This article is focused on the poststructuralist thinking from the perspective of the ontological problems. Poststructuralism is asserted as a project of overcoming the boundaries of the previous philosophy and a break in the deadlocks of structuralism. Analysis of the key poststructuralist concepts, such as “hyperreality” and “simulation”, in Baudrillard’s and Derrida’s redaction, allows disclosing the crossover points with Heidegger’s problems of fundamental ontology. Poststructuralists approach the language as one of the orders of simulation, which enables them to interpret the “experience of Nothingness” more radically as well as to renew the question of Being at the new historical and philosophical stage. The essential task of the investigation of reality meanings in the postmodern discourse is to realize how the reality is penetrating into it. Regardless of the purposes and intentions of postmodernist philosophers, something that superficially seems to be situated out of the boarders of reality appears to be the revelation of reality as it is. Compromised in all variants of realistic, naturalistic and materialistic philosophy, ontology finds its theoretical realization exactly in the postmodern discourse, in which the concept of “reality” is always “in quotes”. This is another trick of the postmodern philosophy. The pathos of postmodern analysts is to realize the consequences of one’s own methodological proposals. The indifferent, superficial, or insidious glance could consider that philosophical judgments do not to have their ontological consequences. The world is logocentric; words rule the world, and they are the starting point of existential cataclysms – wars and reconciliation, happiness, and disasters.
Keywords: Poststructuralismsimulacrahyperrealityontologythe question of BeingNothingness
Poststructuralism is asserted as a project of overcoming the boundaries of the previous philosophy and a break in the deadlocks of structuralism. In philosophy, the problem occurred because of the French philosophy and is determined by the attempt to specify the ontological status of the structure (Eco, 2004). Jean Baudrillard, a recognized classic of postmodernism and at the same time a fierce critic of poststructuralism, implements this breakthrough in the most radical way. Due to his ambiguous attitude to sociology and social philosophy, as well as the hidden but constant interest to the deep ontological questions, Baudrillard perfectly correlates to such “ontologizing” philosopher as Martin Heidegger.
The ontological problem is highlighted in “simulation” and “hyperreality”, two Baurdrillard’s terms, and his program concepts.
In accordance with a poststructural mindset, Baudrillard focuses on operational models, which describe social, cultural, and other realities as the existent generating models. The binary code, a universal explanatory principle of semiotics, is the universal (generating) principle of the models. The binary code paves the way to the theory of information and, consequently, to the “genuine” New European scientific content.
Although, Baudrillard is analyzing only some particular phenomenon of social existence, it is supposed that the reality, in general, and social, in particular, appears as the continuous process of simulation. In essence, it is a symbolic production: generating models based on the binary code project the world as the product of the accidental modulation of differences. The binary projection of the world is always implemented preliminary to the obligatory decoding. It involves a human being in the programmed game of a “free choice”, which is the game of requests and responses. The process of production of desire is so intensive that representation of reality and the order of visibility substitute the order of reality. Despite the fact that it is an order of production or the natural order. The difference between reality and its reflection is included in the symbolic simulative game of the binary code with all attempts to “maintain” the reality resembling political economy or psychoanalysis. Reality is degenerated into the hyperreality, into “something that has been always reproduced”.
It is essential to define the ontological status of hyperreality and simulacra. The problem of primordial ontologization of the code theoretical model is inevitably appearing in Baudrillard’s construction. This problem should be clarified before the symbolized annihilation of value will be implemented in the event break of the order of visibility. Otherwise, Baudrillard’s theoretical enterprise could turn into a certain anagrammatic self-destruction that escapes from any questioning. Inherently, it is a question of clarifying a philosophical and metaphysical basis of Baudrillard’s project hidden by the order of so-called practical criticism of “cybernetic capitalism”.
