Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Darwin 101—Death Eats Survival


Tibetan Buddhist Wheel of Life (in the jaws of Death (Yama))

Survival is not the bedrock of existence. Substantial portions of my body and brain don't care if I live or die—even enjoy the pleasurable sensations that kill me: there must be some minimal pleasure in ceasing to breathe at night or in grinding your teeth. Your body wouldn't do it if it was irritating. Freud was onto something with this death drive business. DNA reproduces because the molecule is "seeking" equilibrium--reproduction is merely a byproduct of that, almost a sort of side effect. Life is a side effect of the death drive—I'm afraid that in his latest, Chronophobia, Martin Hagglund regresses on this score. A species doesn't "want" or even "try to" survive. Why? It doesn't exist. Survival only means your genome was copied before you died. Hagglund's definition is teleological—ironically, nowhere near minimal enough despite claims that it's foundational.

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