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.
In the first moments of my presentation, I will justify the contrast, as just presented, as an alternative of either teleology or anarchy, showing how this contrast emerged at a certain moment of time and from each of the three domains. In a second moment, I will explain why the concept of anarchy is nevertheless still in limbo. And in a third and last moment, I’ll propose some tracks towards a possible re-elaboration of a concept of anarchy that will also perhaps engage a renewed concept of teleology.
First domain: philosophy/ontology
And I start with philosophy, that is ontology. The issue of anarchy has appeared as one of the main outcomes of the deconstructions (and I used this word in the plural) of metaphysics. The first philosopher to posit it clearly was Reiner Schürmann, we talked about him yesterday in his 1982 book on Heidegger called “Heidegger on Being and Acting: from Principle to Anarchy.” Metaphysics for Heidegger, Schürmann argues, is a teleocracy, which means literally the power of the telos. A power, which is precisely what Heidegger has specifically intended to deconstruct. Teleocracy characterizes the economy of presence conceived of as an essential circularity between a principle arkhè and an end, a telos. Teleocracy, Heidegger, Schürmann affirms, has reigned without any interruption from Aristotle to contemporary philosophy. The whole metaphysical tradition has sealed the unity between the principle and the end. Telos as Schürmann suggests, “is not only the complementary notion of arkhè, it is synonymous with arkhè. In metaphysics 11 Aristotle declares, everything that comes to be moves toward an arkhè that is a telos. In fact, that force take of which a thing is, is its arkhè and becoming is for the sake of its telos. Heidegger comments, “the telos does not put an end to the thing, rather out of the telos, the thing begins to be what it will be.“ So the synonymy between arkhè and telos marks both the beginning, things coming into being out of the telos and a command. The arkhè, the principle, Schürmann remarks, commands everything and teleocracy designates for him the explicit unity between inception and domination. Teleocracy is a reign, and for Aristotle, politics borrows its central schema of thought from ontology. Individual actions and ends are articulated to those of the city, just like accidents refer to the substance or predicates to the subject. Teleocracy secures order in all its dimensions from arbitrariness and chaos, and it protects it. The Heideggerian Destruktion or Abbau of metaphysics precisely tends to let; I quote Schürmann, “the anarchic anti-teleocratic elements freely appear.” It tends to liberate its force of dislocation and fragmentation, so the deprivation of telos appears as the result of the deconstruction of the arkhè, thus liberating the anarchic thinking, a liberation that is visible through the Heideggerian motives of the without-why, without-a-goal, without-reason. Heidegger, Schürmann writes, “approves Being from the principle of domination by the idea of finality, the teleocracy where it had been held since Aristotle.” And it dislocates it from attributive schema, the subject-predicate model. So and we see that the dismantling of teleocracy coincides with the philosophical promise of anarchy.
From a different perspective but following the same line of thoughts, a philosopher like Levinas also strongly challenges what one of his commentators Gérard Bensussan calls the Anfang-Ende, that is beginning-end, or, once again, an arkhè-telos economy. This challenging is even more radical in Levinas than in Heidegger to the extent that for Levinas it operates on Heidegger’s philosophy itself. Anarchy, Levinas explains, means “before all ontology.” In texts like “Humanism and Anarchy,” published in Humanism of the Other, but also in Otherwise of Being or Beyond Essence, Levinas speaks of an “anarchy more ancient than any beginning or even freedom.” This ancient space is that of ethics. Responsibility, Levinas declares quite strikingly, is anarchic, because it does not derive from any principle or law and is not oriented toward an end. It does neither start with nor go to. Derrida comments, for Levinas the Other, with a capital O of course, is welcome in anarchy. So, I don’t have time to show, how strongly the motive of anarchy also structures the Derridean discourse and I intend to do that at the London Graduate School conference coming soon.
Second domain: politics
In order to show how contemporary anarchism has also deconstructing its old form by trying to clear it from any reminder of teleological or teleocratic thinking we have to refer to the splits between traditional anarchism, initiated by Proudhon and Bakunin in the 19th century and sustained and regenerated by Kropotkin among others, and later on postanarchism, a move that appeared at the end of the 80’s. The American philosopher Todd May was one of his first theorists and most probably the inventor of the term postanarchism. I’m referring here to his 1994 book The Political Philosophy of Poststructuralist Anarchism. I can also of course also mention Hakim Bey, the father of the temporary autonomous zones and the author in 1987 of Postanarchism-Anarchy, or Saul Newman’s the Politics of Postanarchism that came out in 2010 to name but a few. There are many others.
Postanarchism defines itself as an anti-naturalism and accuses founders of anarchy like Bakunin or Kropotkin to promote the idea of a human nature endowed with goals and ends and is even if these offers have characterized anarchy as a refusal to found a social order upon a first principle be it god or nature. Nature still appears in their thinking, postanarchists argue, as a resource for moral teaching, a guide to human conduct has to be deconstructed. Kropotkin for example in his 1902 book called On Mutual Help to which I will return in my conclusion shows that natural selection is not the only evolutionary law. Mutual help between living beings is also central and primordial. Even if Kropotkin does not explicitly speak of teleology, he nevertheless affirms that mutual help “evolution of animal reign that speaks through us, that reorients action toward help, solidarity, communality and sustains the vision of a future better society.” To this rampant teleologism postanarchists oppose on the contrary radical contingency and an attachment to the present state of struggles without any guiding principle. In that sense they are updating, so to speak, Proudhon’s affirmation, according to which “the idea of principle or goal is a fiction. There cannot be any principle or goal for the universe or end or inception.” So, in a certain sense, postanarchism has accomplished the deconstruction of anarchy.
Third domain: biology itself
Darwin is often considered the precursor of modern biology because of his rejection of classical teleology. He ascribes evolution to the natural selection of small variations, which occur among individuals in any given species. As we know, these variations are random with respect to the fitness of the individual or to the direction of evolution meaning that they do not arise in response to the needs of an organism or in accordance with any plan or goal. It would, of course, be difficult to consider Darwin an anarchist. But first, the precipitating events that led Kropotkin to embrace anarchism was the publication of The Origin of the Species in 1859, and second, in the opposite direction, we can think of the intelligent design advocates according to whom Darwin clearly is an anarchist. I found an article by the Christian thinker Jonathan Wells, who wrote in a journal called Dialogue and Alliance an article called Darwinism and the Argument to Design
“Darwin’s theory might be properly called anti-teleological. To illustrate, Newton’s law of motion ignores the issue of design, but they may be used to design results given the complete knowledge of initial conditions results can be predicted. Darwin’s theory however precludes any determinate outcome of revolution, in particular Darwinism excludes design in human beings. Thus, there is a fundamental conflict between Darwin’s theory and the Christian theological tradition. The basic consequence of Christian belief in God is the belief that the human species is designed by God. Darwin denies the later and thus logically denies the former as well.”
So, if we read that and if we refer to this enormous quarrel about intelligent design, clearly anti-Darwinian, then we can rightly argue that there exists a Darwinian and post-Darwinian anarchic core. And this is why Darwin appears as such a frightening figure. And today no current biologists would dogmatically affirm that organisms are obviously purposive. So, I think that’s, on the one hand, this quarrel between intelligent design, and on the contrary, the impossibility to talk about any purpose in living beings is clearly a kind of quarrel between a reactionary conception of the order of things and an anarchic one. So, evolutionism might then also be regarded as a deconstruction of teleocracy. But, and this is what I want to argue for in the second moment, I want to argue that despite their attacks on teleology, and this is what I announced in my introduction, deconstructionist philosophy, postanarchism as well as Darwinism or contemporary biology appear as interchangeable symptomatic expressions of the same failure. Failure of an anarchism that would hold together its, for me, inseparable philosophical, political and scientific dimensions. Up to now, since the deconstruction of metaphysics, these dimensions have remained separated. There is something then profoundly unaccomplished, unconvincing in the three domains due in part to their mutual incapacity to open to each other in a creative way, thus, remaining only on the verge of a convincing revolutionary thinking. And this for an essential part, because the demise of teleology in each of them has not been conducted in a satisfactory way. It has been too quick and for that reason not radical enough. Such a lame outcome has produced three different pathological symptoms as if teleology was secretly introducing itself in their discourses as a symptom. So, three different pathological symptoms that I will characterize here as foreclusion in philosophy, alienation in politics and failed compromise in biology.
