Justice, Normativity, Temporality

My aim in carrying out this research project is to revise and update the contemporary conceptualizations of what it means to be just. I will initially analyse the status of justice in relation to normativity and temporality, especially focusing on how it furthers our understanding of the concept of justice to situate it in the processes of social, economic, political and cultural change. This will be followed by an investigation of the Law’s relation to time and the appearance of justice in and through particular legal-juridical decision making processes in spite of the absence of truth. I claim that the temporal nature of subjectivity need not be in a stark opposition to the eternal nature of truth. An understanding of truth as eternity situated in time can help us construct a theory of subjectivity which includes within itself the objective dimension of being. As a matter of fact the objective perspective can only be established from a subjective position. That said, this doesn’t mean that there can be no objectivity in-itself, but rather that we can only know this objectivity as it is for-us. Kant says that we can think the noumena, but cannot know them as they are in themselves, independently of our subjective access to them. Kant’s aim in his three Critiques (logic, ethics, aesthetics) was to replace divine justice with rational justice, or transcendent moral law with immanent ethical norms. For Kant the problem of ethics was strongly tied to the question of desire as productive action rather than as pursuit of something lacking. His attempt at laicizing or secularizing the concepts of morality and justice as well as the true and the good still retains its forceful effect on our contemporary understanding of these concepts.

Now, of course things have changed, humanity has moved on, we have traversed many hells since Kant. The developments in science and technology have rendered access to knowledge a lot easier but the establishment of truth and justice a lot more difficult at the same time. The instruments we have at hand are indeed constitutive of what we know to say the least. That said, the distinctions introduced by Kant between the logical and the causal, desire and need, as well as between contingency and necessity, should still be reworked through in such a way as to develop a dialectical notion of justice which takes into account the effects of the decisions based on it. It is here that we encounter Hegel who thinks in terms of consequences and whose dialectical thought is driven by a simultaneous interaction and transaction between proaction and retroaction.

In my investigation of the theories of justice in relation to the concepts of normativity and temporality I shall employ the philosophies of Kant-Hegel, Bergson-Deleuze, and Badiou-Zizek. These three series of thought-world have been specifically chosen because they are the representatives of three distinct stances in relation to the concept of justice in contemporary theory. The three series correspond to the modalities of transcendent justice (Kant-Hegel), immanent justice (Bergson-Deleuze), and eventual justice (Badiou-Zizek). The important thing to note here is that the latter two modes of being just (Bergson-Deleuze and Badiou-Zizek) are closely linked to Kant’s configuration of the relation between the reflective judgement and the determinative judgement, as well as the infinite/indefinite judgement and the negative judgement, later developed by Hegel.

The explication of these three modalities of justice will bring us to the issues of universality and particularity in relation to contingency and necessity. At this point we will direct our attention to specific empirical situations in the world which require justice to operate not just as a regulative ideal driven by the infinity of the noumenal and hence forever postponing its actualization, but rather delivering itself whenever and wherever it is required in accordance with a truth situated in its proper time and place.

The significance of the role played by our sense of justice in constituting our subjectivity is undeniable. But it is equally undeniable that our subjectivity is itself constitutive of our sense of justice. One should relate to the objects of judgement in such a way as to deliver justice to the subjects. Normative principles based on rational inferences are required to achieve this deliverance. I therefore propose a Hermetico-Promethean conception of justice, a post-nihilistic mode of judgement not just standing against the Evil produced by the nihilistic tendencies of our perilous times, but also producing the Good in accordance with new truths for the actualization of a less bad and more just future before the arrival of the worse future supposed to be predestined.

There is an interstitial time whereby thought takes it upon itself to transcend itself towards the unknown. That’s where abstraction, formalisation, and visualisation take on a temporal modality of being in and through which differential individuation and inferential rationality constitute new normative judgments giving form and content to a new common-sense in accordance with a new general-intellect giving its law to itself. That’s where the thought as void consumes itself and a contraction takes place in time, giving birth to a rupture between thought and being, a modal time-space between the past and the present, out of which a progressively altered future continually emerges and change takes place. It is only when and if the subject transcends its sense of justice that everything unjust disappears in a peaceful and full light of a fairness true to itself.

 

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