Looking at David Graeber and David Wengrow’s Chapter (2021) “Why The State Has No Origin”(Part 8 of 13)

0228 Why does each early ancient civilization exhibit a unique historical trajectory?

Mesopotamia differs from the Mayan lowlands.

China differs from the Olmec, Chavin and Natchez.

The Inca empire differs from ancient Egypt.

0229 Yet, there are commonalities, which Graeber and Wengrow attribute to the three elementary forms of domination.  Each ancient civilization passes through its own sequences of first-order, second-order and third-order regimes.

The Olmec, Chavin and Natchez develop first-order regimes, displaying primarily one elementary form of domination.

Egypt’s predynastic rulers develop two: sovereignty and administration.  Mesopotamian kings start with administration and heroic status.  Classic Maya elevates sovereignty and competitive politics.

Eventually, each civilizational state manifests all three elementary forms of domination.


Looking at David Graeber and David Wengrow’s Chapter (2021) “Why The State Has No Origin”(Part 9 of 13)

0230 However, unbeknownst to Graeber and Wengrow, there is another definition that arises from a historical differentiation of category-based nested forms due to the explicit abstraction afforded by speech-alone talk.  Society3, organization2 and individual in community1 are the first to differentiate after the first singularity.  The differentiation continues until situation-level sovereign power3b differentiates from content-level institutions3a in the societyC tier.

0231 Here is a picture comparing the two situation-level category based nested forms.

Figure 36

0232 The first nested form is from the chapter on presence in Razie Mah’s masterwork, How To Define the Word “Religion”.

The second nested form is from chapter ten in David Graeber and David Wengrow’s masterwork, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity.

0233 From this comparison, I conclude that Graeber and Wengrow’s definition of the “state”2b coincides with sovereign acts and decrees2b.  The potential for order1b parallels the possibility of domination1b.   The potentials underlying the term, “domination”1a by extension, associates to the possibilities inherent in righteousness1a.  Or even worse, the potentials underlying the term, “domination”1a, defines righteousness1a.


Looking at David Graeber and David Wengrow’s Chapter (2021) “Why The State Has No Origin”(Part 10 of 13)

0234 What does it mean for sovereign power3b to be confounded with a situation-level definition3b of the spoken term, “state”2b?

0235 A pair of two-level interscopes stand before me.

The first corresponds to the first two levels of the societyC tier.

Figure 37

The second corresponds to the situation-level definition of the term, “state”, derived from Graeber and Wengrow’s theory, plus a content-level definition of the term, “domination”.

Figure 38

0236 Normal contexts3 exhibit the logics of exclusion, complement or alignment.

Once again, I ask, “Do the situation-level normal contexts exclude one another, complement one another, or align with one another?”

The first option is sovereign action without the state.  Or, is it a state without sovereign acts?

I suspect that this option describes the conditions where situation-level sovereign power3b has not differentiated from other institutions3a.  Every institution3a exercises disciplinary power, which is similar to sovereign action without the state.  Every institution enforces its disciplinary powers, which are similar to domination.

The second option may correspond to the first and second-order regimes illustrated by Graeber and Wengrow.

The third option is the civilizational state (you know, like the one that the indigenous people of the Eastern Woodlands of North America criticize before their utter ruin).

0237 It makes me wonder whether the fashionable terms of “liberty, equality and fraternity”, used by the so-called “left”, in favor of state intervention for every social organization, might be a form of righteousness1a that manifests as the potentials1a underlying the term, domination”2a.

0238 Consider the Ubaid period of southern Mesopotamia, ranging from 5800 to 4000 B.C.

The administration of information seems to be devoted to mitigating social domination as an unintended consequence of labor specialization.  Some Ubaid labor specializations are more rewarding than others.  So, a sovereign bureaucracy strives to prevent the more affluent from lording over the less affluent.  Was this bureaucracy itself a form of domination?  Well, yes, it dominated in order to mitigate… um… domination due to spontaneous social inequality.

0239 Indeed, the history of coincidences between order1b and controlling coercion1a, administering information1a and championing charismatic power1a, is mixed, suggesting that the state2b has no origin.

