Absolute Creal

Impromptus, Philosophy

Since his admission speech at College de France in 1970, Michel Foucault has proposed to name discourse (discours in French) the particular set of beliefs, concepts, protocols, obvious or hidden rules of a social group. Positive science has its discourse, based on the exaggeration of an experimental and mathematical view of the world. Academic philosophy has its discourse, based on the hypertrophy of quotation and analytical developments. Mainstream media have their unified discourse, based on the predominance of dysfunction. Everyday life has also its discourse, based on the dialectics of labor and leisure.

Of course, each group tends to produce its own mauvaise foi (bad faith) as Sartre would put it, by pretending that the discourse they are living upon is universal, and the other discourses minor and naïve. My vision of crealism is not free from the illusion of being able to produce an universal discourse, an understanding that would incorporate the other views of the world, subsume, overcome and transcend them.

The reference to an absolute value is a basic element of the economy of the human mind, whether that absolute is mathematical truth (science), distortion of the repetition (media), a supreme being (religion), relativity (postmodernism) or reason (techno-enlightment). In the crealist discourse, the absolute is the Creal, the ever-creating flow of becoming (Bergson, Whitehead, Deleuze…). I have often said that this absolute seems to me very unlikely to create a form of tyranny, since creation is liberating rather than imprisoning.

This subordination of the discourses to an absolute set of values, a sort of inner black hole that tends to absorb critical or heterogeneous considerations relates all discourses to the religious one. Whether we are a scientist, a philosopher, a journalist, we are a more or less conscious believer in our social group value kit. And that explains better why our mind needs an absolute. Because it needs to believe in order to function. The absolute seems to be created by the need to believe rather than the opposite. Does that mean that the real absolute of absolutes is belief ? I would rather say that it is creation, since even belief is created (through prayer, meditation, repetition). Yet we have to better understand the relation between creating and believing.

What happens when we say that creation is an absolute (and name it for example the Creal, Créel in French)? First, it means that it is both a concept and a reality, a spiritual and a material entity. Second, humanity is not umbilicus mundi (the world’s navel). An exaggerated Protagorean discourse, which considers that humans are the sole inventors of the real with the tool of technology, has proven to be disrespectful of other living forms. The world is not just a hostile desert that we model and transform for our consumption. Or is it?

Yet, since the absolute is a creative process rather than a fixed network of forms, crealism is not a platonism. It stands somewhere in the middle between the view that the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics (for us to discover) and the view that homo faber is the omnipotent creator of all things. We are indeed the measure of all things, but measuring and evaluating is not all there is to make a world.