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The Intellective Space

The Intellective Space: Thinking beyond Cognition

Laurent Dubreuil
Series: Posthumanities
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    The Intellective Space
    Book Description:

    The Intellective Spaceexplores the nature and limits of thought. It celebrates the poetic virtues of language and the creative imperfections of our animal minds while pleading for a renewal of the humanities that is grounded in a study of the sciences.

    According to Laurent Dubreuil, we humans both say more than we think and think more than we say. Dubreuil's particular interest is the intellective space, a space where thought and knowledge are performed and shared. For Dubreuil, the term "cognition" refers to the minimal level of our mental operations. But he suggests that for humans there is an excess of cognition due to our extensive processing necessary for verbal language, brain dynamics, and social contexts. In articulating the intellective, Dubreuil includes "the productive undoing of cognition."

    Dubreuil grants that cognitive operations take place and that protocols of experimental psychology, new techniques of neuroimagery, and mathematical or computerized models provide access to a certain understanding of thought. But he argues that there is something in thinking that bypasses cognitive structures. Seeking to theorize with the sciences, the book's first section develops the "intellective hypothesis" and points toward the potential journey of ideas going beyond cognition, after and before computation. The second part, "Animal Meditations," pursues some of the consequences of this hypothesis with regard to the disparaged but enduring project of metaphysics, with its emphasis on categories such as reality, humanness, and the soul.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4403-6
    Subjects: Philosophy, Language & Literature, Technology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])

      (pp. 3-13)

      We say more than we think; we think more than we say. This does not sum up all of our lives, but, at least, it describes where we are now, you and me, and where we stand each time we reflect on something or exchange ideas and signs. This strange place, I call itthe intellective space, that is, a putative space where thought and knowledge are performed and shared, and not only computed according to universal laws that would “speak” to us directly and by themselves.

      All the ideas that we have seem to be supported somewhere, by a...

      (pp. 14-21)

      Theintellectionis the variable and processual performance ofcognition. Thecognitiveis the retroactive enclosure of what I think on the operation of its cognition. It is usually presented as being non-affective and as theterminus ad quemof rationalism. Theintellectivestems from the extension of cognition beyond itself.

      We have two problems. One is scientific: how could we accommodate the role of variability and noise in cognition, enacted as a temporal process? or, Do we have an appropriate model for intellection? The other is about the limits of the cognitive and, as such, those of common rationality...

      (pp. 22-32)

      The intellective space is conjectural. It is virtually accessible as soon as cognition is performed and shared. If cognition is merely operated, then what we exchange is information, with a flexible degree of success—and no additional space. If cognition is differentially performed, if this creates a relative indetermination that is motivated and reinjected into circulating thoughts, with new and unexpected effects, then our sentences and signs are being constantly, and collectively, redefined in a transiently appearing space. This is where we happen to meet, not where we are just synchronized or united by our commonness. What I described as...

      (pp. 33-47)

      Reality makes no sense, though the world we live in is semantic through and through. Glimpses of the no-sense are everywhere for us to catch, but they hurt our sight. Once our semantic apparatus is on, it is extremely difficult to contemplate the no-sense of reality for what it is. Even saying what I just wrote is trying to make some sense of all this. Speaking of “the absurd” is too much, conferring a particular place to what has none for us. Stoic ataraxia, Zen nihil, and toxic stupor are diverse ways to prevent our semantic functions from being disturbed...

      (pp. 48-54)

      I have called several times for dialogic and situated there a possible aftermath for intellective contradictions. The status of logic is a topic that has been saturated by the professional practitioners of the “analytic” doctrine, who often consider themselves to be itsowners. This is not to dismiss beforehand the validity of the formal notations taught and introduced by these philosophers, not at all. I am saying that the proprietary attitude has become a powerful way to eschew most significant questions, to the profit of technicalities. So before playing with symbols, we have a few considerations to make.

      Logic is...

      (pp. 55-72)

      Contradictions may arise from animperfectassemblage of haphazardly gathered ideas, doctrines, and conceptions. Pragmatically, a lot of human institutions are self-contradictory—and far from the Marxist predictions, they are quite able to survive “illogically,” with proper care. Contradictions may be a mark ofincompleteness, the region where one should not go, to preserve the power of the cognitive. Then, contradictions may be significant in the intellective space. They come with the defectiveness of thought and are themselves defective too. An enduring misconception argues that it is impossible to think in contradiction. Well, that is still what we regularly do,...


      (pp. 75-89)

      Our thoughts install us in a real fiction.

      I wrote “a real fiction.” Usually, only one part of the question is considered.

      That we all live in the fictions created by our brains (and/or the government, the spectacular, discourse, etc.) sounds like a postmodern motto, and, in Philip K. Dick, Jean Baudrillard, orThe Matrix, it certainly is. The older formulation, deployed by Arthur Schopenhauer, would make us prisoners ofrepresentation. Even more classically, we are said to often be fooled by our senses and our “customs.” According to Plato’s cave allegory, a shadow play is what most of us...

      (pp. 90-100)

      “The mind is limitless and self-ruled, and it is mixed with no material thing …, for it is the thinnest of all material things, and the purest too, and it holds all knowledge about all things.”

      In those lines excerpted from his treatiseOn Nature,38Anaxagoras elaborates a physics of the mind. This material mind is the principle of what is, and it immediately installs a structure of intelligibility that we, humans, depend on.Nous(mind) here is supposed to be at the core of reality. Anaxagoras’s influence is crucial on both Plato and Aristotle, who retain the motif of...

      (pp. 101-110)

      In what ways dowe think of ourselves as human animals? This is my problem, and it is not bounded by “cognition” only. Thearcheologicalinterventions, from paleontology to psychological speculation or experiment, should be rearranged into an intellectiveetiology. There are two crossing paths the bipedal, cerebrally sophisticated, eusocial, self-domesticated, symbolic, and speaking animalHomomust take to claim to be “human”:imaginary recognitionandperformative qualification. All the other conjectures I briefly evoked rely on this dual requisite.

      Animal individuals living in groups are organized by the dynamics and rules of the society in which they take part....

      (pp. 111-122)

      The human animals are mortal. This is another defect of theirs. No ruse, no machine seems able to cure this ill.

      Stories and images abound of immortality, afterlife, and resurrection. Plenty of them imply some post mortem survival of thought. It is tempting to identify most beliefs about a perennial “soul” of ours with a mystical apprehension of our mental capacities. The neopositivist stance would argue that the central nervous system is the source of all our illusions regarding the preservation of mental abilities. It is equally easy to respond that, as useful as the brain is for our “minds”...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 123-124)
  6. Notes
    (pp. 125-132)
  7. Repertory
    (pp. 133-168)
  8. Index
    (pp. 169-172)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 173-174)