Unreal Nature

January 26, 2020

The Ferocious Presuppositions

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:25 am

… Do we always remember the ferocious presuppositions of excellent reason?

This is from Geometry by Michel Serres, translated by Randolph Burks (2017, 1995):

… Like a comet appearing in the sky, the new light of mathematics trails behind it an immense tail, almost as bright as it is, whose presence we don’t quite forget when we devote ourselves to hard and pure demonstration.

For the constriction at the level of the first basin, whose localization suddenly channels a now rational flow, remains like a forgotten violence. What terrible expulsion is still preserved in what we call, as though an admission, the excluded middle?

Do we always remember the ferocious presuppositions of excellent reason? Who among us hasn’t felt at some time an almost religious or mystical respect for the idealities of mathematics or something like a fear emanating from its lofty figures, an inmost experience whose memory, reconstructed here, explains to us how a knowledge, even the most abstract or independent from the things of the world and society, can remain mixed with a remainder of religious or sacrificial terror, of ecstasy, of attack and defense, of security, of difficult work and fecundity, of miracles shooting out like fountains from an old dryness, fossil adherences still attached to the origins …

Yes, why do we always feel such terrible fears toward and through theoretical knowledge? Or such joys?

My most recent previous post from Serres’s book is here.

-Julie

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