Instead, the term, “state”2b, stands as a sign of contradiction to the term, “outlaw”2b.  The “domination”2a that supports the “state”2b is precisely opposed to the “domination”2a that supports the “outlaw”2b.

It is no wonder that, over time, Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Chinese rulers proclaim themselves to be protectors of the weak, feeders of the hungry, and solace for widows and orphans.

What better way to distinguish the “domination”2a underlying the “state”2b from the one2a underlying the “outlaw”2b?

0240 What goes unseen in this discussion?

The meaning, presence and message1a underlying the term, “domination”2a, does not coincide with the potential of the content-level of the society tier: righteousness1a.

0241 Yes, a strange contradiction can no longer hide.


Looking at David Graeber and David Wengrow’s Chapter (2021) “Why The State Has No Origin”(Part 11 of 13)

0242 Why does the state2b have no origin?

On one hand, the word, “state”2b occurs in a situation-level definition3b, supplemented by a content-level definition3a that informs the situation-level potential1b.  Consequently, academics debate what the potential1b underlying the state2b must be.  What is content-level actuality2a?  It depends on the anthropologist.

On the other hand, sovereign power3b virtually emerges from (and situates) institutions3a.  Sovereign power3b does not “originate”, sovereign power3b differentiates from institutions3a.  

Modern academics confound the term, “state”2b, with the situation-level actuality of sovereign acts and decrees2b.  This explains why social scientists are certain that there is a (content-level) causality involved in state formation and that they can figure out its definition.  In contrast, Graeber and Wengrow insist that historical contingency and what people think are relevant and cannot be theoretically defined.

0243 Oh, the confounding is so easy to do.  Here is a modified picture of the first two levels of the societyC tier.

Figure 39

0244 Shall I conclude that the “state”2b should directly emerge from (and situate) the potential of ‘order’1bC in the normal context of sovereign power3bC?

Shall I surmise that the situation-level potential for ‘order’1bC virtually emerges from (and situates) the content-level potentials of ‘controlling violence, administrating information and selecting who is charismatic and who is not’1a?

0245 Graeber and Wengrow offer a pragmatic identification of the term, “state”2b, as a correlate to a definition of the term, “domination”2a.  In the normal context of anthropology3a, the spoken word, “domination”2a, directly emerges from (and situates) the potentials of exerting violence1a, directing information1a and manifesting charismatic influence1a.  Thus, the “state”2b, coincides with sovereign acts and decrees2bC, when the potential for ‘order’1bC meshes with potentials that define ‘domination’1b.

0246 In short, in Graeber and Wengrow’s theory, the state2b is an apparatus for domination2a, by definition.

The problem?

Oh, I already noted the problem.  The situation-level potential for ‘order’1bC virtually emerges from (and situates) the content-level potential of ‘righteousness’1aC.

The state2b has no origin because domination1b is not founded in righteousness1aC.

Unless, of course, the inquirer believes the propaganda of the day.

Recognize the possibility.


Looking at David Graeber and David Wengrow’s Chapter (2021) “Why The State Has No Origin”(Part 12 of 13)

0247 Throughout their book, Graeber and Wengrow wonder whether social scientists ask the wrong questions.  Social scientists ask questions about the material causes of state formation at one location or another.  Indeed, the authors do not wander too far from their colleagues, because they suggest that the “state”2b manifests according to their definition of the term, “domination”2a.  The material (perhaps, instrumental) causes underlying the term, “domination”2a, includes controlling violence1a, administrating information1a, and charismatic influence1a.

0248 Graeber and Wengrow suggest that these three instrumental potentials account for the state2b.  They are correct, as far as definitions go.  But, in their correctness, they fail to draw from the foundational insights in layers A:A’ and B:B’.  It matters what people think.  These comments propose ways to visualize what people think.  People think triadic relations.  Diagrams of judgments and category-based nested forms allow the inquirer to visualize what people think.

0249 How is this possible?

Humans adapt into the ultimate niche of triadic relations.

