Navigation as Emancipation
26 Jun 2014

I will be in Berlin for the first few sessions of the summer school (details here). My first talk will revolve around the following texts:
G. Chatelet, On a Little Phrase of Riemann’s…, trans. Robin Mackay (Available here:
R. Negarestani, Where is the Concept? (Available here:

Below are the abstracts for my two presentations on July 1st:
Session one: The Matheme of the Universal
This presentation aims to introduce some of the recent advances in mathematics and concept-analysis through an accessible conceptual history shaped by philosophical questions surrounding topics such as particularity, universality, analysis, synthesis, orientation, quantity, quality and theory of extension. By answering these questions it would be possible to reinvent the dialectic between particularity and universality as the transition from the local to the global, therefore moving from a theory of universality to a theory of connections (Levi-Civita, Cartan, et al.) where stepwise local constructions can be coupled with a global orientation. While the transition to local-global connections resolves certain antagonisms between the local and the universal, it creates a productive space of tension through which the local can be explored beyond its immediate ambit. It is this exploratory vector that opens the local-global passage as a rule-based landscape of navigation.
Session two: Engineering through Navigation
Why are functions important, especially in the study of complex phenomena or hierarchical and multi-layered systems where complexity arises not because of the size or the number of components or processes involved but because of the particularity of the mode of organization that orchestrates the activities and operations of various structural and functional hierarchies? One answer to this question would be because any account of change – whether in the context of evolution or in the context of normative modification, intervention, rectification and reorganization – is ultimately the change in function. Even when we change the structure, we do that with the aim of inducing a change in function i.e. what a thing does and how it can be improved or replaced by a different set of activities. But the change of function is far from easy since we need to locate the exact function we are referring to within a much wider functional organization, within an environment and in accordance with existing structural constraints. What a complex system appears to be doing is hardly ever what it actually does. In order to implement a change in function, first we should identify what a system does, how it does it, how its functions are organized and how the activity in question is orchestrated through this complex organization. In other words, we must have the knowledge of ‘what a system does’ in order to change a function and alter a system’s or a phenomenon’s behavior. This presentation extends the ‘navigational paradigm’ to questions regarding construction and modification of complex systems through the lenses of mechanistic explanation and multi-level analysis of functional organization.
Date and location: July 1-12, 2014, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin