04 February 2024

Parmenides' warning went unheeded

How did ideas as conceived originally by Plato as the 'looks' of beings as beings degenerate into becoming, with Descartes, representations inside consciousness and then further today into 'ideas' in the head? The last are then finally (apparently) reduced to neural configurations of the material brain by today's neuroscience that seems, once and for all, to have put the mind-body problem effectively to rest.

This degeneration of the mind runs parallel to another as a consequence of Parmenides' warning not having been heeded. Namely, he warned not to separate thinking from being:

τὸ γὰρ αὐτό νοεῖν ἐστίν τε καὶ εἶναι.  Diels/Krantz Fragment 3

 "For thinking and being belong together." *

This has been taken as a seminal formulation of so-called 'idealism' as a philosophical 'position' that fights to maintain its position against other positions such as (various varieties of) 'realism' and 'materialism', whereby the conception of the idea itself has been thoroughly misunderstood. Namely ideas are understood as being 'about' beings, i.e. ontic, rather than their being ontological interpretations of the being of beings, i.e. of their respective modes of being. Misinterpreted ontically, Fragment 3 seems to be saying some kind of magical formula: reality conforms to the way you think it is, with the consequence that, if you change your mind, reality will change in line with your thoughts.

But the idea is ontological, conceptualizing as it does a mode of being of beings through which the mind understands reality, i.e. the world. The idea in this sense is not individual, but shared in an historical time. The shared mind of a given time, its Zeit-Geist, is 'built' from the building-blocks of the ideas constituting in their interconnection the shared, inescapable understanding holding sway in an historical age.

By ignoring and misinterpreting both Parmenides' warning and Plato's ontological conception of the idea, the Western mind has gone 'pro-gressively' downhill i) to split thinking from being, with subjectivity on the inside and objectivity on the outside and ii)  to think thinking itself only ontically, with scarcely a trace that ideas in the philosophical sense are ontological.

The closure and suppression of the ontological difference can be blamed especially on Anglo-American philosophy in the guises of British empiricism, American pragmatism, analytic philosophy, etc. The closure is reflected inversely in the rise of positivism and the establishment of the reign of materially-, evidence-based scientific thinking. For this way of thinking, the evidence of the phenomena themselves is ignored in favour of constructing theoretical models that aim at somehow or other causally explaining, and thus predicting, various kinds of movements in the world.

All the more reason to go back to scratch to think again.

* For further alternative translations of Fragment 3, cf. my Parmenides article.

Further reading:  'Out of your mind? Parmenides' message'

On Human Temporality: Recasting Whoness Da Capo (De Gruyter 2024 in press)

28 January 2024

Temporal Recasting of Who We Are

Abstract for talk at The New Institute in Hamburg on 15 February 2024 in the Program Non-materialist Conceptions of Human Flourishing

Recasting who we are da capo employing the methodology of hermeneutic phenomenology — what is that supposed to mean? What is hermeneutic phenomenology, anyway? And how does its methodology differ from that of modern, evidence-based science? There is an inconspicuous doorway to hermeneutic phenomenology encapsulated in an Aristotelean formula for the ontological difference and, more particularly, in a single Greek word (ᾗ Latin: qua, Eng.: as), through which we pass into the philosophical realm proper of the investigation of beings insofar as they are beings, i.e. their modes of being, i.e. ontology. The philosophical tradition since the Greeks has given us various answers to the question: What is distinctively human being, i.e. the humanness of the human?, the first being: animality with the specific difference of having language, reason. This has been variously modified up to modern science's casting of the human being as a species of animal that has evolved to have an unusually large, high-performance, cogitating brain — with no trace left of the ontological difference. Science does not even ask: What is the animality of the animal? and denies any knowledge of its mode of being, the anima or soul (ψυχή) as the principle of life.

A temporal recasting of who we are cannot be satisfied with these 'what' answers. It proposes going back to scratch to start again from the elementary phenomenon of time itself, but not the usual conception of some kind of one-dimensional, linear time that flows along. Instead I start from the openness of three-dimensional time to see where this path of thinking leads. Who we are is a consequence, first and foremost, of belonging to this 3D-temporal openness. Only from within it do we understand the world by interpreting how it presents itself temporally, i.e, how it presences and absences for the mind. Beings in the world thus become essents presencing and absencing in 3D-time, and ontology must even transform itself into temporalogy. Different kinds of essents have different modes of essencing, but all essence for our mind in 3D-time.