0250 Graeber and Wengrow assert that social scientists need to rethink the premises of social evolution, as well as the very idea of politics, itself.

0251 What the authors do not know, thus cannot assert, is found in three masterworks by Razie Mah: The Human Niche, An Archaeology of the Fall and How To Define The Word “Religion”.

0252 The history of civilization is not the history of the state.

According to the German historian, Eric Voegelin (1881-1985 U0′), the history of civilization entails a search for order1b.

Order1b virtually situates righteousness1a.

0253 Is this the lesson that the history of the state tells us over and over again?

0254 When the ill-fated indigenous Americans of the Eastern Woodlands critique late-medieval European civilization,they say that Europeans dominate one another.  Europeans are not righteous.  Europeans order one another around.  Europeans do not respect one another.  Europeans feel obliged to obey commands.

Surely, the indigenous people of North America practice sovereignty3b, but they do not have states2b, defined by the explicit abstraction, “domination”2a.

These unfortunate people express the virtues of liberty, equality and fraternity.  And, they have no state2b.


Looking at David Graeber and David Wengrow’s Chapter (2021) “Why The State Has No Origin”(Part 13 of 13)

0255 Graeber and Wengrow’s exploration of the dawn of everything ends with a cruel joke.

The “state”2b, as defined by social science, cannot indirectly emerge from (and situate) righteousness1aC, while, at the same time, manifesting the characteristics of “domination”2a.

So, how is the contemporary left’s dream of achieving the virtues of liberty, equality and fraternity through the apparatus of the state2b going to work?

Thus ends the third layer, C:C’, of the author’s wide-ranging exercise in the semitic textual style.  The Dawn of Everythingis contemporary postmodern social science at its finest.  The authors start by searching for the origins of social inequality.  They end with the promise of a new history of humanity.

These authors do not know what they do not know.  But they do suspect this…

0256 …A new history of the world awaits.  There is a new way to describe the dawn of everything, where “everything” corresponds to “our current Lebenswelt”.

Yet, their explorations play out as a dark joke, almost as cruel as the joke that, long ago, a talking serpent plays on a naive young woman.

My thanks to the authors.  My condolences as well, on more than one level.

These comments provide views that dramatically re-present the vistas intimated in David Graeber and David Wengrow’s book.  Welcome to a new age of understanding: The Age of Triadic Relations.


Looking at Michael Millerman’s Chapter (2020) “Derrida” (Part 1 of 5)

0001 A chapter on Derrida appears in Michael Millerman’s Book (2020) Beginning with Heidegger: Strauss, Rorty, Derrida and Dugin and the Philosophical Constitution of the Political (Arktos Press), pages 135-166.  This fourth chapter considers the writings of the French Jacques Derrida (1930-2004 AD) concerning the German Martin Heidegger (1889-1976).

Millerman’s book consists of a long introduction, followed by chapters on Martin Heidegger, Leo Strauss, Richard Rorty, Jacques Derrida and Alexander Dugin.  The latter chapters discuss what the other philosophers say about Heidegger.  The method sounds like a doctoral dissertation.

My interest, of course, is to associate features of the arguments to purely relational structures, such as the category-based nested form or the Greimas square.

0002 Here, I look only at chapter four entitled, “Derrida”.  Derrida comments on Heidegger in two notable incidents. First, Heidegger is mentioned in an essay comparing deconstruction to negative theology.  Second, Derrida writes an essay entitled, “Heidegger’s Ear”.

Millerman approaches the first incident with caution, asking (more or less), “Is it possible to see how Derrida locates himself in a different place than Heidegger?”

Locates himself?

In slang, the question is, “Where is he coming from?”

0003 Where is Derrida coming from?

The first incident of note is an essay by Derrida in a book, Derrida and Negative Theology, edited by Harold Coward and Toby Froshay (Albany: SUNY Press, 1992). The title of the essay is “How To Avoid Speaking: Denials”.  Here, Derrida responds to claims that deconstruction resembles negative theology.  He says no.  Apophatic mysticism is hyperessential.  Deconstruction is all about the machinations of language.

