Lecture by Catherine Malabou on “TeleologiⒶ”
Transcribed from the Backdoor Broadcasting Company recording from June 9, 2017
The topic of the conference is extremely interesting, and I want to congratulate you for that. And it gave me a lot to think about. So, in the beginning I thought, I just use and old talk from my drawers on Hegel, but in fact, I decided to write something completely new, which I hope will be the basis of future work.
Why not call things by their names? Why not state it radically? The absolute other of teleology is anarchy. There cannot be any sustainable intermediary position. As it seems, it is either teleology or anarchy. If we are to take seriously the lessons of postmodernity, which is all about the ends of the ends, if we are to take seriously the conclusions of the different deconstructions of metaphysics, if we acknowledge the collapse of socialism, if we refuse to define living beings as finalized organisms, if we accept to take for granted that there cannot exist something like a historical, moral, political or natural telos, we then need to identify the space opened by such a non-existence as that of anarchy. As French philosopher of anarchy, Vivian Garcia affirms in his book “For anarchists all teleology is vain.”
The three principle domains where teleology is supposed to or has been supposed to operate are ontology, politics, and biology. How is anarchy at work in these three domains secretly or overtly dismantling their orientations? This is what I intend to explore here. The immediate problem that such an exploration finds itself confronted with, is that first, after Nietzsche and even more with Heidegger who are the first philosophers to challenge the authority of ontological or metaphysical teleology, second, after the transition accomplished by libertarian radical political movements from traditional anarchism to what is now called post-anarchism, third, after the clear Darwinian affirmation of the biological real that natural selection is devoided of any goal or direction, that never was a coherent, consistent elaboration of the concept of anarchy able to hold these three dimensions together.
We are still currently in need of a rigorous determination first of the kind of ontology, second the kind of practical orientation, and third the kind of significant approach to life that would really allow us to genuinely to inhabit a world, to inhabit a non-teleological world. In other terms, anarchy however explicitly conceptually at work in the three domains, again, of philosophy, politics, and science, or biology is still in the shadow and this even in anarchism itself.