treatise on Sculpture (Statues, Second Book of Foundations, 1987) – because the gesture of “a general treatise” (not "theory") captures this paradoxical con-founding of abstraction with graspability very well. The case I wish to raise and stake (rather than state) is this: If a philologist asks a question, she needs to ask it as a plastic artist with a meridian kind of common proprioception that senses out (erspüren, ausloten) an abstract yet elementary (in that sense: axiomatic) locus in quo for such thought. How to speak of the common will be framed thus as a vernacular sort of silent talk that speaks from an Outwith of World and that manifests itself as world "in the inclination angle of creaturely existence" (Paul Celan). My main theoretical sources to draw from will be the following: Werner Hamacher’s attention to "data" through a quantum optics where words are actively “given” in the silent speech of articulate formulation uttered by no one in particular; Paul Celan’s Meridian poetics with its cosmic architectonics, as well Peter Handke’s conception of how ideate Capital by literary means in Bildverlust (2003), and both Celan’s and Handke’s intricate vocabularies (e.g. Gegenwort, Zeitgehöft, Sprachgitter, das Gehege der grösseren Zeit, Bildmeteoren etc); as well as Michel Serres’ late work on how to re-conceive thought in respect to light as “incandescence” (the white light of photons) through a physics of communication, and his related notion of a “global intuition”. The proposal thereby is to view the question of how to speak of the common as a canonical question for exercising oneself in quantum literacy, and in new materialist methods of "study". There is inevitably a situational involvement with such quest/ioning (hence a kind of activism); but the often evoked looking glass of “states of entanglement” overemphasises one of two ratios confounded in the physicalist’s proportioning of light today. Constitutive for quantum physics (and hence electricity that brings us globality, its logistics and forms of capitalism) is a double character of (1) light as mass, and (2) light as photon. This double character of light is evoked on the one hand in the terms of the wave analogy for mass (often evoked as “states” of entanglement), while on the other hand, photons are called “particles” – despite their being defined as that which has not mass (often evoked as a kind of activity that is “intricate”). The quantum optics of such philological quests treats of this double character of light as mass, and light as photon without hierarchy between one or the other. I will argue that in quantum physics, photons "provide" the "activity" (intricacy) before which “states” (of entanglement) show up at all, like we can say from such a philological point of view that words are what they articulate (entanglement) in being given by an impersonal activity (intricacy). Speaking of the common needs to come to terms not only with "entanglements" and their "extrication", but also with “intricacies”, with a kind of interiority, an inwardness or inside "proper" to such new materialist speech – could this “interiority” not be that of a cosmic self as a self that can never properly say “I”?
Amidst the discussions on the rise of populist movements as a result of political disenchantment or the egotism that throughout the pandemic has become painfully noticeable, the notion of “common sense” has resurfaced as a crucial concept at the crossroads of debates in philosophy and social theory. Within those discourses “common sense” does not just designate sound practical judgments concerning everyday matters, or a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge what is shared by or common to all people. Rather, the notion of “common sense” brings to the fore the following two intertwined aspirations: On the one hand it brings to the fore the longing to rearticulate shared convictions, strengthen social bonds and revisit the plural and diverse foundations of communal life. On the other hand, it challenges idealist understandings of subjectivity that by claiming autonomy and insisting on self- reliance they thwart mutuality and reject social determination. Seen this way, the notion of “common sense” becomes a showcase for discussing the problem of what holds society together – a showcase, which has not been properly attended to in recent philosophical discourse. This workshop is meant to reevaluate the potential of this concept and explore its many theoretical layers.
In order to disclose the potentiality of “common sense” a turn to the intellectual history of the concept is only adequate. Even a quick look at the metamorphoses that this concept has experienced throughout its rich history suffices to testify that the concept is capable of being a bearer of diversity. It is not coincidental that the notion of “common sense” has been used to connote anthropological κοινή αἴσθησις in the Aristotelian tradition, rhetorical sensus communis according to Cicero, practical bon sens at the beginning of Descartes‘s Discours de la méthode, moral or epistemological common sense in the Scottish Enlightenment, Gemeinsinn in Kant’s aesthetics, critical common-sensism in American Pragmatism, and the sharing of meanings in the philosophy of language developed by Moore and Wittgenstein. It is also not coincidental that the notion of “common sense” finds instructive counterparts in concepts like le différend, dissensus or synthèse asymétrique du sensible introduced by Lyotard, Rancière and Deleuze. These authors located the idea of “common sense” in the ethical, rhetorical, aesthetical, and last but not least the political sphere in order to emphasize its crucial role in different registers of the individuals’ life-world. In doing so, they indicated also how inclusive and holistic the concept of “common sense” can or maybe even: ought to be.
The workshop “From Common Sense to Common Practices: The Timeliness of an Old Concept” serves as a platform to revisit the rich intellectual history of the notion of common sense. It will scrutinize the concept’s systematic ambivalence and explore its potential in the context of theoretical debates and political challenges. The workshop brings together scholars from a large variety of disciplines from the Humanities and Social Sciences. Ιt aims at doing justice to the extended history of “common sense” and explores the wide range of its possible implementations in today’s political realm. The aim is to illustrate how the potential of “common sense” goes beyond the everyday understanding of coordinating practical judgments. Rather, “common sense” describes processes of subject formation that highlight the commonality of life-forms and run against a notion of democracy based on the premises of atomistic individualism. Defending and strengthening such commonality is both an important theoretical task and a political challenge in the age of a malaise of democracy where the political arena seems to become more and more dominated by the rise of populist movements, neo-fascist parties, and authoritarian regimes.
Development and Advancement of the Architectural Arts: 100%