0004 Hyperessential?

In order to appreciate this comment in terms of purely relational structures.  I associate the above accusation and responseto Peirce’s category of secondness, the realm of actuality.  The category of secondness contains two contiguous real elements.  For Aristotle’s hylomorphe, the two real elements are matter and form.  I label the contiguity, [substance].  The nomenclature is matter [substance] form.

For apophatic mysticism, the form is the human, as a vessel, having emptied “himself” of all matters.

For deconstruction, I follow Ferdinand de Saussure’s (1857-1913 AD) definition of language as two arbitrarily related systems of differences, the spoken word (parole) and the corresponding thought (langue).  Parole corresponds to matter.  Langue corresponds to form.  [Arbitrary relation] serves as the contiguity.

0005 Here is a picture.

Figure 01

0006 Essence is substantiated form.

Derrida claims that negative theology is hyperessential.  This makes sense because the essence, {[emptiness] vessel2f}, has no corresponding esse_ce (a play on the Latin term, esse, representing [matter2m [substantiating]}.  As soon as matter appears in the slot, —-2m, then the contiguity becomes very difficult (if not impossible) to maintain, and something passes into the vessel, against all mystical admonishments saying, “Keep the vessel2f empty.”

Here is a picture of how esse_ce and essence play out in the realm of actuality2 for hylomorphism, apophatic mysticism and deconstruction.

Figure 02

Looking at Michael Millerman’s Chapter (2020) “Derrida” (Part 2 of 5)

0007 Derrida claims that apophatic mysticism… and also deconstruction?… is like a secret.  Secrets have the character of actuality.  A secret contains information known only to us.  There are two real elements, depending on the normal context, such as the speaker and the hearer, everyone else and us, the whispered statement and the information it carries, and so on.  That means the substance changes with normal context.

Here is a picture of a secret entering into the slot for actuality2 in a category-based nested form.

Figure 03

0008 For deconstruction, a secret2 occurs in the normal context of speech-alone talk3.  An utterance is parole2m.  The information that it carries is langue2f.  Langue2f and the information2f are rapidly and intuitively constructed.  Meaning, presence and message1 spontaneously come to mind.  So, the secret requires a certain conspiracy.  Each party must speak the same mother tongue.  If the parties do not speak the same tongue, then they cannot whisper a secret to one another.

Of course, deconstruction knows how to shake the wheels of any secret2 just enough that the possibilities inherent in meaning, presence and message1 begin to… um… go out of whack.  The conceptual apparatus1 breaks down.

That is the game that Derrida plays.

0009 Here is how deconstruction considers secrets.

Figure 04

0010 For apophatic mysticism, a secret2 is like a gift given from one to another.  The gift extends a trust.  The recipient is not to betray the giver.  So, the normal context of the secret is a pact3.  A pact3 binds one person to another.

Theologically, the pact3 is between the Creator and the created.  Preparation is necessary.  The preparation ensures that the adept knows that “he” is an empty vessel, a creature, who cannot create “himself”.  Indeed, the adept has already received the gift of natural life.  Now, the goal is to receive the gift of supernatural abundance.

0011 And, what is supernatural abundance?

Well, superabundance is all about the potential of ‘meaning, presence and message’1, but not in a way that is vulnerable to Derrida’s deconstruction.  How so?  The apparatus1 is not conceptual.  The apparatus1 is inceptual.  And, this is where Heidegger comes in.  Heidegger’s philosophy promotes inceptual thought, along the same lines as apophatic mysticism.  That means, the normal context3 and the potential1 are outside of explicit abstraction and its conceptual apparatuses.

Figure 05

A secret contains information known only to us.


Looking at Michael Millerman’s Chapter (2020) “Derrida” (Part 3 of 5)

0012 Derrida says that deconstruction is not the same as negative theology.

Millerman isolates three themes that Derrida uses to characterize apophatic mysticism.  These are (A) hyperessentialism, (B) presentation and (C) spatialization.

So far, I associate (A) hyperessentialism to the essence of the actuality2 of negative theology.

