Kant as a Theoretician of Vampirism
Le Conte du Livre
To introduce the problem of the not-all, we can take as our point of departure an interesting contrast. While theoreticians of femininity in the 1960s and 70s gave a privileged place to the notion of the woman's solitude, of her space, as indicated Virginia Woolf's title A Room of One's Own, Lacan, on the contrary, chose to end his article on the "Propos Directifs," not with the image of the woman alone but rather with that of the salon, the congregation of women. The salonnieres rather than the room of one's own: this tension gives us a clue to elaborate the problem of the not-all and also to define the meaning that solitude may have for a woman. When Lacan writes that a woman's partner is solitude, it is not only the term "partner" that invites theorization. If writers have been telling us for centuries what a central role solitude plays in femininity, Lacan's remark invites us to give an analytic sense to the term rather than to accept it as a given. [...]
So, to begin our investigation, let's take two salons, or rather, one salon and one bedroom. The salon is that of the logician and philosopher Moritz Schlick, one of the founders of the Vienna Circle, and the bedroom is that of Mae West, the American star of theatre and cinema. In Schlick's living room we find a group of thinkers that includes Wittgenstein, who are meeting to discuss the meaning of the concept "All," the universal, in logic. And in Mae West's bedroom we find a group of sailors waiting for the star. So, both rooms are full: we are hardly in the register of the isolation of the room which is one's own.
Schlick's living room, the problem of quantification, of the "all" is tackled in the following way. They discuss the proposition "All the men in this room are wearing trousers." This sentence preoccupied the study group for many long hours of work. To say "All the men in this room are wearing trousers" supposes the existence of a completed totality of men who are wearing trousers. According to one view, the proposition is identified with an enumeration, that is, a list such as "Wittgenstein is wearing trousers and Schlick is wearing trousers and...." Clearly, in Schlick's living room, it would have been possible to carry out this sort of enumeration, but what would one do to interpret propositions about everything in the world? We remember, indeed, that if the Russellian theory of propositional functions is accepted, the proposition 'All in this room are wearing trousers' does not take as its subject all the thinkers there present, but rather everything that there is in the whole universe. Since the proposition is interpreted as "For all possible values of x, if x is a man in this room, then x is wearing trousers." So the initial proposition immediately transports us beyond the Schlick household and confronts us with the impossibility of enumerating all the objects in the universe. A different perspective, perhaps a happier one, involves interpreting the proposition less as an implicit enumeration than as a relation between concepts, that is in our example, a relation between the concept "to be a man" and the concept "to wear trousers." The idea would be to see if there is a link between the two such as implication: if so, one wouldn't have to bother going round to examine Wittgenstein, Schlick, Carnap, etc. But this brings us back to nothing less than the linguistic problems that the appeal to logic was supposed to avoid since concepts and general terms are signifiers. It introduces shifts of meaning and transferences in logic: it is sure that the real question at the Schlick's was whether it was him or his wife who was wearing the trousers. And to determine whether the sexual life of Wittgenstein allowed one to subsume him under the concept "being a man."
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