§0.032 — The target of critique is ‘metaphysics’ – conceived as a specifiable cognitive error. As determined by Kant, at the origin of the transcendental-critical enterprise, metaphysics is understood as the systematic attempt to apprehend (‘transcendental’ or ultimate) conditions of objectivity as if they were themselves objects. The repudiation of this effort can be summarized with approximate adequacy in a phrase that serves as a critical war cry: objectivity is not itself an object. This is to borrow freely from the critical framing of metaphysical error as it is found, compactly formulated, in the Heideggerian ‘fundamental ontological’ re-statement of transcendental philosophy. Being is not a being.* More significantly, for our current purposes, it can be conveniently extended to apply to contemporary techno-social arrangements and communications apparatuses by way of a comparatively simple translation protocol. ‘Metaphysics’ – over against which disciplined philosophical critique emerges antagonistically – is instantiated by any identification of a systemic function with some node internal to the system considered. It can therefore be readily seen that the ‘flattening’ of a network, through the elimination of system-critical, concentrated, indispensable nodes, which is to say through the distribution of its efficient principle, is an exact – if abstract – execution of a critical operation in the Kantian sense. A network is a critique.**
* For the purposes of its employment here, ‘ontological difference’ (between Being and beings) is considered to be no more than a restatement of transcendental-empirical difference, of negligible philosophical originality. It is not adopted as a marker of penetrating inquiry, therefore – still less of Heidegger scholarship – but solely as a resource valued for its pedagogical practicality. The term is validated for this purpose precisely insofar as the structural integrity of critique is economically conserved by it. Being is not a being. In this formula, the basic transcendental insight is captured with what is probably unsurpassable economy.
** Critique is anti-Archimedean philosophy, and in this strict sense an intrinsic anti-rationalism. It is directed against the pretensions to super-ordinate theoretical leverage which define metaphysics. Every claim to exception from immanence falls prey to it. Its sole empirically exorbitant proposition is that the whole permits no oversight. No ‘view from above’ can be true. Critique thus supplies the schema for that flat epistemology which empiricism requires and fails, itself, to produce. Its historical mission is to make the world safe for empiricism (i.e. techno-science). It can therefore be understood as modernity’s watchdog. Liberal civilization knows no higher principle of security. Its enemies are ‘churches’ with global ambitions, which is to say universalizing abstract-ecclesiastical authorities. When all relevant terms are stripped of encrustation with maximum rigor, critique is accurately characterized as anarchism in philosophy. It is that, alone, which cannot know any higher law. Whatever tries to transcend it can only repeat it, or less. We call this time, which can never be anticipated or out-lasted. Above Temporalization there is nothing. To engage in critique is to think in the name of time.