wissen wir was ein körper kann? philosophy on stage

FWF PROJECT: Materialität und Zeitlichkeit_Scientific Aspects


1.1.1. Rendering a contribution to the interpretation of performative speech-act-theories: John L. Austin, John R. Searle, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler and others
1.1.2 The ruinous effects of performative speech-act-theories in relation to our traditional metaphysical image of thinking and truth
1.1.3 Analysis of the temporality of performative speech acts (philosophy of time)
1.1.4 Analysis of the materiality of performative speech acts (media philosophy)
1.1.2 Innovative aspects (as regards content and methods)

Description of my research-program

1. Scientific aspects
1.1. Aims in relation to the international scientific work in the field (international status of the research)
1.1.1. Rendering a contribution to the interpretation of performative speech-act-theories: John L. Austin, John R. Searle, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler and others

In his anthology Performanz (Frankfurt 2002) Uwe Wirth has shown convincingly that the terms „performance/performative“ have become a central subject of various reflections in Twentieth Century’s philosophy of language and philosophy of culture, including a bright range of cultural studies. With the question How to do things with Words? John L. Austin obviously has induced a discourse that provoked representatives of very different scientific schools to passionate responses. Paradigmatically for such an intense reaction we can point to the academic dispute between John R. Searle and Jacques Derrida where two leading representatives of Twentieth-Century-philosophy verbally went to war to vigorously defend their heterogeneous interpretations of Austin’s speech-act-theory.

It is the fact of such passionate reactions that will lead us to state one of the main hypothesis of this project: to wit that performative speech-act-theory touches on elementary needs (passive syntheses ) whose very validity is questioned by this theory. A thesis which should make clear at the very beginning that, primarily, we are not investigating in questions like „How should Austin’s theory be picked up and read ‚correctly‘?“, or „How should the philosophical lawsuit between the heirs of his doctrine, Searle, Derrida and others, be settled as ‚just‘ as possible?“ Rather we are interested in questions like „Why does the theory of performatives provoke such vigorous reactions in many of its profoundest advocates?“, or „Can the performative character of language be proven to be a phenomenon especially predestined to provoke fierce resistances in most of its readers – and if so, why is this the case?“

At this point it is worth to remember historically that in Nineteenth-Century-philosophy both, Friedrich Nietzsche and Charles Sanders Peirce have already interpreted language as a force whose distinctive quality is at work whenever an ex-pression, literal or gestural, provokes certain effects on other things (signs). Thus they created a dynamic picture of language which Nietzsche, in a metaphorical way, repeatedly connected with the phenomenon of „dynamite“ . According to this explosive picture of language the primary function of communication does not simply consist in sending and receiving properly codified meanings within an already established system of communication. But rather it questions the validity of habitualized prejudgments (passive syntheses) during the, more or less unconscious process of picking them up in order to read them explicitly. If such a circulating ex-pression turns out to be unreadable, since the interpreters` available layers are not able to re-cognize them automatically, an explosive process of signification can take place that is able to destabilize the validity of the readers` old-established layers by putting their „truth“ into question.

Again it becomes clear that the main aim of our research program will not simply consist in analyzing certain doctrines of how to do things with words, but additionally in examining the performative force of these doctrines themselves along with the often explosive effects for their readers. An approach that seems promising to us, since it does not only investigate into the essential aspect (what-being) of a theory of performatives, but also into the relational force implicitly at work whenever somebody picks up such a speech-act-theory during the process of reading and interpreting it.

1.1.2 The ruinous effects of performative speech-act-theories in relation to our traditional metaphysical image of thinking and truth How to do things with words

„The name [„performative“ A. B.] is derived, of course, from ‚perform‘, the usual verb with the noun ‚action‘: it indicates that the issuing of the utterance is the performing of an action – it is not normally thought of as just saying something.“ This short definition of performatives shows that the peculiar feature of performative speech-acts, at least for Austin, consists in the fact that the issuing of such utterances performs an action and does not just say something about something. „Here we should say that in saying these words we are doing something“ – declaring a meeting open, christening a man, declaring war on somebody, etc.

Whenever we perform a performative speech act what is meant follows, to a certain degree, from the fact that something – and what has been said under certain circumstances. Since the actual performance of such a speech act itself is a constitutive part of the fact we are speaking about. Reflecting this it becomes clear that the relation between the fact we are speaking about and the fact of verbalizing this propositional content cannot, in the special case of performatives, be an extrinsic, but must be an inherent one. Thus the act of verbalizing something can never be completely indifferent and irrelevant to what is said in such an utterance. Because the issuing of the utterance itself is one of the necessary conditions to make the fact we are speaking about finally a perfectly realized one.