Philosophy first. It is a striking fact that anarchy in deconstruction, in Heidegger for example, is limited to its ontological meaning and is never referred other than negatively to its political signification. I’m coming back to Schürmann. After bringing to light the Heideggerian principle of anarchy, as I said a moment ago, Schürmann immediately adds “needless to say here it will not be a question of anarchy in the sense of Proudhon, Bakunin and their disciples. What these masters sought was to displace the origin, to substitute the ‘rational’ power, principium, for the power of authority, princeps¾as metaphysical an operation as has ever been. They sought to replace one focal point with another.” So, for Schürmann-Heidegger, this is kind of a dual name, it is clear that political anarchism is just another version of metaphysics. Anarchism would just replace a telos by another. It would remain in that sense teleolocratic. If Heideggerian anarchic philosophy has nothing to do with anarchism, Schürmann says, it’s because contrarily to it, I read, “the rational production of [any] anchorage […] [is] impossible [in] Heidegger.” Philosophical anarchy, he says, “is no longer anything more than a blank space deprived of legislative, normative, power.” But political anarchism is still prisoner of such a power.
The readers of Levinas come to the same conclusions. They say, ok Levinas talks about anarchy all the time, but we shouldn’t confuse this ethical anarchy with a political movement. I quote Miguel Abensour, and I have specific, special thought for him, because he passed away last month. Miguel Abensour, who is a great thinker of anarchy nevertheless declares that Levinas is absolutely not an anarchist, and I quote, and it is the same argument like Schürmann’s, “anarchism”, he says, “as a political doctrine constitutes and affirms itself as a principle, that is the reason principle against the authority principle.” So again, we find here the idea that political anarchism is just the triumph of reason, it is a substitution of reason for the classical telos, but it’s still a telos. What I see as a foreclusion, as a symptom, precisely pertains to this way of using the term anarchy so loaded with political significance and declaring that it has nothing to do with anarchism, as if names had no importance and could tolerate their own amputation, anarchy amputated from anarchism, anarchism foreclosed in and by philosophical anarchy. My contention is that the foreclusion of anarchism in philosophy is for an essential part due to deconstruction’s incapacity to eliminate the remnants of teleology that still inhabits it. Philosophy resists anarchism because of these remnants. It accuses anarchism to be still teleological, thus projecting on anarchism its own attachment to teleology. What are these attachments to teleology in contemporary philosophy? We can give them two names, messianism, and mediality.
Messianism that is so often present in Derrida, in Levinas, and in a certain sense in Heidegger himself is nothing but a strong teleologism in disguise. And it is surprising to see how it has become predominant in the most radically contemporary anti-teleocratic discourses. I cannot demonstrate it here, but I think you will agree with me.
I will spend more time on mediality. Mediality is the name that Agamben gives to the situation of what he calls means without ends, which supposedly is that situation of our time. In the book of the same name Means without Ends, in the chapter called ‘Notes on Gesture’, Agamben contrasts the category of gesture with those of acting and doing, agere and facere. He says, we don’t act or do anything anymore, our epoch is that of gestures. We are at an age where we don’t act anymore. And he says, what is a gesture? “The gesture is the exhibition of a mediality: it is the process of making a means visible as such.” A means without end suspended in the middle milieu pure, he says, without goal. Interestingly, Agamben sees in this mediality the perfect translation of Kant’s concept of purposiveness without a purpose in the aesthetic judgment. I quote Agamben, “It is only in this way that the obscure Kantian expression “purposiveness without purpose” acquires a concrete meaning.” Such a reading is to me perfectly inacceptable. First, because purposiveness without purpose is only valid in the first part of the third critique and second, because in the same first part Kant refuses clearly to relate purposiveness to any means whatsoever. The relation between means and ends belong to techno-practical reason, not to teleological judgment. And also, because mediality in Agamben, even if it is said to be a logic of means without ends, is, in fact, a strong teleological concept. It is the result of an essentialization of aesthetics condensed in the term gestures. Gesture becomes and end in itself, and whenever something becomes an end in itself, it is a telos. So according to me, messianism and mediality appear as two opposite sides of the same coin, a too quick and shallow dismissal of teleology. The result is the return of the repressed in the form of two unquestioned unconscious hyperteleologies, messianism and mediality.
I will now turn to politics and postanarchism and proceed from foreclusion to alienation. If philosophers refuse to relate, as I just mentioned, ontological anarchy to political anarchism, anarchists in return refuse to acknowledge the philosophical and ontological dimension of anarchy. Precisely because they say that ontology and philosophy are two teleological discourses. Proudhon, as Garcia explains, was “contemptuous viz à viz ontological discourses, because the idea of an anarchist ontology has always been a paradox.” Philosophy would remain grounded in what Proudhon calls the causal presupposition which includes final causes, whereas anarchy is a rupture with these causes. So, the rejection of teleology is even stronger in postanarchism. Another postanarchist Lewis Call writes, “we are in a state of permanent and total revolution, a revolution against being, including of course the deconstruction of being. And postanarchism consequently ceases to define itself as oriented toward the political end even the destruction of the state, because as we know anarchism is a movement that aims at destroying the state, does not constitute a goal anymore in postanarchism and this is the dramatic difference with classical anarchism. I quote Garcia again, “attempting at ceasing control of the state is doomed to failure.”
So, then postanarchism, what is it? It characterizes itself as a moving movement involved in local, plural and changeable struggles in TAZ’s, temporary active zones, the opening of multiple and heterogeneous battlefronts. As we know for them, social class cannot be the central category any longer. Consciousness or subjectivity are then considered in the light of French theory, constructions produced by different elements, like language, myths or disciplinary practices. Current anarchist struggles are no longer oriented toward capitalism only; they revolve around knots of conflictuality that develop in the multiplicity of relations constitutive of the social fabric, race, sex, surveillance, bureaucracy, homophobia, transphobia, all endowed with a similar importance than capitalist labor exploitation. In his book Anarchism in Movements Spanish anarchist Thomas Ibanez, who clearly defines himself as a postanarchist, affirms that the theoretical basis for current anarchism is to be found not anymore in Bakunin, or Proudhon or these people but in thinkers like Foucault, Butler, Ranciere or Agamben, that is people who supposedly think of non-teleological kind of world or ontology, which in a way means that postanarchism accepts to be defined as a series of means without ends, they repeat Agamben’s categories and say, you know what we’ll do in our struggles in a series of means without ends, and Agamben himself says, “politics is the sphere of pure means,” that is of the absolute and complete gesturality of human beings. So, by referring to Agamben, postanarchists then consequently accept the hyperteleology that mediality hides. They accept to live on the philosophical and digested reminders or bones of teleology. They eat their own foreclusion, and this is where alienation begins. Because the authors to whom they refer like Foucault, Butler, Ranciere, Agamben never define themselves as anarchists and if I had time I would demonstrate how their discourse is highly ambiguous on that point and if we think of Foucault mainly, Foucault for example, develops a strong critique of anarchism, so in Butler, Ranciere and these people it’s more ambiguous, but for sure, they would never dare to define themselves as anarchists. At best, they flirt with anarchy like Agamben or Ranciere says “the opening of democracy is anarchy,” but they never endorse it. So, every time someone says, ‘so, you’re an anarchist,’ they say, ‘no!’ I looked at a video on youtube by Judith Butler, a talk by Judith Butler, where she talks about the ‘BDS movement’ that is a boycott movement and the movement ‘anarchists against the wall’ in Israel and she, of course, says very good things about these movements but when she is asked, “are you part of these ‘anarchists against the wall’?”, she responds “no, I’m not an anarchist!” So, at anything postanarchism alienates itself by drawing its theoretical sources from explicitly non-anarchist political literature and this is because this literature is apparently devoid from any onto-teleological prospect. They borrow their anti-teleocratic energy from discourses that clearly reject anarchism because of its supposed teleocracy. It’s a very complex symptomatic mode of exchange which is never really expressed, which functions in a certain sense unconsciously and this is because everyone is rejecting on the other the symptom of teleology. Another French anarchist Daniel Colson says, “the anarchist idea today ceases to be identifiable with a program. It ceases to tell truth about things and to pretend, act upon things. So, we don’t have a program. If we trust Derrida as the distinction between a program and a promise, then we can define anarchism as a promise that is again a form of messianism.