Based on the concept of “Gestell” by Martin Heidegger, it might be possible to explain the simulation principle. Gestell is a method of implementing Being. It is Gestell that summons a human being and appears historically to be his fortune (Heidegger, 2007d, p. 320-321). The specificity of Being in this modus means that the world is delivered as being-in-existence and ready to be used. Being as a system of such functionalized world totally displaces its own essence. The completeness of oblivion of truth appears in Being; however, even oblivion is not revealed in anything. As a necessary participator of the demonstration of Being, a human being inevitably loses himself or herself in the effectively formulated world. Heidegger thematizes the considered situation as a maximum danger. Although, he hopes that clarifying the essence of danger will be the turning point to salvation (Heidegger, 2007e).
Inherently, based on the romantic Humboldt’s understanding of language, Heidegger identifies Being with language. Heidegger withdraws a danger by simulating it in an artisanal way. That is why “danger” is not radically dangerous in his interpretation. It should be stated that one does not consider the neglecting of Being anymore as it is revealed as a sign. Thus, even language appears as an agent of binary simulation, with all its paths that could lead us to Being while watching for its possible openness. The experience of authenticity (for example, in fundamental terror mood) is the only perverse gratification of the signs of authenticity.
Heidegger’s ontology is picked up with Baudrillard’s thought. For a good reason, this thought is not positioning itself as a respond to the challenge of Being. Baudrillard does not act phenomenologically. He rather scares and initiates a certain state of being scared. Actually, Baudrillard analyses only particular phenomenon of social existence (fashion, body, death) as generating models and he insists on the totality of simulation. The insistence is thicken in the term of hyperreality. Therefore, one might consider his famous “America” to be a journey for totality. Let us attempt to peer into the thicken terror with which Baudrillard is frightening.
Baudrillard tries not to define it straight, but occasionally he lets it out; for example, when he writes about the “horror of simulacrum” (Baudrillard, 2000b, p. 93), or the “element of anxiety”, presented at falsification (Baudrillard, 2000b, p. 120), or about “giddiness” from the experience of the figure of the double (Baudrillard, 2000b, p. 256). It seems that his discourse of the simulation of Being initiates something, which unexpectedly overtakes and puts one into the “stupefied rest” (Heidegger, 2007a, p. 31). To simplify, Baudrillard tries to organize for the reader (particularly for is inner reader) the experience of Nothing. He implements it due to the emasculation of the world to the total visibility and does it gradually through Marxism, devoured by the simulation of the higher order.
In fact, the forced experience of Nothing emerges to be Heidegger’s phenomenon. As a matter of fact, Heidegger extends the horror of experience of the human being finitude to “nothingness” of the world, as if equating the human being finiteness with finiteness of existence of the All. It is the inevitable consequence of Heidegger’s antropologizm. Sinking in the experience of Nothing, the whole existence of the All has been already presumed there. In Heidegger’s interpretation, the question of Leibniz sounds as the question of Being, although, it is aimed to underline “the miracle of miracles that the All exists” (Heidegger, 2007c).
It is incorrectly to consider that Baudrillard did not realize that identification of code and reality is wrongful. From the semiotics perspective, reality is the form of information and the infinite number of equiprobable possible events. The code introduces a certain structure of order and elicits sense from the chaos, narrowing the field of probability. For instance, when certain amount of phonetic oppositions is selected out of all sound noise, combinations of their differences become meaningful, according to definite rules, and a flow of the sounds becomes a message. Thus, ontologization of the structure and a search of the pro-code destroy the structural method. Beyond all kinds of codes, there is something fundamentally non-codified, it is a “pure possibility” of codifying (Eco, 2004).
There are no reasons to impute Baudrillard’s perfunctory attitude to Marxizm because of the lightness with which he states the “dead labour” (the technical substance of reproduction of hyperreality) as simulacrum. Baudrillard declines Marxists basis (together with its revolutionary eventfulness) for the problematization of something “fundamentally non-codified”.
Let us consider the main question of postmodern discourse, “What is the reality?”, and its variant, “What reality exactly do we argue about?”
