Via Finitude @ Centre for the Study of Theory & Criticism
23 May 2013

Via Finitude
A reconstruction of Nicole Oresme’s diagrams
Frequently characterized by historians as an early anticipation of Galilean epistemology and rationality’s total deracination of man and gods alike in the cosmos, Nicole Oresme’s diagrams of ‘extensivity of forms’ are simple epistemic devices developed in order to understand three classical problems: (1) The problem of variation (motion), (2) The problem of articulation of intelligibility (measurement), and (3) The problem of global integration of the variable and the intelligible (universality).
The aim of this lecture is to extract and formalize the constructive kernel of Oresme’s original diagrams, latitudo formarum, as a gesture toward a conception of knowledge capable of conditioning a sharp and irreversible noetic propulsion for the subject. We shall examine the constructive phases of this gesture in forming the schematic landscape of knowledge in terms of a number of consecutive operations: Initiating epistemic ratios of separation from nature, localizing different rational orientations born by the epistemic separation, organization of local orientations according to a global transport, determining the limit projected by the global transport, mobilizing local orientations toward the hypothetical limit, recalibrating the scope of navigation by way of reorganization of local orientations, renormalization of the global transport and reprojecting the limit.
As a conclusion, we shall argue that, following Oresme, the understanding of knowledge as a system of navigation destroys one of the enduring philosophical dogmas responsible for engendering both pseudo-rationalist myopia and quasi-mystical irrationalism, the thought of an essential bound in classical rationalism and the thought of after finitude as manifested in speculative materialism/realism: that is, the alleged incommensurability between finitude and unboundedness.
Date: May 28, 2013
Location: the Dean’s Boardroom, SSC 9420, on the 9th Floor of the Social Science Centre, London, Ontario.