Biology and failed compromise now. Because it is extremely difficult not to say impossible to approach the organism in general outside of any teleological model, post-Darwinian biology has constantly invented compromises to make use of teleology without naming it. Such as for example the two concepts of teleonomy and function that complete each other. In 1970 French biologist Jacques Monod in Chance and Necessity wrote “rather than reject the goal-directedness idea it is indispensable to recognize that it is essential to the very definition of living beings. We shall maintain that the latter are distinct from all other structures or systems present in the universe through this characteristic of property we shall call teleonomy.” Teleology is indispensable, but we cannot call it like that, this is terrible, we shall call it teleonomy. Teleonomy is defined as the quality of apparent purposefulness and goal-directedness of structures and functions in living organisms brought about by natural selection. Of course, the biologists can argue that teleonomy is rigorously opposed to teleology because the latter is supposed to carry a commitment to the Aristotelean efficient causal principle while teleonomy characterizes an end which is not a final cause, the result of an intention, a design or predetermination. But again, we can see, how ambiguous this difference is. The difference between teleology and teleonomy is as strange a frontier as that which is supposed to divide anarchy from anarchism. The ambiguity is also conspicuous when it comes to function. Of course, biologists will say, function is purely descriptive. The function of an organ describes what an organ does, for example, the function of the heart is to circulate blood. But as many biologists have noticed, it is not possible to describe what an organ does without having an implicit idea of what it is supposed to do or of how it should work. So, we can conclude with holding quoted by François Jacob in The Logic of Life, I quote, “Teleology is like a mistress to the biologist. He dares not to be seen with her in public, but cannot live without her.” Which is perfectly true. So, we can see how teleology introduces itself through the failed compromises of teleonomy and function as an implicit set of norms. As Canguilhem has remarkably demonstrated in The Normal and the Pathological. So, in fact, biology remains perfectly normative that is teleological.
I now move to the third moment of my talk and ask then what can we do? What is to be done? Is teleology inevitable? Is anarchy impossible? Is teleology inevitable? I would say “yes”. Is anarchy impossible? I would say “no”. So, in this third and last moment, I will try to reconcile the two notions and for this I will invert the order and start with biology. I will start by returning to the book I mentioned a moment ago, which is Kropotkin’s On Mutual Help, which is a wonderful book that he wrote when he was a geographer and he observed the animals in Siberia. We shouldn’t be too quick in dismissing this concept of mutual help developed by Kropotkin in order to counterbalance Darwinian natural selection. Kropotkin never says that Darwin was wrong, he simply stated that natural selection is not the only evolutionary law. Living Beings, he says, not only compete, they also cooperate and such a view does not contradict Darwinism proper. It contradicts social Darwinism founded, according to Kropotkin, on a Hobbesian vision of society. He says natural selection is like the war of all with all and he says this is not the only principle. So, we saw a moment ago that mutual help has been criticized by postanarchism as too naively teleological, essentialist and naturalist in principle. So why am I returning to it? Why do I say that we shouldn’t dismiss it too quickly? Because I was surprised to discover its equivalent in contemporary biology in the concept of symbiosis that has become central in molecular biology. I will ask myself if a certain approach to symbiosis can help rediscover the anarchic core of biology and raise at the same time the possibility for teleology to become something else than a symptom. I will explain a little bit what symbiosis is. And my analysis relies on a very interesting article from French biologist Thomas Pradeu called What is an Organism. In this article Pradeu challenges the idea that the notion of an organism understood as a closed entity can go on being the definition or criteria of biological individuality. I will explain that a little bit before moving to teleology