The hermeneutic mind has its own, characteristic kind of temporal movement and hence its own temporalogy of movement. We share the world with one another, sociating only by moving within the shared temporal openness, mutually estimating and esteeming who we are. We are not substantial beings with a material substrate, but relational beings who become who we are only in the estimative interplay with each other played out in 3D-time. Interplay itself is a further kind of non-physical movement in 3D-time also demanding its own temporalogical investigation. It cannot be conceived by an ontology of movement rooted in one-dimensional time, the ontology of efficient causal movement — upon which the modern sciences exclusively rely. 

In today's globalized world, however, the sociating estimative interplay is played out immersed in the all-pervasive medium of thingified value as the competitive gainful game for income. All of us, whether it be directly or indirectly, are ineluctably players in this game mediated by thingified value-forms going through their required transformations. This is yet another kind of (circular) movement in time with its own temporalogy. Although we play the gainful game on the surface as dissociated, free individuals, it is undergirded by the senselessly circling movement of endlessly accumulating thingified value that imposes its own necessity. The invisible, underlying principle or law of global movement is precisely this endless, accumulative circling of thingified value, which also calls for its own temporalogical investigation. Crises, disruptions, dislocations, frictions, etc. in this endless valorization erupt incalculably both globally and locally, thus intermittently reducing our prized individual freedom to nought. 

Further reading: On Human Temporality: Recasting Whoness Da Capo (De Gruyter 2024 in press).

09 January 2024

Eldred-Nettling Time Scholarship at University of Sydney awarded

The Eldred-Nettling Time Scholarship in the Centre for Time at the University of Sydney has been awarded to a PhD candidate. The scholarship supports an approach to the phenomenon of time employing the method of hermeneutic phenomenology. 

The phenomenon of time has proved to be elusive — i.e. subject to misinterpretation — since the Greek beginnings of philosophy. This has fateful, but hitherto unrecognized, consequences for our world today. 

Further reading: Movement and Time in the Cyberworld

On Human Temporality (forthcoming De Gruyter)

29 December 2023

Has the Left left its senses?

Looks like the Left has taken leave of its senses and gone mad with moralism — a consequence of the demise of the Old Left, and then of the New Left. What's left are today's identity politics and cancel culture from an assumed high ground of moral superiority that prescribe how the world ought to be. 

These moralistic politics make a claim on the (supposedly innate, inalienable) human right to define one's own particular identity as a subject. Hence we have LGBTQIA+ politics — without reflecting that no particularization of the generality of humanity into an array of identities can ever capture the uniqueness of any individual, let alone a creative one. The + sign at the end of LGBTQIA+ is supposed to indicate that maybe more categories will be added later; that modern, progressive, moralistic Left subjects will lay claim to ever more labels with which to identify themselves. 

Is it not a sign of the dissociation of subjects in our modern global world, thoroughly mediated as it is by thingified value, that they try to associate, to band together under certain, partially unifying labels, thus forming communities providing a sense of belonging? The global principle of movement — the endless accumulation of thingified value — goes hand in hand with, and is dependent upon, the dissociation of subjects, their individualization, but the moralizing Left has lost sight of any deeper critique of capitalism.

What if the Left were to desist from its moralizing cancel culture, engaging instead with questioning who we humans are and can be? So far we have only whatifying answers, notably: a kind of animal endowed with add-on features, above all, reason; or subjects with  internal, brain-generated consciousness that AI is today striving to emulate. A thorough-going critique of capitalism worthy of the name reveals that humans have been reduced to the status of players in the competitive gainful game that is played out atop the underlying inexorable global valorizing of thingified value.

Thingified value, in turn, reveals itself as such only to a kind of thinking, i.e. genuinely philosophical thinking, that knows of and passes through the ontological difference to the realm of ideas that provide the ontological building blocks for the (scaffolding of the) world in which we live.*) The world itself is the way it reveals itself to our shared mind through the ideas we humans glean of its most elementary phenomena. The political Left has never understood the depth of the critique of capitalism required, which — contrary to Marx's famous Eleventh Thesis on Feuerbach — is not the practical-political critique of social relations (i.e. at core: class struggle). Rather, the challenge is pre-political, concerning the critique of the way of thinking (Denkungsart) that covers up the truth of capitalism, its uncanny principle of valorizing movement that is indifferent to humankind and the Earth, both of which it employs merely as its material for endless accumulation.