But if it is part of the constitutive structure of a performative that its propositional content is never fully realized before we have actually expressed it (temporalized), then, obviously, a performative can never rely on already perfectly constituted facts which merely have to be described properly or adequately re-presented (matching). Consequently, the expressions we are dealing with in such cases cannot simply be thought of as representations of an already existing fact whose being-in-itself should merely be expressed and translated correctly into its being-for-itself (Hegel). Nor can the issuing of a performative be understood as a mere representation of an already substantially given object whose essence has just to be expressed adequately (Aristoteles) to make its implicit meaning explicit (Husserl). All these images must fail since they interpret language primarily as an instrument of representation directed toward facts already existing-in-themselves (matching). But if the propositional content of a performative can never has been given completely before the issuing of the utterance, all these representational images of language, thought and truth necessarily overlook the performative character (making) implicitly at work in linguistic expressions. To wit that the propositional content of a performative has been posited fully – and in doing so has been made a recognizable fact – only after it has been expressed explicitly, but never before: „Now you are husband and wife.“, „Now war has been declared.“ etc.

While constatives presuppose that the fact referred to is perfectly realized in all its constitutive moments even without being verbalized – since the referent of constatives did exists „in itself“ independently of the fact of its verbalization – performatives transform this extrinsic relation between the fact and its being expressed into an immanent condition of the whole speech-act-situation (Sach-Verhalt) . Thus, in expressing a performative speech act we obviously do not talk „about“ a language-game but rather temporalize a certain act within a particular language-game. Now, in very accordance with Wittgenstein, we can assert that every performative speech act itself represents a certain move within a language-game.

„What then finally is left of the distinction of the performative and constative utterance? Really we may say that what we had in mind here was this: a) With the constative utterance, we abstract from the illocutionary… aspect of the speech act, and we concentrate on the locutionary… we use an over-simplified notion of correspondence with the facts… We aim at the ideal of what would be right to say in all circumstances, for any purpose, to any audience, etc. Perhaps this is sometimes realized. b) With the performative utterance, we attend as much as possible to the illocutionary force of the utterance, and abstract from the dimensions of correspondence with facts.“ The rebelling opponent (resistance) of performative speech-act-theories

Without leaving us much room to doubt, these sentences clearly express the horizon truly at stake in Austin`s theory of performatives. What really matters to him in How do to things with words is our traditional use of „an over-simplified notion of correspondence with the facts“, grounded in an image of thought which presupposes a quasi-prestabilized correspondence between the real act of verbalizing something and the ideal meaning expressed in it. A distinction that necessarily blurs in the case of performatives, since the real act of expressing something has shown to be one of the constitutive moments of the ideal conditions, which have to be satisfied in order to perform such a speech act anyhow.

What, at the very bottom of Austin`s theory (sub-iectum) now shows up to be truly at stake is the classical, metaphysical definition of truth qua adaequatio intellectus ad rem or rei ad intellectum; – the „over-simplified idea“ of veritas qua convenientia, correspondence, correlation, matching, correctness -, that has decisively dominated the common image of truth for centuries. Since this metaphysical image of truth is not only a theoretical belief of some philosophers, but a deeply rooted habilitative synthesis in ordinary daily life, quasi-automatically (passive synthesis) activated as soon as we pick up the word „truth“ in a conventional sense, it becomes fully evident that any questioning of this ancient habit puts our common, ordinary integrity, stability and identity at risk and in danger. From this perspective it becomes convincingly intelligible that every approach, trying to restrict the validity of this old-established „prejudgment“, initially has to provoke vigorous reactions in most recipients of this „gift“.

Taking into account what yet has been said, the fundamental working hypothesis of our research project hopefully has become more convincing and readable. Our thesis that it is the historical break (caesura ) with the traditional definition of truth qua convenientia, implicitly at work in every performative speech-act-theory, that provokes such intense defense reactions among its most profound readers. From this point of view the old-sedimanted image of truth qua „correctness“ automatically shows up in the readers to insist, habitually, on its old-established privileges the very moment its boundless validity is questioned. A highly delicate constellation „of truth“, generating a huge amount of explosives which should be tracked down, verbalized and hopefully deactivated in our research project.

Anyhow. If the fact a performative statement refers to is never perfectly constituted before and given independently of the actual issuing of the utterance the truth of such statements can never consist in merely matching the utterance with an already completely existing fact. Therefore we suppose it has become necessary, once again, to reiterate the traditional question „What is truth?“; but this time emphasizing its performative character (making). A challenging task, already envisaged from Nietzsche when he said to himself. „The problematic relation between art and truth affected me seriously from the very beginning: and even to-day I feel frightened and thrilled whenever I look into this abyss.“ In a related aphorism, Nietzsche did answer this question for himself, positing „that art is more valuable than truth“, since it is the poietic character of language which qualifies our speech acts to become a productive (schaffende) force while subordinating any form of truth which disguises itself in various kinds of matching (adaptation, adjustment, correctness, conventionality, objectivity, facts). Masks, which Nietzsche now has qualified as a sort of reactive power. „We received the gift of art in order not to go to ruin during our confrontation with truth.“ Taking into account this performative character of language, Nietzsche could already suggest in his early, unpublished text On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense the following definition of truth. „‚What is truth?‘ A moving army of metaphors, metonymies and anthropomorphisms, in short a whole of human relationships that are being poetically and rhetorically sublimated, transposed, and beautified until, after long and repeated use, a people considers them as solid, canonical, and unavoidable. Truth are illusions whose illusionary nature has been forgotten, metaphors that have been used up and have lost their imprint and that now operate as mere metal, no longer as coins.“

As Wolfgang Iser has shown in his sublime article about „Mimesis und Performanz“, a theory of truth which emphasizes the performative character of language will always highlight the poietic as well as the technological character of truth while degrading any ritual act of mimesis, as Adorno already has shown in his aesthetics. The reason for this lies in the fact that the performative aspect of language does not correspond with some-thing, but rather with no-thing, if we do understand nothingness as the realm of things not yet disclosed. Thus the more the performative aspect of language comes to light, the more the propositional content of a sentence owes its existence (être raison) to the fact of being expressed. „The reason, why the performative aspect becomes the dominant factor in this play consists in the fact that it represents, essentially, something not yet present-at-hand within the presence of things.“ Thus art and technology, already in Greek philosophy two crucial ways of letting something come into being („be-coming“ ), start to become the main and dominant character of a conception of truth dominated by its performative aspect that starts to substitute metonymically the poietic paradigm of truth qua „making/productivity“ for the classical paradigm of truth qua matching.

1.1.3 Analysis of the temporality of performative speech acts (philosophy of time)

Therefore performative speech-act-theories do not only question the classic definition of truth qua matching and correctness, but additionally perform a subordination, finally even a metonymical substitution, in which the new paradigm of truth as a kind of „art“ and productive power will have been replaced for the traditional concept of truth qua convenientia with already existing facts. Analyzing the far reaching implications of this historical „shift“ in our truth-consciousness will be one of the central tasks of our research project.
For a deeper understanding of the structure, implicitly at work in this transitional process of truth-consciousness, first of all we would like to analyze, systematically, the complex structure of time at work in performative speech acts. A temporal structure that shows at least two characteristic features:
First, a performative speech act takes place as the actual temporalization of a particular statement in time, whose performance itself is a constitutive part of the full (perfect) constitution of the propositional content spoken about. Therefore we could say that only after the fact that a performative sentence has been uttered, now the propositional content of a performative has been made a perfectly present thing ready to be recognized in its consistent „being“.

Second, every speech act has to recall – recursively – certain traditionally codified rules of signification in order to be sufficiently readable and communicable for both, the author and the receiver of the message. In Excitable Speech. A Politics of the Performative“ Judith Butler in particular emphasized the need to analyze the temporal aspect of the recursive structure implicitly at work in any speech act, precisely because it implies and unfolds the historical dimension of language. Since, whenever one would not be able to refer to a reliable public heritage in quoting common means of expression, an uttered statement would remain totally unreadable as well as ineffective for any person participating in such a speech-act-situation. „Hate speech“, for example, expressed without emotions in a foreign language, obviously would not temporalize any offending effects on the reader of such a message. He or she would merely recognize some uttered noise. A fact from which we learn that the recursive structure of speech acts itself is a temporal structure that has to be elucidated in the course of our research project.

But, if the „‚happy‘ functioning of a performative“ relies, among other things, on a recursive act that ought to repeat linguistic traditions correctly, this condition necessarily implies the possibility of reading the issued utterance unconventionally; – against its common use while picking it up, either strategically or unconsciously, „incorrectly“. „To read such texts against themselves is to concede that the performativity of the text is not under sovereign control. On the contrary, if the text acts once, it can act again, and possibly against its prior act. This raises the possibility of resignification as an alternative reading of performativity and of politics.“ It is this very possibility that holds a potential of social criticism to a high degree since it allows us to „mis-interpret“, strategically, the „correct use“ of certain linguistic traditions.

Thus also from the point of view of expressing and collecting utterances „correctly“ the traditional determination of truth qua correctness obviously becomes questionable. Since it just seems to describe the special case of a conventionally running communication by making it the universal paradigm of any communication in general. But, alluding to Judith Butler the „correct“ use of language now has shown up to be just a special borderline case of communication, in which the authors and readers of utterances mutually use the circulating words in their conventional meaning, reciting them „correctly“ (via habilitative passive syntheses) and therefore conventionally recognize their correct meaning. (By the way, in his Critique of Pure Reason Kant already analyzed this phenomenon under the name of a threefold synthesis, always already at work in any process of signification: the threefold synthesis of apprehension, reproduction and recognition ).

But once we started to understand that the „incorrect“, playful use of signs does not inevitable have to mean a dishonorable abuse against the „correct“ use of well-established rules of signification, but, on the contrary, can represent a powerful, highly legitimate form of using language, here too a new concept of truth and language becomes necessary. One that explicitly affirms this „artistic“ possibility as a permanent quality inherent in any linguistic system. In fact, the break up of conventional rules of signification, well-established procedures of codification and conventional meanings truly makes up the intensity and liveliness of any language.

Taken all this into account, a poietic performance of language can never consist in simply applying some already given rules of signification „correctly“, but rather in transforming, improving or ennobling [grafting, veredeln, aufpfropfen] the heritage of a given language game while introducing new turns, twists, shiftings and meanings into a certain set of linguistic rules. Therefore „a postmodern artist or writer shares the same condition as a philosopher: the text he writes, the work he creates are never governed by already full established rules ready-at-hand. Consequently they can never be judged according to the paradigm of determining judgments that are simply applying familiar categories on a certain text or work. On the contrary. These rules and categories are rather the thing the text and work searched for. This is the reason why artists and writers work without rules; they work to produce the rule of what will have been produced. From this it follows that their work and text bears the quality of an occurring event [a performative].“

Jean François Lyotard, in his distinct use of the term „postmodern“, explicitly indicates that this word – a notion that has become a common place meanwhile – emphasizes the performative character at work in life and especially in any field of the arts. Thus, as a final result, Lyotard could give the following temporal definition of what it means to be postmodern: „[P]ostmodern would have to be thought of as the paradoxical structure of the future anterieure (Vorzukunft).“ Seen from this temporal-(post-modo) aspect, the performance of positing an art work must no longer be read as if it would fulfill its „proper purpose“ in creating exemplary works, wherein a certain set of rules is simply represented in outstanding examples which do illustrate these rules most adequately. Such a „juridical“ conception of what takes place in the arts would precisely fail to recognize the performative (event-)character of any artistic process. Since this character definitely consists in the fact that the process of art itself is always already exposed to the risk of producing crucial effects on the set of rules primarily at work within itself. Thus the primary conditions involved in such a process ought to be able to be radically transformed, at every moment, in the open, unpredictable course of its performance. It is this self immanent possibility of the arts, that could lead us to experience the necessity to correct – possibly even to collapse or subvert – the immanent conditions, schematisms and rules of judgment at work in such a process. (And, both, daily life as well as science can, at any time, imply such artistic moments in the course of things). For Lyotard it is precisely this permanent possibility of de-constructing the set of rules that brings into play the peculiar performative character of an artistic structure of life in general: its non-representable character and „gameness“.

Now it should have become evident why the performative (event-)character of an artistic performance has to be unreadable for us as long as we interpret the work of art just as a simple expression, as a mere representation or a correct application of some underlying rules, radically dominating the artistic work in progress from the very beginning till its very end. Rather it is the case that the set of rules, implicitly at work in an artistic production are permanently put at risk and therefore experimentally tested so that their validity is continuously put at stake, but never ensured and stabilized for the entire process of production.

As Avital Ronell has convincingly shown in her article „The Test Drive“ , the craving for testing everything and everyone in order to find out the limits of someone’s suitability – be it the ironic`s test, who plumbs the limits of our stupidity in witty-ambiguous conversations, be it the aptitude test at schools, be it the Aids test before giving blood, etc. – testing oneself and others seems to have become one of the basic experiences of our daily life under the contemporary sway of the „condition postmoderne“. A historical constellation, where even public and private human relations have started to become the test field of a common laboratory situation in which our „test drive“ pursues its pleasure of experimenting with anything and anybody at anytime by involving unscrupulously everything into a test situation. Thus our research project is not only intended to be a reflection about the concept of „performatives“ from the perspective of the philosophy of language, but also in respect to the epoch-making „condition postmoderne“. A historical condition in which the structure of human experience and life as a whole seemed to have acquired the character of a fictional text in which, as Wolfgang Iser has pointed out, „the underlying code, which embodies the referential meaning of such a text, yet has to be discovered within its various elements.“

For sure. Art too does imitate conventionally codified language-games whenever it deals with traditionally codified expressions, since even an art work would be absolutely unreadable without performing a recursive speech act that recalls a certain linguistic heritage ready-at-hand. But since art does never submit itself fully to the conventional means of expression at our common disposal, since it just imitates the traditional rules of codification in quoting them in a playful way and therefore uses our tradition rather „parasitic“ than „seriously“, the mode of being as well as the performative force of the arts should never be read according to the model of conventional speech acts. Nor should the performance of the arts be judged pragmatically according to the conditions of possibility of its „happy“ functioning. A mistaken perspective, Austin and Searle seem to have adopted whenever they do qualify fictional discourse as „parasitic“ upon the „happy functioning“ of conventional speech acts. Since the fact, „that fictional use of language does not fulfill its entire purpose in actualizing a certain plot“ does not necessarily mean „it does not posit any effect at all.“

For Wolfgang Iser, the crucial reason why Austin and Searle developed a misleading perspective on fictional discourses consists in the fact that both of them connect a questionable normative judgment with the fact that speech acts have to be recursive in order to become communicable. Even if we necessarily have to refer to conventional accepted linguistic procedures to make them readable for others this does not at all mean that the validity of accepted linguistic rules shall be constant in order not to risk the success of mutual understanding. „What has been valid should stay valid, what stabilized the meaning of a speech act should be quoted again. They [Austin and Searle, A. B.] do not only insist on the simple necessity to recall certain accepted linguistic procedures, but in addition to it they demand to prolong their accepted validity. Therefore, in their reading, the validity of accepted conventions does also imply a vertical structure; taking its resource from the fact that these procedures have been and should be valid once and for all. But it is this validity, precisely, that is questioned in fictional discourses. Not, because such discourses would have no relation to any convention at all, but because they exactly fulfill their purpose in breaking through vertically stabilized conventions in order to reorganize them anew horizontally.“