Is it possible to put a question, whether the reality exists? In the Leibniz’s question, “Why does Something exist rather than Nothing, as far as Nothing is simpler and easier?” Heidegger interprets the oblivion of Being for metaphysical proving of existence with super-existence (The God) (Leibniz, 1982), (Heidegger, 2007b, p. 50). However, the Leibniz’s question appears to be deeper and sharper. Meanwhile, it is solved in the other non-philosophical way (Leibniz, 1989, p. 95). As a metaphysician, Leibniz is more interested in the question “why is it exactly so and not in the other way?” Initially, the Leibniz’s thought is explicated as a theodicy not as the God-seeking.
The authors suppose that the purpose of the question the following. Why does the divine Being creating the world exist and, conversely, why does not the pure Nothing, generating Nothing, exist? Apparently, there must be strong reasons, perhaps, even stronger than the principle of “sufficient cause”. Leibniz, the founder of binary logic, logic of the absence/presence, like no one else approached the problem of the breaking in the structuralist deadlock, which occurred in the French philosophy in the second half of the XX century (Eco, 2004, pp. 18-19). Poststructuralists – neo-Nietzscheans, such as Jacques Derrida, believe that it is impossible to dwell on this question because one is always late with the primary distinction; it has always happened, and the question falls into the power of the code (the opposition of Being and Nothing). One’s destiny is to distinguish, to join the power game of the always-happened distinction, without regarding whether one truly exists, or one does not exist at all. However, Baudrillard fairly asks if the sort of the “free play of differentiating”, which is supposedly unfolding on the other side of the binary code game, is not considered to be existing by default (Derrida, 1999, 2000).
Purpose of the Study
The essential task of the investigation of reality meanings in the postmodern discourse is to realize how the reality is penetrating into it. Is it implemented as a purposeful but a hard task, or do one faces a certain smuggling of meanings at this point? For what reason does Baudrillard force the “experience of Nothing” and simulate the anguish (Angst). Apparently, one can suppose the apophatic scenario of his thought. Establishing the “anguish”, he does not allow it to be fixed in the meaning aspect as “the openness of Being”. He produces it for the further destruction. “The real analytical operation destroys its object, generates it up to the end”. (Baudrillard, 2000b, p. 340). In this case, the object is not merely the order of total simulation (“America” is dedicated to the totality of such kind) but firstly, it is a generating model of the author’s discourse, pretending to embody the philosophical language in general.
Apparently, the reliable apophatic tradition can become the only approach (method) in solving mature problems. It is not the Dasein apophatic knowledge, but the apophatics of the main metaphysics question. Why does the divine Being creating the world exist and, conversely, why does the pure Nothing generating Nothing not exist? The purifying of the question from the rhetoric of the “question of Being” and despotism of “fundamental configuration” enable one to experience the perseverance of its everyday and out-of-philosophy presence.
In the radical oblivion of Being, when it is impossible to remember what is actually forgotten, the language itself becomes an agent of simulation, and it functions only as a visibility of the horizon of the opening of Being. At this point, one comes across the danger of the higher level. When one does not rely upon the salutary “swift” enlightenment of the truth of Being in the dimension of language anymore, all that can be suggested is answering the question: Where can one find salvation? Is there a solution, indeed?
The investigation of the phenomenon, connected with the production of simulacrum, in which their ontological presence is questioned and is considered as an ontological surrogate, and as a substitution, is a special theme of the postmodern discourse. Is it not a false problem? The problem of simulacrum possibly has an axiological significance. Could it be a hermeneutic problem? The authors accomplish another entry into the postmodern texts.
The experience of simulacrum production is implemented in “The Post Card” by Jacques Derrida in the most original way. The problem that is stated in the non-trivial philosophical text seems to be strictly academic. Derrida researches VII letter by Plato, in which he described the events of his journey to Sicily to the Syracusan tyrant Dionysius, which nearly had ended in the most tragic way for Plato. The letter has been admitted as an undeniable falsification in the academic world of historians of philosophy and philologists. Nevertheless, exactly at this point Derrida does not finish, as a classical scientist would do, but begins his deconstructivist analysis. He states that if one confirms that the letter is not true, so one should know how the genuine Plato’s letter looks like. Be logical and show the original one, reconstruct it, write it.