*) I leave aside here the task of a temporalogy; cf. On Human Temporality.

Further readingSocial Ontology of Whoness (De Gruyter 2019)

On Human Temporality (forthcoming De Gruyter 2024)

30 November 2023

Arguing positions — or interpreting phenomena?

In academic publishing and discourse, one standardly reads of an author "arguing" for a certain position, usually hinted at or formulated in the title of the book or article, when setting out his or her case.This argument is thus exposed to counter-argument in a back-and-forth between different positions that are more or less opposed. This is akin to how a case is argued between the adversaries in a court of law, at least in the Anglo-Saxon realm. It is also the way in which academic discourse in any field of inquiry, including philosophy,* is supposed to advance: rational argument with more or less logical cogency. Such argument aims at establishing conclusions as rigorously and tightly as possible, without internal contradictions and inconsistencies, given the nature of the field and its available evidence. The logical cogency depends upon the degree of indubitability, and hence incontrovertibility, of the argument's premises, which should possess truth-values of true (=1) as opposed to false (=0). 

In the sciences, the premises should be based on empirical evidence, the factual data gathered by experiment or survey. In other discourses, the premises may be generally accepted ideas, such as the 'idea' of democracy or personal freedom set down in a short definition. A conclusion reached from well-founded, maximally incontrovertible premises cannot be easily knocked over by an adversary and is therefore taken to be established as true. The conclusion as statement has a truth-value = 1. And truth is what any respectable author should be aiming at. 

Opponents of an argument presented in a book or article will say explicitly or implicitly that they do not agree with the author, that is, with his or her premises or chain of logical reasoning. They will point out the holes in the argument, its false premises, its inconsistencies, thus putting its conclusion into doubt. In the back-and-forth of controversy, these holes may or may not be filled or patched up, thus leading to a revised conclusion, perhaps based on different evidence or on a different path of argumentation. In this way, academic — including scientific — discourse is supposed to progress toward the truth that is accepted eventually as an opinio communis in general agreement, until one day it is overcome by better arguments based on more firmly established premises. The truth in this process of approximating the truth resides in the truth-values of the propositions serving as premises of the logically cogent argument. 

The process advances by counter-arguments being formulated by those who disagree in order finally to reach more or less provisional agreement among various opinionated positions. They argue differently from different premises. The controversy is therefore adversarial between or among positions, each formulating its respective position as incontrovertibly as it can to defeat the other's argument. One position may even be accepted as the victor in this adversarial contest.

There is something strange in this procedure, however. If, for example, my maths teacher presents me with the proof of a mathematical theorem, perhaps as simple as the Pythagorean theorem, I attempt to follow the argument presented by understanding it, by gaining for myself an insight into the steps of the proof. That is what is meant by following the argument of a proof. If I do not understand and cannot follow, it does not help for me to exclaim to my teacher, "I disagree". If I do, my teacher will simply smile and pity my lack of intellect. Maybe one day, something will click in my mind, and I will see clearly that the proof is well-founded because I have been able to follow its argument. Or I may even be able to find a hole in the mathematical proof and prove it! Or I may even, one day, find a more elegant proof of the theorem.

What is the case, however, when the discourse is about simple, elementary phenomena that everybody sees and understands one way or another? Phenomena comprise all that which shows itself. They are always already understood, or interpreted, as such-and-such in some way or other. The endeavour of hermeneutic phenomenology is to interpret, as closely as possible, the phenomena as such-and-such, where the 'as' is the hermeneutic As.**

Phenomena can be interpreted more or less adequately. The adequacy or inadequacy lies with our human understanding of the phenomenon or phenomena in question. How closely can it come to lovingly capturing the phenomenon in all its inconspicuous and shy subtlety? The truth of phenomena resides in their undistorted disclosure to our human mind, that is, in our more or less adequate interpretation of them, over which there is generally controversy. This controversy, however, in the first place, is not an argument between and among positions of proponents who agree or disagree with each other, but over the disclosure of the respective phenomenon itself. The touchstone is and remains the adequate or inadequate interpretation of the simple phenomenon itself, or the simple interconnected phenomena themselves. It does not suffice for two different adversarial positions to reach an agreement, for both positions may be phenomenally inadequate, considering as they do only matters of (scientific) fact, such as whether the universe is expanding or contracting. For phenomenological thinking, there must be a joint effort to gain insight into the phenomena themselves, and this is not a factual matter.