If the performance of the arts satisfies both, a preserving as well as a de-constructive function in which stiff rules, conventional meanings and distinctively regulated reference systems are broken up by the playful use of symbols and thus transformed into new combinations -, it obviously makes no sense to annul the performative character of a work of art while comparing it with the „happy functioning“ of conventional ways of communication. „For Austin, the term ‚empty‘ means that fictional speech can never rely on fully accepted procedures… For sure, their ‚happy functioning‘ is incomparable more in danger than in case of explicit performative utterances… But even if one would find this fact sufficiently reasonable to qualify fictional speech acts ‚empty‘, the question of their own pragmatic dimension would not disappear automatically.“

The pragmatic dimension of a poietic discourse – be it in everyday life, be it in the arts, be it even in the scientific ideal of a Gay Science – precisely consists in the fact to risk the „happy functioning“ of communication. „Such a performance of de-pragmatizing [and thus de-instrumentalizing A. B.] language is exactly the pragmatic definition,… the strategy of such texts… It does differ from the happy functioning of accepted procedure since it disrupts stabilized and stabilizing expectations at stake by recombining their pool“

Since playfully discovered rules can never be traced back completely to already fully established traditions, but might rather receive the gift of becoming a commonly accepted rule belated, after it has been recognized from the public and established into a common standard, the success of establishing a work of art necessarily takes place as a risky thing, essentially „untimely“ (Unzeitgemäßheit)“ „Therefore the author is always too late, or to take it the other way round, his work has always started to soon for himself.“

Thus, „when we, to-day, speak from the ‚end of representation’… do we mean a description of our historical situation or just the incapability to understand the performance of the arts and literature by virtue of our traditional concept of representation?“
Therefore our research project will investigate into the following question: „How can we elaborate a concept of representation, able to discover the necessary conditions contemporarily at work in the performance of the arts?“

1.1.4 Analysis of the materiality of performative speech acts (media philosophy)

In this context Charles Sanders Peirce distinguishes between rules of replication and rules of signification. While the rules of replication regulate the process at work in the „re-embodiment“ that takes place in an actual performance of signification, the rules of signification determine the semantic meaning of the issued utterance. Whenever a certain type of expression, for instance the word „woman“, is actually expressed by issuing the utterance „woman“ (token) through activating a highly ritualized material flow of ex-pression – certain rules of replication are at work which govern this process. So what is repeated in such replicas is not only a semantic meaning („woman“). It too is a reproducible habit (bodily ritual) activating a semantic flow of tokens which transmits the uttered ex-pression – via predestined material ways of transmission (material rituals) – toward possible receivers re-connecting the signals with certain codified significance. Therefore the synthesis of such replicative performances are highly ritualized, at least in two respects.

On the one hand the referential whole of such a semiosis is never produced ex nihilo. Rather it is performed in accordance with certain already existing patterns of bodily behavior, that are more or less adequately re-activated in such a performance. Thus any actual performance of a speech act itself is always already a kind of repetition or, as Derrida has never become tired to stress out, already an iterable act (replica). „Could a performative utterance succeed if its formulation did not repeat a ‚coded‘ or iterable utterance, or in other words, if the formula I pronounce in order to open a meeting, launch a ship or a marriage were not identifiable as conforming with an iterable model, if it were not then identifiable in some way as a ‚citation‘?“

On the other hand it is not only the mediating semantic flow of tokens that represents a process highly habitualized in the course of its own realization while following pre-given rhizomatic patterns of transmission. The replicative act itself takes place quasi-mechanically, thus without being consciously induced from ourselves. Therefore, alluding to Husserl, we can call the mode of realization of such an act the pathetic performance of a habilitative, passive synthesis that takes place in a pre-reflexive way within our-selves, but not primarily through ourselves. From this we can learn that the actual realization of iterable semiotic flows of tokens does not only repeat stable, pre-given patterns of a certain semiotic chain reaction, but also the mode of this „material reiteration“ (Foucault ) itself takes place in form of a habilitative, passive synthesis.

Therefore the performance of such habitually stabilized rituals is nothing very extraordinary or even sophisticated, but rather the most average and ordinary way we perform our being-in-the-world in its recurrent everydayness. Thus the phenomenon of passive synthesis, at least according to Heidegger, does dominate the structure of our daily life practice (Da-sein). In their readiness-at-hand such patterns of behavior are quasi-automatically reiterated and therefore permanently quoted in everyday practice which brings them and keeps them recurrently alive: again… and again… and again. Rather in ourselves (auto-matos) than by ourselves (causa sui). An everyday-disposition that, in its „discrete“ performance takes care for the fact that our relation toward objects has always already been marked, pre-reflexively, the very moment these objects have become representations in our consciousness and thus objects of our „Lebenswelt“: To wit a significant world, always already meaning something to us since it always already has been picked up/read and represented pre-reflexively.

Therefore replicative syntheses are about actual singular performances of a material embodiment of statements in the course of their spatio-temporal performance. But since these singular acts re-call certain pre-configured patterns of behavior in habitualized ways, a singular speech act is always already an instance of a discrete, subliminal quotation of some bodily rituals ready at hand.

