Issue #57 November 2022


Is completeness a practical concept, or one we can rightly apply to empirical, or legal, or logical (and so on) matter? Practical concept in the sense that it really only makes sense in the domain of tasks and work – ‘perfection’ and ‘good enough’ here being equal to the completion of completion. But, for example, a philosopher is not finished just when they are done. Thought is evaluated insofar as it completes, is consistent, creates a totality over its domain. In knowledge, that a system is complete is a mandatory document it must carry, and defend from all rivals, who come armed with the contradiction, the paradox, or the alternate plane of consistency. What a concept!

But, perhaps completeness is not a concept at all, but the function of a judgement. Not something deemed of something, or something applied or aimed for, but a ‘silence of the organs’; a model of ‘health’ in a system. A system of concepts, a biological system, a system of surveillance, etc. But whose judgement is it? Our continuing work on the thought of the ‘big ones’, going even back to the origins of philosophy, shows us too well that, even if we content ourselves with being but small footnotes in a gigantic bibliography, there is something that is still to be said, to be fleshed out or ‘applied’ to current circumstances. There are consequences in Plato’s thought that are still undeveloped, ideas that are not fully understood, remarks that are undervalued – why else would we keep filling up the library that is ‘Plato’s thought’? And anyone who has been sucked into such a maelstrom, becoming a Hegelian, a Husserlian, an Epicurean, knows for a fact that it’s not a mere caprice that keeps that process going, but something in that particular thought that insists with an urgency to be continued, something that is incomplete. It is not just our temperament that attracts us to certain neighborhoods of the philosophical city, but something inherent to thought that calls, as Heidegger would say, a very small minority of humankind with an irresistible power. Whose judgement, then? Merely the philosopher’s, who, at some point in life, out of exhaustion or complacency, will decide that their work is over, that they’re done and whatever will happen with their thought in the future is no longer in their hands.

It is true, we shouldn’t overlook the links between completion and totalitization. More than once a philosopher has put forward a system, a living organism that might change as living organisms do, but that, miraculously, does not age, that will keep a certain freshness – which, ironically, will be exactly the source of attraction that will keep us coming back to that particular philosopher’s work: the eternal youth of Plato, of Hegel. So is it, in that sense, the totalization of a work that will, quite ironically, keep it open, keep it living? Is it not the very nature of the dialectic that, even if Hegel was completely right from the start, each new step within it will transform its very totality, so that Prussia becomes just another step in the unfolding of the Absolute, which has once again changed its nature?

The creative act is one that affirms itself in its singularity. The work of art, the passionate impulse, the as-yet unfinished sentence tumbling on, the initial line or curve upon which a vision or vista will hang. The incomplete is the vital itself, the empty yet urgent imperative, yet at the same time ungraspable, and  the mark of all ‘ungraspability’. How to see in these provisional corners, and incomplete maps not a resignation, but an affirmation? Because it is precisely the incompleteness that makes us come back again and again to these areas of thought that just keep coming back from the dead. Because it is our way of participating in the process of creation, a small area only, but that, in the grand systems of metaphysics and the grand visions of ontology, manage to express something sublime.

Cover illustration: Georg Macco – “Blühendes Mohnfeld” – (1929) [Detail]


November 2022


The Quantum Synthesis of The World: A Kantian resolution of the mystery of quantum mechanics

by Ermanno Bencivenga

Negativity and Aletheia of Being in Fichte

by Jovan Mitić

After Magritte #5: Hegel at the Beach

by Gray Kochhar-Lindgren

Kant's "The Transcendental Aesthetic (Part I, Of Space)"