The pathos of postmodern analysts is to realize the consequences of one’s own methodological proposals. The indifferent, superficial, or insidious glance could consider philosophical judgments not to have their ontological consequences. The world is logocentric; words rule the world, and they are the starting point of existential cataclysms – wars and reconciliation, happiness, and disasters. Nevertheless, consistent and thought-out philosophical programs are determined by the recognition of the fact that the most consistent sense of Being is determined by interrelation, “To be is to be somehow represented in the mind”. It is a “given of the pure cogitation” (Husserl, 2008). All other meanings of the concept “Being” have a problematic and hypothetical status. It is obvious why “the truth makes possible the existence of figment itself” (Derrida, 1999). Turning back to the Plato’s letter, in authors’ reconstructionist philosophical Being, this letter is re-written each time one discovers a fake. The Plato’s letter is being written uninterruptedly.
Derrida makes it even more complicated, as far as he is a great master of philosophical provocations. At the same time, he develops another plotline of “The Post Card”, the story of the returned letter, the author of which is Derrida himself. The letter is in the sealed envelope, and it seems not easier to reproduce its content again, to repeat his own letter, than "to write a Plato’s letter". Any text is reproduced in the only possible way; it is continuously produced as the text of the life itself.
The authors consider not exclusively classical hermeneutical problems of the text interpretation (“ontological difficulties depended on the prevailing scientific concept of objective") and, as one can state now, not exclusively a simple desire to solve the structuralist’s problem of the structure status definition (“reality of structure”). The question of reality and authenticity reaches its apogee in the postmodern experiment. Philological falsification does not destroy the original, but strengthens its ontological guarantees, according to the principle of the construction of Gothic cathedrals in which there are naves and a chancel, there are buttresses and flying buttresses, made as the outside part of the structure, and together they substantiate the spiritual nature of the entire structure. Precisely in the same way, the fabricated Plato’s pseudo-letter supports the divine, silent, and empty in this case, content of the Plato’s text.
Returning to Baudrillard, let us ask him a question how it can happen that the reality could be not simply “realized” but it also could be “too much” of the reality, like in the picturesque deception or in the surrealistic picturesque image. According to Baudrillard, these cases have a “metaphysical dimension”, since they make the effort of “destroying the evidence of the world” and reveal the “experience of production of the world” as the “effect of understanding”. An area of Baudrillard’s special interest is the compactness, intensifying of the reality effects in spheres that could be fundamentally considered as inaccessible for this kind of embodiment. He is attracted to the places of the concentration of the corporeal; American name it just a life and Baudrillard names it hyperreality. This is one of the key concepts of his philosophical conception. There is too much body, too much energy; the world of intensified materiality, intensified quantity. However, if in hyperreality there appears a necessity to mark something otherworldly to reality it is implemented in the same forms and codes. Something extrinsic to reality takes the surreal form. America is surrealistic, brutal, and hyperreal (Baudrillard, 2000a, p. 26). Moreover, all that happens simultaneously.
Can one confirm that at the final stage of this research one has many trophies? Not at all. Could one really expect that conclusion dealing with such ingenious lovers of wisdom as Baudrillard or Derrida? Has the reality escaped from one again? Finally, one is staying with whatever one has, with simulacrum and hyperreality, but not with the objects and material items weighting hands.
Remarkably, regardless of the purposes and intentions of postmodernist philosophers, something that superficially seems to be situated out of the boarders of reality appears to be the revelation of reality as it is. Compromised in all variants of realistic, naturalistic and materialistic philosophy, ontology finds its theoretical realization exactly in the postmodern discourse, in which the concept of “reality” is always “in quotes”. This is another trick of the postmodern philosophy.
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Serkova, V. A., Pylkin, A. A., Safonova, A. S., & Savitskaya, J. A. (2018). Philosophical Importance Of Poststructuralism: Problem Of Reality And Its Ontological Status. In I. B. Ardashkin, N. V. Martyushev, S. V. Klyagin, E. V. Barkova, A. R. Massalimova, & V. N. Syrov (Eds.), Research Paradigms Transformation in Social Sciences, vol 35. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1180-1186). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2018.02.139