Considering this it becomes obvious that it is not only the ideal propositional content (type), but also the particular material performance of speech acts that can be replicated. Since the material embodiment of a particular type of statement too – for instance the performance of a written, phonetic or gestural utterance – represents a singular event of a repeatable phenomenon. To be sure, such a material performance takes place from one singular case to another. But the very moment, these singular performances are considered as the singular data of actions in principle iterable, even these „singularities“ become re-cognizable as being of a certain type of action, despite their quality of being singularities! (‚ Boehler, Habilitation)

If, from this perspective, we consider each singular event as the singular case of a series of (n)-possible reproductions of one and the same eidetic datum (type) at different times, the constitution of singularities becomes conceivable. Already Kant has pointed to this fact in his Critique of Pure Reason when he called the threefold synthesis of apprehension, reproduction and recognition in concept a transcendental precondition at work in any representation of an object. Here Kant already explicitly emphasized that a singular datum can only be recognized and represented as long as we do project it as a reproducible datum of one and the same type of token that is „merely“ reproduced, as an instance of application , in the course of its actual singular performance.

Since singular events themselves are types of replicas, they do hold a ritual character whose constancy, in the very accord with Derrida, can never be simply reduced to the performance actually taking place in the present. Rather this ritual character of what takes place in the actual moment „presented“ to us indicates, that what seems to be simply a presence-at-hand should rather be understood historically as a certain habitual, quasi-addicted way of actually re-activating certain patterns of bodily behavior ready-at-hand. The actual realization of presently performed speech acts, even in its bodily performance and material deterritorialization thus always already re-calls and re-activates historically prefigured patterns of embodiment (replicas). Finally, this very fact will urge our research program to question the historicity of material actualizations in their presence-at-hand in general. A question, combining at least three structural moments:

First, our analysis of the historicity of material processes of signification will try to answer the question how this ritual character should structurally be understood. A question that will confront our research project with the work of Michel Foucault, who, in The Archaeology of Knowledge already asked, how the act of material reiteration of statements should be understood in general. „What, then, is this rule of repeatable materiality that characterizes the statement?“ A problem that will lead us to make iteration or „repetition the category of the future“ .

Second, how should the copula (synthesis) itself, connecting one semiotic unit with another, be read? Does it suffice to interpret it semio-pragmatically, in accordance with Peirce, by stabilizing its relations indexically? But if this were so, how should we, according to our theoretical perspective, developed in this research description, interpret the fact that these indexical relations (referential-whole) themselves too just seem to be historically stabilized forms of coupling one semiotic unit with another? Furthermore. Is the referential-whole simply something „spiritual“, primordially taking place in the act of „thinking“ as the most original kind of performing a synthesis (Kant`s interpretation of the copula)? Or does this referential-whole necessarily imply the activation of a material flow of tokens (signals)? Again we must ask, how such materially linked procedures of signalization become stable facts themselves – now indicating a definite type-token-relation (index) resulting from the fact that they have been codified.

Third, this formulation of a question raises the problem of mediation in general. If the transference of signals does take place in the form of a deterritorializing flow of tokens, this process of signalization too has to be investigated more closely. For if the structure of signs in general is about signalizing something, the problem of communicating signs does not only indicate the question of what wants to be indicated (signalized), but also refers to the question, how the material transference of such signals should be understood. This topic will confront us, inter alia, with Husserl’s distinction of indicating (anzeigenden) and signifying (bedeutsamen) signs, his investigations concerning the hyletic character at work in the performance (temporalization) of passive syntheses as well as with contemporary theories of media-philosophy. (See this application ‚ scientific and artistic cooperations)
Thus we have sketched out the scientific framework and horizon our research project would like to investigate in. The following résumé briefly sums up the crucial aims of our research in a tabular form.

Tabulation of the main aims of this research project

  • Account, analysis and critique of performative speech-act-theories (Inherence of utterance and propositional content in performative speech acts)
  • Analysis of the explosive force at work in these theories in relation to the traditional determination of truth qua correctness (matching)
  • Elaboration of a philosophical concept of truth that does not only take into account the aspect of truth qua „matching“, but also its performative aspect qua „making“
  • Analysis of the arts as a new paradigm for understanding the term „truth“ performatively
  • Elaboration of a concept of representation that takes into account the temporal structure of the future anterieure at work in the arts
  • Elaboration of a concept of representation that takes into account the recursive aspect of language constituting the historicity of speech acts
  • Analysis of the rules of replication at work in the embodiment of statements (bodily and material rituals via passive syntheses)
  • Analysis of performative utterances during the process of their embodiment (ex-pression) and material transference (de-territorialization and external re-citation) during a codified process of signalization
Quoted Books and Articles

  • John L. Austin, How To Do Things With Words, Harvard University Press, Second Edition, Cambridge 1962/1975
  • Hans-Dieter Bahr, Tropisches Denken, Verlag Turia & Kant, 1994
  • Arno Böhler, Singularitäten. Vom zu-reichenden Grund der Zeit, Passagen Verlag, went to press, Wien 2004, pages: about 300 (Abstract Webversion see ‚ http://www.phaidon.philo.at/~boehler).
  • Arno Böhler, „Einblicke in den Ab-Grund des Denkens. ‚Über die Dummheit‘ (Avital Ronell)“ In: Das integrale und das gebrochene Ganze. Zum 100. Geburtstag von Leo Gabriel. Yvanka B. Raynova und Susanne Moser (Hg.), Peter Lang Verlag, went to press, Wien 2004, pages: about 20 (Webversion see ‚ http://www.phaidon.philo.at/~boehler).
  • Arno Böhler, „Nietzsches virtuellen Wanderungen im Sprachzeitraum des Gefährlichen Vielleicht“ In: Jahrbuch der Internationalen Nietzschegesellschaft, Nietzscheforschung Band 10, went to press, Berlin 2004, pages: about: 24 (Webversion see ‚ http://www.phaidon.philo.at/~boehler)
  • Arno Böhler, „Vor der (imaginären) Gesetzes-Kraft“ In: Das Verbindende der Kulturen. INST (http://www.inst.at/) (Hg.), Internetzeitschrift TRANS Nr. 15 (http://www.inst.at./trans/transstyle.htm) Online in Spring 2004 as well as on CD in a book with the same name published in: Universitätsverlag Röhrig, Oktober 2004, pages: about 18 (Webversion see ‚ http://www.phaidon.philo.at/~boehler)
  • Judith Butler, Excitable Speech. A Politics of the Performative, Routledge, New York 1997
  • Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, Columbia University Press, New York 1994
  • Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, a thousand plateaus. capitalism and schizophrenia, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis/London 2000
  • Jacques Derrida, Die Stimme und das Phänomen, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2003
  • Jacques Derrida, Die Schrift und die Differenz, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1994
  • Jacques Derrida, Dissemination, Passagen Verlag, Wien 1995
  • Jacques Derrida, Gesetzeskraft. Vom mystischen Grund der Autorität, Frankfurt am Main 1991
  • Jacques Derrida, Limited Inc., Northern University Press, Illinois 1990
  • Jacques Derrida, Mémoires for Paul de Man, Columbia University Press, New York 1989
  • Jacques Derrida, The Post Card. From Socrates to Freud and Beyond, University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1987
  • Hubert L. Dreyfus, Being-in-the-World. A commentary on Heidegger`s Being and time, Division I, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 20019
  • Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, Harper Colophon Edition, New York 1976
  • Martin Heidegger, Zur Sache des Denkens, Tübingen 19762
  • Martin Heidegger, Gesamtausgabe, Vittorio Klostermann Verlag, Frankfurt am Main. „Vom Wesen der Wahrheit“. In: Wegmarken, GA Band 9, 1976, 177-202 „Der Ursprung des Kunstwerks“. In: Holzwege, GA Band 5, 1977, 1-74
  • Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, State University of New York Press, New York 1996
  • Martin Heidegger, Prolegomena History of the Concept of Time, Indiana University Press, Bloomington 1992
  • Dieter Henrich, Konstellationen: Probleme und Debatten am Ursprung der idealistischen Philosophie (1789-1795), Klett-Cotta Verlag, Stuttgart 1991
  • Edmund Husserl, Analysen zur Passiven Synthesis. Aus Vorlesungs- und Forschungsmanuskripten 1918-1926, Husserliana XI, Den Haag (Nijhoff) 1966
  • Edmund Husserl, Logische Untersuchungen, Husserliana XIX/1, Den Haag (Nijhoff) 1984
  • Wolfgang Iser, „Das Modell der Sprechakte“. In: Performanz. Zwischen Sprachphilosophie und Kulturwissenschaften, Uwe Wirth (Hg.), Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2002, 129-139
  • Wolfgang Iser, „Mimesis und Performanz“. In: Performanz. Zwischen Sprachphilosophie und Kulturwissenschaften, Uwe Wirth (Hg.), Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2002, 243-262
  • Immanuel Kant, Kritik der reinen Vernunft, Reclam Verlag, Stuttgart 1985
  • Wayne Klein, Nietzsche And The Promise of Philosophy, State University of New York Press, New York 1997
  • Sybille Krämer, Sprache, Sprechakt, Kommunikation, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2001
  • Sybille Krämer „Sprache und Sprechen oder: Wie sinnvoll ist die Unterscheidung zwischen einem Schema und seinem Gebrauch? Ein Überblick.“ In: Sybille Krämer and Ekkehard König (Hg.), Gibt es eine Sprache hinter dem Sprechen, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2002, 97-125
  • Rolf Kühn, Husserls Begriff der Passivität. Zur Kritik der passiven Synthesis in der Genetischen Phänomenologie, Alber Verlag, München 1998
  • Jean François Lyotard, „Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist postmodern?“ In: Peter Engelmann (Hg.), Postmoderne und Dekonstruktion, Stuttgart 1990, 33-49
  • Jean François Lyotard, Der Widerstreit, Wilhelm Fink Verlag, München 1989
  • Paul de Man, Allegories of Reading, Yale University Press, Yale 1979
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, Kritisches Studienausgabe (KSA), Giorgio Colli und Mazzino Montinari (Hg.), DTV München/Walter de Gruyter, Berlin/New York 1967-1977
    – Über Wahrheit und Lüge im außermoralischen Sinne, KSA Band1, 873-891
    – Zur Genealogie der Moral, KSA Band 5, 245-413
    – Götzen-Dämmerung oder Wie man mit dem Hammer philosophirt. KSA Band 6, 55-162
  • Charles S. Peirce, Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, Harvard University Press, Cambridge 1931-1935
  • Avital Ronell, Stupidity, University of Illinois Press, Chicago 2002
  • Avital Ronell, Drogenkriege, Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1994
  • Avital Ronell, „The Test Drive“. In: Deconstruction is/in America. Anselm Haverkamp (Hg.), New York University Press 1995, 200-220.
  • Richard Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, Princeton University Press, Princeton 1979
  • F.W.J. Schelling, System des transcendentalen Idealismus, in: Ausgewählte Schriften Band 1 (1794-1800), Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1985, 395-703
  • John R. Searle, Speech Acts, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1969
  • Georg Christoph Tholen, Die Zäsur der Medien. Kulturphilosophische Konturen, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2002
  • Uwe Wirth, „Der Performanzbegriff im Spannungsfeld von Illokution, Iteration und Indexikalität.“. In: Performanz. Zwischen Sprachphilosophie und Kulturwissenschaften, Uwe Wirth (Hg.), Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2002, 9-60
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophische Grammatik, in: Schriften 4, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main/Oxford 1969
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophische Untersuchungen, in: Schriften 1, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main/Oxford 1980
  • Ingo Zechner, Deleuze. Der Gesang des Werdens, Wilhelm Fink Verlag, München 2003

1.1.2 Innovative aspects (as regards content and methods) How our project could break new ground scientifically (innovative aspects as regards content)

In philosophical respect we do expect, from our investigation into the materiality and temporality of performatives, to develop a comprehensive theory of communication able to render legible the linguistic-, temporal- and media-philosophical aspects of performative speech acts in their inherent referential whole.

If we succeed in developing such a theory during the „performance“ of our research project, we would not only have produced an innovative philosophical contribution to the theory of performatives, but also a theoretical basis for an inner-philosophical dialogue between several philosophical disciplines. Since in Twentieth-Century the most important contributions concerning the issues of time, language and media-philosophy do come from very different philosophical traditions. Thus, for instance, we do owe the most sublime analyses of time Husserl`s and Heidegger`s phenomenological investigations, while the most profound writings on matter and memory are due to Nietzsche, Bergson and their orientation towards a philosophy of life. We do owe Austin’s, Searle’s and Judith Butler’s speech-act-theories methodologically to the linguistic turn in Anglo-American philosophy, while finally the approaches of French (post-)structuralists – from Foucault, Deleuze to Derrida and Kristeva – are due to their orientation toward a discourse-philosophy, always already generated in confrontation with linguistic (Saussure), semiotic (Peirce) and analytical (Wittgenstein) theories of language. If we want to succeed in thematizing both simultaneously, the process of signalization and the process of signification, such an integral question obviously demands a highly diversified forum of sciences & arts in which reluctances between schools and traditions ought to be strategically reduced in order to counter tendencies of isolation.
Thus this interdisciplinary aspect of our research project does not only concern different philosophical traditions but also non-philosophical disciplines of arts and sciences.

Therefore, in addition to our investigation into a theory of performatives we intend to organize two Lecture-Performances during our three-years research-plan („Symposia“, see ‚ innovative methodology and ART-Laboratory). In these Lecture-Performances (Symposia) we will not only invite, cooperate and confront our theory with leading representatives of philosophy, but also with representatives of natural and media sciences as well as the arts, in order to organize a forum of knowledge as interdisciplinary as possible. Its hybrid structure, crossing out stiff dichotomies, ought to enable us to produce a sound, representative „philosophical“ examination of what is contemporarily going on in the arts. The significance of the expected progress of the subject because of this project (methodological innovative aspects)

„When Galilei did let some balls roll down a sloping surface, with a certain mass he himself had chosen before… all natural scientists suddenly did see. Since they understood that reason does only disclose what it itself has produced according to its own projection; and therefore it has to proceed according to principles of judgment in accordance with continuous laws and urge nature to respond to its questions…“

Let us transform this passage from Kant’s Preface of his Critique of Pure Reason into our own research project. In doing this we can say that investigations of the humanities and cultural studies too become scientific – at least according to the Critique – first, if and only if they do project their object of investigation intellectually. Second, this gained pre-understanding of the object has to be tested with regard to its validity while putting the object of investigation itself on a test in order to prove the legitimacy of our intellectual projection.

In the course of describing our research project we have already fulfilled the first necessity, required by this method: outlining intellectually and anticipating imaginarily the theoretical perspective on the object of our investigation. But what about the second necessity required by this method, regarding the experimental part of our research project? The decisive part in which the legitimacy of our theory has to be tried and tested with regard to its validity, in the course of a factual confrontation with the questionable „referent“ itself?

Thus, if the „referent“ of our research project will have been proven to be the ever-incomplete referential-whole (sub-iectum), anonymously at work in the performance of the arts, then, in the second, the experimental part of our research project, we obviously will have to pose the following question: How can „the arts be urged“ to respond explicitly to the structure, our theory of performatives posits as being at work, anonymously in the work of the arts?