again. Besides we should stop defining the organism as an individual organism. The two notions of organism and individual are not equivalent. Pradeu refers to a fascinating study under biologist Daniel Janzen on dandelions published in The American Naturalist in 1977. Janzen argues that, while phenomenal individuation apparently tells us that a dandelion is a yellow flower on a twig or that green thing in our garden, evolutionary individuation tells us that in real fact it is the extended long-lived clone of dandelions that constitutes the biological individual. Dandelions are a clone. The individual dandelion then is the entire field of dandelions. And Janzen has this extraordinary declaration, he says, there may be as few as four individual dandelions competing with each other for the territory of the whole of North America. Because they share the same genome the seemingly individual flowers are part of the same organism and cannot be said to compete with each other. Janzen and Pradeu say they cooperate, they collaborate and the term mutualism appears. Pradeu explores symbiosis understood as mutual help further by examining its role in immunology. The traditional vision of the immune system as a self, opposed to a non-self, he declares, is inadequate. “The immunological criteria suggest that any entity, which interacts regularly with the immune system and is not eliminated by it is part of the physiological individual. As we know now a physiological individual includes at least some members of its microbiota is an ecological community of commensal, symbiotic and pathogenic microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, and viruses found in and all multicellular organisms studied today from plants to animals. Which means that we are several each other’s. This means that an organism is always a symbiosis of heterogenous parts that are themselves organisms. The individual in biology may then be defined as a colony more than a self. “The immunological criteria suggest that any entity, which interacts regularly with the immune system and is not eliminated by it is part of the physiological individual.” Symbiosis then characterizes the cooperation of the different members of the colony in order to maintain the structures homeostasis, I quote Pradeu, “symbiosis strengthens rather than undermines the immunological definition of biological individuality.” How not to think of mutual help here again? Aren’t the categories of symbiosis’ interaction new versions of what Kropotkin tried to define, versions of what Janzen calls altruistic behaviors?
I would like to have time to develop this fascinating analysis and show how symbiosis works between trees, between mushrooms, between mushrooms and trees, between plants ect., but I need to go back to teleology.
I did some work on the notion of teleology and biology today, and clearly, there are two uses of the term function. The ecological one and the systemic one. The ecological conception coincides with what I described earlier as the teleonomic principle. It answers the question why and appears as this failed compromise between evolutionary biology and traditional teleology. As soon as the function answers the question why we find teleology. But there is another conception, which is the systemic conception of the function. This systemic conception describes the present state of a biological mechanism. It does not answer the question why, but the question how. That is how different parts of a system function together, like all the flowers or the bacteria with the organisms together. So here the teleological principle does not disappear because it marks how things function together, but it works horizontally as a principle of cooperation, of interaction, or symbiosis between heterogeneous parts. With Kant, Pradeu says, we have the following definition of an organism: “The organism is a coherent functionally integrated whole, undergoing continuous change and made of causally interconnected elements. Now if we integrate the lessons of contemporary immunology we might say, an organism is a functionally integrated whole made up of heterogeneous constituents that are locally interconnected by strong biochemical interactions and controlled by systemic immune interactions that repeat constantly at the same medium intensity. So, we have this cooperation between different parts. The systemic teleological bond is here perfectly independent of the causality principle. It defines the for another of the heterogeneous parts of the colony. It is a principle of reciprocity.