I associate (B) presentation with the esse_ce of the actuality2 of negative theology.

The two states of apophatic mysticism represent preparation for and reception of a secret, defined as information known only to us, the Creator and the created.   Later, Millerman discusses Heidegger’s term, Walten, defined as a space of strife and accord.  One nested form contains two, disparate, actualities.

Perhaps, Walten looks like this.

Figure 06

0013 That leaves (C) spatialization be visualized.

Millerman notes that Derrida goes out of his way to avoid spatializing metaphors.  Derrida’s avoidance is so obvious that Millerman starts his chapter with a question, asking (more or less), “Is it possible to see how Derrida locates himself in a different place than Heidegger?”

The spatialization of apophatic mysticism is obvious.  The adept becomes an vessel that is consciously emptied of all matters, in preparation for a gift from the Creator.  That gift, at first, is like a secret, known only to the Creator and the adept.  So it is very important for the adept not to be fooled by just anything that enters the vessel that is “himself”.  The adept must ask the gift, “Where are you coming from?”

0014 So, why does Derrida avoid spatial metaphors?

After all, if spoken language consists of two arbitrarily related systems of differences, then it seems that there would be plenty of opportunity for spatial metaphors.  For example, I may say that deconstruction destabilizes cognitive spaces.  What are these “cognitive spaces”?  They are placeholders in systems of differences.

0015 Spoken words have two ways of being.

In the first way, a definition3 brings a spoken word2 into relation with the possibilities inherent in meaning, presence and message1.

In the second way, an uttered word (parole) occupies a position in a system of differences.  This fact forces the corresponding thought (langue) to occupy a position in a system of differences.

A question arises, “Is there a purely relational structure that spatializes word-positions in a linguistic system of differences?”

The answer must rely on the first way, even though it is not the same as the first way.

The Greimas square is a purely relational structure that satisfies the prerequisites of the second way, while relying on the first way.

0016 Here is a picture of the Greimas square.

Figure 07

What are the rules?

The spoken word under consideration is (A) the focal term.

B contrasts with A.

C contradicts B and implicates A.

D contrasts with C, contradicts A and implicates B.

I use the terms “complements” and “implicates” interchangeably.

I also confound the terms, “contradicts”, “speaks against” and “stands against”.

0017 I know from the previous discussion that deconstruction and negative theology share the word, “secret”.  A secret is information known only to us.  Each tradition focuses on different features of what a secret is.

So “secret” can be a focal word (A)

0018 For deconstruction, an utterance (B) contrasts with secret (A).  

Figure 08

I find it strange to think of an utterance as a style of conspiracy.  But it is.  Only people who speak the same tongue can whisper secrets to one another.  The information (C) speaks against the whisper (B).  If asked, a person sharing a secret will tell others, “I was only whispering.”  The information (C) is filled with concepts that express explicit abstractions.

0018 Explicit abstractions?

A Primer on Explicit and Implicit Abstraction, by Razie Mah, is available at smashwords and other e-book venues.  I think that, for the purposes of this blog, I can boil down that discussion into the following.  “Concepts” associate to explicit abstraction.  “Incepts” associate to implicit abstraction.  Explicit abstraction requires speech-alone talk.  Implicit abstraction characterizes hand and hand-speech talk.  Explicit abstraction is evolutionarily recent.  Implicit abstraction in evolutionarily ancient.

0019 So, here is the last item in Derrida’s Greimas square for the word, “secret”.

A conceptual apparatus (D) contrasts with the information of the secret (C), speaks against the secret itself (A) (because it exists before the secret) and complements the utterance (B), in the same way that langue [implicates] parole.

0020 For Heidegger, a pact (B) contrasts with the secret (A), which is really a gift from the Creator.

Figure 09

Awareness of the presence of a gift (C) in an incept (C).  Perhaps, it is a feeling, a motivaction, an insight, or whatever spoken word that one wants to use.  The awareness (C) stands against the pact (B) and complements the gift delivered by a messenger (A).  Finally, the incept (C) congeals into a conviction (D), a meaning, presence and message, that may or may not be articulated in speech-alone talk.

