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Article

The Philosophic Disability of Reason. Evald Ilyenkov's Critique of Machinic Intelligence

Radical Philosophy. 2020. No. 207. P. 67-78.

Present theories of computation and artificial intelligence often claim that philosophy should either discard its principal modes of gnoseology (its theories of knowledge and cognition) and anthropomorphic genesis, or declare philosophic speculation obsolete altogether, since it fails to provide any precise knowledge regarding the most significant contemporary scientific and technological concerns. If post-structuralism doubted the power of philosophy because of its proximity to the sciences and their own discrete discourses, contemporary ‘post-philosophies’, on the contrary, refuse philosophy because of its insufficient knowledge of science and technology.

Two principal contemporary post-philosophic tendencies stand out in this regard. The first is found in cognitivist theories, which posit philosophy as an obsolete cognitive practice, a quasi-mythological narrative that produces fictitious non-scientific notions such as transcendentality, metaphysics, idea, dialectics, the universal or truth. 

Another tendency is more subtle and interesting. It posits algorithimic creativity itself as a philosophical procedure. Reclaiming philosophical thought, it confines it mainly to the body of computation. Here, in the works of Luciana Parisi and Reza Negarestani, among others, we come across a series of elaborate standpoints for reconstituting the tasks of philosophy after and due to computation.

In the present article I consider the premises of thought grounded in computation theory (Negarestani, Parisi) in order to show how in a similar situation - when, in the Soviet 1960s, cybernetic studies were claimed as the new philosophical discipline - a communist thought, exemplified here by the writings of Evald Ilyenkov, developed its own militant postulates of what reason is, and why its algorithmic emulation would be impossible.