Philosophy now and a return to Levinas. It is very strange to notice that Levinas has also developed a strong critique of the Hobbesian model that intimately resonates with Kropotkin’s. Their critique of Hobbes relies on the same arguments according to which the war of all against all cannot be a natural law that would govern both ontology and politics. Here is a quote from Ethics and Infinity. Levinas says, “it is extremely important to know if society in the current sense of the term is the result of a limitation of the principle that men are predators of one another or to the contrary it results from the limitation of the principle that men are for one another,” and he underscores the for. So, what is the meaning of the for? Does it not express a form of telos, a telos again that would not be the expression of an arkhè or f a goal, but an orientation toward the other that grounds a certain understanding of the collective. We know that Levinas criticizes the Heideggerian notion of Mitsein and a symbiosis, solely defined as a horizontal articulation of different parts would precisely constitute a form of Mitsein that could not account for the ethical and political relationship. But it is different if we understand the systemic ethical function not as a Mitsein but as a principle of substitution. There is an anarchy essential to multiplicity, says Levinas, and this anarchy far from being a chaos appears as an economy of substitution. In his text on the 1968 revolution in Paris, he writes: “The radicals of ‘68 all, and indeed all, revolutionaries, who best married the name revolutionary, are characterized by that capacity to substitute ethically their selves for the suffering of other people.” So, again we find this notion of ‘to substitute for,’ and I would propose to say that to substitute for is the ethical expression of mutuality, the hetero-immunity, the end of allergy, as Levinas often says. The substitution-for opens an ontological and political space and economy that cannot be gathered under or subdued to essentialized control. Hence Levinas’ critique of the state in Otherwise than Being he affirms: “Anarchy cannot be sovereign. It can only disturb the state, but in a radical way, making possible moments of negation without any affirmation.” And I know that Howard has written something on that in Levinas and the Political. Cannot we then posit that what Levinas proposes, even if he doesn’t recognize himself as an anarchist, is nevertheless a renewed anarchist concept of teleology that expresses itself in the for. And when Schürmann affirms that the anarchic space that Heidegger opens is “a domain where multiple conducts come together, where things, actions and words join to become accessible to all at the strategical intersection of thought and practice, is he not presupposing explicitly or implicitly a form of anarchic telos here again that is a telos without arkhè. In think that a dialog between Levinas and Heidegger should be reopened on that point because we also know that in Heidegger the preposition for is extremely important.
So, the last moment, politics. Anarchy as a political movement characterizes any type of societal organization without a ruler or other form of centralized or coercive control It can be considered also a systemic mode of organization based on mutuality and involving no dominance or submission. Here, the systemic telos that is the telos without an arkhè appears in anarchism in the form of the cooperative that is through worker’s self-management. I quote Bakunin “Let’s enlarge our association, but at the same time, let us not forget to consolidate and reinforce it so that our solidarity which is our whole power grows stronger from day to day. Let us have more of this solidarity in study, in our work, in our action, in life itself. Let us cooperate in our common enterprise to make our lives a little more supportable and less difficult. Let us wherever possible establish producer-consumer-cooperatives and mutual credit societies.” Following on his quote, another anarchist thinker David Goodway declares, “I would claim that anarchist economic organizations would have five common qualities. The economics of anarchism must be first, decentralized, second, egalitarian, self-managed and empowering, and third, supported by other autonomous units in a non-hierarchical fashion. So, we can see through these affirmations, and I think that cooperative labor, self-management, auto-organization are translations of the symbiosis I was talking about in biology and in ethics. We can see through the affirmations that anarchy by no means equates disorder. It presents itself as a systemic organization that holds heterogeneous parts together through an economy of mutuality. So, I see a clear link the symbiotic biological individual, the substitution-for of ethical community and the economy of anarchism.
I now come to my conclusion. In this presentation, I suggested that there was a possible chain that links symbiosis, substitution and cooperation or self-management together in anarchy. And it allows to both deconstruct and re-elaborate a minimal, but irreducible teleological orientation. Therefore, I moved from a strict alternative; it is either teleology or anarchy to a form of negotiation between the two, a negotiation without which the latter remains disabled so to speak. I hope that I succeeded in at least suggesting first, that without a philosophical serious engagement anarchism is alienated, second, with a serious political commitment philosophical anarchy is foreclosed, third, that without the revision of its both ontological and political groundings contemporary biology is lost in compromise. I also hope that I succeeded in at least suggesting that the deconstruction or demise of teleology cannot mean a pure and simple abandonment of it. Otherwise, I think, that teleology will always reappear in disguise as a symptom or as a virus. An anarchic concept of telos is possible, that is again of a telos without an arkhè. This telos is the for, the orientation toward mutual help between animals, dandelions, revolutionaries, philosophers or workers. “Being is a group,” Proudhon said. Anarchism is for the group. I hope that I succeeded in at least suggesting that the three domains of philosophy, politics, and biology should consider themselves an organism that is a colony, a single individual made of different parts. The dismissal of biology according to me is one of the great political and philosophical mistakes of our time and time have come to repair it. Let me quote Thomas Pradeu one last time. He says: “Every multicellular organism, plant, invertebrate hosts hundreds of billions of commensal and symbiotic bacteria. Due to the massive presence of symbionts, every multicellular organism is a chimera.” Let chimeras become our new reality.