0021 The conviction (D) contrasts with the incept (C).  It (D) speaks against the secret (A, the gift) because every human vessel is flawed in our current Lebenswelt.  It (D) implicates the pact (B) that comes through an angel to the one who has be waiting.


Looking at Michael Millerman’s Chapter (2020) “Derrida” (Part 4 of 5)

0022 Do the Greimas squares for Derrida and Heidegger equate to topolitologies?


“Topos” is Greek for place.  “Polito” sounds like politics.  “Logos” is Greek for “the study of” or “the word”.

0023 Well, I suppose the term, “topolitologies”, may have value.  But, how do the knowable word-places of politics, the topolitologies, express themselves?

They express themselves in two fashions, as explicit and implicit abstractions.

0024 To me, Derrida’s topolitology for the word, “secret”, describes a knowable-landscape of explicit abstraction.

According to the first way of being for the spoken word, a secret2, the following nested form applies.

Figure 10

0025 Deconstruction relies on concepts.  One concept is a secret2, that manifests as the actuality of utterance2m [carries] information2f.

Now, I want to move to the second way of being for the spoken word.  Elements in the category of secondness associate to and modify Derrida’s Greimas square, as follows.

Figure 11

0026 Derrida explores the topolitology of explicit abstraction, characteristic of our current Lebenswelt.  The concept (C) stands as form to the utterance (B) as matter.  Also, the concept (C) stands as langue (C) against the utterance (B) as parole (B).   Finally, the contiguity between utterance (B) and information (C) contrasts with information (C), speaks against the secret (A) and implicates the utterance (B).  However, “carries” (D) is mechanical, turning on the operations of a conceptual apparatus (D).

0027 To me, Heidegger’s topolitology for the word, “secret”, describes a knowable-landscape of implicit abstraction.

According to the first way of being for the spoken word, “secret”, the following nested form applies to apophatic mysticism, as well as to Heidegger’s project.

Figure 12

0028 For the second way of being for the spoken word, elements in the category of secondness associate to and modify Heidegger’s Greimas square, as follows.

Figure 13

Heidegger explores the topolitology of implicit abstraction, characteristic of the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.  The incept (C) stands as form to the matter of a pact between the one who signifies and the one open to signification (B). Because implicit abstractions cannot be discussed using hand and hand-speech talk, the presence of an incept (C) is recognized by others who witness behavior that suggests a pact (B).  The realness of the pact (B) is validated by actions corresponding to openness and reception (D).  Reception (D) is like the contiguity between what is known only to us2mand the person as a vessel recognizing something2f.  Openness (D) is like the contiguity between —-2m (the preparation for a pact (B)) and a human vessel2f (who strives to achieve a union with God (C)).

Yes, openness (D) and reception (D) are two sides to one coin.  Plus, this is very hard do describe because the pact (B) is also —- (B) and the human striving to serve as a vessel by emptying “himself” (C) is also the incept (C).

0029 Now that I have confused even myself, I want discuss a very awkward point.

Whereas Derrida’s formulation applies to our current Lebenswelt, Heidegger’s formulation does not quite apply to the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

How so?

Heidegger writes in our current Lebenswelt and our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

Here is another way to say it.

Heidegger’s formulation is riddled with explicit abstractions because that is that nature of speech-alone talk.  Heidegger figures out that the arc of Western philosophy, starting with the ancient Greek schools (around 800 BC) and continuing to Nietzsche (around 1900 AD), has failed because it followed a particular path of explicit abstraction.  So, Heidegger wants to leap forward… or maybe, backward… to a world less differentiated, so that we may… um… receive secrets from God.

Meanwhile, his German national socialist bosses strive to obtain secrets from the ancient gods of old.

0030 Yes, this sounds like the American superhero movies of the early 7800s, where the evil Nazis pursue the secrets of ancient demiurges, in order to obtain magical tokens conveying supernatural powers.

After watching a number of these visual and auditory spectacles, Heidegger’s conclusion becomes obvious.

Our conceptual apparatus is dead.  May we be filled with inceptual beings.