The disclosed truth of phenomena has to be wrested from their distorted, misconceived interpretations, their misinterpretations. The challenge is to disclose the phenomena by clearing away our own misconceptions that distort how they show themselves of themselves. This shared work of disclosure demands devotion to the phenomena themselves — hence critical self-questioning — rather than the effort to set up and defend an argumentative position against other positions. Therefore Plato characterizes philosophy as a dialogue of the soul with itself; questioning the phenomena themselves demands above all self-questioning. The aim is not to assert a position against another position — which is secondary —, but rather, together, to bring out a more 'close-fitting' interpretation of, and thus insight into, the phenomena in question. Does this make the striving for truth into an unprejudiced 'group effort', perhaps one stretching over centuries, in which there are long intervals of stagnation on certain crucial, foundational questions?

This sounds all very laudable and attractive. Philosophy has always been nominally the quest for truth, a lofty goal. But what if the truth is unwelcome, threatening, even ugly and unflattering? What if the suppression of truth contributes to the suppression of genuine human freedom by upholding a distorted conception of freedom as a cover for preserving the power of the status quo? What if the very conception of truth upheld and practised by the modern sciences (with their empiricist methodology) serves to obscure and suppress the deeper truth of today's world set-up, making it seem rosier than, in truth, it is? What if the kind of philosophy pursued in today's institutions of learning and research is only the kind compatible with the reigning, albeit skilfully camouflaged, will to power? What if this will to power has a vested interest in covering up and suppressing the disclosive truth of certain crucial elementary phenomena by interpreting them only in a way that is aligned with this will to power?

*) Cf. Heidegger's remark on this way of proceeding: 

"[...] merkwürdigerweise die Philosophie das Bestreben hat, nur dasjenige als Einsicht gelten zu lassen, was auf irgendeinem argumentativen Wege rational bewiesen ist, so daß man die Instanz einer unmittelbaren Anschauung in ihrer Unmittelbarkeit nicht mehr sieht." (GA27:70)

English translation (ME):

"[...] remarkably, philosophy has the ambition of only regarding as an insight that which is proven rationally via some argumentative path or other, so that one no longer sees the instance/case of an immediate intuition/looking-at in its immediacy." 

**) Thus, for instance, money shows itself and is understood (correctly) as a means of exchange, and exchange is understood as a kind of movement among two or more people. This leads to further questions about how movement itself is to be understood, what kinds of movement there are, and how each kind of movement is to be adequately interpreted.  Interrogating further, it can be seen that any movement is movement in time, but how is time itself to be adequately interpreted? Time itself is the most elementary of phenomena. How is time itself to be conceived in an adequate interpretation? This remains a challenge to today's thinking. Hermeneutic phenomenology's work is far from done.

Some further reading: On Human Temporality (forthcoming DeGruyter)

Martin Heidegger Einleitung in die Philosophie Band 27 Gesamtausgabe Freiburger Vorlesung WS 1928/29 hg. Otto Saame & Ina Saame-Speidel Klostermann, Frankfurt 1996.

English translation: Martin Heidegger Introduction to Philosophy William McNeil (transl.), Indiana University Press, Minnesota 2024.

Martin Heidegger Sein und Wahrheit Band 36/37 Gesamtausgabe Freiburger Vorlesungen SS 1933 u. WS 1933/34 Hg. Hartmut Tietjen, Klostermann, Frankfurt 2001.

English translation: Martin Heidegger Being and Truth Gregory Fried & Richard Polt (transl.), Indiana University Press, Minnesota 2010.

26 November 2023

A.I., the Beatles and Eternal Recurrence of the Same

The New York Times reprinted a version of an article dated 21 Nov. The Beatles Are Still Charting the Future of Pop. It Looks Bleak.

