‘Philosophers are familiar with reason but are only beginning to discover intelligence. Impersonal, anonymous, and disinterested, intelligence may have found a temporary support in the terrestrial biosphere, but certainly not a home. It cares nothing for the norms of pure reason, the bounds of sense, or the interests of life. While transcendental orthodoxy wastes time staving off the imminent liquidation of reason, sense, and life, transcendental materialism celebrates the deterritorialization of intelligence.’ — Ray Brassier
‘So the highest, most perfect level of life is that of the intellect, for intellect can reflect upon itself and understand itself. The human mind, even though it can come to self-awareness, must still start by knowing outside things, and they can’t be understood without sense-images… More perfect then is the is the intellectual life of angels, in which intellects know themselves not from outside but by knowing themselves in themselves. And yet their life isn’t yet the acme of perfection, for although the idea in their mind is altogether within them it isn’t what they are, since in them to exist is different from to understand… The acme of perfection in life, then, belongs to God, in whom to exist is to understand… so that in God the idea in his mind what God himself is.’ – St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles 4.11
More and more I am convinced that the theology ontology of John Milbank and his followers’ conception of the analogia entis shares, at least on the formal level, with the mathematical ontology of Badiou and his followers’ conception of the void. To make sense of this one needs to argue that Badiou’s philosophy is an analogia
nihilio nihili. I’m aware of passages in Being and Event which could be used to argue against this notion, but it seems to me that thinkers like Brassier are far more honest heirs of Badiou’s philosophy than the man himself. For ultimately Badiou’s philosophy posits the void as the groundless ground of being – ultimate being is nothingness. For the Thomist this groundless ground of being is God via an impressive folding of negative and positive theology not unlike Badiou’s own axioms and denigration of ‘mysticism’.
But what of these two quotes given? Brassier’s valorization of deterritorilized intelligence shares in the Thomist obsession with perfection and teleology. For him it is the end that counts and the end that is most perfect is anti-humanist in its rejection of any value in life. Of course Thomas has a conception of humanity and the rest of creation that lives on eternally in God, but is Brassier’s vision so different if humanity ends up as nothing when the nothing is itself primary?