Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
Doing research for a paper I'm working on, particularly in following up some references in Polydoxy, I came across an interesting essay by Jean-Luc Nancy: Being Singular Plural. This essay seems to have informed several of the essays in Polydoxy, and looks like an interesting resource for my own ongoing reflections on religious pluralism (and related topics). In some of his works, Harman has dubbed Nancy a 'monist,' pejoratively remarking on Nancy's proffering of a foundational "shapeless whatever," but it appears he is referring to earlier writings than this text when he does so.
A defining quote from the essay, which is referenced by several Polydox authors: "A singular being is a contradiction in terms."
I'm just exploring his essay -- for those who want a short-cut, a comprehensive blog-summary is found here -- but it looks like it provides a way for Integral to think tetra-enaction (without telling the story of the pre-existing, onto-theological One that -- out of boredom, as Ken sometimes playfully tells it -- then divides itself).
I like this line from p. xii:
"'The horizon of the infinite' is no longer the horizon of the whole, but the 'whole' (all that is) as put on hold everywhere....it is the opening or distancing of horizon itself."
Here are some of his discussions of his phrase, being singular plural:
"A single being is a contradiction in terms. Such a being, which would be its own foundation, origin, and intimacy, would be incapable of Being, in every sense that this expression can have here. "Being" is neither a state nor a quality, but rather the action according to which what Kant calls "the [mere] positing of a thing" takes place ("is"). The very simplicity of "position" implies no more, although no less, than its being discrete, in the mathematical sense, or its distinction from, in the sense of with, other (at least possible) positions, or its distinction among, in the sense of between, other positions. In other words, every position is also dis-position, and, considering the appearing that takes the place of and takes place in the position, all appearance is co-appearance [com-parution].
This is why the meaning of Being is given as existence, being-in-oneself/outside-oneself, which we make explicit, we "humans," but which we make explicit, as I have said, for the totality of beings. If the origin is irreducibly plural, if it is the indefinitely unfolding and variously multiplied intimacy of the world, then not gaining access to the origin takes on another meaning. Its negativity is neither that of the abyss, nor of the forbidden, nor of the veiled or the concealed, nor of the secret, nor that of the unpresentable. It need not operate, then, in the dialectical mode where the subject must retain in itself its own negation (since it is the negation of its own origin). Nor does it have to operate in a mystical mode, which is the reverse of the dialectical mode, where the subject must rejoice in its negation. In both of these, negativity is given as the aliud, where alienation is the process that must be reversed in terms of a reappropriation. All forms of the "capitalized Other" presume this alienation from the proper as their own; this is exactly what constitutes the "capitalization" of the "Other," its unified and broken transcendence. But, in this way, all forms of the capitalized "Other" represent precisely the exalted and overexalted mode of the propriety of what is proper, which persists and consists in the "somewhere" of a "nowhere" and in the "sometime" of a "no time," that is, in the punctum aeternum outside the world.
The outside is inside; it is the spacing of the dis-position of the world; it is our disposition and our co-appearance. Its "negativity" changes meaning; it is not converted into positivity, but instead corresponds to the mode of Being which is that of disposition/coappearance and which, strictly speaking, is neither.-negative nor positive,but instead the mode of being-together or being-with. The origin is together with other origins, originally divided. As a matter of fact, we do have access to it. We have access exactly in the mode of having access; we get there; we are on the brink, closest, at the threshold; we touch the origin. "(Truly) we have access (to the truth).... "16 ["A la verite, nous accedons ... "] is Bataille's phrase,I7 the ambiguity of which I repeat even though I use it in another way (in Bataille, it precedes the affirmation of an immediate loss of access). Perhaps everything happens between loss and appropriation: neither one nor the other, nor one and the other, nor one in the other, but much more strangely than that, much more simply. "To reachl8 [toucher] the end" is again to risk missing it, because the origin is not an end. End, like Principle, is a form of the Other. To reach the origin is not to miss it; it is to be properly exposed to it. Since it is not another thing (an aliud), the origin is neither "missable" nor appropriable (penetrable, absorbable). It does not obey this logic. It is the plural singularity of the Being of being. We reach it to the extent that we are in touch with ourselves and in touch with the rest of beings. We are in touch with ourselves insofar as we exist. Being in touch with ourselves is what makes us "us," and there is no other secret to discover buried behind this very touching, behind the "with" of coexistence. We have access to the truth of the origin as many times as we are in one another's presence and in the presence of the rest of beings." (pp. 12-13)
"Let us take up the matter again, then, not beginning from the Being of being and proceeding
to being itself being with-one another [hant l'un-avec-l'autre]' but starting from being -- and all of being -- determined in its Being as being with-one-another. [This is the] singular plural in such a way that the singularity of each is indissociable from its being-with-many and because, in general, a singularity is indissociable from a plurality. Here again, it is not a question of any supplementary property of Being. The concept of the singular implies its singularization and, therefore, its distinction from other singularities (which is different from any concept of the individual, since an immanent totality, without an other, would be a perfect individual, and is also different from any concept of the particular, since this assumes the togetherness of which the particular is a part, so that such a particular can only present its difference from other particulars as numerical difference).
In Latin, the term singuli already says the plural, because it designates the "one" as belonging to "one by one." The singular is primarily each one and, therefore, also with and among all the others. The singular is a plural. It also undoubtedly offers the property of indivisibility, but it is not indivisible the way substance is indivisible. It is, instead, indivisible in each instant [au coup par coup], within the event of its singularization. It is indivisible like any instant is indivisible, which is to say that it is infinitely divisible, or punctually indivisible. Moreover, it is not indivisible like any particular is indivisible, but on the condition of pars pro toto: the singular is each time fOr the whole, in its place and in light of it. (If humanity is fOr being in totality in the way I have tried to present it, then it is the exposing of the singular as such and in general.) A singularity does not stand out against the background of Being; it is, when it is, Being itself or its origin." (p. 32)
"...It is no more a matter of an originary multiplicity and its correlation (in the sense of the One dividing itself in an arch-dialectical manner, or in the sense of the atoms’ relationship to the clinamen) than it is a matter of an originary unity and its division. In either case, one must think an anteriority of the origin according to some event that happens to it unexpectedly (even if that event originates within it). It is necessary, then, to think plural unity originarily." (p. 39)
"...Plus is comparable to multus. It is not “numerous”; it is “more.” It is an increase or excess of origin in the origin. [. . .] The One is more than one; it is not that “it divides itself,” rather it is that one equal more than one, because “one” cannot be counted without counting more than one. [. . .] The One as purely one is less than one; it cannot be, be put in place, or counted. One as properly one is always more than one. It is an excess of unity; it is one-with-one, where its Being in itself is copresent." (pp. 39-40)