10 November 2023

Psychology, Sociology, Economics & Time

Psychology, sociology and economics are three of the most prominent social sciences in the modern age. Like all the other modern sciences, none of them is inclined to engage with deeper foundational questions regarding its respective discipline. This disinclination is part of the fall-out from the positivist shutdown of the ontological difference that has afflicted all modern science. This shutdown is due to the hubris of the modern mind that it has reached the end of history, where its mental foundations are inconcussable and thus beyond questioning. With regard to the three sciences mentioned, this has far-reaching — if not to say disconcerting — consequences, at least for those who allow themselves to be disconcerted.

To put it bluntly:
i) the science of psychology does not know what the psyche is;
ii) the science of sociology does not know what society is; and
iii) the science of economics does not know what the economy is.

Of course these claims seem preposterous. Everyone has an understanding of what society and the economy are because we are all confronted with their facticity on a daily basis. The psyche, as the third member of this set, is understood hermeneutically as, and thus reduced to, consciousness, and everyone knows what that means. All three social sciences can therefore make do with concise, one-line definitions of their respective objects of scientific investigation and proceed to construct their theoretical models of how these objects move empirically. The models themselves can be verified or falsified by testing their predictions and explanations against the empirical data-facts gathered in a suitable, statistically unbiased way within appropriate, quantifiable margins of error. The models are then said to be 'true' (rather than 'correct') for as long as they correctly model the movement of empirical fact in their respective areas of study, each of which covers myriads of related phenomena inviting inquiry. No difference is made between factual correctness and the truth of the phenomena concerned, that is, how the phenomena themselves are conceived hermeneutically AS such-and-such from the outset, to get any sort of handle on them prior to any theoretical modelling. Again, that no difference is seen between factual correctness and phenomenal truth is one of the casualties of the repression of the ontological difference.

Different kinds of movement 

It is apparent that the theoretical modelling in each of these three social sciences concerns empirical movement, without ever asking what kind (or eidos) of movement is involved in each case. Is movement simply movement, that is, all of one kind, or is the principle of movement pertaining to each of the three sciences different? If the principle of movement were uniform, then the principle of movement in the queen of sciences — namely, physics — could simply be adopted. Not only 'could be', but has been adopted, because the reigning understanding of movement in the modern age is that of effective, causal movement whose ontology has been surreptitiously adopted from Aristotle. 

Modern physics is the science inquiring into, by predictively modelling, the movement of physical entities, i.e. of movable, spatially extended objects. Moreover, this modelling has been rigorously mathematized. Impediments to such modelling have been overcome by ever-increasing refinements in the mathematics employed in the predictive modelling. Hence, since the 17th century, mathematics has developed statistical methods, including multifactorial analysis, to deal with complex situations which are conceived to be moved by multiple causes that cannot be singled out, but nevertheless modelled on the whole over a series of observations to quantify statistical regularity of the movement in question within the limits of a certain quantifiable margin of error. The inexactitude of linear causality is to be compensated by multiple observations and their statistical calculation in terms of means, medians and standard deviations.

In all this theoretical modelling, the phenomenon of time is conceived hermeneutically AS linear, and ultimately AS a simple linear, real variable t, against which the data gathered can be plotted and, preferably, theoretically captured by suitable equations. Hence, e.g. statistical methods of linear regression determine the best fit of a simple line through a mass of scattered data. All this seems very sensible and, in fact, beyond question for the modern social scientist. Efficient causality of movement is assumed, even when it becomes statistically fuzzy. It is overlooked that (the concept of) efficient causality itself goes hand in hand with (the concept of) one-dimensional linear time. (Aside: even in quantum physics, physicists struggle to come to terms mathematically with the indeterminacy of quantum movement generated by the non-commutability of movement-variables. It would seem that the non-commutability upsets the neat succession of moments in linear time.)

But can the movement of the psyche or society or the economy be conceived at all as being governed by causal movement of some kind, no matter how multifactorial, along the time-line? And is the conception of time AS one-dimensionally linear, i.e. as a succession of now-moments along a line stretching to infinity in both directions, without any more tenable alternative(s)? To put a fine point on it: are there phenomenally distinct kinds (eidae) of movement that have to be conceived differently according to a radically different, more open and encompassing conception of time itself?

I sketch now very incompletely the respective principles of movement of the elementary phenomena at the core of the three social sciences named above.

Three-dimensionally temporal movement of the mind in the psyche

First of all, does the psyche move at all? Is it an entity at all? Since it has long been conceived as non-physical, and even as the paradigm of the non-physical, it is no wonder that modern psychology has eschewed any attempt to provide a well-grounded concept of it. Modern psychology has just as little grasp on the phenomenon of consciousness that serves as the substitute for that of the psyche or the soul. The latter is totally out of favour in modern science, which is intent on the material, physical as that which enables quantifiable, preferably mathematizable access to phenomena of interest. Even the contents of consciousness resist a satisfying quantifiable theoretical grasp since they are deemed to be all too subjective vis-à-vis hard, objective, material fact. Hence it is not surprising that modern psychology is all too eager to resort to neuroscientific explanations of psychic phenomena in terms of neuronal movements in the physical, material brain. Finally (neuroscientists breathe a sigh of relief), a reliable, material basis for the psyche can be investigated employing empirical methods and methodology!

If, however, the psyche is non-material and pre-physical, and not even an entity, how can it be characterized? Phenomenally, in the most elementary manner, it is the receptive openness in which all awareness of anything at all can happen. Occurrences of all kinds come to mind and vanish from mind; there is a constant coming and going, a constant presencing and absencing of them from any of the three temporal dimensions comprising past, present and future. I collect such presencing and absencing together as 'essencing' and call all that which essences 'essents'. Thus essents presence and absence (verbally) in the three-dimensional temporal openness of the psyche. This temporal openness, the psyche itself, is thus unmoving, or rather, more precisely, prior to any movement of essents. What moves in the psyche is the coming-to-mind of essents of all kinds for the mind that is able to focus on this or that, more or less fleetingly; that is, the mind focuses on essents presencing in and absencing from its present focus from any of the three temporal dimensions, perhaps not even successively, but all-at-once. This mental movement may be called Vergegenwärtigung in German. The mind's focusing is possible as this unifying of essents essencing temporally from the three temporal dimensions. 

Hence we can say that the mind itself moves by hopping between all three temporal dimensions in a more or less coherent, more or less haphazard way. The mind's movement occurs within the non- or premoving openness of the psyche, and this mental movement through three-dimensional time is itself entirely free. Such freedom of mental movement, the freedom to think, is the most elementary concept of human freedom on which all human creativity depends. As for the psyche, it belongs to the three-dimensional temporal openness and, in this sense, is identical with it. The psyche reverberates with three-dimensional time in the full gamut of moods. Like time itself, it is not an entity, nor an essent, but enables all essencing of the mind that itself moves freely. This freedom of mental movement defies any predictive theoretical modelling, since the latter relies, and must rely, on one-dimensional, linear time.

It is therefore not all surprising that modern psychology assiduously avoids any critical engagement with the question: What is the psyche?

Mutually estimative interplay in 3D-time as the core movement of sociation

Secondly, what is the kind of movement characterizing the second modern social science in the above list? We may call the elementary kind of movement at the core of society 'sociation', which is to encompass the kind(s) movement of people 'having to do' or 'sociating' with one another in their social lives. Sociation as a kind of movement cannot be characterized as physical. Physical entities are kinds of 'whats' whose whatness traditionally has been investigated by ontology as the essence of entities. For modern physics, the essence, or whatness, of physical entities is their matter, consisting of elementary physical entities; or the essence of anything is called its DNA, a kind of material molecule. The sociation of people, by contrast, is that of 'whos', whose characteristic sociating movement is that over mutually estimating who each is in a kind of movement I have dubbed 'interplay'. Such sociating movement of mutual estimation includes esteeming ranging over the full gamut of all shades of mutual estimation and esteem from the most appreciative through to the most negative, most depreciative. Social rules of play for appropriate sociative interplay cannot be characterized as physical. Any physical aspects of mutually estimative interplay, such as bowing or shaking hands, smiling or scowling, are sublated (aufgehoben) by such sociation of whos as signs of (mis)estimation. 

Any inquiry into phenomena of sociating interplay cannot be predicated upon predictive modelling of this kind of movement for the simple reason that multiple starting-points of movement — namely multiple individuals — are involved. Rather, the manifold of phenomena associated with mutual estimation and esteem invite attention to understand them in all their nuance and subtlety. Moreover, when whos engage in mutually estimative interplay, they draw on all three temporal dimensions of who each is, was and may become, thus defying any attempt at causal linearization of the movement. Acts of estimation and esteem glide and hop through all three temporal dimensions, and that in a reciprocal way, but a conception of three-dimensional time remains completely unheard-of in sociology.

It may be concluded that sociation as a specific kind of movement remains outside the purview of modern sociology which thus lacks a social ontology of the specific core kind of movement pertaining to it. The closure of the ontological difference through the inauguration of sociology in the 19th century precludes the possibility of unearthing the phenomenality of whoness in contrast to that of whatness, which has been the traditional focus of attention since the Greeks.

Limitless accumulation of thingified value as the determining, cyclical movement of capitalist economy

Thirdly, with regard to the principle of movement of the economy, I will restrict myself to capitalist economy which is the kind of (today: globalized) economy in which we have been immersed for centuries. While modern economics will freely acknowledge that our kind of economy today is capitalist, i) it prefers to speak of a 'free market economy' and ii) it will not engage deeply with questions regarding the nature of capital itself. Instead, it contents itself with a brief, one-line definition of capital that inevitably includes a reference to money. The concept of money in modern economics, however, is restricted to that of its functions, rather than conceiving more deeply what it is, i.e. its whatness, its essence. There is even a tendency in economics to avoid mention of capital altogether by regarding economics (ahistorically) as the science of how to distribute productive resources efficiently over their possible deployments in order to maximize output. According to this definition, the movement of the economy calls for its optimization from the viewpoint of efficiency. It also presupposes that other historical forms of society had an economy as an independent sector definable in the same way, but this is highly questionable.

If the core economic phenomena of money and capital are seriously taken up, then the easily identifiable function of money as store of value leads inevitably to the deeper question: What is monetary value? There is already an intimation of the phenomenon of value in the characteristic movement of society called interplay, since it may also be characterized as mutually estimative valuing. Instead of mutually valuing and estimating who each is, in the elementary economic interplay called exchange, it is a matter of mutually estimating the value of goods and services offered on the market. Goods and services, however, are whats, hence a mutually valuing interplay of 'whats' rather than of their bearers, who may be called 'whos', through which their exchange-value comes about through the interplay itself. Exchange-value is the first form of sociating interplay mediated by thingified value to be investigated in a conceptually connected investigation of the essence of capitalism. Karl Marx was the first to attempt such an investigation with his critique of political economy.

The interplay of earning a living in today's globalized capitalist economy is not restricted to exchange-value, but encompasses further forms of value. The primary value-forms that show themselves through the full gamut of economic interplay are wages, money-capital, gross profit, loan-capital, interest, land, ground-rent. Capital itself can be conceived hermeneutically AS a circuit of thingified value going through a circuit of transformations of value-form in order to generate a surplus called gross profit. This augmentative movement may be called the accumulation (or valorization) of thingified value. Beneath the gainful game of players striving competitively to earn their various types of income lies the determining movement of our global capitalist economy: the accumulation of total global thingified value in a circular movement through its various, interconnected value-forms.

The principle of movement of today's global capitalist economy is thus a simple, circular one subject to the quantitative condition that advanced capital, on the whole, must accumulate. A circle itself is a line, and a movement around a circle can be counted off in linear time. The linear time taken for a capital to complete its circuit is called turnover time. Hence the immense complexity of the myriads of interlocking interplays among the players on the surface of society, that are played out in three-dimensional time, is reduced, or led back to, an accumulative circular movement of thingified value in one-dimensional time. This accumulative movement has no limit and also has no sense other that itself, namely, accumulation; it reigns supreme in our global capitalist economy and insofar is absolute.

The truth of capitalist economy from which the social science of economics shies away is that its principle of movement is the limitless, senseless accumulation of thingified value, albeit a movement prone to continual dislocations and intermittent crises. This deeper truth of capitalism contradicts and undermines the freedom of thingified interplay on the surface of liberal-democratic society with its individualized personal freedoms. Individualized freedom is the converse side of the sociation of dissociated, alienated players via the medium of thingified value. It is therefore no wonder that this truth of capitalism is forcefully repressed, and we make do with a delusory, one-sided conception of freedom.

Further reading: On Human Temporality.